Alphonso Davies was born in a refugee camp in Ghana and said ‘the world is behind you’ to the team members who will be competing at the Paralympic Games in Japan.
Alphonso Davies has started both of Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga matches so far this season. The 20-year-old midfielder is one of the world’s most in-demand young players.
Davies’ journey to Germany’s biggest team started when he was born at a refugee camp in Ghana to Liberian parents.
The Canadian international sent a message to the Refugee Paralympic Team (RPT) as part of his role as a UNHCR ambassador.
“Not everyone understands you but I do,” he said in a letter. “You are the most courageous sports team in the world right now.”
There are six athletes in the RPT – including the first ever female – who will compete across para-athletics, para-swimming, para-canoe, and taekwondo.
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Club thrower Alia Issa will be one of the flagbearers. She is a Syrian refugee living in Athens. The 20-year-old is the youngest member and is making history as the first woman in the team.
“I never believed that I would be here with the Refugee Paralympic Team. I never believed that I would hold the flag… I am a bit nervous!”
“I want to say to the women that have a disability [to] not stay at home. And to try every day with sports to be outside in the world. And I hope that I am the first example to follow.”
Alia’s father died a few years ago and she wears a special necklace in his honour.
“I think of him every day. And I'll never, ever forget him. I love him and I think that he will be very proud of me.”
The aim is for the team to represent the 82 million people around the world who have been forced to flee war, persecution, and human rights abuses, 12 million of whom live with a disability.
“When you are a refugee, you're in a situation of hardship and you need to overcome that. But also added to that, having a disability, you need to start all over again and you need to adapt to a new country. You need to adapt to new circumstances,” RPT chef de mission Ileana Rodriguez said when asked why the team were the world’s ‘most courageous’.
“And on top of that, you decide to compete at the world's largest stage in sports. So, I think there is no better definition for someone to be courageous.”
Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC. Olympic Information Services OIS.
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