Tasman United players with the latest crop of young Nelson footballers. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Finding refuge in football


Growing up in Nepal, Miran Magar and his friends were so strapped of sports resources they were forced to play football with balled-up socks.

Now living in Nelson, the refugee gets to spend his Saturdays surrounded by scores of soccer balls and even gets coaching from professional players.

The 14-year-old moved to the region in 2012 and is one of dozens of young players reaping the benefits of Tasman United’s free training sessions at Nelson Intermediate.

Starting on November 9, the sessions will continue to run every Saturday from 1-4pm until February. Miran says it’s awesome to have such quality coaching for free.

“It’s great, it’s a lot of fun, great to train with the players and improve my skills.”

Coordinator Kate Gallagher says the idea is to give these football-mad kids some structured sessions.

“If you drive past Victory Square on a Saturday afternoon you will see these kids there kicking a ball around.”

She says many of these boys don’t play for a club for various reasons, so these sessions provide an introduction to what professional football is all about.

“The kids seem to be loving it and are getting really familiar with the coaches.”

She says the initiative is a win-win as it gets the Tasman United side known in the community.

“It’s an enjoyable thing for them, it’s not too serious and they can have a laugh and it is 100 per cent free. Just show up and have a kick around.”

The next session will be at Nelson Intermediate on November 23 from 1pm.