United through Football: Team Iran
In celebration of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, we asked some of our community ambassadors to talk to us about their national teams. The 2016 census revealed there were nearly 63,000 people with Iranian ancestry currently living in Australia. With such a strong team in Russia this year, and the football culture alive as ever in the community, we spoke to Iranian community leader Mehdi Soodi to hear his thoughts.
What is your role in the community?
I have represented the Iranian Community in Victoria in official roles and non-official roles in the past 15 years on voluntary basis. Now I am more engaged with the football players in the community.
What do you love most about what your role?
Bringing people together and making migration a more positive experience despite the hardships in the early years gives me the most satisfaction. The smile on peoples face as a result of one’s contribution and help is extremely rewarding.
What does the FIFA World Cup mean to your country?
We are a football loving nation. Iran is said to be the Brazil of Asia. So World Cup is the ultimate experience.
How did you feel when your country qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup?
Very excited like every other Iranian. It was a tough journey to qualify but Iran did it pretty easily. We have a good team and a great coach.
How passionate are football fans from your country?
Passionate is an understatement when it comes to how we feel about football especially our National team. It sits on the highest priorities in our lives and we feel pretty strong about it.
Who is your favourite (nationality) player and why?
Massoud Shojaei our National team captain is my favourite. Apart being a great player, he is a good leader as well. On the field and off the field he performs very well.
Where does the ex-community gather for huge games like this?
Crown Casino is a favourite place but we use community centres too for this. The House of Persian Cultural and Community organisation organises such events together with the Australian Iranian Society of Victoria.
If there was only one destination in your country to visit, what would it be and why?
The city of Esfahan. It is the sister city to Rome, Italy. It is a very old city with a lot of tourist attractions.
Vegemite is the food Australians love. What is your country’s “Vegemite”?
We are know with our Kabab. We are a meat loving nation so it comes in most of foods. Kabab being 100% meet makes the top of the list. Iranians have their own unique style of Kabab which is very delicious and mouth-watering too.
What is your favourite festival from your country of heritage and why?
The Iranian New Year aka Norooz is a 2 -week festival which is almost every Iranian’s favourite festival. People clean up their houses, buy new cloths, amend friendships, visit relatives and friends and get together every night. It is a great time of the year. It is the beginning of Spring, time for re-birth of the nature.
What do you love most about Australia?
Australia offers its people a relaxed life style and that’s what appeals to me most. The freedom and press, media, people is another significant matter. The nature and the wonderful infrastructure also help to make it a great destination for migrants. I can go on and on about the good things Australia offers people who call it home.
Who’s your tip to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup?