Hakeem al-Araibi could be given a chance to play professional football in Australia with A-League newcomers Western United set to assess his credentials in the coming months when they begin to scour the Victorian state leagues for new players.
One week after arriving back in Australia following his release from prison in Thailand, the Bahraini refugee was back training with National Premier League club, Pascoe Vale, hoping to return to the playing field in a matter of weeks as part of his long-term goal to crack the A-League.
Back in action: A-League hopeful Hakeem al-Araibi is put through his paces at Pascoe Vale training.Credit:Justin McManus
"I will start the training now and do my best. I want to see my future. I want to be in the A-League in the future. I am not ready now, but if I work hard, get better, maybe," he said.
The road will be long and arduous for the the defender who is well short of the fitness levels required to play NPL football having spent more than two months in a jail in Bangkok while awaiting potential extradition to Bahrain – the country he fled from in 2014 to Australia where he was granted asylum.
Locked in a small cell in Thailand while fearing extradition to face contentious charges for vandalising a police station – a crime he allegedly committed while playing a televised football match – al-Araibi was limited in fitness and workouts he could do while incarcerated.
"I just did one training session before I went away so I have to work. I did some exercise in prison, but it's a very small area. There is not enough room for a football player to get fit," he said.
"I did as good a job as I can. Sometimes I went to the gym, but it's not enough. I could run a little bit, but there are many people in the jail, it's very hard for me to find the space."
It will take several weeks for him to back playing for Pascoe Vale but once fit, he could find himself watched by Western United. The Melbourne-based A-League club has only announced two players for its inaugural season beginning in October and is is ramping up its recruitment for next season. Sources suggest al-Araibi's credentials will be assessed by the club once the player is fit and back playing for Pascoe Vale, which competes in the NPL, one tier below the A-League.
Western United need to sign at least 21 more players before their first game of the season and have publicly stated their desire to provide opportunities to talented players in the semi-professional state leagues.
Source: Read Full Article