Showing posts with label Serge Atakayi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Serge Atakayi. Show all posts

Monday, July 27, 2015

Jaro fans reunite Serge Atakayi with long-lost family

Lost among the transfer rumours, corruption scandals and kit launches last week was a truly heartwarming story that proves that there is still plenty of compassion in football, in this case coming from the fans of one club in the Finnish Veikkausliiga.

Jaro, who are based in the Western town of Jakobstad (in Swedish, or Pietarsaari in Finnish), have had a rather inconsistent season so far, unable to put together any sort of run - but the undoubted highlights have been the emergence of two sixteen year old prospects. Sergei Eremenko, son of coach Alexei is one, while the record-breaker of the pair is Serge Atakayi - who has become both the youngest ever goalscorer in Veikkausliiga and the youngest player to get sent off...

Jaro's two future diamonds, Eremenko and Atakayi (right) - photo Jyrki Johannes Tervo

Serge was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1999, and came to Finland in 2010 (aged 11) to take part in the internationally renowned Helsinki Cup tournament. With the opportunity of a lifetime, to escape an unstable country, Serge took the life-changing decision to claim political asylum in the country, leaving his family behind. He hasn't seen them since.

No fan wants to see a key player unhappy and without a crucial support network. But Jaro fans are a different breed. They raised funds amongst themselves and the local community to fund a trip for Serge to visit his family in DR Congo at the end of the season on a scholarship, meaning he won't have any problems returning to the place he's called home for five years, while he's represented various Finland junior teams.

Serge on international duty

They surprised Serge at the end of a training session last Wednesday, marching onto the pitch to present him with the relevant paperwork.

Jaro's media man Viktor Enbacka told me "This is what FF Jaro is all about. Everyone wants to help somehow, by volunteering or doing things like this." Club captain Jonas Emet said "We don't have the biggest group of fans, but they all have a big heart".

Meanwhile, Serge said on Instagram "Thank you Jaro fans, for the gift you have given me today. I'm so glad that I don't know how to thank you all, I will never forget you".