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ROMAN ABASY: "Being an athlete is about more than just sports"

Charity founder, Afghanistan representative in Taekwondo, fundraiser, refugee, human rights activist, campaigner, university graduate. Roman Abasy is much more than just an athlete. In this extraordinary Athlete Spotlight, Roman shares how he campaigned for increased payment for athletes representing Afghanistan, created a charity to advocate for women's rights and shares his advice to other athletes to create a positive impact in the world.


Roman Abasy is smiling, and wears a grey jacket and white t shirt.
Roman Abasy

"I grew up in Afghanistan, a country marked by pain and war, especially in Kabul, the capital city. I was born in 1992 when the Taliban first took control, and the conflict persisted until 2021 when the Americans left and the Taliban regained power.

 

I grew up with my family: four brothers, three sisters, dad, and mom— a close-knit unit. My dad and two brothers were engineers, my mom was a teacher. Two sisters became doctors, one was a school student, one brother works with international organizations. I am an athlete with a bachelor's degree in sports and law.

 


I started Taekwondo at a small local club in Kabul. After years of struggle, I found myself representing Afghanistan in world Taekwondo championships and founded a charity foundation in Afghanistan.


As an athlete, when I realized that the $15 monthly salary for Afghan athletes is too low, I began to speak out with a simple "WHY?" I wrote it on a piece of paper: "Afghanistan’s national athletes have a monthly salary of $15, WHY?" Then, I took a picture and posted it on social media.


Afterward, my friend reposted and shared it, and I realized its significance, prompting me to take a stand. I urged all athletes, Olympians, world champions, and celebrities to do the same on social media. By the eighth day, over 12,000 athletes and celebrities had posted about it, putting pressure on the government and sports industry.


Even the president of Afghanistan's sports sector joined the campaign, leading the president to order a raise in athlete salaries. Within a month, Afghan athletes' salaries increased from $15 to more than $60.

Roman speaks to a group of young children in Afghanistan.

I'm passionate about advocating for education rights and equal opportunities in sports regardless of gender. I believe these are fundamental human rights. If we aim for a better world for everyone, we need to prioritize these rights.


I'm also passionate about advocating for refugee mental health in Australia. As a refugee, I've faced mental health challenges and understand the difficulties of settling in Australia with language barriers, adjusting to a new culture, and many other experiences. It's crucial that we address these issues.



I contribute to these causes by raising awareness through social media, participating in events, supporting campaigns, appearing on TV shows, and writing articles. I chose these methods as they offer the fastest way to reach everyone.


What I've enjoyed most about my community contribution journey so far is the feeling of satisfaction from knowing I'm making a positive impact. Whether it's raising awareness, supporting initiatives, or working with others, seeing the results, and knowing I'm helping is really fulfilling. Plus, connecting with others who care about making a difference has been inspiring and keeps me motivated.


Roman stands in the centre back row holding a football, at a RecLink football event in Sydney.

 My advice to fellow athletes is simple: Use your platform to raise awareness, support causes, and amplify the voices of marginalized communities. Even small actions can make a big difference.

Take the time to learn about social issues and find ways to get involved, whether it's speaking out on social media or volunteering your time.


Remember, being an athlete is about more than just sports; it's about using your influence for good and making a positive impact in the world."


Roman is now based in Sydney where he works as a Sports Coordinator for Reclink Australia. Support and follow Roman's work through his LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube accounts.



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