Hamilton Olympic footballer chasing his dream with support of Tibetan-Australian community

Shiwa Dul dreams of being a professional footballer. It's a dream his family are following: from Tibet, to India, to Victoria to Newcastle.

The 14-year-old Hamilton Olympic player returned from a Northern NSW Football tour of Japan last week.

The side, which featured 16 players from the Hunter and northern NSW, played six matches against some red-hot sides over four days. It was the first time Shiwa had gone on a representative tour, and was a proud moment for his family and the growing Tibetan-Australian community in Newcastle.

Shiwa's family emigrated to Australia in 2016 through a humanitarian program, which accepts 50 to 100 exiled Tibetans each year.

They moved to Australia from India, where Shiwa was born and the family had lived since 2002, but the family's story goes back much further.

Shiwa's parents fled Tibet amid China's influence in 2002, walking across the Himalayas for 27 days to reach a town in Nepal, where the move into India was arranged. They lived freely in India but could not get passports or become citizens.

"We had identification that we could live there, but you can't really travel anywhere," Tibetan Community of Newcastle president Pema Tsering said, speaking on behalf of Shiwa's parents. "When we were there, we feel like we are not a citizen - we don't belong to any country."

The Dul family were given a chance at a new life in Dandenong, Victoria, where they spent two years before moving to Newcastle last year.

It was in Dandenong where Shiwa got his first opportunity to play club football.

"I started playing soccer in 2017, I didn't know that you could play for a club or anything until then," he said.

Shiwa said playing for his local club for the first time was a little daunting, but he quickly adapted to the new team environment.

"It was pretty exciting at first, and I was kind of nervous as well because I was playing a year up.

"As soon as I got into it, I wasn't nervous; I was more excited. I loved playing with my friends."

The family moved to Newcastle last year, partly motivated by finding further football opportunities for Shiwa.

Having arrived too late for Hamilton Olympic's NPL trials, Shiwa looked set for a year in A-grade of his age group.

But after seeing his talent, the club quickly moved him to the NPL team.

Shiwa, who likes to play in the forwards, is part of Northern NSW Football's talent support program and attends Hunter Sports High School.

He has a football at his feet most afternoons, plays for his club on weekends and is inspired by Barcelona legend Lionel Messi. He, and his family, hope his dedication will one day lead to a professional career.