When Alou Kuol was three years old, his family fled Sudan from the war. The family is at home in Australia, Kuol discovers his love for football, works as a kitchen helper and is now switching from the Central Coast Mariners from the Australian A-League to VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga this summer.
In an interview with SPOX and goal the 19-year-old speaks about the impressive journey of his life so far. Kuol reveals why he was part of the excitement for BVB, which superstars he would like to meet and why he is not a bore.
“Alou is an exciting young player who knows where the goal is. Very explosive, very good at the head and with good shooting technique. He’s still very young of course, but he has a great future ahead of him. I’m looking forward to watch how he will develop in a top German club and take the next step, “says Kuol’s current coach Alen Stajcic SPOX and goal full of praise.
Alou, you were born in Sudan, but then fled the war with your family at an early age. Do tell.
Alou Kuol: I was only three years old when we fled the war. First to Egypt for a year and then to Australia when things weren’t going so well for us there. I was way too young to have vivid memories, but I’ve spoken to my parents about it and I know what a tough decision it was for them. Fleeing your own country before the war is a bloody big deal. I think everyone can imagine that.
Kuol: “I’m not bored and say what I think”
Kuol: It was of course much easier for me than it was for my parents. I was a small child who got used to the initially foreign country very quickly. I didn’t really think about it, I just had fun and a totally happy childhood. It was much more difficult for my parents. First they had to find their way around, learn a new language and find work.
What did your parents do?
Kuol: Today they both work as cleaners, but I don’t know exactly what they did in the first few years. I only know that they left the house very early every day, came home very late and then prepared our food that we could take to school the next day. And when they weren’t there, our cousins took care of us children.
How did that shape you?
Kuol: My parents showed me what really hard work is. They did everything to support us as a family and despite all the difficulties they supported us children in everything, whether it was school or football. That was an incredible achievement. Without my parents, I would certainly not be where I am today. I would like to be able to repay them all one day – that is very important to me.
You have six siblings, all brothers.
Kuol: It was great for me to grow up in such a huge family. There are so many of us that you always had someone to play with and do nonsense. We played soccer in the garden the whole time and it was a lot of fun – we’re all very ambitious in the family. Until then at some point my father came and said that it was over because he wanted to sleep now. Football has always been a great passion for us, and many of my brothers also play. Although one has now stopped. But I don’t blame him, he wasn’t very talented. (laughs)
Kuol: In the beginning I mainly played soccer on the school team. Immediately I was out in the storm, hunting for goals. It was funny when I came to a local club for the first time at the age of eleven or twelve. The coach there didn’t know me and first put me in central defense. But when he saw how I played attacking in the school team on Saturday, he immediately ordered me to the front on Sunday. And I scored three goals straight away. That was great. (laughs) From then on I was a striker, although I also helped out as a goalkeeper for the U15 when our regular goalkeeper broke his wrist. But I’ve never liked the back as much as the front.
Is it true that you also worked in the kitchen when you were young?
Kuol: That’s right, I worked as a kitchen helper. Three or four days a week and ten or twelve hours a day. Those were hard and long days – a crazy time. It was really cool because I did it with a few friends and it was best on Sundays when we were sometimes responsible for everything, but there are more pleasant jobs, I have to say that too. But our shop had parmesan-crusted chicken breast with a Bolognese sauce, it was delicious!