‘Iraqis would risk their lives to watch a football game’: How Ali Auglah’s heritage is driving his renewed passion for the sport


Ali Auglah is a name emerging among the ranks of Macarthur FC; he has been a key figure and prospect off the bench, having scored three goals in all competitions for the Bulls.

Auglah, like most footballers, comes from humble beginnings within Sydney suburbs. His journey through football is a result of his morals, hard work and humility which may set him to become a regular in the A-League, and possibly an iconic name for Macarthur Football Club.

It was in Auburn Hospital on 11 March 2002 where Auglah was born to Iraqi parents, who came to Australia as refugees in 1998.

Football was a frequent topic amongst the Auglah house and it did not take long for Auglah to start playing at the young age of five in their home at Granville.

His journey to professional football was nearly overtaken by his father’s desire for Auglah to study.

Fortunately, his two older brothers, who played actively in football, successfully convinced their father to let the younger sibling play and pursue a career in the sport.

After playing park football in the Granville & Districts Football Association, Auglah began playing in the National Premier Leagues (NPL) for Marconi.

He played for their under-12s and then under-13s before Ian Crook, who was employed by Western Sydney Wanderers, took interest in him after watching him in the Grand Final in 2015.

Marconi ultimately lost the final to Mt Druitt Rangers but it sparked new opportunities when Crook approached Auglah to keep working hard, which gave belief and determination for him to play at an A-League club.

However, it was rather quick before the young attacker found himself playing in the youth ranks of the Wanderers just a year later and eventually for their NPL senior side in 2019.

He accumulated 18 goals in 37 games during the three seasons he played in the NPL, being one of the Wanderers’ most lethal attackers in their youth ranks.

Manager Carl Robinson took note of this and promoted Auglah to their first team, giving him his professional league debut in the last seven minutes against Wellington Pheonix on 11 January 2020.

It’s all over in Manila, as Auglah makes it 3-Nil for @mfcbulls against Cebu FC, in the last minutes of the match. The Bulls progress to the next round of the @AFCCup.
Catch the match highlights on 10 Play!
????????????: https://t.co/93N2irxOiL #AFCCup pic.twitter.com/n9Juhoyjgg

— 10 Football (@10FootballAU) December 14, 2023

During that time, Auglah’s talent and form also led him to play for the Australian under-17 squad that played in the 2019 World Cup in Brazil.

He made two appearances in the tournament as Australia progressed through to the Round of 16 where they lost to France.

Despite his achievements, the exhaustion from playing football prompted Auglah to step back from the sport, leading to his release from the Wanderers before 2022.

He journeyed to Iraq with his Australian-based family during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trip to Iraq had a profound impact on Auglah’s mental and spiritual well-being, fostering a stronger connection to his Islamic faith and family.

His renewed appreciation for football was inspired by witnessing the profound passion for the sport in Iraq.

“If I was to put it into a sentence I would say, I think it’s in the Iraqi blood as well, Iraqis would risk their lives to watch a football game,” Auglah said to KEEPUP.

“The words that I would choose for Iraq is: One would be religion. Two would be culture… Three would be enjoyment. Four would be happiness,” Auglah added.

It would be by these words that Auglah applied to his football. A few months in Iraq became a year before Auglah returned to Australia where he was approached by Macarthur assistant manager Mile Sterjovski on his arrival.

Now in 2023, Auglah signed his first professional contract with the Bulls in March since joining in January.

He initially played for Northbridge Bulls at NPL at the start of the year but has since been a regular option on the bench under newly appointed manager, Sterjovski.

It has been an impressive year for Auglah who recently scored his third goal for the club in a 3–0 win over Cebu in the AFC Cup, sealing the Bulls’ spot at the top of the group. It is not the first time Auglah was called to help the Bulls.

He scored his first A-League Men goal earlier in November, netting the winning goal against Western United after taking advantage of a mistake by United defender Ben Garuccio. The goal allowed Macarthur to have their best start to a season since their inaugural in the 2020–21 A-League.

A technical winger with a knack for goals and a cheeky ability to score free-kicks in his locker has much to show for at Macarthur FC.

As recalled by Auglah, “You live in your day to live your life at night,” when comparing the Australian lifestyle to that of Iraq.

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His efforts and achievements on the pitch only demonstrate the hard work and grit he has put into training.

At 21 years of age, Auglah can become a key man under Sterjovski but only time will tell if he has what it takes, making him one of many to watch for in the future.

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