During the Olympics, we got a good picture of how sports could make a huge difference to refugees who otherwise would have only made difficult attempts to fit into new homes in different countries.
The refugee Olympic team was that picture and as they were cheered on and praised, refugees the world over no doubt got a glimpse of better possibilities.
Ousman Manneh’s story is just as inspiring as that of the Olympic refugee team as it shows a young refugee from Gambia defying the odds through sports.
How Ousman Manneh Became A German Football Star
Ousman Manneh had arrived in Germany as an unaccompanied 17-year-old refugee from Gambia in 2014 and survival had been his only motivation. However, shortly after he arrived, he joined Blumenthaler SV, a fifth tier regional club in Bremen as a young striker.
In that youth team, Ousman Manneh scored 15 goals in 11 games and very quickly made a name for himself. Soon enough, local scouts noticed his ability and, after he turned 18 and became eligible to sign a professional contract, Manneh joined Werder Bremen. His first appearance for the senior side of the team saw him scoring four goals in 15 minutes in a friendly game.
It has been just two years since he struck out on the terrifying journey of finding a new home outside his country but already he is a professional soccer player and has now scored his first league goal for Werder Bremen, a team in Germany’s top soccer division, Bundesliga.
With that first league goal against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, Ousman Manneh has earned a place in the senior squad this season and he is set to stay. After scoring the goal, Manneh said;
“I can’t believe this,…Is this real or am I dreaming? This is the greatest moment of my life.”
Alexander Nouri, Werder Bremen manager, also had glowing words for Manneh. Nouri said; “His story is a special one, … He’s worked very hard for this and it’s great to see him reap the reward.”