When the founder of the Atlanta United FC Supporters Group in Sydney, Australia – Nick Puñal – read an earlier Facebook post by Georgia Revolution FC regarding one of their ex-players that were now plying their trade in Australia he was curious to see where they had ended up.
To his surprise it wasn’t Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or even Perth but a regional city in his own state of New South Wales.
Chinedu Arinze, who played for the GA Revs, decided to opt for an adventure Down Under and made the trek from Georgia to Wagga Wagga to play for the City’s main team, Wagga City Wanderers FC. Chinedu was also accompanied by Alex Millour who was invited to train with the Revs before finding an opportunity in Australia as well.
At first Nick thought it would be next to impossible to meet them as Wagga Wagga is a five hour drive South West of Sydney, but after exchanging a few DMs with Club Director Brendan Flanagan he found out that the Black and White outfit actually compete in a Sydney League with the majority of away games being played in the Sydney suburbs of Blacktown and Miranda.
After lunch on Saturday May 27 Nick drove one hour south to Miranda and met up with Brendan, gaining some general insights into the running of the Club, their current stadium and the NSW State League, but after waiting 30 minutes he realised he would have to go and search for the ATLiens (their particular match didn’t start until 7pm!). A volunteer from the U20 squad offered to search with him and within the space of a few minutes both Chinedu and Alex were found in the Shopping mall!
Nick asked Chinedu “whose idea was this?” and the finger was quickly pointed at Alex! “I told him to get over here and check it out” Alex said jokingly. The conversation was easy going as Nick was interested in the stories and background of both players. Asking whether they were thinking of staying for a 2nd season… “That depends on the Club” said Chinedu, to which the 9 or 10 Wagga players granted him an automatic – albeit unofficial – contract extension!
It was clear from the interaction between Alex, Chinedu, the players and the Club, that all are enjoying the international flavour in the team and this relaxed atmosphere is making it a mutually beneficial learning experience, an experience which will stand the Wagga City Wanderers Men’s team in good stead for the future.
By Nick ‘Atlanta’ Puñal
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