Migrants to Europe boasts Niger football. 

Many youngsters are keen to try their luck, one of whom is 16-year-old Toya-se Tunchi Bondo from Liberia.

He spent a day training with the club, but was not taken on as the season’s transfer and recruitment window had already closed.

“It feels good to play,” said Bondo, a defensive midfielder who has been taken in by the IOM. “All I do is sleep, and wait.”

An orphan, he ended up in Agadez after a failed attempt to play for MC Oran on Algeria’s northwestern coast.

Football has been a driving passion of his since his childhood, with the teenager travelling thousands of miles simply for the chance of showing off his skill.

Born in Monrovia, the seaside capital of Liberia, he was raised by relatives in Ivory Coast, then in Ghana where he played for the youth league of Cheetah FC.

Returning to Liberia, he found it impossible to earn a living from football, so he decided to go to Algeria after a Facebook “friend” promised him a contract with MC Oran.

After crossing Burkina Faso by bus, he travelled through Mali to the eastern city of Gao, where he was picked up by a truck.

“At one point, we had to get out to walk through the desert to cross the border. It took three to five hours. It was hard. We were in a group, and five of the people died,” he said.

When he finally reached Oran, he learnt that the club “no longer recruits” black Africans following the 2014 death of a Cameroonian player who was hit in the head by a projectile thrown by rival supporters.

The club did let him train with its reserve team, but did not pay him, so he worked as a builder for four months in the hope of being able to reach Spain.

When he realised this was impossible, he began making his way to Agadez, where he was told the IOM could help him. En route, he was robbed and stripped of everything he owned.

Now in Agadez, the IOM has arranged for him to be sent back home to Ghana.

Despite the hardship, disappointment and frustration that have marked his young life, Bondo still dreams of just one thing.

“I want to play football.” 

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