TEEN soccer star Changkuoth Dingkar has conquered his share of challenges in the past - now his goal is to use his round-ball skills to help inspire other youngsters.
The talented Eaglehawk and Loddon Mallee Lightning defender, known as "Sunday" to his mates, has been selected to play at the international youth Singa Cup tournament in Singapore next month.
He will represent Footskills Australia in the under-18 competition against teams from across Asia - including Malaysia, Thailand and India - and is part of the squad's leadership group.
The event caps off the 17-year-old's comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that kept him out of his beloved sport for 15 months and saw him undergo a knee reconstruction.
He returned to play for Eaglehawk's youth side this year that made the Knockout Cup grand final.
But that is not the only setback Sunday has overcome.
In 2011, he was chosen to represent Victoria at a carnival in New Zealand but missed the trip because his passport did not arrive in time.
"It was shattering," he said. "The passport came the day the team left. But I went to Singapore with Footskills two months later, so that made up for it a little bit."
On that tour, the Australians played in the under-15 international Youth Challenge Cup and finished joint champions.
The son of Sudanese refugees, Sunday took up soccer as a five-year-old, following in his brother's footsteps.
He said the sport had opened up a whole new world to him and he now aspired to help others.
"I would love to become a professional and make an impact on kids who grow up thinking they can't make it, or who are going through similar things to what I went through," he said, explaining how he was given a hard time when he was younger because of his background.
"I want them to know that no matter what situation they are in, they can do these things."
Footskills Australia is a management company that takes talented young soccer players to tournaments in Asia.
Head coach Ian Williamson said Sunday was an exceptionally dedicated footballer who travelled by train between Bendigo and Cranbourne twice a week to train with the touring squad.
"He is a very confident young fellow and a very caring person who looks after younger players and gives them encouragement and advice," he said.
"He is well respected among the other players and is a mentor to many of them."
Sunday, who is in year 12 at Bendigo Senior Secondary College, heads to Singapore on November 1. The tour is sandwiched between his VCE English and business management exams, so he will have to hit the books while he is away.
His ultimate goal is to play professional football and perform humanitarian work like former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who has set up a foundation promoting health and education in African communities.
"I just want to be able to make a difference."