Kenyan Soccer Star Reported Missing in Australia
Before leaving the slums of Nairobi to start a new life in Australia, orphan Samuel Macharia had never seen a beach.
Now the 16-year-old Kenyan boy who came here as an emerging soccer star in 2007 is feared drowned after failing to return from an afternoon run and swim at Cabarita beach on the far north coast.
Samuel, a student at Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, was three days from his Year 10 graduation when he disappeared on Sunday.
He came to Australia in 2007 on a cultural exchange program after being discovered playing soccer in the slums of Kenya’s capital.
His visa was extended at the end of his visit with the help of his temporary foster parents Bernie and Sandra Zietlow.
"I had never seen a beach before I came here," he told local newspaper the Tweed Shire Echo in August. Police were called at 7.10pm on Sunday after family members discovered a backpack with Samuel’s clothes and mobile phone on the beach.
Volunteers joined police, the Coast Guard and Marine Rescue NSW in a search of the beach, headland and ocean on Sunday night and early yesterday morning.
The operation was called off shortly after 1pm yesterday because of bad weather.
Lindisfarne spokesman David Stonier said the school was in "deep shock" at the news Samuel was missing.
Mr Stonier described the popular Kenyan as an elite soccer player who was largely unaware of his talent, despite having trialled for A-League team Gold Coast United.
Police were reassessing the situation yesterday afternoon and would decide whether to resume the search for the teenager today.