THE ROAD TO CROKE PARK CAN BE A LONG ONE. FOR LEITRIM HURLER ZAK MORADI, IT WAS AN ODYSSEY.
Born at the height of the Gulf War, Zak spent his formative years living in a refugee camp in Ramadi, Iraq, under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein. Eventually, he and his family settled in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, and this is where life began.
Zak couldn’t speak English when he first arrived, and he didn’t know what sport the boys in his class were playing. It was hurling; he was handy at it, and he picked it up quickly. The GAA gave Zak his chance to put down roots, learn valuable life skills and find friendship.
A story of adversity, community and hope, Life Begins in Leitrim is Zak’s moving reflection, twenty years later, on the culture shock of landing in rural Ireland; the importance of embracing difference; the continued suffering of refugees around the world; the power of sport; and the realisation that, really, we’re not all that different from each other.
ZAK MORADI is a Kurdish-Irish hurler who played for Leitrim and Thomas Davis GAA. Born in Ramadi, Iraq, he moved to Ireland with his family when he was eleven. He now lives in Tallaght, Dublin.
NIALL KELLY is Editor of The42.ie. He has co-authored numerous bestselling and award-winning sports memoirs, including The Choice with Philly McMahon, Fighter with Andy Lee and True Colours with Barry Geraghty.