End of Year wrap: Multicultural programs

By Alison Zell

With more than 14 per cent of AFL players from a multicultural background, Australian football is becoming the sport of choice for diverse communities.

2012 saw all 14 Intensive English Centre (IEC) in NSW participate in a six-week AFL program which is designed to introduce young people to the rules of the game through visual examples of match-play, grounds, clubs and rules.

The success of the IEC programs were proven with four boys playing this season with the Ramsgate RSL Junior AFL Club in their Under-16s competition and two boys in the Under-13s. A further two students from the Kogarah IEC program played with the Miranda Bombers in the Sydney South Youth Competition.

Approximately 900 students participated in the six-week Multicultural Schools Program and a six-week program was also delivered to Boderick Gillawarna Special School in western Sydney with 19 children with disabilities involved in an Auskick Program.

The Auburn and Greenacre after-school Auskick centres attracted over 400 kids from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) backgrounds with approximately 500 participants involved in the NSW/ACT enrichment program, while 70 CaLD students began playing AFL 9s in Fairfield.

One of the highlights of the year came when over 100 children from CaLD backgrounds participated in half-time Auskick during Multicultural Round, nine of those children with physical disabilities

Young up-and-coming AFL player Erol Sertbas was nominated by the Multicultural Program coordinators to represent the World Team where his success at the 2012 NAB AFL Under-16 National Championships led him to playing in the Swans reserves.

2013 will see the multicultural team prioritise engagement with four target markets; the Chinese, African, Arabic and Indian communities.

They will work in collaboration with mainstream staff to deliver multicultural participation targets and establish relationships with ethnic media.

Citizenship ceremonies will be conducted on-field during Multicultural Round in round 16 and at the clash between the GWS GIANTS and Melbourne in round 19.

The team will launch campaigns with translated material and work in collaboration with the Talent Department to run a Talent Camp for 40 children from CaLD backgrounds.

The Community Ambassador Program will be a focus as well as participation in the 2013 National Unity Cup.

AFL NSW/ACT’s multicultural team received the 2012 STARTTS Humanitarian Award for Sports for their work with African communities in Southern NSW and are looking forward to bigger and better things in 2013.