Australian Football RULES in the Philippines
With the AFL International Cup currently taking place in Melbourne, it is clear that the AFL’s reach is covering further than just this sunburnt country. With nations such as Fiji, Croatia, the United States, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka taking part, the great Australian past time of Aussie Rules Football is being enjoyed right across the globe.
While not taking part in the AFLIC this year, the game is also having an impact in the Philippines via the AFL’s Multicultural Community Ambassador program.
At the beginning of 2004, it would have been impossible to find an Australian Rules football to bounce and kick in the Philippines – let alone to play a game.
Fast forward to 2017 and former AFL Multicultural Community Ambassador, Don Giron is changing this narrative, with the AFL fast becoming the new favourite sport among local school kids.
Recently, Giron successfully delivered an AFL clinic to primary school students in the Philippines, it being the first ever of its kind.
Having been an AFL Multicultural Community Ambassador for over four years, Giron continually developed different ways in which he could promote the game to culturally diverse communities, not only within his local region of Parramatta, but also internationally.
“The AFL has a small presence in Manila with the establishment of the Philippine Australian Football League. It is a small league making great inroads into building the game in the Philippines and across Asia,” Giron said.
Giron wanted to build on the great work of the Philippine Australian Football League and spread the game to the younger generations, and so the idea of delivering an AFL clinic to a local primary school in his parents’ hometown was born.
The Year Five and Six students at Amungan Elementary School, Iba and Zambales were extremely eager to play their first ever game of AFL, shortly after practicing simple drills of hand passing and kicking.
“The kids loved it, they had a ball. They were even asking their teachers the next day if they could play again.”
The Newcastle City Australian Football Club generously donated playing guernseys, which Giron gave to all of the children who participated in the clinic. GWS GIANTS hats and drink bottles, Aussie Rules balls and DVD’s explaining how to play AFL were also provided to the students.
“You’ve got kids in that part of the world, living in third world conditions and a lot of the kids go to school in thongs,” Giron explains.
“It costs parents a lot of money to get the kids clothes and into school uniform.
“So if a school has access to a uniform they can use to play sport, then you are giving people in these communities access to things they wouldn’t normally have.”
The great impact of this simple act of giving was not only felt by the students, but the entire community.
“I remember talking to one of the teachers who said they had goose bumps because they were so grateful that people would care enough to donate something like this.
“If I can give those kids something to aspire to, outside of what they see every day, then they might be interested in playing AFL or they might one day say that they want to be a professional.
“It’s about dreaming big!”
If you would like further information on AFL NSW/ACT’s Multicultural Programs, please contact our Multicultural Programs Manager, Nickie Flambouras on firstname.lastname@example.org.