AFL strengthens community spirit in Fairfield
Written by Leyla Kaya.
A group of young boys and girls remain unfazed by the weather as they run around Endeavour Reserve in Fairfield on an icy Friday night, practicing their kicking skills before the weekend’s match.
Here you will find kids from all different walks of life coming together to play a friendly game of football – but not before they all eat a sausage sandwich straight off the barbeque.
The newly established Fairfield Junior Football Club is one of the most culturally diverse junior AFL Clubs in Sydney.
AFL NSW/ACT Local Area Manager, Sam Zikman says that bringing Multicultural communities together is extremely important as it helps to foster social inclusivity by using sport as the driving force.
“We have barbeques and put music on each week for the kids, and we try and make it really inclusive for the parents as well, so everyone can come here and feel a part of the community,” Zikman said.
By establishing a safe and friendly space where kids from all backgrounds can enjoy themselves and feel a sense of belonging, the Fairfield Junior Football Club has seen a dramatic increase in kids playing AFL.
“In the space of 12 months, we’ve gone from nothing to having over 60 kids playing Auskick and 25 kids playing club football.”
Zikman also says that connecting kids of Multicultural backgrounds to AFL has been extremely valuable, and has helped to grow the game throughout Western Sydney.
“Without engaging with the Multicultural communities within Fairfield, we would not have been able to get this club up and going.
“We know that based on demographics, a quarter of the population [in Fairfield] is of Vietnamese heritage, 20 per cent are of Chinese background and 10 per cent are from an Arabic background.”
Remarkably, 80 percent of children living within the Fairfield region are first generation Australians, having parents that were born overseas.
Under 11s player, William Cluff, whose mother is of a Peruvian background, has only been playing Aussie Rules for a year, but says it is already his favourite sport. His brother Jozef also plays in the Under 9s team.
Their father, James Cluff says that his children love playing each week and that it is a safe sport for kids of any age and size to play.
“I played T-Ball, athletics, rugby league and soccer but I like AFL the best because it doesn’t matter how tall or short you are, or what background you come from, everyone can play it,” William said.
The Year 6 student from Fairfield West Public School also says that he has made many friends playing AFL and that it has changed his perspective of his fellow teammates after witnessing their great talent and skills.
“Now I really believe in giving people a go and saying if they want to have a kick around because they might be really good and be able to do things you couldn’t imagine.
“Other people don’t know the potential they have inside of them and just look at them and judge them on what they look like and not how they actually are.
“That’s why I think AFL is really great.”
NAB AFL Auskick and AFL training is on each Friday night at Endeavour Reserve, Fairfield West from 4:30-6:00pm. If you are interested in playing AFL or Auskick in the Fairfield area please contact Sam Zikman on (02) 8867 7420 or firstname.lastname@example.org’
Help celebrate #ManyCulturesOneGame by joining us at the 2017 AFL Multicultural Festival presented by Australia Post. Be part of all the excitement this Saturday, July 29 at Cathy Freeman Park, as we celebrate the diverse cultures that make our game so great. For more information visit gwsgiants.com.au/multicultural