L-FRESH the Lion to host Come and Try AFL event

L-Fresh the Lion and the GWS GIANTS’ Tom Downie will hold their next Come and Try AFL session this Sunday at Wright Reserve in Quakers Hill.

Aimed at encouraging the Sikh community to get involved in AFL, the session will involve a Sikh community gathering, where all will be taught the rules and skills of AFL 9s.

AFL 9s is the AFL’s official social version of the game, which has been developed with modified rules. It is a free-flowing game and is played in a friendly environment.

The concept of the Come and Try session was an initiative created by Australian-born Sikh hip-hop artist and AFL Multicultural Community AmbassadorL-FRESH the LION. His aim was to create an AFL pathway, which made it easier for young people from Multicultural backgrounds to access football.

Since retiring from professional AFL, former GWS GIANTS player, Tom Downie has been focusing on giving back to the community and sharing his skills and experiences, to encourage the youth to engage in sport.

“I wanted to be involved in the Come and Try AFL sessions because I was motivated by the challenge of teaching AFL to the Sikh community in Western Sydney,” Downie said.

“L-FRESH first said to me when we were discussing the idea, that he would have loved to have something like this available when he was younger.

“Together we thought, let’s combine our skills and give the next generation an opportunity to learn the game of AFL.”

Downie says that the sessions are a fun way to keep active. It starts off with a warm-up session, an AFL skills session and then progresses to an AFL 9s game.

AFL NSW/ACT AFL 9s Manager, Jackie De Oliveira says that these sessions are more relaxed compared to others, like the Come and Try sessions run for corporates, which are more competitive.

“The skills are based on fun and we don’t take scores during the game. If people are asking Tom for advice on their skills, we will extend that part,” De Oliveira said.

“We also have a vegetarian barbeque, so everyone can socialise and have a chat at the end.”

Oliveira says that the highlight has been seeing people who have not traditionally grown up with the game and had never played before, transitioning into AFL fans.

“The adults that have attended have gone to a GIANTS game since starting the program, and their feedback after it was really positive,” she said.

“It was great to see they were able to associate with the rules and understand what was going on in the field of play.”

She also believes that using AFL 9s as a tool to engage the Sikh community is critical to increasing participation in the game.

“We had run two sessions and from that, we were able to field a team for India at the AFL Diversity Cup held during the 2017 AFL Multicultural Festival, so the impact is quite apparent.”

The sessions are free and a great opportunity to meet new people and keep active.

Come along to Wright Reserve, Quakers Hill this Sunday, 27 August from 3-5pm to experience something new.