Diversity Champs launched in Western Sydney

Written by Leyla Kaya.

Last night, over 300 Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander, and Multicultural teenagers from across Australia attended the opening ceremony of the National Male Diversity Championships.

Hosted this year by AFL NSW/ACT at Blacktown International Sportspark, the National Diversity Championships aim to expose Indigenous and Multicultural players, coaches, and umpires to an elite AFL environment.

Proud supporter of the Championships, Blacktown City Councilman, Brad Bunting welcomed the large crowd to Western Sydney. Explaining the vast history of AFL in Blacktown, Bunting embraced this latest layer of diversity, which the Championships will bring to his  town.

AFL General Manager of Game Development, Andrew Dillon said this week that the Championships aim to showcase diverse talent from across the country.

“The National Diversity Championships are a key component of the AFL’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and Multicultural strategy,” explained Dillon.

“We are proud to see the Championships continue to grow each year.”

Currently, nine percent of elite AFL playing lists are of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, while fifteen percent are of Multicultural descent. Holding the National Diversity Championships on an annual basis, the AFL looks to the events to find AFL stars of the future.

Recruiters from sixteen AFL Clubs will be in attendance at the Championships, offering players the chance to showcase their talents to those in the know.

AFL Indigenous Programs Manager, Narelle Long offered her advice to the Under 15 year olds on making the most of the opportunity which stands before them.

“The Clubs will not only be looking out for talent, but they are looking for respectful leaders – players that display themselves well on, and off the football field,” said Long.

“They are looking for great young men.”

AFL NSW/ACT CEO, Sam Graham was also on hand to open the Championships, speaking of current AFL listed players who had been discovered in years prior.

“A few years ago, Aliir Aliir was here at these Championships where he caught the eyes of the AFL Clubs, and was ultimately drafted by the Sydney Swans,” said Graham.

“I am excited to see who the next Aliir Aliir will be.”

The teams took part in an Indigenous smoking ceremony prior to the launch, and were treated to a performance by the Lucky African Dance Group between speeches.

The Championships will feature 13 teams playing a round-robin tournament, with the Grand Final to be held on Thursday, 13 April at Blacktown International Sportspark, with every game free to the public.

AFL NSW/ACT have two teams competing – Kickstart (Indigenous) and All Nations (Multicultural). You can check out the team lists here.