GWS taking a GIANT step into the West

The GWS GIANTS have taken Sydney’s West by storm through a series of community camps and school programs throughout the 2015 pre- season.

By Bronte Kerr and Isabelle O’Brien

The GIANTS have made great strides in 2015 both on and off the field.

Behind the scenes, the GIANTS boys have immersed themselves in their local community in a bid to grow the game in Sydney’s west.

Ryan Griffen and Joel Patfull know a thing or two about the importance of expanding the AFL’s reach into new communities.

Griffen made the switch to the GIANTS after 8 years in the Bulldogs strip.

Defender Joel Patfull joined the GIANTS after a total of 182 games with the Brisbane Lions.

The two new recruits sat down with AFL NSW to discuss all things footy, namely, their thoughts on community involvement and multiculturalism within the AFL.

The 2015 pre-season saw the GIANTS boys hit the road as part of a series of community camps and school visits.

In late March, kids from all over Sydney were given the unique opportunity of rubbing shoulders with the GIANTS boys and learning the tricks of the trade from the experts themselves.

Happy snaps and autographs were hand in abundance, with the youngsters showing the GIANTS players a thing or two about how to take the perfect selfie.

Griffen spoke of the differences he has observed between the Bulldogs and GIANTS approach to community outreach and development.

“Coming from the Western Bulldogs, a lot of kids already love AFL. It’s been a bit different here at the GIANTS with us trying to get the AFL theme out there,” Griffen told AFL NSW.

We’ve been focusing on coming out to Western Sydney and getting kids on board”.

Joel Patfull believes that at the heart of it, community camps are about “getting them to love the game we love”.

These school visits have placed a large emphasis on the importance of embracing multiculturalism and the important values of inclusivity and diversity.

These programs have been specifically catered to appeal to both young boys and young girls of all backgrounds with a limited knowledge of AFL.

“A lot of the kids we visit haven’t really seen AFL or know what AFL is. The clinics I’ve been to the kids really love it and get fully amongst it,” Griffen said.

In 2014 the GIANTS were recognized for their work on AFL Multicultural Round by winning an Australian Multicultural Marketing Award.

This game included a citizenship ceremony, the first of its kind in AFL.

The 2014 AFL Multicultural Round also saw Chinese born Australian footballer and commentator Jamie Pi commentating the GIANTS match at Spotless Stadium in Mandarin for a local Chinese radio station.

CEO of the GIANTS David Matthews highlighted the importance of multiculturalism to the GIANTS identity.

“Right from the start we said we wanted to be a club that not only represents but also reflects the communities of Western Sydney,” Matthews said.

“We want to welcome everyone to our game regardless of their background so they can enjoy it as players, fans, officials, administrators or volunteers”.

In 2015, multicultural players made up 15% of the AFL player list.

Check out some of the photos from the GIANTS school visits below!