L-FRESH the Lion inspiring local youth through AFL

Australian-born Sikh hip-hop artist and AFL Multicultural Community Ambassador, L-FRESH the LION – known as Sukhdeep Singh to his family and friends – is using his passion for music and AFL to enrich the social fabric of Western Sydney.

Growing up in Liverpool in Sydney’s South-West after his parents migrated to Australia in the late 1980’s, L-FRESH has been in love with football since he was a child.

He will be performing at the AFL Multicultural Festival presented by Australia Post on Saturday at Sydney Olympic Park, to help celebrate the many cultures which make the AFL what it is.

“I was first inspired in primary school when the Sydney Swans visited my school, and after that I started to get behind the Swans because I enjoyed watching them play, especially Michael O’Loughlin,” L-Fresh reminisces.

“His charisma and personality just drew me to the game.”

Despite this immediate connection with the game, L-FRESH was faced with some obstacles which made it difficult for him to follow the game along the way.

“I felt that my challenge was that I didn’t know anybody else who enjoyed AFL. No one in my family watched it, or wanted to watch it.

“I didn’t know anyone at school who played it, and I don’t think it was ever a school sport option, despite there being an AFL oval right next to my school.”

Coming from a strong Punjabi cultural background, his parents did not understand why he wanted to watch AFL, and travelling to the SCG for the live games was no easy feat.

It was not until the formation of the GWS GIANTS in 2012, that his excitement was once again ignited.

“It was like being born as a kid again. I now have my own team that is closer to home and that represents the rich culture of Western Sydney in terms of its values.

“I’m sure there are members of the Indian, Sikh, and Punjabi communities who are fascinated by the game but don’t know how to engage with it.”

This is why L-FRESH decided to become an AFL Multicultural Community Ambassador.

The aim of the Australia Post AFL Multicultural Community Ambassador Program is to further engage Multicultural and Indigenous communities in Australian football.

The Ambassadors work to connect their particular communities with AFL and in doing so, promote greater engagement and inclusion within the game.

L-FRESH’s main aspirations are to create pathways, which make it easier for young people to access football, leaning on his own personal experiences to make the sport relatable.

“The biggest thing for me was reflecting upon my childhood and recognising the difficulty I had in connecting with the game, and thinking that surely I wasn’t the only one from my community who felt that challenge,” he said.

A highlight for L-FRESH during his time as an Ambassador was when he had the opportunity to take some people from his local community to an AFL game for the first time.

“We went to the GIANTS and West Coast Eagles game last season and it was such a close game.

“We filmed their reactions, and seeing how much they enjoyed their first live game experience was definitely a standout.”

Come and see L-Fresh perform and help celebrate #ManyCulturesOneGame by joining us at the AFL Multicultural Festival as presented by Australia Post.  Be part of the excitement this Saturday, 29 July 2017 at Cathy Freeman Park from 12pm-6pm. The GWS GIANTS will then take on Fremantle next door at Spotless Stadium at 2.10pm.