Aussie Rules working on its multicultural appeal | Pacific Beat

Aussie Rules working on its multicultural appeal

Aussie Rules working on its multicultural appeal

Updated 25 March 2013, 11:47 AEDT

The Australian Football League is making an effort to attract players from more diverse backgrounds.

As part of that, they've selected a number of footballers from Asia, Africa and the Pacific to be 'Multicultural Ambassadors'.

David Rodan is Fijian-born and he's been working with the Melbourne Football Club to help mentor young players.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: David Rodan, AFL footballer and Multicultural Ambassador


RODAN: We are multicultural ambassadors, they have multicultural ambassadors in pretty much every state, so there's a player in every state that is in charge of that. There's 10 or 11 that we have all up. Obviously some vast different backgrounds and pretty much what we aim to do by the AFL is to I guess come up with programs that get the community, get kids predominantly involved in, through football, use that as a vehicle to get kids together and then from that, eventually feel a bit more comfortable in the society and also in the community. So we're also talking about new arrivals and making them feel a bit more I guess and their families a bit more confident within the society. So because we're pretty lucky that football's pretty dominant and in sport, it's a great tool to get I guess skills together. Yesterday, we had the Unity Cup. There's a few kids that couldn't speak great English, but it's funny how if you put a sport in front of them or put a ball in front of them, how well they communicate with that. So it's a great way to people together, especially here in Australia with football being so dominant.
EWART: You mentioned the Unity Cup and as I understand it, that was an AFL nine-a-side competition, players in the late teens from 15 to 18 taking part, Muslim background, Jewish, African, Indigenous. It must have been a great tournament?
RODAN: It was, it was fantastic. Yeah, obviously being the ambassador for that I went past and saw a lot of these kids get involved and you had a vast range of skill level, which is fantastic. You had some kids that have already played, but then you had some other kids as well, that I think they hadn't seen a football in yeah, in, probably only a few weeks ago. So it's great to see them adapt to the sport and also come together and when I'm walking around and they came up for a chat all throughout the day and they seemed really enthusiastic and wanting to take part. So hopefully through this, a lot of kids will want to continue to play football and we can sort of then align them to a local football club and through that, they can feel a bit more comfortable and confident within the community. Because I know especially when, yeah it's pretty much my story when I came from Fiji, I a pretty active kid and we went and Dad wanted to get me into sport and I obviously background being Fijian, rugby was first priority, but there was no rugby here at the time, so put me in football and through that Mum and Dad got involved in the community and involved in the football club. I think Dad was goal umpire on a number of occasions and Mum goal scorer and all that sort of stuff. So and from that, yeah, they felt sort of connected a little bit to the community and made friends and it was a lot easier for them to adapt.
EWART: So plainly that there is a very important social role that you and your fellow ambassadors here are playing on behalf of the AFL. But allied to that, you're also working as a talent mentor. So I guess along the way, you're looking out for kids that could potentially be playing alongside you maybe in the AFL in a year or two's time?
RODAN: Well definitely, yeah. We're trying to just break those barriers that obviously especially in Australian life, it can be pretty hard if you're from a different background and all this stuff as well. We're creating some pretty good AFL has some great programs set up, but like you said, there's a bit of talent as well that's come about and yesterday, looking at some of the skill levels, pretty impressive. So hopefully, hopefully in the next few years, we can see yeah, some of the different background in the AFL ranks hopefully.

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