Contributed by: Ash Nugent
In recent years, the AFL has introduced a number of "themed" rounds each season. Rivalry, Grassroots and Heritage rounds each focussed on one particular aspect of football and gave it due recognition. Following their success, the AFL has introduced other complimentary rounds that have further played upon notions of "giving back" or "getting involved". One of the newly introduced themes this season was "Welcome to the AFL".
"Welcome to the AFL" introduced thousands of individuals of differing cultural and linguistic backgrounds to Australian Rules football and hopefully in doing so helped football strengthen its links with the many diverse communities that make up Australia. In June, local paper the Port Phillip Reader ran an article on one of the VAFA football clubs, the Glen Eira Saints. Glen Eira is the perfect example of a club utilising diversity and taking up the AFL's call to involve those born overseas in our indigenous game and to help them to find acceptance in a new country. The Saints have an amazing six players on their lists that were born in Somalia. They all came to Australia as teenagers and were introduced to the sport by a high school teacher. Since that day they have converted their skills with the round ball to those of a Sherrin. They have been wholly accepted into the club and in the football tradition, have been given suitable nicknames.
In further support that the skills gained in other sports can convert to one of the many positions on a football field, in only his third season, Mahad Farah, one of the Somalian 'super-six' has been amongst the club's best players. Such is encouraging for the growth of football, both in Australia and overseas and hopefully examples like this one will encourage clubs that haven't recruited into the unknown, to give it a shot. Football can only be the healthier for it.
World Footy News