Mzungu given a chance
Wednesday, October 27 2010 @ 01:59 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
There's an expectation in Australian football that with the right encouragement there will be quite a few AFL players coming from Australia's growing ethnically African community. Such players are likely to provide role models for further recruits, including directly from Africa itself, such as up and coming South African players.
Another increasing trend is for AFL clubs to recognise that there is mature talent in the state leagues and that not being drafted as an 18 year old should not be the end of a player's AFL career prospects. This has been encouraged by recent successes including the stellar form in 2010 of Michael Barlow at Fremantle, and the good form of James Podsiadly at Geelong, both having been plucked from the VFL. Of course the WA and SA clubs have long kept a closer eye on their local leagues, Adelaide in particular using the rookie list with SANFL players to excellent effect for many years and more recently Fremantle loading up on WAFL and VFL players (all these players are open to all clubs but some seem to focus more closely on them).
Tendai Mzungu meets both the above criteria. The 24 year old had an excellent WAFL season for the Perth Demons and has been signed by Fremantle via a trade week deal with the new Gold Coast club (whose entry rules allowed them to pre-list some players and on-trade them for a draft pick). The "dashing defender" can be seen below in action on two Youtube clips. It appears he has a mixed background, with some Eastern African heritage. Apparently he has was born in Melbourne to a Zimbabwean father and Perth mother, and although playing Aussie Rules for a long time, didn't even nominate for the AFL Draft until he was 22, according to Meet Freo's draft dodger.