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Sunday, July 05 2020 @ 12:53 am ACST

Malcolm Blight The Proud Father Of A Multicultural Team


In his playing days, Malcolm Blight was one of the greatest players of his or any other era. Dual VFL premiership player with North Melbourne, dual AFL premiership coach with Adelaide, Brownlow Medal, Magarey Medal (SA), Coleman Medal, Ken Farmer Medal, dual All-Australian and more. The list is as impressive as it gets.

Nowadays Blight casts a watchful, paternal almost, eye over the rising Gold Coast Suns as originally the Director of Football but now Coaching Advisor. He gave his wealth of knowledge willingly to former coach Guy McKenna and now to Rodney Eade.

It is almost a fatherly role, and sitting with him in the grandstand at Cazalys Stadium in Cairns you could see his watchful gaze rarely left the goings on out on the oval as the Suns trained in front of an enthusiatic local crowd, augmented by many devotees from the Gold Coast and elsewhere who had headed north for the game.
He has much to be proud of in his own career, and in the gradual development of the Suns. But as our conversation moved towards the multicultural development of the game, Blight proudly stated that “the Gold Coast Suns are one of the most multicultural teams in the AFL.”

He is dead right also, based on the AFL’s own website. According to the official AFL records the club has 13 players of either indigenous or multicultural origin (defined by one or more parents born overseas, or the player). They are just shaded by both Fremantle and Port Adelaide with 15 each.

Though, in fairness, the official Gold Coast multicultural list does not include the names Kolodjashnij (Ukrainian) or Rischitelli (Italian) whose multicultural backgrounds go back further than their parents. Nor does the list include Adam Saad who has a strong Australian born family lineage, but as one of just three practising Muslims playing at AFL level (Ahmed Saad at St Kilda and Bachar Houli at Richmond) his heritage adds another layer to the multicultural makeup of the Gold Coast Suns.

Blight is proud of that, and points out that the Suns are not just juggling the young age demographic of the club, but also a variety of cultural backgrounds in an eclectic makeup of players. As an example he points to Adam Saad saying “it’s a shame he is injured this week, but as it is Ramadan the club has helped him juggle his football and his religious and cultural obligations.”

On a different note, Blight is delighted that both the Gold Coast Suns and the Western Bulldogs have committed to continue coming to Cairns to play a match each year. Blight himself lived in "the far north" for many years, but admits that being a South Australian lad he was surprised when he was in his younger days that they had Australian Rules football “up in Cairns.”

Nowadays he is astutely aware that the game has grown enormously in the northern Australian city, and much of that recent growth has been built around the presence of the Gold Coast Suns each year since 2010 when they came as a VFL team to play the Bendigo Bombers (Essendon affiliate) and each year since as a full AFL team playing the Richmond Tigers and the Western Bulldogs.

But this weekend he will watch over his coaches and players, like a caring, doting dad, as they try to erase last year’s loss in Cairns to the Bulldogs and further win the hearts of the Cairns fans.

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