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Ethiopian hopes to make mark for Africa

  • Friday, November 12 2004 @ 01:06 pm ACDT
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Africa AFL club Essendon are trialling Ethiopian tall man Goaner Tutlan. The 22 year old came to Australia as a refugee four years ago, and although his skills are only in the early stages of development, he has a background in soccer and basketball and his athleticism has impressed officials at the Bombers.

Tutlan has been training with Essendon's development squad and has broken the club's 20m sprint record, as well as their agility and vertical leap test. AFL clubs have long lamented the scarcity of athletic tall players, and so at 196cm, the African joins a growing list of tall internationals that the clubs might gamble on. Others include Irishman Setanta O'hAilpin, his younger brother Aisake, and English immigrant Brad Moran.

Tutlan not only wants to have a successful career to help send money home to his family in Ethiopia, but also hopes to inspire other Africans to play Australian Rules. With the game developing well in South Africa, footy may soon find a whole new continent interested in the great game. And it isn't coach Kevin Sheedy's first experiment with someone who hasn't grown up with the game. Several years ago he gave American Dwayne Armstrong a chance. In that case, his skills did not develop quickly enough, but in Tutlan's case, as a tall player, the requirement might be a bit less demanding.

A full report on Tutlan can be found at the Herald Sun website, which also features a great photo of him in action.