It is wrong to say that the influx of players from African countries is an “experiment” in the same way that the influx of Irish is sometimes referred to as the “Irish Experiment”. It certainly isn’t. The increase in players of African descent is a result of Australian Rules football embracing the changing nature of our population and more players with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds will continue to grow.
That said, it is very interesting to see what is occurring with players in the AFL/VFL environment who come from Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and other African nations. For the purpose of this story, players who were born in Australia but parents were born in their African country of origin are included – but not an exhaustive list.
There is s small but growing thread of evidence to say that players from African nations could become the archetypal ruckman of the future. Here is some proof.
When Majak Daw was rookie-listed by North Melbourne back in 2010, he kicked open the door for other players from African nation backgrounds to follow. Born in Khartoum, Sudan and a refugee to Egypt before travelling with his family to Australia, Majak became the first AFL player of Sudanese origin.
In his wake, others like Aliir Aliir (Kenya to Sydney Swans) and Mabior Chol (South Sudan to Richmond) play senior AFL football now. Others have been and gone, and some still wait in the wings – other players of African nation descent want to follow. However, all owe a debt of gratitude to Majak Daw the trailblazer.
This is what makes his accident last December so profound. When emergency services rescued Majak from the base of the Bolte Bridge in Melbourne, with a broken pelvis and hip, it seemed his playing days may be over – at least at the elite level.
The following article from Kavisha Di Pietro on the AFL Players website www.aflplayers.com.au explores the journey of another young Sudanese footballer making his way onto an AFL list and hoping to emulate the deeds of Aliir Aliir and Majak Daw.
Western Bulldogs draftee Buku Khamis’ memories of his childhood in South Sudan are hazy.
He can recall how the sand would burn his feet as he played outside in the heat but he doesn’t remember much more from back home.
The 18-year-old was only six when he migrated to Australia with his parents and siblings.
His journey across the globe would be his first time on a plane.
“I don’t remember too much from living there but I do remember coming on the plane to Australia not knowing where we were going or what was going on,” he told AFLPlayers.com.au during his first AFL pre-season.
In a massive coup for AFL Middle East, the AFL club Greater Western Sydney Giants (GWS) have agreed to work together to help develop the Middle East’s competition. The following statement from AFL Middle East Operations manager, James Larkin, details the arrangement.
Statement GWS Giants Relationship
Introduction: On the morning of December 21st, the AFL Middle East (AFLME) announced it had come to an arrangement whereby it would develop a relationship with the AFL club – Greater Western Sydney Giants. This relationship was sought as a means to help expand Australian Football in the greater Middle East region at all levels including Auskick.
The opening round of the new 2018/19 AFL Middle East season got underway yesterday in Dubai with two tight matches which produced two significant results. The Dubai Dingoes came out snarling against the Abu Dhabi Falcons, whilst the Dubai Dragons won a thriller against the Multiplex Bulls.
In the opening match on a hot morning at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai, the Dubai Dingoes got their bark back and put a serious bite on the Falcons. In a tight opening half, it was the Falcons getting their noses in front to go to the main break with a seven point lead.
The Dingoes came back out after the break with renewed spirit – conscious that their new season needed a positive start – and rammed home eight goals to five after half time to win the game by ten points. It wasn’t the start the Falcons were looking for. After the promise of last year they needed a good start to the season. However, the Dingoes would be delighted with the win after a tough season in 2017/18. Already they are in a position to challenge for finals later in the season if they can snare another couple of wins.
In a wonderful example of the power of our game across the world, the Essendon Football Club's theme song "See The Bombers Fly Up" has been updated and rearranged by Ugandan artist, Coopy Bly. Below is the stunning result - a stirring rendition of a song well known across Australian Rules football communities.
The bi-annual tour of Under 17 talent from St Marys Sporting Club in Geelong has been completed for 2018. The club’s long association with South Africa, and particularly the work of AFL South Africa, has seen students tour three provinces in what is described as a “life changing experience” for those students.
Other tours for St Mary’s students include Ireland and Cape York Peninsula communities in Australia. The South African tour features a series of matches and clinics for kids across the Western Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and North West provinces in association with AFL South Africa and AFL FootyWILD.
After a closely run season in the Stockholm Australian Football Federation (SAFF) competition, the Norrtälje Dockers will clash with the Solna Axemen in the 2018 Grand Final. Having won their respective ways into the biggest game of the year, both teams will put on a great show in front of the Stockholm locals at Skarpnäck Sportfält. The SAFF Grad Final is one of the premier sporting events on AFL Sweden’s calendar.
The Dockers will play in their second Grand Final. They already have a 100% record in the biggest game of the year, having won their one and only back in 2016. After finishing the home and away season on top of the ladder, the Dockers will start slight favourites. The two teams have clashed three times this year, with the Dockers winning two of those matches.
The following article, is translated as closely as possible from the original story in Arabic for the www.filgoal.com website – an Egyptian sports website. Certainly, the appearance of this story in the Egyptian sports reporting market indicates a growing interest in the game, built almost entirely on the back of an Auskick program run by Professor Mohammed Hashem at the American University Cairo.
Can you imagine a game that holds the mix of football and hand [handball] togetherω Australian football, that you will probably [be hearing] about for the first time, will give you that mix.
Australian football is a wide-ranging game in its country [played Australia-wide], with the highest scoring rate in the country, and the Aussie’s [game is] the fourth-highest in all sports after the NFL, Bundesliga and English Premier League.
Last week, World Footy News reported on the development of the game in Egypt through the work of Professor Mohammed Hashem and hundreds of enthusiastic kids embracing his Auskick In Egypt program (see:Spirit Of Ancient Egypt). Since then, things have moved quickly in Egypt.
As this story is being written Professor Hashem (Mo Hash) is in the far south-western Egyptian location of New Valley within the greater New Valley Governorate. He is there running Auskick-style clinics to another gathering of wildly excited kid embracing the game. What makes this clinic particularly special is the location.
New Valley is around 1000 kilometres south of the Egyptian capital city of Cairo. It is roughly due west of the Nile city of Luxor. The region sits within the eastern fringes of the Sahara Desert, close to both Sudan and the Libyan border. If I had been asked to find a more remote part of the world, New Valley would go close – as a kid I was enthralled by the magic of the isolated (now dry) Lake Chad in near-neighbouring Chad, south of Libya.