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Auburn Tigers trailblazers in Multicultural Footy

  • Sunday, March 06 2011 @ 10:24 am ACDT
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General News

As part of the AFL's push into Western Sydney, one important thrust has been tapping into the area's many multicultural communities, with one club in particular having been a recent success story.

The Auburn Tigers were only founded in 2010, and the majority of their playing base in drawn from players of Palestinian or Lebanese background. In their debut season, they went through the fixture undefeated and took out the Sydney AFL Division 4 premiership, with 2011 seeing them enter sides in both Division 2 and Division 4.

One conrnerstone of the club is the Kassem family, with all nine brothers involved in the club, as well as their sister who has started a women's club, which counts 38 members so far, mostly muslim and playing in headscarves.

AFL indigenous and multicultural development officer Ali Faraj says ''The Auburn local government area is the multicultural hub of Australia,'' Faraj said. ''Of the 70,000-odd population, 78 per cent of the community speak a second language at home. There are 6000 Chinese-born residents, 4000 Vietnamese, as well as Koreans, Lebanese, Turkish, Somalis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis …"

''Sometimes this area gets so much negative publicity. But it's about the individuals, the people who want to get something out of life, and with the GWS Giants here now, the people here can engage with AFL and also have aspirations to play at a high level.''

With the first rounds of the 2011 International Cup to be held in Sydney's Western Suburbs, clubs like the Tigers will likely be featuring in the multicultural team(s) to be competing against the best from overseas.

For more, read Kassem family show how to win the West.