Contributed by: Wesley Hull Wednesday, June 03 2020 @ 08:33 pm ACST
As the 2020 AFL Premiership season prepares to explode to life again after the coronavirus postponements on field, the mechanisms of the game that go unseen off field for most of the time are also gearing up for action.
Such is the case for the team of AFL Multicultural Community Ambassadors across Australia.
In 2013, the AFL initiated a program to have everyday people from all walks of life, and all manner of cultural backgrounds, head out into communities all over the country to espouse the virtues of Australian Football. Whether at junior or senior level, male or female, schools or clubs or anywhere else in the spectrum of community, volunteers will find innovative ways to involve and immerse children and adults in our great game.
According to the http://community.afl/programs/communi...or-program[*1] “The AFL Community Ambassador program was established in 2013, with the aim to engage Multicultural Communities through a network of dedicated volunteers while using Australian Rules Football as a vehicle of engagement and inclusion.”
For myself, 2020 sees my third year in a rewarding and exciting role, directly volunteering and working within the wider AFL framework. Whilst that is exciting enough, the real excitement kicks in once out in the community watching children or grown-ups touch a footy – some for the first time – and smiling or giggling with every kick, handpass or mark.
The diversity of activities and experiences that ambassadors will offer is as wide and manifold as their own backgrounds and circumstances. Whether it is a hand passing drill with Sudanese children in suburban Melbourne, Muslim women kicking to each other in western Sydney or kids in Indian communities in North Queensland playing games like “rob the nest”, the Multicultural Community Ambassadors will be helping to secure the future of Australian Football.
Myself, in conjunction with AFL Queensland and AFL Cairns, I get to continue what I began back in 2016 when first in the role of an ambassador. By visiting the mosques in both Cairns and Mareeba, including an introductory skills clinic, I was able to bring the game to the previously soccer loving Muslim community. Whilst numbers of kids were low, not really enough for games of football, the seed for the future was planted. In 2020, an opportunity to revisit the past exists along with a chance to reignite interest.
Similarly, 2017 saw a similar approach to the local Sikh communities in Edmonton and Gordonvale. The same opportunity presents itself to rekindle an interest in the game with a view to junior (and maybe older) participants joining up with local clubs.
A program of visiting local boarding schools to talk about the meaning of multiculturalism and how that translates to local youth was a success across those same years. It will be exciting to return to new, eager faces to highlight the diversity that exists in just one classroom, school, suburb or community.
Whilst all of these projects, along with those of other ambassadors across Australia, remain waiting for the green lights of government and industry laws and regulations surrounding COVID-19 responses, all ambassadors are champing at the bit to get started.
Events of 2020 may well have played havoc with the operations of the AFL as well as all other sports. However, it hasn’t dimmed the desire of the team of AFL Multicultural Community Ambassadors as they wait get out into communities far and wide to promote the greatest game in the world.