The Southern Football League (SFL) will be celebrating Multicultural Round this coming weekend – Saturday 19th – Sunday 20th July. Falling in line with the AFL’s Multicultural Round, the SFL encourages clubs and fans to get down to this weekend’s matches to support our league and the game’s cultural diversity!!!
There are many players in the AFL from culturally diverse backgrounds, approximately 15% of the player list, and this is continuing to grow. Since it started in 2005, the Multicultural Program has ensured that more than 150,000 people from migrant families have experienced AFL games and have come into contact with their own local footy communities. The Southern Football League supports this initiative and encourages all clubs to support their current players and fans from all backgrounds this weekend.
Current players such as Adam Ballard who plays for the Caulfield Bears, not only co-captains his side on a weekly basis, Ballard has also been given the rare opportunity to represent Great Britain in the 2014 AFL International Cup later this year. Ballard hails from Durham in Northern England and can’t wait to do his country proud - “It’s massive. Anytime you get to sing your national anthem before a sporting event it’s pretty special. You don’t get to do that a lot.”
Ashwood wingman and small forward Alex Jong, is a first-generation Aussie of Chinese-Timorese descent, his parents are refugees who emigrated from their respective countries. His parents seized the opportunity to begin new lives in Melbourne and Jong quickly jumped at the opportunity to play Aussie Rules two years ago. “Football is just something that everyone can come to and join together with. You know, it’s pretty much a boys club... and once you’re there pretty much everyone is the same,” Jong said.
St Pauls star Peter Mercoulia in his early years played both Aussie Rules and soccer, however Mercoulia was swayed by his father who had a long association with St Pauls Football Club to pick up the oval ball. Mercoulia has since established himself as one of the SFL’s elite midfielders and is enjoying his time at his current club with fellow team mates. “We have a spread of nationalities at our club and they always felt welcomed by everyone. We’re very fortunate at St Pauls that we have that diversity, but we’ve also got very good people and that’s what it comes down to.”
The Southern Football League appreciates the contribution made by these players for Multicultural Round. Full interviews can be seen in this weekend’s Record. We look forward to the participation from all clubs and the community throughout the weekend.
Please also click on the link below to read about how Mordialloc’s Dhana Nithyakumar came to love Australian Rules Football!
Dhana Nithyakumar Story