The SANFL is intensifying its efforts to get young players from different cultural backgrounds into Aussie Rules footy.
Its ‘Inclusive Engagement and Compliance Project’ aims to get young people from countries like the Sudan interested in a sport which wouldn’t ordinarily be on their radar.
By promoting Aussie Rules at cultural festivals and in schools with a high diversity of cultures, and by educating local community footy clubs, the SANFL also wants to make the game more inclusive and engaged.
Players from traditionally non-Aussie Rules backgrounds who are already in the game are proving to be great examples and role models.
As the SANFL’s Inclusive Programs Coordinator, Andrew Ainger, explains:
“It’s important that kids see players like them performing at the highest possible level, so they know that they are not only welcome to play our sport but that there is also a pathway for them to aspire to.”
This financial year the Office for Recreation and Sport contributed $75,000 to the inclusion project, under its Development and Inclusion Program.
Aside from helping pay for staff and the development of policy and training programs, there was enough funding left over to help some of the young up-and-comers try out their skills at this year’s AFL Diversity Championships (U15s), in Sydney.
Two SA teams took part: the multicultural All Nations team, and the Indigenous ‘Kickstart’ side.
The results were fantastic: the Indigenous team made it to the semis of the Kickstart Cup, while the multicultural team narrowly lost in the Grand Final of the All Nations Cup!
Glory and plaudits weren’t the only rewards… Three South Australians were selected in the Flying Boomerangs (the AFL talent academy for Indigenous youth); six made it into the World Team (the talent academy for Multicultural youth). No wonder the SANFL is confident of doing even better at next year’s Diversity Championships – and into the future, long-term!