Naitanui and Saad running out of time
Nic Naitanui and Ahmed Saad both have their problems ahead of round one
SETANTA O'hAilpin and Alipate Carlile hope to make a difference in their rival states of New South Wales and South Australia as the newest AFL multicultural ambassadors.
The Greater Western Sydney forward and the Port Adelaide defender have joined nine other AFL players as ambassadors, with the group meeting at AFL House on Monday to talk about their 2013 strategy.
Nic Natanui, Leigh Montagna, Bachar Houli, Joel Wilkinson, David Rodan, Harry O'Brien, Karmichael Hunt, Majak Daw and Ahmed Saad are the other ambassadors, with the group representing the many diverse backgrounds across the sport.
O'hAilpin, who hails from Ireland, will work with the NSW Multicultural Talent Academy and be involved in NSW Multicultural Round, as well as be a talent mentor to multicultural participants in the talent pathway.
O'hAilpin said working with the community and within schools was a big part of his role, as well as helping those from other backgrounds adjust to life in Australia.
"We all know playing with the Giants in western Sydney, there's a vast range of ethnic groups out there," O'hAilpin said.
"Getting them to play our beautiful game is an amazing thing and giving them another opportunity … and getting people to engage in society a lot easier and integrating into different communities [is part of it]."
Carlile, who was born in Fiji and moved to Australia when he was a baby, will work one day per week with the SANFL in his new role.
The 25-year-old will support the ongoing development of the SA multicultural strategy and talent academy, and facilitate cultural education sessions to community football clubs.
Carlile visits Fiji once a year and said local children had asked him on past trips how they could get involved in the game.
"Coming from Fiji, I didn't get much time there before we moved but there's still that link there … we've all got our links to our own countries," Carlile said.
"This is about trying to get participation up, even if they're only in it for a couple of years, just to see them develop off field as well, in leadership and self confidence as well, so hopefully the AFL can help with that."
The ambassadors will work with local groups throughout the year with the aim to unite individuals and communities across the country.
They will also play a leading role in round 16, which is multicultural round.
The round will celebrate 'Many Cultures. One Game' which will highlight the community engagement initiatives that are currently being undertaken by the Australian football industry.
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou said the ambassadors had shown leadership in the community and would continue to encourage participation and inclusion in the sport.
"Last year we saw the introduction of the AFL Multicultural ambassador program and we are proud of the insight and cultural guidance they provided to communities and the AFL industry," Demetriou said.
"In 2013, we are excited to welcome Setanta and Alipate to the program and look forward to the 11 ambassadors playing an important role in encouraging individuals and communities to unite through their passion for Australia's game.
"Australian football has the extraordinary power to bring people together regardless of their background and our partnership with Australia Post continues to grow, an organisation which also values the importance of connecting people and communities, including multicultural communities."
Players from culturally diverse backgrounds make up 14 per cent of the AFL player list.
Outside of O'hAilpin and Carlile, the nationalities represented by the ambassadors are Italian (Montagna), Lebanese Muslim (Houli), Nigerian (Wilkinson), Brazilian (O'Brien), Sudanese (Daw), Egyptian Muslim (Saad), Cook Island/Samoan (Hunt), and Fijian (Naitanui and Rodan).
Setanta O'hAilpin is a forward/ruck in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged 34 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub.
Jennifer Phelan is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenPhelan.