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AFL announces multicultural ambassadors

January 21, 2016 3:20 PM

THE AFL and Australia Post are pleased to announce its Multicultural Program will expand to 18 player ambassadors in 2016 and for the first time will include two female players.

Female footballers Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Darcy Vescio will be joined in promoting some of the many diverse backgrounds in Australia’s Game by Brisbane Lions Vice Captain Dayne Zorko, Geelong’s Tom Hawkins, Fremantle’s Tendai Mzundu, Gold Coast SUNS players Adam Saad and Tom Nicholls, Sydney Swan Aliir Aliir and Western Bulldogs player Jason Johannisen.

The new additions in 2016 join existing Australia Post AFL Multicultural Player Ambassadors David Zaharakis (Essendon), Stephen Coniglio (GWS GIANTS), Paul Puopolo (Hawthorn), Shem Tatupu (Hawthorn), Alipate Carlile (Port Adelaide), Jimmy Toumpas (Port Adelaide), Bachar Houli (Richmond), Nic Naitanui (West Coast) and Lin Jong (Western Bulldogs).

AFL General Manager Game and Market Development Simon Lethlean said this season’s ambassadors were chosen to reflect the diverse cultures continuing to emerge in Australian society and the AFL’s commitment to growing the game in all communities.

“Expanding our multicultural player ambassadors to include two female footballers allows Australian Football to continue its commitment in reflecting Australian society and ensuring it’s an inclusive environment for all to enjoy our game, whether that’s as a fan, player or official,” Mr Lethlean said.

“We’re excited to add two female players to the list of multicultural ambassadors this year, whose talents were showcased in the female exhibition matches of 2015 and who are fast becoming well respected role models within their respective communities.

“The expanded list of 18 ambassadors, representing 13 AFL Clubs and two female Clubs, will play a crucial role in raising cultural understanding, inclusion and participation at all levels of Australian Football,” he said.

In 2016, multicultural players make up 15 per cent of the AFL player lists across the 18 AFL Clubs.

The 2016 ambassadors will begin their duties during the Australia Post AFL Community Camps next month where they will meet fans during school visits, community receptions and super clinics in both regional and metropolitan centres.

The Australia Post AFL Multicultural Player Ambassadors will be at the forefront of AFL Multicultural Round to be held this year in Round 16 of the Toyota AFL Premiership Season.

With the support of Australia Post, the round will continue to celebrate ‘Many Cultures One Game’ and will highlight the community engagement initiatives being undertaken by the ambassadors and the entire Australian Football industry.

Australia Post Managing Director & CEO, Ahmed Fahour, said Australia Post’s ongoing commitment to celebrating diversity is a vision they shared with the AFL. 

“Australia Post directly employs 37,000 people from 137 nations and almost a quarter of our employees are from non-English speaking backgrounds,” said Mr Fahour.

“We recognise how migration has enriched Australian neighbourhoods and we’re proud of our connection with the AFL, who represent a sport that unites so many cultures under the one banner.

“This year, we are thrilled to be partnering with some of the biggest names in the AFL to spread the word message on inclusion, acceptance and diversity within the Australian community,” he said. 

Australia Post is the official community inclusion partner of the AFL and delivers a number of grassroots community activities under the Australia Post Our Neighbourhood community program.  Our Neighbourhood aims to build healthier, more vibrant and more inclusive communities throughout Australia.

The Multicultural Ambassadors at the launch on Thursday. Picture: AFL Media

Australia Post AFL Multicultural Ambassadors information:

·         Nic Naitanui (West Coast - Fijian) works one day per week at the WAFC supporting the ongoing development of the West Australian multicultural strategy and the Naitanui Talent Academy.  

·         Bachar Houli (Richmond - Lebanese) works one day per week at AFL House developing the Bachar Houli Islamic Schools Program in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, the Bachar Houli Academy nationally and Ramadan dinners. He will work on consolidating and expanding these programs further in 2016.

·         Adam Saad (Gold Coast SUNS - Lebanese) will work on developing the Bachar Houli Islamic Schools Program in Queensland, mentor participants at the National Bachar Houli Academy and provide support to the Queensland Ramadan dinner. He will also support the AFL’s World Team at the NAB Under-16 National Championships as well as helping drive the Queensland multicultural strategy through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

·         Tom Nicholls (Gold Coast SUNS - Fijian) will support the Queensland multicultural strategy through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round. Tom will also work with the AFL’s World Team at the NAB Under-16 National Championships.

·         David Zaharakis (Essendon - Greek) will continue working on AFL Victoria’s talent programs, mentoring young multicultural footballers and will attend key multicultural events.

·         Paul Puopolo (Hawthorn - Italian) will assist in the management of the AFL Multicultural talent camps and National All Nations Cup, as well as attend key multicultural events.

·         Shem Tatupu (Hawthorn - Kiwi) will assist in the management of the AFL Multicultural talent camps and National All Nations Cup, as well as attend key multicultural events.

·         Tom Hawkins (Geelong) is passionate about uniting diverse communities through Australian Football and will support the AFL multicultural strategy through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

·         Alipate Carlile (Port Adelaide - Fijian) works one day per week with the SANFL supporting the ongoing development of the South Australian multicultural strategy, AFL Multicultural Round, Alipate Carlile Talent Academy and facilitate cultural education sessions with community football clubs.  

·         Jimmy Toumpas (Port Adelaide - Greek) will facilitate cultural education sessions with community leagues and community football clubs as well as assist with multicultural talent programs in South Australia.

·         Stephen Coniglio (GWS GIANTS - Italian) will work with the New South Wales Multicultural Talent Academy, help drive AFL Multicultural Round, as well as be a Talent Mentor to multicultural participants in the talent pathway.

·         Aliir Aliir (Sydney Swans - Sudanese) will support the New South Wales multicultural strategy through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

·         Lin Jong (Western Bulldogs - Taiwanese and East Timorese) will work on participation programs in the Western suburbs of Melbourne including an umpiring academy focusing on the Asian community and will facilitate cultural education sessions with community football clubs.

·         Jason Johannisen (Western Bulldogs - South African) will support the Victorian multicultural strategy through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

·         Tendai Mzungu (Fremantle - Zimbabwean) will work on the Multicultural programs in West Australia through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

·         Dayne Zorko (Brisbane Lions - Yugoslavian) in conjunction with his role as a NAB AFL Auskick Ambassador, will support the ongoing development of the Queensland multicultural strategy to help unite diverse communities through Australian Football and will assist in programs including the Queensland All Nations Cup.

·         Darcy Vescio (Western Bulldogs - Chinese & Italian) will support the AFL’s female multicultural talent strategy through development programs and will also make key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.   

·         Sabrina Frederick-Traub (Melbourne - English) will support the AFL’s female multicultural talent strategy through development programs and will also make key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.