Multicultural round comes at a good time

The Cattery Roar Rookie

By The Cattery, The Cattery is a Roar Rookie

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    This weekend, the AFL celebrates its annual multicultural round, a time to acknowledge that the indigenous game has been sustained by Australians of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds since the rules of the game were first codified in 1859.

    It’s good timing, given the well-publicised, racial slurs that were directed at Buddy Franklin, Majak Daw and Joel Wilkinson in the past couple of months.

    The first two involved an individual spectator, the latter involved Western Bulldogs footballer, Justin Sherman, for which he received a four-week suspension.

    The AFL first introduced its Racial and Religious Vilification Policy in 1995, becoming a world leader in the sports industry. Earlier this year, the AFL was invited to talk on the subject before the UN Human Rights council in Geneva.

    As just one example of the multicultural footprint on the AFL over the last 70 years, the Italian-Australian community has produced three father-son combinations: Ron Barassi Senior and Junior; Sergio and Stephen Silvagni; and Tony and Tom Liberatore.

    Today, the AFL continues the tradition with the inclusion of players from newer communities, such as Nic Naitanui, Majak Daw, Harry O’Brien and Bachar Houli.

    Last night, Fox Sports dedicated a half hour special on the forthcoming multicultural round, focusing on such matters as the Auburn Tigers Football Club (a Western Sydney club fielding mens and womens’ teams with a high percentage of players of Muslim background), the work being done in the South Pacific to attract more people to the game, the ten or so Irish players currently on AFL lists, the historic international between the Italian and Irish womens teams, and the International Cup which commences on 12 August.

    For the second year running, a World XVIII and a South Pacific team have entered the NAB AFL under-16 Championships, in Division Two. Both teams experienced a win in the first round and had narrow losses in their second game yesterday.

    The 2011 International Cup is the fourth of its kind, having commenced in 2002, and will be the biggest held in its short history. The AFL is now actively involved and a women’s division has been introduced for the first time.

    Papua New Guinea is the reigning title-holder and is likely to be too strong for the other teams, although Ireland has done a fair bit of planning. One player on the AFL list has been released to represent Ireland, while another was on an AFL list for a short period. This too is a first.

    The key point is that in 2011, the multicultural round takes on a whole new meaning: ongoing respect for the diversity already contained in the game, with a hope that this diversity will be extended both within and without.

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    The Crowd Says (86)

    • July 15th 2011 @ 11:47am
      TheSlingTackle said | July 15th 2011 @ 11:47am | ! Report

      Which AFL player was released to represent Ireland?

      • Roar Guru

        July 19th 2011 @ 7:08pm
        The Cattery said | July 19th 2011 @ 7:08pm | ! Report


        Refer to this page:

        His name is John Heslin, although re-reading it, it’s unclear whether he is actually on Richmond’s rookie list right now – sorry about the confusion there if I’ve got that one wrong.

        The other player I refer to is Connor Meredith, previously rookie listed by North Melbourne with a couple of years playing with Werribee in the VFL.

        That link also provides names of a few footballers playing at a decent amateur level in Melbourne, having moved from Ireland primarily to play footy in Melbourne, so there’s no doubt that Ireland will be very, very strong, in fact, if they come up against any of the lesser lights, they will give them a hiding.

    • July 15th 2011 @ 12:07pm
      ruckrover said | July 15th 2011 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

      All good stuff, particularly promising is the growth of football in both south africa and oceania and amongst african and pacific islander communities here in australia.

    • July 15th 2011 @ 1:30pm
      Phil said | July 15th 2011 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

      If the AFL is keen on expanding its impact to a multicultural and international audience, they could stage a biennial “Multicultural Cup” match in the pre-season. This could feature an Indigenous All-Stars side versus an International All-Stars side – the criteria for the International side could be that the person must have been born overseas themselves, or have at least one parent born in a non-English speaking country. This would then include players like Mike Pyke (Canada), Nic Natanui (Fiji), Daniel Kerr (Sri Lanka), Taidgh Keneally (and all the other Irish players), Karmichael Hunt (NZ), Majak Daw (Sudan), Bachar Houli (Lebanese), & Israel Folau (Tonga). That would be a great way to showcase the skills of players from international and Indigenous backgrounds, bringing communities together through football.

    • July 15th 2011 @ 2:09pm
      clipper said | July 15th 2011 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

      Would there be any pockets of PNG where Aussie Rules would be the most played code? Because PNG is so isolated and has so many hard to get to areas, this could happen. Surprised that there isn’t much Soccer played there – must be the Australian influence.
      The AFL should be investing a bit more money in PNG. Although there would be no commercial benefits, the would be a chance of getting a few players to play in Australia, which would help the game in PNG immensely.
      They should try for a four nations cup with Ireland, NZ, PNG, but to have such a poverty ridden and disparate country as PNG as one of the top 4 countries doesn’t say much for your international status.

      • July 15th 2011 @ 2:28pm
        TW said | July 15th 2011 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

        This article explains where the PNG AFL International Squad is picked from. However Rugby League is by far and away the most dominant up there but there maybe pockets of AR dominance – It is very hard to say.
        Soccer Football and Rugby League are semi-professonal – Perhaps Rugby Union is as well.
        Link–Article by Brett Northey

      • July 15th 2011 @ 5:44pm
        Titus said | July 15th 2011 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

        “Surprised that there isn’t much Soccer played there – must be the Australian influence.”

        You mean the Australia where Soccer is the largest participation sport in the country?

        Anyway, what makes you think there isn’t much soccer played there?

    • July 15th 2011 @ 2:16pm
      TW said | July 15th 2011 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

      A good article highlighting where some of the “future” talent will be originating from in the coming years.
      The second tier comps in the AFL States do not just have the talent running around – It is finite.
      The annual draft talent quality usually cuts off about number 20. There are exceptions but the research by the clubs by now is very exacting.
      The AFL clubs know all of this – The search outside of the traditional sources by them is on in earnest and long may it continue.
      Speaking internationally it appears the South African Lions will play a match in the north of WA either on their way to the August International Cup or on the way home.
      The Lions team is being picked from the recent AFL South Afica Provincial Championchips.

    • July 15th 2011 @ 5:32pm
      nevyn said | July 15th 2011 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

      As a person who can certainly be included under the banner of “other cultures” I find it odd that the AFL has a weekend to celebrate the multiculturalism.

      It’s a little embarassing to be honest, because if it was truly multicultural we wouldn’t need to celebrate the fact. You only need to see the example of the big deal that was made about Majak Daw, there is no doubt that he’s big tall and strong but would it be such a big deal if he was Anglo and white? I see players like him every second week when I take the field for my Soccer team.

      Multiculturalism for me is being accepted regardless of your culture not being singled out because you’re of a different culture.

      My own team is made up of Australian, English, Scottish, Trinidadian, Italian, South African, Argentinian, Mauritian, Malaysian, Chinese, Greek and Sri Lankan players. That is a truly multicultural mix of players who all get along and actually enjoy each others cultural quirks.

      Until the AFL sees teams like that and doesnt feel the need to make a big deal about it, I won’t consider it truly multicultural.

      • July 15th 2011 @ 8:11pm
        Jackson said | July 15th 2011 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

        Im a complete supporter of multiculturalism, but the multicultural round seems to be simply a tokenistic marketing tool…

        Also, calling it our indigenous game is a little much…. Not wanting to start a code war, but honestly, the game is incredibly similar to gaelic football, and obviously originated in Ireland, not in Australia.

        • July 15th 2011 @ 11:28pm
          ruckrover said | July 15th 2011 @ 11:28pm | ! Report

          The origins of Australian Football have been quite a matter of debate. Developed in parrallel with Gaelic Football rather than directly from it, in fact the rules of Gaelic Football weren’t officially codified until after the rules of Australian Football.

          I think it is far more than tokenism. Of course the “multicultural” theme is needed because the code remains very much linked with traditional Australian culture particularly outside NSW and Qld – but things are changing and the AFL itself wants to see Australian Football as a code for everyone no matter what ethnic background. Who can criticise that?

          Australian Football has a broad range of support across class but not so much across ethnic background. The bogan element is a significant slice of supporters and players. It is good for harmony when bogans and new immigrants play more together. So congratulations to the AFL even if there is self interest in generating more revenue and participation – doesn’t every sport aim for that anyway?

      • July 16th 2011 @ 12:30pm
        Titus said | July 16th 2011 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

        Every round is multicultural round in soccer.

        • July 16th 2011 @ 9:55pm
          woodsman said | July 16th 2011 @ 9:55pm | ! Report

          Yet unlike football, soccer in this country has spent the vast majority of its second-rate existance emphasising division. Sorry Titus, I enjoy soccer, but do not believe the global generalisations of soccer are relevant in the Australian context.

          • July 16th 2011 @ 10:20pm
            Titus said | July 16th 2011 @ 10:20pm | ! Report

            What? Global generalisations?

            You say emphasises division, so what you are saying is that the AFL should call it the Assimilation round, where everyone can give up their culture and be united in a homogenous Australian culture.

            You keep fighting your cultural domination battle Woody, complete with gimmicky stunts, but as nevyn says, people dont have to give up their culture because Australians love Football(Associated) just as much as everyone else.

      • Roar Guru

        July 19th 2011 @ 7:15pm
        The Cattery said | July 19th 2011 @ 7:15pm | ! Report


        It is indeed paradoxical that while the AFL goes out of its way to highlight its multicutural policies and appeal (and some might view that as over the top, as you do), recent history in Australian soccer is to actually tear down pockets of the soccer industry viewed as narrowly focused in an ethnic sense, preferring to appeal to a “mainstream” market, however you might define that.

        I would also add that it’s a good thing your team comprising players of diverse backgrounds is not having to play games in Spain or Northern Italy, where they would be submitted to the cruellest form of racial taunting to be found anywhere on Earth (pockets of Eastern Europe can match these sorts of lows as well), seemingly with little action from UEFA or local governing bodies.

        • July 19th 2011 @ 9:25pm
          Titus said | July 19th 2011 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

          Racism is insidious wherever it happens The Cattery, and nothing is more insidious than people trying to deny that it’s a problem, or even defend it as a part of life, as a good many of the commenters on this article do.

          • Roar Guru

            July 19th 2011 @ 9:40pm
            The Cattery said | July 19th 2011 @ 9:40pm | ! Report


            In the article itself, I make direct references to three clear cut cases of racism that occured at two AFL games and at a VFL game which received a lot of press this year, and thus my assertion that multi-culturalism round came at a good time for the AFL, because despite a 16 year old policy that has received world renown, there remains much that can be done on this front, both on and off the field.

            By the same token, if someone comes on here arguing that soccer has no need of such events, I feel duty bound to point out the horrendous racial abuse the some players receive in La Liga, Serie A and much of Eastern Europe on a routine basis, and clearly, these leagues could learn much from the AFL’s efforts (which is why the AFL was invited to speak at the UN Human Rights council in Geneva earlier this year).

            Let us all recall that FIFA regularly publicises its anti-racism policy, often via speeches from great players before important games, and we would all agree that this a good thing, and that only the foolish would think it is unnecessary.

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