The AFL launched the 2017 Toyota AFL Multicultural Round at Lachlan’s Old Government House in Parramatta on 25 July.
AFL General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy, Tanya Hosch, was joined at the launch by Gurpreet Grewal, the subject of the third film in a film series with Australia Post celebrating the cultural diversity within the game.
Also in attendance were Australia Post AFL Multicultural Player Ambassador, Aliir Aliir, GWS GIANTS player, Tendai Mzungu and AFL NSW/ACT Female Football Ambassador, Mai Nguyen.
Hosch explained that the round was an important reminder to AFL fans and the wider Australian community about embracing cultural diversity within our migrant nation.
“We see more than ever that the community level and grassroots football is starting to reflect the cultural diversity within our country, and the work we do through our multicultural programs – with our community inclusion partner Australia Post – needs to be credited,” Hosch said.
“Whilst it will take time, we are firm in our commitment to have the elite game being truly representative of the cultural landscape of Australia,” she said.
“The Next Generation Academies are a tangible approach of this commitment and will no doubt provide further opportunity and success to players of all backgrounds in the years to come.
“As we celebrate the sixth Toyota AFL Multicultural Round, we currently have 117 players in the men’s competition with multicultural backgrounds (14% overall), 21 of them having been born overseas,” Hosch said. Seventeen of this year’s AFLW players also have multicultural backgrounds.
“Our iconic game provides a harmonious and safe platform for all to feel included in Australian society and to have various cultures and linguistics celebrated,” she said.
Western Sydney hip-hop artist, L-Fresh the Lion dazzled attendees by performing two songs, including his hit ‘One’ to open the morning.
Master of Ceremonies, Azmeena Hussain, joined keynote speaker Jamila Rizvi who spoke to the crowd of over 100 people about her family’s journey to Australia from India, telling her audience that ‘the future of the game is a Multicultural one.’
Earlier this year, AFL NSW/ACT announced a new four-year partnership with Multicultural NSW, which saw the agency become a key partner in the AFL’s Multicultural engagement strategy in New South Wales.
The NSW Government is a supporter of the 2017 AFL Multicultural Festival presented by Australia Post, which was held during the 2017 Toyota AFL Multicultural Round on 29 July at Sydney Olympic Park.
NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Ray Williams said the NSW Government was proud to support inclusion and participation through sport.
“This is a big win for NSW and a great moment for the people of Western Sydney and sports-lovers across our state,” said Williams.
“The NSW government is proud to have secured the marquee game and festival of the national AFL Multicultural Round in Sydney’s multicultural and sporting calendar until 2021,” he said.
The cast of Miss Saigon as well as workshops, AFL clinics, food stalls and rides also kept the gathering entertained.