Angad Roy for AFL

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Indian origin player will play for the Rams at the upcoming U/16 National Championships. RITAM MITRA reports

Australian Rules, commonly referred to as AFL (although this is the name of the competition) originated in Victoria in 1859 as the Victorian Football League. The sport, while extremely popular in Australia, has had a tough time gaining popularity overseas. It is very encouraging then, that a young Australian of Indian origin has been recently selected in the U/16 NSW/ACT Rams side to contest the upcoming NAB AFL U/16 National Championships.

Late last year the AFL hosted the International Cup, which included teams from several nations, including Sweden, Fiji, France and India. While India has AFL programmes in Kerala and West Bengal and the sport is definitely gaining popularity, in Australia, Angad Roy is the first player from an Indian background to represent NSW/ACT at any National Championships.

Angad plays in the centre half-back/forward position, and has been part of the Slater & Gordon Giants Academy for the past three years. Lachlan Buszard, the Academy Manager, sees Angad’s selection in the side as an important step towards a potential career in the AFL. He is one of three young players in the academy from an Indian background.

Speaking about Angad’s selection in the side, Buszard was excited. “It’s a great opportunity for Angad to play against the best young players in Australia and gain an insight into what it’s like to be an AFL player in terms of recovery, game preparation and diet,” he said. “It’s a chance for Angad to test himself and see where he is placed across the national talent pool”.

“The selection of Angad shows the growth of the game in the Western Sydney region, and the multicultural diversity of the Greater Western Sydney area is also represented through his selection,” he added.

Angad also believes his experiences at the academy have been very positive. “The academy has been excellent in developing my game,” he told Indian Link, “and I have found I have improved a lot not only in terms of my AFL skills, but things like discipline, diet and the way I conduct myself overall. It also helps to have someone like Ryan Hulihan, who played 200+ games for Carlton, as a coach and mentor to help me understand what I need to improve on and what I need to do if I want to play AFL at the highest level”.

Although Angad attends the Kings School in Parramatta, where the focus is on rugby, he has found no trouble fitting in AFL around his school commitments. “My friends have taken an interest in what I do – not as much the game itself, as I go to a predominantly rugby school, however they have shown more interest than what they had previously shown. My school has been very supportive and gave me an exemption from playing rugby this year so that I could focus more on AFL”.

For this young man, AFL brings with it an altogether different level of challenges to other sports.

“I am drawn to AFL more because of the fact that you have to be good at so many different things, such as kicking, handballing, fitness and pace,” he observed.

You need to have this to be successful and none of it comes without practice. This challenge has provided me with a work ethic not only in AFL, but in most parts of my life”.

And indeed, Angad’s training routine is hectic. Five days of training, along with matches on Sundays, mean Angad is much busier than most other boys his age. “It sometimes takes away from school, but that all comes down to time management,” he noted with maturity. “However, school and AFL go well together as one provides as an escape from the other”.

Much of Angad’s success can be owed to his supportive parents, who introduced him to the sport after falling in love with it upon coming to Australia. “They have probably been the biggest help in terms of where I have gotten today. They don’t miss a game of mine or my brother’s”.

Angad recognises that a future in AFL involves plenty of hard work and an extreme focus. It’s early days yet – but it has definitely been a fantastic start to his journey.

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