It’s footy without borders
‘United Nations’ AFL guard of honour demonstrates the cultural diversity of fans from the West
SIDE by side the young footy fans stood — a United Nations AFL team embodying the multicultural fabric of Western Sydney.
Their family heritages are drawn from across the globe — Iran, Lebanon, India, the Philippines, Egypt, Germany, Italy and more — but they have one thing in common. A passion for footy.
Aged seven to 16, the young AFL fans were chosen to form a guard of honour for the Greater Western Sydney Giants as they took on Collingwood at Spotless Stadi- um on Saturday afternoon.
The Giants and NewsLocal promotion put the focus on the AFL’s multicultural round in the heartland of Australian diversity.
The Giants lost to the Magpies but scored where it mattered — with the 30 kids who got to rub shoulders with their heroes.
Lachlan Stack, 14, of Minchinbury, was one of the lucky fans to be selected.
The teenager, who has a Maltese background, represented NSW in a multicultural championship in Townsville earlier this year, and can count players from Africa, South America, the UK, Asia-Pacific and Middle East as teammates. He is a ruckman and halfback for St Clair Crows, another team with a mix of backgrounds.
“In Queensland, I learned a lot about different cultures,
We want our club to represent the people that make up this region Ali Faraj
the food everyone eats, and their religions,” said Lachlan, who attends Emmaus Catholic College, at Kemps Creek.
Giants community co-ordinator Ali Faraj said one the club’s key pillars was harmony. “The club has a range of programs through the Giants Care community initiative that promote multiculturalism,” Mr Faraj said.
“We work closely with people from a range of multicultural backgrounds to introduce them to AFL, which is often a sport they’ve never had any experience with.
“Western Sydney is the most culturally diverse region of Australia and we want our club to represent those people,” he said.
He said the initiative had been a partnership between the Giants and NewsLocal to celebrate the diversity of the AFL community across Sydney. “To have 30 children take part in the guard of honour demonstrates the strong connection the Giants are developing with the community.”
The United Nations of AFL guard of honour at Spotless Stadium. Pictures: Peter Kelly