Footscray, July 20: More than 200 newly arrived migrants and refugees were introduced to AFL football through the AMES Cup ‘Game On’ event yesterday at the Bulldogs ground here.
AFL stars from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds Jason Johannisen and Lin Jong were on hand to teach the finer points of the game at the event at the Whitten Oval.
The AMES Cup event saw eight teams of new arrivals to Australia from across Melbourne come together to play football, make friends and community connections as well as practice English in a social setting.
In partnership with the Western Bulldogs and the AFL Victoria, the ‘Game On’ welcomed more than 120 players and 100 spectators from 20 different countries. They enjoyed a celebration of sport, multiculturalism and friendship.
Bulldogs star Jason Johannisen said he always looked forward to the annual Game On event.
“The participants are always so enthusiastic and it’s great to see them show off their skills on the day,” he said.
“Sport was such a big thing for me when I moved to Australia, and it’s great to see that AFL football is having a similar impact for the AMES Australia students,” Jason said.
The eight teams are made up of English language students from AMES Australia from Footscray, St Albans, Nobel Park, Werribee, Dandenong (2 teams), Box Hill and Flagstaff (City).
Cath Scarth, CEO of migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia, said the event was important in helping to introduce newcomers to Melbourne to a key aspect of the city’s life.
“They say that footy is the social glue that binds Melbourne together so we see events like this as a way of promoting a cohesive society and giving newly arrived people connections into the communities in which they now live,” Ms Scarth said.
“This is a terrific event. Sport is a great way of meeting new people and it is an important part of Australia’s cultural life; so it is very rewarding for us to be able to expose migrants and refugees who are newly arrived to an occasions like this,” she said.
Western Bulldogs Executive Manager Community Foundation Gavin Ackerly said: “It’s fantastic to see the progress the participants make throughout the football program, but more importantly the role sport can play in engaging new and emerging communities in Melbourne’s west.”
AFL Victoria CEO Steven Reaper said he was thrilled to hear this event was taking place again in 2016.
“We truly believe in our philosophy One Game, Many Cultures and the Game On! AMES Australia Cup truly encapsulates all elements of this belief,” Reaper said.
“To see so many participants playing Australian Rules football for the first time is a very special experience for all involved.
“This tournament is more than just about footy, it promotes community comradery and a sense of belonging for the newly arrived migrants participating.”
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