AFL breaks down cultural divides at Victorian primary schools cup

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The Australian Rules Football season is over but developing the next generation of players has begun.

They were born in dozens of different countries, practice numerous different religions and have various levels of ball skills, but on Wednesday, 200 primary school kids in Victoria were united by Australian Rules Football (AFL).

The annual AFL Victoria Multicultural Primary Schools Cup brings together 11 of the state's most culturally diverse primary, secondary and English-language schools to promote AFL in Australia's newest communities.

Swata, who migrated to Australia from India with her family, said she liked the game from the first kick. 

"When I came to Australia and I started playing footy I actually like it a really lot."

"When I came to Australia and I started playing footy I actually like it a really lot."

She and many others participating in AFL Victoria multicultural events have joined local Australian Rules Football clubs.

AFL Indigenous program manager and former Melbourne Demons player Aaron Davey said the event was all about integrating new arrivals in the AFL community.

"I'm originally from Darwin so I can relate to some of these kids, just coming down to a new environment, but that's the thing about footy, it can bring you strong relationships."

Debney Meadows Primary School win grand final
Debney Meadows Primary School wins its grand final.
SBS

Adam Saad, Gold Coast defender and one of just two practicing Muslims currently on the AFL list, said the national game could be used as a tool for inclusion.

"It welcomes any culture, any person, and when everyone had the love for one thing and that's AFL, it brings people together," he said.

While the cup focuses on fun and learning how to handle a ball, it is also hoped the confidence and social skills gained on the footy field will transfer to other facets of the players' lives.

David Rodan, AFL Victoria's multicultural engagement coordinator and former Melbourne footballer, said he hoped the kids walked away with pride and a better understanding of each other.

"Be proud of your culture and where you're from and also don't be afraid to share that with your schools and your football clubs."

"Be proud of your culture and where you're from, and also don't be afraid to share that with your schools and your football clubs," he said.

Pascoe Vale North Primary School win grand final
Pascoe Vale North Primary School wins its grand final.
SBS

He said he hoped the next generation of AFL elite help further increase diversity in the game.

"We'd like to see more of a reflection of the community at the highest level," he said.

Saad agreed.

"They've embraced my culture and my beliefs, hopefully we can get a few more Muslims on the AFL list in coming years."

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