AFL scouts line up for country's best young Indigenous talent


A group of young players from across the country have showcased their skills at a tournament in Sydney.

The AFL National Diversity Championships is now into its fifth year, and there's no shortage of talent or enthusiasm on offer. 

More than 300 young Indigenous and multicultural Australian rules football players took part in a special tournament on Thursday at the Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney. 

Some of the boys have travelled from regional and remote communities for the chance to show off their sporting skills to a crowd of proud parents, friends and talent scouts. 

Jamie, a 14-year-old from the Northern Territory, told SBS News he hopes to turn his passion for the game into more than just a hobby. 

"I really want a future with footie and hopefully this will be a pathway to an AFL career," he said.

While hundreds of boys competed, only 25 will get the opportunity to be part of the prestigious Flying Boomerangs team - the national junior Indigenous squad.

Past Boomerangs have played in overseas matches, and some have gone on to become professional players, including West Coast Eagles star Brendon Ah Chee.

"What we're really seeing now is elite level talent coming through and players from this carnival today will end up playing AFL," AFL general manager of game development Andrew Dillon said. 

Former AFL players were also on hand to support the next generation of stars.

One of them, Fijian born David Rodan said the program can create amazing opportunities for young players.

"You've got the fun side; these guys falling in love with the game, but also the high talent end," he said. 

Rodan played for the Richmond Tigers, Port Adelaide Power and the Melbourne Demons during his career. 

"Most AFL clubs are here, about 16 or 17, scouting the next best talent," he said.  

While a common love of the sport brought the boys together, the program is about more than just playing the game. 

Hunter, a 14-year-old from NSW said: "The educational sessions have been sensational, I got to learn a lot about myself and other people". 

Rodan said he hoped the benefits of the program will extend beyond those immediately involved.

"When they go back to their communities, they can be good role models," he said. 

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