With A Simple Question, A Team Was Born
The football club, Australia could learn a thing or two from.
The high marking forward is from Kenya, the forward pocket player from Afghanistan and the wingman is from Thailand.
So reads Anglesea Football Club’s team sheet.
Anglesea, on Victoria’s surf coast, has a population of just a few thousand people.
Two years ago it was struggling to field a couple of teams so one its coaches, Jamie McKenzie, approached North Geelong Secondary School.
A couple of refugee students came forward.
“I just put out a thing ‘Does anyone want a game of footy?’ And we got a couple and a few more and we just piled them in a car and brought them down,” McKenzie said.
This year there’s six teenagers. They come from Congo, Kenya, Afghanistan, Thailand and Myanmar.
One of the refugees is Mustafa Niamatullah Nazar.
The 17-year-old grew up in Afghanistan and his father was killed by the Taliban. He moved to Australia in December 2013.
“When I came over here I had to get used to the lifestyle the people the culture the language,” he said.
He faced a few challenges in taking up AFL.
“I thought it was soccer. Next minute I see it’s a different shaped ball. I was like ‘Oh, why do they call it football?”
One of Mustafa’s supporters is home grown hero and Cats star, Patrick Dangerfield. He grew up playing for the club and is proud of the work they’re doing with the refugees.
“Any opportunity to give people an opportunity to play sport and to feel a part of something whether it be a sporting club or that local community element is something we should all embrace, Dangerfield said.
“I’d urge every club out there if you’ve ever thought about it, it’s worth pursuing because you are changing people’s lives.
“It's not only important for the Anglesea community. It's important for the boys too. To have a place where you have that feeling of belonging is important for everyone and it's a wonderful local community.”
Diversitat, a Geelong migrant service, organised for a bus to take the new recruits from their school to training in Anglesea twice a week.
“We're a town of migrants and we have refugees coming here and it breaks down some of the myths,” Diversitat CEO Michael Martinez said.
Anglesea football club and Diversitat are so pleased with the success of the multicultural program, they want to recruit more refugees, including for the netball teams.
Diversitat is hoping to raise between $5,000-10,000 to expand the program.
“There's a little bit of work to go before the recruiters come down here I think but you've got to start somewhere,” Dangerfield said.
But most importantly for Mustafa: “Lots of people just see it as a club but I see it as a home.”
To kick off the fundraising, Dangerfield is auctioning off a team signed Cats jumper, match worn boots and a meet and greet.
Want to help out? Click here.