By Grant Hitzman
AFL Queensland will host their inaugural Unity Cup carnival on November 16th at Yeronga, inviting male and female athletes from ethnic backgrounds to compete.
The Unity Cup will focus on strengthening ties with the community and culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CaLD), through a mutual appreciation of Australian Rules Football.
The aim is to encourage individuals in culturally diverse communities to assimilate in the Australian culture via football clubs and community groups.
A carnival style day will give youth from multicultural and indigenous backgrounds the opportunity to compete in two separate pools: talent and community.
The talent pool will focus on identifying the best players to be selected for representative teams, while the community pool is aimed at engaging players with community clubs.
A range of matches, stalls and activities will showcase Queensland’s many cultures.
The program is an important part of the AFL multicultural Player Talent Identification Program and provides CaLD participants an opportunity to participate in the National Unity Cup in Melbourne.
AFL Queensland Diversity Manager, Brett Fragiacomo, believes events like the Unity Cup are vital to the continued success and growth of Australian Rules Football.
“15% of all AFL players are from multicultural backgrounds and by 2020 Queensland will have the highest percentage of multicultural and indigenous players in the country,” said Fragiacomo.
“Running these types of AFL programs engages the indigenous and multicultural community, which is important as we try to encourage them to learn and participate in Aussie Rules.
“It is a massive market that we need to tap into if we want to keep AFL a culturally diverse game.
“The Unity Cup also gives us the opportunity to replenish the talent pool and continue to look for future stars.”
Previous Unity Cup carnival’s have been hugely successful in Victoria. Melbourne clubs and event ambassadors have united to deliver a diverse carnival that celebrates mutual understanding and respect.
Victorian event ambassador, David Rodan, believes the Unity Cup is an excellent stepping stone for cultures to unite and become apart of the community.
“AFL is a great tool for families from different cultures to make the transition to another country and culture easier,” said Rodan.
“Getting involved in a footy club is a great way to make connections and feel a part of the community.”
If you are from a CaLD background, aged between 13 and 19 years old and would like to try out for your local team, head to your nearest community team selection day.
Brisbane and Gold Coast will host combines at Leyshon Park, Yeronga on October 5th and Metricon Stadium on October 12th. Both sessions will run from approximately 10-1pm.