AFLQ celebrates the inclusion of two African boys in the World XVIII for the NAB Australian U16 Championships in Sydney.

Friday, 25 June, 2010

Brad Reid, AFL Queensland Game Development Manager, has lauded the code’s strong multi-cultural  focus as two 15-year-old African boys now living in Brisbane and playing AFL football prepare for a very special treat over the next fortnight.

As reported in The Courier-Mail today, Aliir Aliir, from Sudan, in north-east Africa, and John Cubahiro, from Burundi in west Africa, have been chosen in the World XVIII to play at the NAB Australian U16 Championships in Sydney.

The World Team will be coached by indigenous AFL icon and Sydney Swans games record-holder Michael O’Loughlin.

They will participate in Division Two of the U16 Championships from 3-11 July alongside defending champions Queensland, NSW/ACT, Tasmania, Northern Territory and a team from South Pacific.

Prior to that they will attend a seven-day high performance camp in Melbourne from this Sunday, incorporating a trial match, fitness assessment, specialist training, football education, cultural awareness education, a tour of the MCG and a visit to an AFL game.

“It’s a fantastic story that two young men who not so long ago were living in a totally different part of the world, having never heard of AFL football, can now be playing at this level,” said Reid.

“The AFL is committed to providing opportunities for people from a multi-cultural background  and this is one of those situations that makes you feel good about the system and how it works.

“What better way for someone from Africa to integrate into Australian lifestyle than by playing the national indigenous game?” Reid asked.

Ironically, Aliir and Cubahiro are setting off for the national U16 championships as Joel Wilkinson, whose father is of Nigerian origins, captains the Queensland side in the national U18 championships.

The Broadbeach midfielder will miss the last two carnival games in Melbourne on Saturday and Tuesday after he fractured his collarbone in last Saturday’s game against NSW/ACT but will still travel south with the side.

Aliir has been in Australia with his mother and two younger brothers for five years. Living at Chermside West, he has played football at Aspley for two years after having a taste of the game in the school program at Kedron High, where he came from a basketball and soccer background.

According to Brett Fragiacomo, AFLQ Brisbane North Development Manager, 189cm Aliir was identified at the U16 Northern Raiders club day in 2009, when he was playing in the Aspley seconds side.

“He showed an extraordinary ability to jump and read the play in the ruck,” said Fragiacomo of Aliir, who was picked in the initial Raiders U16 squad last year but missed final selection.

This year he began in the Aspley U16 McDonalds Premier Cup side, won a spot in the Raiders U16 side and after an outstanding State carnival won a spot in the Queensland squad before moving on to the World team.

“Allir has a real x-factor about him,” said Fragiacomo. “He has very clean hands, can jump and is surprisingly quick. And he’s a very good kid.”

Cubahiro, who also moved to Australia five years ago with his entire family, now lives in Crestmead and plays at Coorparoo with his younger brother.

Bill Renner, AFLQ Brisbane South East Development Manager, explains he was spotted playing for Camp Hill State School in a primary school competition three years ago.

He was invited to join the AFL Future Stars program, where he spent some time with the Lions Academy, and has been involved in AFL ever since.

He now attends Marsden State High School, plays at Coorparoo, and although in his first year at U16 level, he is developing nicely as a 189cm forward/utility player, says Renner.

The World XVIII was chosen from more than 60 nominations from AFL international affiliates or local migrants who have lived in Australia for less than five years. It includes players from South Africa, United States, Sudan, Canada, England and Ireland.

Above: John Cubahiro is pictured proudly wearing his Coorparoo strip, while Aliir Aliir is pictured receiving his Queensland Young Scorpions jumper from Lions ruckman Jamie Charman (left) and coach Ray Windsor. 

To view The Courier-Mail article on the two boys, please click here.

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