By Grant HItzman
It sounds unlikely that a 14-year old from a small country in West Africa would be starring for his club, state and at a National Championship, but Sierra Leonean born, Kunjia Kumara, is showing that AFL is a game for all cultures.
Kumara, who moved to Australia in 2005, hadn’t kicked a footy his entire life until a friend invited him to play AFL three years ago, and now the Cairns teenager can’t get enough of it.
“A mate in year seven invited me to come and play and I’ve just loved it from there,” Kumara said.
“I love footy because every time you play your fitness improves and everything about the game is really fun.”
Kumara is a perfect example of the wide range of multicultural, indigenous and international talent who are transitioning to AFL and playing a key role in the expansion of Australian Football.
Despite being new to the game, Kumara has impressed onlookers with his relentless work rate, attack on the ball and exciting run through the midfield at club and state level.
Selected to play for Queensland at the 2014 Australia Post All-Nations Cup at Coffs Harbour in April and for the World Team at the U16 National Championships this past week, Kumara has shown raw ability in his short stint in footy so far.
A near best on ground performance against the South Pacific in Round 1 of the U16 Championships last week showed the pocket sized midfielders clean ball skills and potential as a future star.
Kumara isn’t looking at personal milestones however, with the softly spoken teenager suggesting he is simply content to play with some good mates against tough competition.
“It’s big (to play for the World Team) boys are coming from everywhere and every single thing has been great,” Kumara said.
“It’s been very very good to play in these teams and I’ve had a lot of good fun and made some new friends.
“This is my best footy moment, and I would do it again next year if I can.”
And while greener pastures could be on the horizon for the talented Cairns product, Kumara insists he is just happy playing footy for now.
“I’m not sure (where I want to go) I just love playing and enjoy footy.”
Kumara will now rejoin the Cairns Saints for the remainder of the U15 Coffee Club competition. The exciting midfielder has been a star in the competition so far and will be sure to experience plenty of success in the future with further exposure to the game.
Click below to check out our video chat with World XVIII assistant coach, David Rodan.