Plan to reinvigorate local footy

Matt Duck, Maribyrnong mayor Michael Clarke and Gary Brown. (Joe Mastroianni) 241944_01

Goya Dmytryshchak

Australian rules football could be taken to mosques and temples under a multicultural program being rolled out across Brimbank and Maribyrnong, in a plan to reinvigorate football in the area.

The Western Region Football League has secured funding from both councils to implement a program first trialled with success in Hume and Dandenong.

In the League’s submissions to the councils, chief executive Matthew Duck said a number of clubs were “on the precipice, living season to season”.

“The collective survival of these clubs will be dependent on their ability to truly connect with their multicultural communities,” Duck said.

“All sentimentalities aside, this is about more than football – our indigenous game is simply the vehicle to achieving something far more meaningful and indeed generational within and for our


With the council funding, several multicultural football programs will be formed by the year’s end.

These programs will be linked to the WRFL clubs that are nearby.

The league has developed three programs that would be open to all but targeted at specific communities:

1: Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and more;

2: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and

3. Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Phillipines.

WRFL community engagement manager Gary Brown implemented the program in the Dandenong region after finding that traditional means of engaging people in football were proving difficult in culturally diverse areas.

‘’We must approach football engagement differently by taking our game directly to our communities rather than just expecting them to come to us,” he said.

“It’s a changing landscape.

“After meeting with the cultural leaders and gaining their trust, we were able to take football into places of worship, into mosques and temples, and we certainly gained some traction.

“It became far bigger than just football.

“What we identified was that there was a real health and wellbeing issue within some of these communities.

“It certainly became a little bit of a crusade for me to try to help these communities as best as I can and using football as a vehicle to do it.”

The league’s clubs that will hopefully benefit from the initiative include Albanvale, Albion, Braybrook, Deer Park, North Footscray, North Sunshine, Parkside, St Albans, Sunshine, Sunshine Heights, West Footscray and Yarraville Seddon Eagles.

“It’s wonderful and we’re excited about it,” Brown said.

“Connecting with our communities is so important and this approach will hopefully see our clubs be more reflective of their own demographic and as a result they will prosper and remain vital and sustainable well into the future.”