In Round 19, the AFL community will celebrate Multicultural Round. Stephen Coniglio has been a part of the AFLPA’s Multicultural Players’ Board since its inception in 2016, and has written an exclusive AFLPlayers.com.au column about the significance of the week.
Footy for me wasn’t always No. 1.
Both my mother and father moved to Perth, Australia in the 1960’s with their respective families in search of a better life.
Mum coming across from England and dad with his family from Italy, I always had a very diverse and cultured upbringing with both sides of the family.
I’m very proud to call myself Australian, English and Italian and will always carry those traditions and teachings into my work and life in general.
The fact I wasn’t born into the game but fell in love with it is an extra reason why I can understand and can resonate with the importance of Multicultural Round.
Sport in general can be a great leveller and a force to unite.
In this country, AFL plays a lead role in uniting cultures and that’s something I’ve very proud to be a part of.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be as an elite player either but in the community as a coach, volunteer or even an administrator at a junior club.
We know the impact the AFL Women’s competition has had on young women everywhere who can now see themselves represented at the elite level. It’s the same for multiculturalism.
You see Darcy Vescio in the women’s game and Nic Naitanui in the men’s game as two great ambassadors that have created a pathway that young multicultural kids can aspire to reach.
When kids can see their own culture and faces that they resonate and relate to on the field or TV, it gives them extra belief that they can be included and belong.
The more we can create awareness and become more reflective of what the rest of society in Australia looks like, the better.
I’m part of the AFL Players’ Association’s Multicultural Players’ Advisory Board, and one of the Australia Post AFL Multicultural Player Ambassadors.
In our various ways, and sometimes just by playing football, we’re role models for the modern Australia.
It’s something that I’m extremely proud to be a part of and I can only hope I’m out there in my return match on Saturday during the 2017 Toyota AFL Multicultural Round.