Injured Western Bulldogs midfielder Lin Jong has put his time on the sidelines to great use by organising and running a Family Footy Fun Day in the western suburbs on Wednesday. Mitch Wynd reports.
With the assistance of AFL Victoria, the Western Bulldogs, and the Sunshine Football Club, Jong has pursued his passion of helping bring Australian Football to multicultural primary school-aged children in a fun and safe environment.
One of several Australia Post AFL Player Multicultural Ambassadors helping grow the game this season, Jong said he was inspired to create the unique event which helps multicultural families engage with Australian Football.
“After doing a few projects as a Multicultural Ambassador here and there, I got to a point where we decided that we were ready to try and engage within the Asian community and see what we could do to provide the opportunity for kids who might not have had the chance to get involved in Australian Football,” Jong said.
“For me it’s mainly about engaging with the local community and giving kids the opportunity and the platform to start playing football or to be interested in the sport.
“Whether they go on to play the game, or just become a spectator, the event is mainly about introducing them to the game and letting them see how fun it is and what they might be missing out on.”
AFL Victoria Football Development Manager Nish Moses said it was terrific to see so many local families attend the inaugural event.
“It was great to see so many children and their families from diverse cultures come along to the first Lin Jong Family Footy Fun Day,” Moses said.
“The event is an opportunity for the community to see what footy can actually do for them, not only the benefits of playing footy, but also for their families and what it can give back,” he said.
Comparing the event to other multicultural community participation events, Moses said that what sets the Lin Jong Family Footy Fun Day apart is its focus on involving the entire family.
“Usually, when we deliver ‘come and try’ days or diversity events it’s about the kids and trying to engage with them, but this event is unique in that it also has a strong focus on engaging with parents as well,” Moses said.
“Getting parents out there and having a kick with their kids, teaching parents the skills of the game and also giving them the knowledge of what footy can do for them in terms of engagement to the community is vital.
“The feedback we’ve received so far has been really positive, so we hope that this event will continue to promote Australian Football and engage with the local community in the future.”