The next generation of Victorian AFL Indigenous and Multicultural talent will be on display this weekend, when two of Victoria’s diversity talent programs take to the field on August 12. Jake Morris reports.
Held at Punt Road Oval, the game between the Laguntas and Jim Stynes squads will mark the end of a three-match series and another year of development of footballers from diverse backgrounds.
Supported by the AFL, the Korin Gomandji Institute (KGI) and AFL SportsReady, the Laguntas program aims to further develop the pathway to the AFL competition for Indigenous players, as well as provide training and education to support the off-field development of young up and coming Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.
Similarly, the Jim Stynes program provides Multicultural boys between the age of 16 and 19 the opportunity to further their development on and off the field and enter AFL Victoria’s talent pathway including the TAC Cup competition.
Described as a fantastic leader and talented footballer, Laguntas young gun Kobe Brown is set to take the next step in his life on and off football field.
In just his second year in the Laguntas program, Brown has been an impeccable figure among his fellow teammates, after taking on a leadership role at the young age of just 16.
Yet while the on-field aspect of the program has seen Brown improve his football performance, the Mildura Football Netball Club product said he loves the cultural aspect the Laguntas Program offers.
“I love how Laguntas is not all football based and has a big emphasis on culture and identity, which is really important to me,” Brown said.
“I’m keen to see how far football can take me, the dream is to play AFL and I believe with Laguntas, it has given me the best opportunity to do that.”
Having claimed wins in its last two encounters against the Jim Stynes squad, the young midfield star said his team is looking forward to the opportunity to tackle their multicultural counterparts once again.
“Playing against the Jim Stynes boys is one of my favourite parts of the program,” Brown said.
“It’s great to come down to Melbourne and see the different talent coming through each time we play against them and having the opportunity to catch up with the multicultural guys and my Indigenous friends is always enjoyable.”
Standing in the way of three straight Laguntas victories, is a Jim Stynes squad brimming with talent.
Entering the Jim Stynes Program last year, Maithaing Chak says his team is excited to run out on the weekend and end the year with a win.
“It’s been another great year in the program, and hopefully we can end the camp on a high note and claim a win, so it should be a really fun match to be a part of.”
The South Sudanese Year 11 student and Western Jets representative has not only improved his overall game on the field, but credits the Jim Stynes program for his development off the field.
“Despite my love for football, the program’s activities off the field have really helped me develop my leadership qualities and decision making skills,” Chak said.
“I have been able to make plenty of friends and being able to run out and play with them against the Laguntas squad is a really cool thing.”
The third and final clash between the Laguntas and Jim Stynes programs will kick off at 1pm on Saturday August 12 at Punt Road Oval.