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Football out to recruit Aussie newcomers

The hunt is on in WA footy for a Chinese Jack — or Jill — Darling. Maybe even a Nat or Natalie Fyfe.

A joint initiative between the WA Football Commission and the State Government, through Perth’s Intensive English Centres, is not only aimed at helping new international residents learn about the game but is also being used as an assimilation tool.

Yesterday at Charles Riley Reserve in North Beach, children of all ages and nationalities chased a football around under the guidance of WA footballers Liam Anthony, Adam Cockie and Paul Mugumbwa.

Countries represented as part of this week’s Harmony Week celebrations include China, Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Cuba, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Jordan, Colombia and Uganda.

Anthony, a WAFC community engagement co-ordinator, said that while young Africans were adapting quickly both physically and mentally to the game, he believed there was an untapped boom in Chinese immigrants.

The AFL will host its first premiership game in China on May 14 when Port Adelaide plays Gold Coast at Shanghai’s Jiangwan Stadium and it will be broadcast in Australia by Channel 7.

“Especially the Chinese girls, they get into it and love it,” said Anthony, former AFL player with North Melbourne now with East Fremantle.

“They like the physical side to it and there is a lot of potential there because it is a massive community that is only getting stronger in Australia.

“We want them to learn about our game because we feel that even if they don’t go on to play, it will help them assimilate with the community.”

Melville Senior High School student Yilu “Cindy” Cui, who moved with her family from Beijing to Perth a year ago, said although she was daunted by the physical nature of the game she believed it had great physical and social benefits.

“It helps me to relax and it is a good way to keep fit,” the 15-year-old said. “It is also a way to have good fun with my friends.”

East Fremantle will use their first home game of the season on Saturday against Claremont to promote Harmony Week with the Chung Wah Association and the Indian Society of WA as special guests. A team of Indian children will play a Chinese side in a match at half time of the WAFL game. Nineteen AFL and AFLW players were also announced yesterday as multicultural ambassadors.

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