Swannies President, Phil Johns expresses a personal opinion and asks, “Should this weekend’s AFL Multicultural Round be renamed the International Round?”
This weekend, the AFL will celebrate . Multicultural Round is a celebration of ” ‘Many Cultures. One Game’ and (it) will highlight the community engagement initiatives of the Australian football industry, as well as the many players from culturally diverse backgrounds who make up 14 per cent of the AFL player list and represent 39 countries.”
It is another great initiative by the AFL which continues to play a leadership role in building strong and cohesive communities as part of its business model.
According to , multiculturalism “refers to the simple fact of cultural diversity: it is generally applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place.”
And so this weekend, there will be a terrific celebration of the different cultures that make up the AFL. No doubt, the cultural diversity will, in part, include discussions about lamingtons, brownies and baklava. All good stuff. But is there a bigger opportunity?
Celebrating multiculturalism is often about the dominant recognising and genuinely appreciating the minorities. And this weekend, this is what the big fish, the AFL is doing – for very legitimate reasons – but it is in a small pond called Australia.
Each of those cultures that will be celebrated this weekend, to state the obvious, will be connected to the countries they were imported from through family, friends, government and business.
Those countries will probably dwarf Australia in terms of population. Their populations will probably follow soccer in numbers that also dwarf Australia’s population.
But that is only part of the story.
There is a very good chance that the AFL will itself have a developing interest in some of these countries (eg Ireland, South Africa and China). And there is an excellent chance that there will be footy clubs and competitions already present in these countries (eg USA, Europe, Asia and South America). There’s a great chance that players and administrators in these countries and regions will be well connected in the local countries through business, government and NGOs (non governmental organisations).
Definitions of ‘international’ include “pertaining to two or more nations or their citizens; having members or activities in several nations; transcending national boundaries or viewpoints”.
So, if the AFL’s Multicultural Round was to become the International Round, it would still allow a local celebration of cultural diversity in Australia as already occurs – but it would also open up a whole world of countries that are being introduced to Aussie Rules. It would give administrators and spectators in the Australian pond a taste of the global ocean and, inevitably, instil greater confidence.
For those involved in footy around the world, recognition from footy’s engine room back in Australia, would probably give them/us a greater sense of confidence as well.
“Multicultural” encourages us to keep it locally confined. “International” invites an exciting world of possibilities.