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Bridging the gap in Stanhope

Former refugees get a chance to experience AFL while Stanhope players learn a little about life.

May 14, 2014 3:15am

Ahmed Aloachey and Kade Dearing swap jersey's in order to face off against each other at Stanhope Football Club.


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Stanhope Football Club hoped for a boost in recruitment after having a special one-off soccer/football match with former refugees on Monday night.

The event, organised by Elizabeth Dunne, had 20 young former refugee soccer players from the Shepparton Social Soccer Group, along with coach Luis Rodriguez, make the trip to Stanhope to learn a little bit about Australian Rules and get to know the district better.

Stanhope Football Club under-18 coach Dean Wileman said a chance conversation with a new player helped lead to the night.

‘‘One of our players we obtained a few weeks into the season, Matt Monahan from Shepparton, his mother’s partner coaches one of the Tatura soccer teams and they have a fair bit to do with former refugees who move to the area,’’ he said.

‘‘He said after an AFL multicultural event held in Shepparton a few months ago a number of the boys were interested in AFL. So I said we have the oval free Monday nights, bring them down, we will have a barbecue and they can learn the ropes.’’

Mr Wileman also said the event offered a few recruitment possibilities for the team.

‘‘We saw an opportunity that some kids playing soccer might lead into footy, they have never played the sport before, so they get to see a bit of the area and we possibly get a player or two, it’s a win-win,’’ he said.

Most importantly, Mr Wileman believes talking with the Shepparton and Tatura players will give the boys from his football club a bit of perspective on life.

‘‘They probably don’t realise how good they have got it until they meet some of these blokes who have had it pretty tough and have grown up in refugee camps,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s the good thing about sport. It can help bridge gaps and hopefully through sport they will have a chat about other things and get a bit of life experience.’’

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