Longwood has embraced a diverse range of nationalities this season with a host of players from across the world.DAMEN FRANCIS May 22, 2014 3:05am
A Moroccan, an Israeli and a Sudanese walk into a football club.
They learn new skills, make new friends and, after finding themselves as welcome as any new players, decide to stay.
Longwood is fast becoming one of the most culturally diverse football clubs in country Victoria, with a host of Indigenous Australian and Tiwi Islanders also pulling on the Redlegs jumper this season.
Walid Cheiri hails from Morocco, Mohamed Almohamdawy from Israel and Zac Tong from Sudan.
The trio debuted in Longwood’s Kyabram District Football Association under-18 clash with Avenel two weeks ago and coach Ricki Shiner said the recruits had fitted in well.
‘‘Their kicking is probably the biggest adjustment they’ve got to make, but they pick up the skills very quickly,’’ Shiner said.
‘‘All the kids have surprised me how quickly they’ve taken it on. In terms of understanding the rules of the game, they seem very keen and switched on.
‘‘Their English is quite good and you’ve got to be mindful of the different cultures and that stuff, but a lot of kids now are mingling with different ethnic groups more regularly than we probably did growing up.
‘‘They’re all very accepting of them and keen to help them out and for them to understand the game.’’
Longwood has not fielded an under-18 team in recent years and a discussion with senior coach Matthew Chilcott before the season led Shiner to approach the Ethnic Council of Shepparton.
The club met with members of multicultural communities and young senior players Blade Larkins and Clinton Tozer helped out at an AFL multicultural gala day AFL Goulburn Murray run.
Cheiri, Almohamdawy and Tong expressed an interest in giving the sport a try and Longwood was all too happy to accommodate.
‘‘There’s a lot of clubs that are struggling for numbers to actually get a side on the ground, so I’m rapt we’ve got an under-18 side up,’’ Shiner said.
‘‘I’m also pretty happy that we’ve got some new Australians involved and kids that actually weren’t playing football before or had walked away from football, so we’ve pretty much built a side from scratch without robbing any other clubs and we’re proud of that.
‘‘Hopefully you get the flow on effects where the kids filter though into your reserves and senior sides, which we’re already seeing, so it’s about making clubs sustainable.’’
After spending two games in the WAFL Michael Barlow has been recalled to play for Fremantle against St Kilda this weekend.
Three Yarrawonga footballers have excelled at interleague level, representing the Ovens and Murray against Hampden in Warrnambool on Saturday.
The Aboriginal and wider community is mourning the death of revered Bangerang Aboriginal elder, Uncle John ‘‘Sandy’’ Atkinson.
The Moama-Echuca Border Raiders took a big stride into the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League for 2016 with a solid, four-grade performance at Eaglehawk’s Truscott Reserve on Sunday.
THE town’s schools celebrated Education Week last week.
Kyabram Football Club will host a family day next weekend.
Where there’s a Will, there’s a way
Berrigan Shire councillor Daryll Morris says he has been sickened by some of the vitriol and personal attacks to surface since the council’s proposal to redevelop Finley’s Memorial Hall and School of Arts site was revealed in October last year.
HEATHCOTE Pre-school staff members were overwhelmed by the response to their annual Garden Express Spring Bulb fundraiser.
Youth services in Cobram have received a helping hand thanks to a new appointment made possible through a community store.
Plans for the release of a carp herpes virus has captured the attention of international press.
Farmers from northern Victoria will join a protest rally over milk prices in Melbourne tomorrow, Wednesday.
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