Harry O’Brien addressed the media today at the launch of the AFL’s Multicultural Round, a themed round put in place to acknowledge and celebrate the game’s cultural diversity.
Speaking at North Melbourne’s headquarters at Arden Street, O’Brien emphasised the importance of the game in bringing culturally diverse communities together.
"The AFL has a responsibility because it has a huge influence on this country.
"Not only does the AFL engage people through entertainment but also through a deeper level.
"We must use this responsibility wisely because the potential for us to create change and bring people together is enormous."
O’Brien was chosen as an ambassador for the AFL’s multicultural program because of his commitment to numerous community engagement programs and his Brazilian heritage.
O’Brien said that when he first came to Australia as a child, football had helped him with the difficulties he experienced adjusting to Australian culture.
“I found huge trouble fitting in and had huge identity issues because the other kids didn't look like me,'' O'Brien said.
"They would ask me why I was different and why my mum spoke with an accent.
"These are the issues which were negative impacts on my life early, but as I grew older I realised that these are things I should be proud of.
“During those tough times as a kid I needed something I could retreat to, what transcended these differences was football”.
O’Brien was later joined by Drew Petrie (North Melbourne), Majak Dawe (North Melbourne) and Tom Liberatore (Western Bulldogs ) where they met with kids from culturally diverse backgrounds.
2011 AFL Multicultural Program:
- Umpires will use orange flags. Orange is the international colour of harmony.
- Players from multicultural backgrounds will toss the coin.
- A special Multicultural edition of Flash Footy featuring Harry O’Brien will air on Foxsports on Wednesday July 13 at 7.30pm.
- Players with multicultural backgrounds make up nine per cent of the AFL playing list.
- Relationships with multicultural media have been strengthened. AFL Media accreditation was issued to the Turkish Report, Sameway Newspaper (China), Neos Kosmos Newspaper (Greek), Ambassador Newspaper (African and Arabic), SBS Radio and 3ZZZ.
Tom Liberatore (Western Bulldogs), Cameron Pedersen (North Melbourne), Harry O'Brien (Collingwood), Drew Petrie (North Melbourne), Majak Dawe (North Melbourne) and The Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, the Hon. Nicholas Kotsiras (MP) walk with participants of a multicultural football clinic during the 2011 AFL Multicultural Round Launch at Aegis Park, Melbourne.