WITH the help of the Carlton Football Club, a group of international students from Melbourne University had their first brush with the Aussie religion that is AFL. Were there any converts? Meld’s Leon Saw finds out.
If you’ve ever indulged in a bit of weekend TV here in Australia, chances are you’d have channel surfed across what looked like 36 grown men in an enormous oval arena, brawling and fumbling over a football that seemed to have the properties of a rather hot potato. What you saw was Australian rules football: the second most popular sport in the country.
A week ago, Carlton Football Club conducted an International Student Super Clinic at its training ground Visy Park, for Melbourne University international students to learn some of the techniques used in the game, including how to handle the proverbial “hot potato”.
More than a hundred participants took turns to try out goal kicking, handballing, and tackling, among other activities during the hour-long session. After which, they were given a tour of the Visy Park facilities and insights into the Carlton players’ hard work there.
Were there any new converts to the Australian religion that is AFL?
Jim Mah, 22, a Malaysian, was at the clinic because he “loves all kinds of sports”. He had already been following AFL matches prior to the event, picking up a few of the rules here and there along the way.
His friend, Jensen Yeoh, 23, also from Malaysia, was much less enamoured with the whole setup.
“I only came because of him,” he confessed, pointing at Jim.
“I didn’t know anything about AFL, but I probably still won’t be following it,” he added.
Brian Maring, 26, a chemical engineering graduate student, who had been killing it out there on the field during the training session, effortlessly mastering what was taught, later admitted that he “played AFL before” during his few years here, and came because he “wanted to learn the proper techniques”.
Asked how he managed to decipher the intricacies and workings of an AFL game, he said he “learnt the rules from watching matches with my Australian friends.”
It appeared the clinic alone was insufficient to get the participants – who knew absolutely nothing about the sport – fully into it.
But Carlton Football Club Multicultural Partnership Coordinator and event organiser, Chris Axais had another trick up his sleeve.
“That’s why we’re giving them tickets to catch a live game, so that they can take what they’ve experienced and learnt here, apply it to an actual match, and enjoy it,” he said.
The clinic ended with students receiving souvenirs and tickets to the Australian Football League game between the Carlton Blues and the Melbourne Demons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground this May 27.
Never been to a footy match? It’s something you have to try at least once as an international student here in Australia.
Meld is giving away three pairs of tickets to catch the Carlton Blues play the Melbourne Demons on May 27. For your chance to win, email firstname.lastname@example.org by May 20 with your name and contact number.
The winner will be picked in a random draw and notified via email on Monday May 21. The competition is only open to those who are living or studying in Victoria.