More than 100 AFL and AFLW players from Aboriginal, Torres Strait Island and multicultural backgrounds gathered in Geelong last week for the 2022 AFL/AFLPA Indigenous and Multicultural Player Summit.

AFL players Connor Idun, Stephen Coniglio, Leek Aleer and Toby Bedford, along with GIANTS Indigenous Inclusion and Diversity Manager Malcolm Lynch and AFLW Head Coach Cam Bernasconi attended on behalf of the GIANTS.  

The 2022 Summit marks the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and multicultural players from both AFL and AFLW have been invited to participate in the four-day program that focuses on celebrating and strengthening cultural identity. 
In addition, the Summit offers a platform for players to discuss matters of importance to them and how the AFL and the AFLPA can work collaboratively to best support change across the industry that will impact positively on their experiences in the game, on and off the field. 
Returning to his hometown for the event, the Summit was the first Idun had attended and he said was beneficial to both the players and the AFL.  

Idun was born in London to an African father and Australian mother and was raised in Essex to the age of four. As a child he moved with his family from London to Sydney before relocating to Victoria. 
“The purpose of the summit was to let the AFL know what we can do more as an industry to support multicultural and Indigenous players,” Idun said.  
“We got to speak our thoughts and share with them what they can do to improve in that space – and to help us transition through from the junior level, through to the professional level.  
“We also did some fun activities while we were down there. We did a few community clinics with the kids; some training sessions with the other multicultural and Indigenous players; some African drumming and Indigenous workshops; and some dinner and dancing." 
As well as activities in the community, the Summit also provides an opportunity for players from different clubs, who may not otherwise get the opportunity, to come together.   
“That was one of the best things about the Summit – meeting some new players from different clubs and cultures,” Idun said. 
“I met a few other Ghanaian boys from different clubs which if it wasn’t for the Summit, probably wouldn’t have happened, so I felt really privileged to be there and I think all the other boys did too.” 
Idun, who is already very active in the GIANTS’ community programs, said he was looking forward to bringing back what he learnt from the Summit into the Western Sydney community. 
“The main thing I took away from it was to try and be in touch with your culture as much as possible and wear it with pride,” he said. 
“I think sometimes you can just put it to the side, but it’s important to celebrate and acknowledge everyone’s culture where possible, because people can get a lot of positive growth out of that.  
“The more we can do to engage our multicultural and Indigenous communities, the more fans we’ll get, and that can only be beneficial for the game.  

“For me, getting involved and being a role model to our multicultural fans is something I enjoy and can’t wait to do more of." 
The GIANTS will again host a multicultural Welcome Game in 2023, as well as celebrating the league-wide Sir Doug Nicholls Round.  

More details of the 2023 fixture are expected to be confirmed this week.