For the last seven years, the Toyota AFL Multicultural Round has traditionally been held in the second half of the season, with nine clubs hosting themed matches across the course of one round.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said the change from celebrating Australia’s cultural diversity in just one men’s round to across the entire year showcases the league’s commitment in ensuring inclusion lives within all levels of the game.
“Our game has played an important role in highlighting multiculturalism across the country through a dedicated round for the past seven years, however with the inclusion of the NAB AFL Women’s competition this year and with clubs increasingly passionate about promoting a variety of community messages, now is the right time to evolve the celebration of inclusion to extend throughout the year,” Mr McLachlan said.
“The celebration of cultural diversity within Australian Football doesn’t need one round to prove its existence – it lives within community and grassroots football, in both the elite men’s and women’s competitions and is highlighted by the multicultural male and female player ambassadors.”
For the 2017 season, there were 118 players in the men’s competition with multicultural backgrounds, 14 per cent overall, and 21 having been born overseas.
The inaugural AFL Women’s competition saw 17 players with multicultural backgrounds, including Carlton player Darcy Vescio, who has Italian and Chinese heritage.
Once the men’s and women’s 2018 fixtures have been released, the AFL will collaborate with clubs and state bodies to support the celebration of cultural diversity and inclusiveness through programs held across the year.
These programs include Community Ambassadors, the Multicultural Schools Program, All Nations Cup, World Team, Medleys, the Bachar Houli Programs, Diversity Coaching and Umpiring Academies and AFL Multicultural Player Ambassadors.
The objectives of these programs are to provide opportunities and pathways for diverse communities to be engaged in all areas of the AFL.