There was a lot of cheering and yelling as more than 120 Shepparton residents watched Carlton take on the Sydney Swans at the MCG on Saturday.
For many people from the Shepparton English Language Centre, Connect GV and the multicultural community, it was their first time seeing a live football match. Shepparton’s Elaf Ali migrated from Iraq with her family when she was a baby and said she had never really developed a keen interest in football.
Despite this, Ms Ali said watching Carlton and Sydney go head-to-head was great. “The whole day was fun,” she said. “I loved seeing the kids enjoying themselves.” Ms Ali said the highlight of the day for her was watching a little boy who had been sitting next to her receive a football from a Carlton player after the game.
Shepparton English Language Centre co-ordinator Laurie Hucker said the students had a wonderful time. “They were just so, so excited,” he said. “We were rapt because we had both boys and girls from most of the cultures represented at the centre go.” Mr Hucker said it was the first time the centre had done something like this with the Shepparton Ethnic Council and all involved were keen for it to happen again.
He said it was a good chance for the students to learn about Australian culture.
Shepparton Ethnic Council project officer and AFL ambassador Sam Atukorala said 30 newly-arrived students from the Shepparton English Language Centre attended the game and it was great to see their reactions. Mr Atukorala said the Carlton Football Club generously donated tickets for the game and Jacobson Coach Tours provided a discounted bus to take people to the MCG and return them to Shepparton.
Mr Atukorala is known to be a passionate Sydney Swans fan and admitted it was difficult to watch his team lose to Carlton but it was good to expose newly arrived people to the joys of AFL.
Article and image courtesy Shepparton News