How AFL is helping refugee children feel more included
Learning how to kick a footy and take a mark are skills many Australian kids learn growing up, but for those who've come across the seas, it can be a foreign concept.
Now a program in the New South Wales Riverina is helping make life easier for young refugees by teaching them how to play AFL.
Tahira Roshan, aged 12, from Afghanistan, said she had never played the game.
"I think AFL is a good sport for us, we can move our bodies and we can learn how to play — it's very good for us," she said.
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"I hope I can play AFL in a competition."
For Rozaliya Hasan, the program has helped her make friends.
When the 11-year-old started school in Australia she found it difficult not knowing how to play a sport that her class mates understood.
"When I first played AFL I didn't even know how to kick," she said.
"As soon as I did this AFL program I've learned so many things.
"I think AFL is the best sport I've ever had."
Easing into community life
Benjamin Walsh from AFL Riverina said the program has been a huge success.
"It just allows them to fit in that little bit more, playing a sport that most of their peers would play, as well as helping them join in and become part of the community that little bit easier," he said.
It has also been rewarding for him as a coach.
"I really enjoyed teaching the kids the basics," he said.
"They probably listen and take note that little bit more than a lot of other kids so it's been great.
"They've been really enthusiastic."
New recruits footy mad
Ismail Darwish's children are taking part in the program.
"Everyday when they didn't play football they asked me 'when are we going to play Australian football?" he said.
"Now I'm waiting to pick them up, but they don't want to come home because they're very happy."
The Wagga Wagga Multicultural Council organised the program.
Community development officer Thom Paton said it has been a hit with the students.
"Already after a couple of sessions a few of the girls want to pick it up and register with a few local teams," he said.
"They've picked up the skills quickly and are very competitive."