Three Victorian AFL Flying Boomerangs Squad members were given the opportunity to meet AFL South Africa Ambassador and Carlton star Marc Murphy today at Visy Park as they count down to their trip to South Africa on January 23.
The Flying Boomerangs squad of 25, made up of 14 -15 year old Indigenous participants selected from across Australia after the 2012 KickStart Championships, will train and play two exhibition matches against South African teams at the end of this month.
Having spent time in South Africa involved in community camps and an exhibition match against Fremantle with Carlton prior to the 2008 AFL season, Murphy spoke with Koolyn Briggs, Jade Gresham and Cory Glass of the extraordinary experience these players are about to encounter.
“This is a great opportunity for these players to not only train and play overseas, but also to learn about and experience a different culture in South Africa,” Murphy said.
The game of Aussie Rules has grown tremendously in South Africa with more than 20,000 participants across four Provinces; Gauteng, North West, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape.
AFL Indigenous Programs Coordinator and Tour Manager Xavier Clarke believes the Flying Boomerangs' personal development and leadership program will assist these young men in becoming the best people and footballers that they can be.
“The majority of the trip is going to be based around building leadership, character, resilience and identity as well.
“We will challenge the boys and push them outside their comfort zones and hopefully we win a few games there as well and have a bit of fun,” Clarke said.
“I think what South Africa can offer in terms of their history and what the people have been through, I think our boys can learn a lot,”
“I am looking forward to seeing the boys take in as much as they can and come back with a bit of confidence in their footy and in themselves.”
The four Victorian participants aged 14 to 15 years include Koolyn Briggs, Aidyn Johnson, Jade Gresham and Cory Glass.
Koolyn Briggs, from the Essendon-Doutta Stars Football Club and one of four Victoria’s in the squad, is proud to have been selected and believes this tour offers a once in a lifetime opportunity as he and his Victorian teammates have not yet travelled overseas.
“It’s a great achievement. I really do hold it deep in my heart. To be one of 25 boys to represent my culture, my family and my people really is an honour.
“I am really looking forward to the places we will visit. The second day we are going to the Apartheid Museum and then later to Mandela House. Nelson Mandela is someone I have really looked up to so it will be a special experience for me,” Briggs said.
“Two of the oldest cultures are the South Africans and Indigenous Australians, so I can’t wait to see and learn more about their culture.”
The Flying Boomerangs' tour spans almost two weeks and exemplifies the purpose of the program, not only developing the individual’s football skills but also providing them with priceless cultural experiences along the way.
The group departs on January 23 and visits locations such as Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. It will be here that they are exposed to the culture of South Africa through tours of museums, markets, national parks and villages.