Sydney Swans player Kieren Jack (left) and GWS Giants recruit Israel Folau sign on as new AFL Ambassadors

New NSW AFL Ambassadors

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sydney Swans player Kieren Jack and GWS Giants recruit Israel Folau will be the new face of Australian football in New South Wales as they take on the role of AFL Ambassadors.

The two talented sportsmen will help promote AFL to tens of thousands of children, teenagers, adults, parents and community groups throughout New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

"Today’s announcement is significant for the AFL in terms of our approach to growing the game in Sydney and across the state and territory," David Matthews, General Manager National and International Development said.

"We have two young talented players who have spent their junior years growing up in Sydney who have been exposed to sport at the elite level and are now embracing Australian football.

"Kieren is the perfect example of a young player who first experienced AFL at primary school and has since followed the AFL pathway in NSW. Kieren is now recognised as one of the code's most dominant midfielders, winning the Sydney Swans best and fairest award in 2010.

"Israel is a young man who hasn’t come from a traditional AFL background but has decided to take up the sport in his twenties, which presents a different set of learnings and experiences to share with the community.

"Both young men are great examples to the young people in their communities.  They embraced sport as an opportunity to develop themselves and I am sure they will be encouraging kids to do the same and in particular try the AFL game.  Their work will build on the outstanding work the Swans and Giants players already undertake."

Jack, who has played both AFL and rugby league, grew up in Cherrybrook, New South Wales. His first experience of Australian football was in the Paul Kelly Cup in 1998 while still in primary school. In 2000 he was identified by AFL talent scouts and taken by the Swans in the 2005 Rookie Draft from the Under-18 NSW/ACT Rams.

"I am excited about my new role with the AFL, I really enjoy getting out into the community and meeting the kids and passing on my experiences,” Kieren Jack said.

"I have had the opportunity to begin to forge a career in a sport I love and being able to work in the community and talk about the benefits of getting involved in football is a project I am really looking forward to."

Folau, who was born in Minto, New South Wales to parents of Tongan descent, attended Lurnea Public School and Westfield Sports High School before his family moved to Brisbane.

Since joining the GWS Giants last year, the former Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos, NRL 2007 Dally M Rookie of the Year and the youngest player to represent Australia in rugby league, has been working hard to learn the game – like so many others in NSW.

"As a player that is learning the game I look forward to being able to talk to the community and kids who are taking up football and sharing my day to day experiences.

"For me it has been an interesting learning curve, entering a new sport like this does throw up its challenges, but I am really enjoying my time in the AFL and I want to share my journey with others.

"Taking on this commitment is not just about learning a new sport but also broadening my own life experiences."

Across their time as AFL Ambassadors both players will represent the AFL on a number of levels working with the NSW/ACT state body and the two Sydney-based clubs to promote the code.

The players will visit schools, junior football clubs and will be involved in community, multicultural and the two club Academy programs to help position AFL as a sporting option for people of all ages and skill level.

"We believe that having these two young men share their journey will widen the reach of the NSW/ACT sporting public to grow the participation and fan base, particularly for junior participation recruitment campaigns providing kids with another sporting option," David Matthews said.

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