Three young Northern Territory footballers starred as multicultural ambassadors at the World Refugee Day Festival at Jingili Water Gardens in mid-June.
The event, which attracted more than 300 people from across the Territory, saw Indian born Fayazz Ferozkhan, Patrick Taban from Sudan and Demetrio Baptista from Timor-Leste share stories of their respective paths travelled to Australia and how their involvement with football has helped them understand the importance of sport, living a healthy lifestyle and gaining education and employment post sporting career.
AFLNT Regional Development Manager Darwin/Multicultural Projects Adam Moedt, who also attended the event, said the ability of the boys to engage with people of diverse cultures, backgrounds and demographics demonstrated maturity well beyond their years.
"Fayazz, Patrick and Demetrio have this amazing ability to connect with people not only for their sporting talent but also for their ability to share stories with people who have suffered through similar hardships," said Moedt.
"Within a short period of time, the boys had engaged with more than 40 children and encouraged them to take part in a coaching clinic and a game of footy," he said.
"It was a very proud moment to witness and further emphasises AFLNT’s commitment to expanding the reach of our multicultural footprint across the Territory by ensuring we have a presence at events such as World Refugee Day."
Ferozkhan and Taban were selected to participate at the AFL Multicultural State Academy Camp in Victoria in April based on their leadership and teamwork qualities and Moedt added that this experience had not been lost on the boys in encouraging others to demonstrate similar qualities.
"The boys took Demetrio under their wing and really encouraged him to take ownership of the coaching and umpiring opportunities that the clinics and games offered," he said.
"It is important to remember that these boys have sought refuge from countries that are war-torn and ruled by dictatorships, so to be able to engage with the community in the way that they have says a lot about their character, their courage and resilience."