Essendon midfielder David Zaharakis has been named an AFL Multicultural Ambassador.
The 25 year old will continue his work in AFL Victoria's Talent programs this season.
He will also mentor young multicultural footballers and attend key multicultural events.
Below is a statement from the AFL announcing the Ambassadors.
The AFL and Australia Post are pleased to announce its Multicultural Program will expand to 18 player ambassadors in 2016 and for the first time will include two female players.
Female footballers Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Darcy Vescio will be joined in promoting some of the many diverse backgrounds in Australia’s Game by Brisbane Lions Vice Captain Dayne Zorko, Geelong’s Tom Hawkins, Fremantle’s Tendai Mzundu, Gold Coast SUNS players Adam Saad and Tom Nicholls, Sydney Swan Aliir Aliir and Western Bulldogs player Jason Johannisen.
The new additions in 2016 join existing Australia Post AFL Multicultural Player Ambassadors David Zaharakis (Essendon), Stephen Coniglio (GWS GIANTS), Paul Puopolo (Hawthorn), Shem Tatupu (Hawthorn), Alipate Carlile (Port Adelaide), Jimmy Toumpas (Port Adelaide), Bachar Houli (Richmond), Nic Naitanui (West Coast) and Lin Jong (Western Bulldogs).
AFL General Manager Game and Market Development Simon Lethlean said this season’s ambassadors were chosen to reflect the diverse cultures continuing to emerge in Australian society and the AFL’s commitment to growing the game in all communities.
“Expanding our multicultural player ambassadors to include two female footballers allows Australian Football to continue its commitment in reflecting Australian society and ensuring it’s an inclusive environment for all to enjoy our game, whether that’s as a fan, player or official,” Mr Lethlean said.
“We’re excited to add two female players to the list of multicultural ambassadors this year, whose talents were showcased in the female exhibition matches of 2015 and who are fast becoming well respected role models within their respective communities.
“The expanded list of 18 ambassadors, representing 13 AFL Clubs and two female Clubs, will play a crucial role in raising cultural understanding, inclusion and participation at all levels of Australian Football,” he said.
In 2016, multicultural players make up 15 per cent of the AFL player lists across the 18 AFL Clubs.
The 2016 ambassadors will begin their duties during the Australia Post AFL Community Camps next month where they will meet fans during school visits, community receptions and super clinics in both regional and metropolitan centres.
The Australia Post AFL Multicultural Player Ambassadors will be at the forefront of AFL Multicultural Round to be held this year in Round 16 of the Toyota AFL Premiership Season.
With the support of Australia Post, the round will continue to celebrate ‘Many Cultures One Game’ and will highlight the community engagement initiatives being undertaken by the ambassadors and the entire Australian Football industry.
Australia Post Managing Director & CEO, Ahmed Fahour, said Australia Post’s ongoing commitment to celebrating diversity is a vision they shared with the AFL.
“Australia Post directly employs 37,000 people from 137 nations and almost a quarter of our employees are from non-English speaking backgrounds,” said Mr Fahour.
“We recognise how migration has enriched Australian neighbourhoods and we’re proud of our connection with the AFL, who represent a sport that unites so many cultures under the one banner.
“This year, we are thrilled to be partnering with some of the biggest names in the AFL to spread the word message on inclusion, acceptance and diversity within the Australian community,” he said.
Australia Post is the official community inclusion partner of the AFL and delivers a number of grassroots community activities under the Australia Post Our Neighbourhood community program. Our Neighbourhood aims to build healthier, more vibrant and more inclusive communities throughout Australia.