Essendon’s commitment to growing the game within the local Indian community has been strengthened by the appointment of Sudip Chakraborty to the role of Community Officer.
The announcement coincides with India’s Independence Day.
Chakraborty has relocated from India to take on the job and will look to further expand the Club’s presence within the large Indian community based in Melbourne’s north-west.
“If you don’t know footy here in Victoria you can feel out of place,” Chakraborty said.
“When, for example, International students know more about the game they can feel more comfortable around their Aussie mates.
“Footy for Australians is just like cricket is for Indians.
“I’m looking forward to connecting with as many Indians as I can, but also introducing other non-Australians to the sport.”
Chakraborty played cricket and soccer when he was growing up in Kolkata.
But a promotional tour from Ricky Ponting introduced him to Aussie Rules and since then he’s been hooked.
He’s spent the last five years playing and promoting the game in India and under his leadership the game has grown from having about 100 players less than a decade ago, to today boasting 7,000 across the country.
Two years ago, Chakraborty helped guide young Essendon leaders Zach Merrett, Joe Daniher, David Zaharakis and Dyson Heppell around his home state as part of their two week visit to the country.
The trip took in several clinics and school visits as well as providing the players with an insight into the Indian culture.
“For all of the hard work done by AFL India, that was the greatest reward,” Chakraborty said.
“Essendon has been a leader in this area and to have the players visit the country did so much for the game in India.
“To have me over here now means we have 7,000 players back in India who can get direct access to information and knowledge.”
Chakraborty will play a key role in next year’s International Cup where the Indian team is set to adopt the ‘Bombers’ moniker and wear the red and black.
Essendon players Joe Daniher, David Zaharakis, Dyson Heppell and Zach Merrett with Sudip Chakraborty during their trip to India.