Across India on footy

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Essendon Football Club sends young players on ‘embracing India’ trip this October

The off-season may be the time to enjoy some well earned R&R, but a contingent of Essendon Football Club players and staff are packing their bags for the trip of a lifetime.

As part of the club’s multicultural program and in partnership with the club’s official tour provider Travel and Taste, Joe Daniher, Dyson Heppell, Zach Merrett and David Zaharakis will spend ten days travelling and embracing all that India has to offer.

Essendon has emerged as the AFL club of choice for Melbourne’s Indian community, and to show its dedication to building strong and sustainable relationships, the club has taken the proactive step of sending its young leaders to immerse themselves in India’s rich and diverse culture.

A key feature of the trip will see the travelling party visit the SOS Children’s Village in New Delhi. The village hosts children from all over the region who can no longer be supported by their families due to disadvantage. They will also spend time working with AFL India in the country’s north-eastern city of Kolkata.

Heppell said he was looking forward to introducing Indian boys and girls to the game of Australian Rules Football. “I think the trip to India is going to be a beauty,” Heppell said. “As a club we’ve been doing a lot of work with the Indian community. The kids and the parents certainly love their footy and are passionate about Essendon, so I think it’s important to learn more about their culture and history,” he added.

Hepell said he has been lucky enough to travel to India before, and the kids are “obviously mad about their cricket” but to spend time with AFL India and the SOS Children’s Village is going to be a great experience. “And who knows, we might even find the next Jobe Watson over there,” he said.

Founder of AFL India and captain of India’s International Cup team Sudip Chakraborty has praised Essendon for being the first AFL club to bring senior AFL players to India.

“Awareness of the great game of Aussie Rules is growing in India and more players are trying their hand at the sport,” Charkraborty said.

“To have a club like the Essendon Football Club choose to come and meet and train our players to further develop the game is an unbelievable opportunity. The Essendon visit will be a major step in the development of footy in India, and a welcome boost for our communities,” he added.

Head of Community Cameron Britt said the trip was an important step in the ongoing relationship between Essendon and the Indian community.

“We are committed to being an accessible and representative leader in our community,” Britt said.

“There is a large and vibrant Indian population in Melbourne, and it’s rapidly growing. The trip to India is an important step for the Essendon Football Club, and I’m confident the key learnings from our trip will only strengthen our local programs and relationships with an engaged and passionate section of our community,” Britt added.

The club will have an Embracing India Hub located on the club website. You will also be able to join in the conversation on social media by using #EmbracingIndia.

Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Magazine in Australia)

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