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International students experience AFL with professional athletes

September 5, 2023 - 3 min read

Ever wondered what it is like to learn how to play Australian rules football, from professional Australian Football League (AFL) players? Deakin University students were invited to learn about the sport and train with the Geelong Cats AFL and Australian Football League Women (AFLW) teams at the GMHBA Stadium in Geelong.

Australia is known for its sport culture. From soccer to tennis, cricket to AFL, Australians love to support and follow sport. The sport most commonly associated with Australia, especially Melbourne, is AFL. ‘If you are a sports fan, then this is the city you will want to be in, from cricket to Formula 1 we have it all here,’ says Adyant from India.

‘It was a fantastic and entertaining experience that brought healing and enjoyment.’ – Nungky

For many international students, an AFL game is on their to-do list. But what makes AFL so special? United Arab Emirates student, Bilal believes ‘it is ingrained within Aussie culture.’ He shares, ‘it is exciting to witness the passion people exhibit on game days. As a student, it’s thrilling to observe their enthusiasm and to share a train ride with passionate AFL fans on these occasions.’ After watching her first game of AFL, Nungky from Indonesia said, ‘it was a fantastic and entertaining experience that brought healing and enjoyment.’

Deakin students meeting the AFL stars

Deakin students attending an AFL game

The Geelong AFL Clinic was designed to give international students an inside look and give them the chance to learn how to play the sport from professional Geelong Cats AFL and AFLW players. For Bilal, ‘the best part was kicking the football, where we learned hands-on how this sport is played.’

The students also got to attend a training session, followed by a meet and greet with the Geelong Cats players. Charu from India said, ‘meeting the stars, the players, that was the highlight of the day for me.’

At the end of the day, the students were able to try a traditional ‘footy’ lunch served at the live matches of AFL – a meat pie. For many, this was their first time trying an Australian meat pie.

The International Student AFL Clinic is one of the many free events hosted by Deakin University. Twice every trimester, Deakin also hosts the Campus and Beyond event for students, taking them to exciting events on campus and cultural experiences around Victoria.

Previous Campus and Beyond events have included a surf coast tour in Torquay and a Wurundjeri cultural walk around Abbotsford, allowing students to see some great sights and learn about Australian culture. For Bilal, events like these are of high importance for international students saying, ‘I firmly believe that academics alone do not define our student experiences. It is the social connections and learnings from the local culture that contribute to our overall experience.’

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Deakin University is the official education partner of the Geelong Football Club. This partnership encompasses sport science, player and community development, joint research initiatives and graduate employment opportunities.

It also facilitates student engagement and internship opportunities and provides an alternative training ground for Geelong players.

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^^ 2022 Student Experience Survey, UA benchmark group Victorian universities.
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