Kammoun and Elchah win Harmony Award

AFL Sydney players, Yashar Kammoun and Andrew Elchah were this week announced as the 2017 AFL Sydney Multicultural NSW Harmony Award winners at the league’s prestigious Phelan Mostyn Medal ceremony.

Presented by the Chairman of Multicultural NSW, Dr Harry Harinath on the night, the Multicultural NSW Harmony Award celebrates the contributions to the multicultural community of AFL Sydney players. Any AFL Sydney player from a non-English background, who promotes social cohesion and harmony through the avenues of football, is eligible for the award.

Yashar Kammoun, who hails from the Auburn Penrith GIANTS Football Club, began playing AFL in 2014 after making the transition over from soccer – a decision she says was not easy.

“I was very hesitant at first because I had never watched AFL before,” Kammoun said.

“It took about a year for me to come over for a training session and then after that, I loved the culture of the club – the girls make you feel very welcome.”

Known to her teammates as one of the most competitive, passionate and agile players in the club, Kammoun has made a vast contribution to her GIANTS and in turn, her local community.

Kammoun has played an integral role in developing the club’s junior participation rates as coach of the GIANTS’ inaugural Youth Girls Under 18s and Under 15s teams, and now of the Boys Under 14s team.

Kammoun not only shows tremendous commitment on the football field, but is as equally committed to growing the game within her culturally diverse community – a goal which has led her to winning the Harmony Award.

As coordinator of many Auburn Penrith GIANTS gala days, Kammoun and her teammates have attracted over 150 high school students from diverse backgrounds to the game.

“We invite the local schools to come down one day and play a modified AFL game against each other.

“It helps to get girls engaged in AFL, especially in Western Sydney. One year we had 30 girls register for the club after the gala day.”

Kammoun also visits local high schools where she uses AFL and her experiences as an Auburn Penrith player, as a vehicle to deliver workshops on resilience and leadership.

Similarly, 150-game AFL Sydney verteran, Andrew Elchah from the Western Suburbs Magpies is using AFL to introduce newcomers to the country, to the Australian way of life.

When he is not playing Aussie Rules, he is teaching the game to his students at the Bankstown Intensive English Centre – a specialised learning facility which assists mature aged refugees in developing their English skills.

Elchah says that introducing his students to AFL has enabled them to gain a new perspective of Australian culture, and has helped them to feel a sense of belonging within their community.

“My passion for AFL has been the main driving force for pushing the game at Bankstown IEC,” Elchah said.

“The sense of belonging to a club, keeping active and the camaraderie you experience on the field is unlike any others.

“I also saw that playing or supporting AFL is another possibility in developing their own independence and sense of identity in their new found home.”

Elchah has coached three winning teams in the annual IEC Cup run by AFL NSW/ACT. Alongside this, Elchah has been dedicated to encouraging greater female participation, with his efforts bringing a female team into the IEC Cup for the past two years.

He says that watching the female population within the school being involved in the game, and enjoying themselves, has been the most rewarding experience.

“Everyone loves winning, and winning the IEC cup for three years in a row has been very enjoyable.

“The students have cherished these days and still bring them up four years later!”

If you or your club wish to become more connected to your local multicultural communities, please contact AFL NSW/ACT Multicultural Programs Manager, Nickie Flambouras at nickie.flambouras@afl.com.au.