From refugees to rising stars | The inspirational VFL baller, rapper & AFL mentor

From refugees to rising stars | The inspirational VFL baller, rapper & AFL mentor

We had this initial wave of media
coverage. Of stereotyping and labeling. “They don’t belong with us”. “They’re not part of us”. That’s what fear-mongering does. The coverage that they have portrayed has persistently
and repeatedly focused on African immigrants more broadly as being the other. Calling them packs. Gangs. Comparisons that have connotations with animals. Crime stories have always sold papers. I would question their concern for the people that they’re reporting about. If I give it away, then it takes the joy away from people. I want to keep it mysterious, you know? My name’s Majok Ngong, also known as Shaggy. I’ve been in Australia for 15 years. I’ve been involved in footy for nine to seven years, both playing and mentoring. Our story has usually been told
from the outside looking in. So this time, we’ll take you guys to my world. We’re going to sit down with Katherine from Monash University. She’s a Criminologist, whose been writing reports regarding the media portrayal of my community. She’s got a lot of cool
facts we’re going to hear. So stay tuned… The report that we published at the end of last
year was based on some research that we did with South Sudanese young people. We were talking to them about the effects of the recent media coverage following the Moomba 2016 “riots”. According to us, our definitions, it wasn’t a riot. It wasn’t organised. It wasn’t targeted against a certain group of people or a certain event. Then the media coverage that followed that and
then the effect that that coverage has had on their feelings of belonging and
inclusion in Victoria. And so a lot of the coverage then was talking about the
presence of African gangs. The violent nature of Africans sort of more broadly. The thing that really came clear to us when we were
analysing some of the newspaper coverage was the way that stories involving the
alleged South Sudanese offender, they were conveyed. So within the
article if it was a South Sudanese or African, more broadly, offender usually in
the third or fourth word of the article was something about skin colour or
perceived country of birth. Whereas offences that focused on perhaps a white Australian, race either wasn’t mentioned or if it was it was kind of
deep down towards the end of the story. The media has a lot to to account for. They are consistently saying: Hey, these guys don’t fit in with us. When most of the general population get their news from the mainstream media. Of course they’re going to believe what they hear It hurts a lot. My younger brother, my younger
sister, actually they were born in Australia There are times when they come home frustrated. Just full of rage. He goes “I’m Australian right?” I’m like, yeah, technically you are but unfortunately the
society around you doesn’t accept you. That’s a very worrying sign. One of our leading figures within our community had a creative response to
the sensationalist media coverage. I went to have a chat with him… My name is Maker. I practice law out of my office here in Footscray. I’m a member of the South Sudanese community. The South Sudanese communities are highly concentrated in the west. From here Footscray down to Geelong. Migrant communities are looking for more affordable housing. So Melbourne provides that. So on the 25th of August, I’ll be
15 years now in Australia. Gee, a true bogan right there! Our young people are being demonised. The whole community was being treated as if this is a community full of gangs and all that. People committing crime left, right and centre. I said this has to stop. You know I tweeted and said that instead of my name, I’m going to put a
member of the African gangs. Then within 10 hours it was trending worldwide. It was the number-one trend in Australia
on social media. They told the stories of the community by the community. As we saw them and as we know them. They were not stories being collated by the media or other people outside the community. It was actual community members, turning up and saying this is what I do on a day to day basis. That’s what fear mongering does. It really removes the victim from the conversation. It drives a wedge between people and it ostracises members of the community. To be excluded. “We’re not as bad as you think we are, let us live” “Why you making our life hard?” “We’re not as bad as you paint us, not at all” “Some of us are bad but not as dangerous as you think we are” I think our intentions should never be towards changing anyone’s mind. For somebody to change their mind. It’s up to them, if they want to learn more about the community. What we should be focusing on is helping our community to stand on its feet. In terms of the involvement from the community Do you believe that the AFL has a big role to play? Definitely, it’s the number one sport in this state. The AFL has done some amazing work. Our young people have the attributes to excel at AFL and make a good living for themselves. I think that AFL is the future for our young people. I heard a quote once that said: “If your kid plays sport, your kid will learn to be disciplined, your kid will learn to do things in time, your kid will learn to have a sense of compassion and also have an understanding within their surroundings” There’s a mindset where you
have to go to school to be successful. Some people are not made for school. Sport teaches you about life. I listen to this track mostly every time before my game. ‘Don’t worry be happy’ is just a great concept to have in the back of your head. There are so many things that we can control in life but sometimes we get caught up trying to
control everything within our surrounding. Rather than just focusing on
what we can control ourselves. It gives you that reminder,
especially when I’m about to play the game. Don’t go out there and do what you can’t do. Stick to what you do best. Bring that to the table and you’ll make a greater contribution. Come, i’ll take you on a quick tour of the back there. You’ve got my sister. Junior, Bianca, wave! That’s Junior and Bianca. They’re my nephew and niece. I’ve been here for 11 years. The same house? Yeah, the same house. This is my second house since moving to Australia. So yeah, it’s been home every since. It’s been a good home, full of a lot of value. I don’t know,
I found my feet and sense and belonging. Yeah, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This is my beautiful mother. Her name is Nyanoot. That’s Joseph’s mum. Is that the photo you were talking about? Yeah, it was done through AFL Victoria.
To celebrate the multicultural day and the diversity that that exists in Melbourne and
especially through the footy community So this pretty much just
describes who I am, my full name, my tribe heritage. Which is Twic Mayardit, which is where I’m from. Shout out to Xavier Moloney for making it possible. This is a small family but when we came here we became bigger and bigger. Because of the war in our country back home, we came here with our kids. So we thank God, we thank Australia. People say in Australia, if you want a better life you will get it. If you want a bad life, you will get it. A few years ago, we were in a bad mood because of the kids. As parents, we weren’t happy about the situation that was going on. But this boy I’m really happy about what he’s doing at home and what he’s
doing outside. It makes us look towards a good future. Me and Joseph are lucky to have parents that support us. In 2011, I got involved with footy and it’s been a
great journey. I’ve not looked back. I wish that I picked it up when I first came to Australia. Unfortunately I picked it up six years down the track. It’s a sport that opened the door for me, in terms of finding my passion within the community. In terms of working with the young people It just gives me a sense of pride and a
sense of belonging within the community. Today we’re at Fitzroy Stars Football Club. We’re here with the Laguntas squad
and the Jim Stynes squad. Both squads, I’ve been involved in heavily over the
last couple years. Particularly the Jim Stynes squad. I’m assistant coach. The Jim Stynes squad are made up of players from a multicultural background. You’ve got Sudanese, Lebanese, Egyptian etc.
So it’s a very diverse young group. We don’t just focus on the talent side. We also focus on building you as a person. Teaching you the life skills. So we bring people in that will talk about their career pathway and all these things. So there’s a lot of benefits that come with this programme. Without this type of programme, there’s a high risk that young people will end up doing things they’re not supposed to be doing. So this program gives them
a purpose and something to call theirs. We might come from a background that
gave us a hope of Australia or the next place that we’re seeking refuge in to be
lavish and to have aid for us fully. But when you come from
that way you need a creative path to express what you just brought, you need a
creative pathway to express what you were expecting and what you saw. Sports, music and performing. That same adrenaline is the build-up of the struggle. Build up of the sides that people didn’t see. All built up to be released on the world
stage or on a stage where you’re able to project. At the end of the day, there are certain issues we’re
facing. So when my community going through it I can use my music and become the voice for them. Majak Daw, that’s someone that I look up to. He’s
someone that came from my background and he’s shown a great example as to how can we aspire to be greater than our circumstances, our environments or just
our story. I support him because he’s able to inspire the younger players around Australia. Just through watching his games, they want to go out to the pitch and make a difference. We’re going towards my footy game. Werribee FC vs Port Melbourne FC. I was involved in the Majak Daw squad. Which brings in a lot of Sudanese kids who are playing football. We’d play against teams like the Bachar Houli squad, Jim Stynes squad etc. They just help you develop as a
younger kid to see the bigger things in the world. I really wanted to play AFL
football, which is still my dream. Right now, all I want to focus on is playing my best footy for Werribee. We really travelled through a hard part of our
lives back then. Mum and my older siblings they all had to walk 1,500 kilometers to get
away from a war. They got settled into a refugee camp kind of thing. From there we came on to migrate into Australia in 2002. It’s unreal what they went through. Family’s big to me, like we all came
here together. Stick as one, stick tight. Mum helps a lot. When we were younger drove
us to training, to games like does all the hard yards. I’d love to be helping the community out
and be seen as a mentor myself. Try and get up on an AFL list. Then go on
from there. Be an ambassador for multicultural going around. If every crime every day gets reported on, videoed and gets broadcasted there’ll be a
whole city full of crime. That’s just how it is. So my solution is show the good, show the positive. Show what’s different from that and see people
actually change their mindset. Having these role models is really
important but it is really hard for the community and for individuals within the
community to shine, when there are so many people trying to push them down. They speak about multiculturalism in this
country, Melbourne is the epitome of multiculturalism in Australia. You know, you can get on a train and you see one in three people is somebody from another country. The respect that is shown, how the multicultural
communities are embraced, really it’s the definition of multiculturalism. Everything I’m doing now, I’m not doing it
to please anyone. I’m not doing it to put a face on. I’m doing it because I love it. I’m passionate about it and I want to make a
contribution to the society. The best way to do it is by
installing positivity into young people. Giving them the empowerment
that they are the next generation.

10 thoughts on “From refugees to rising stars | The inspirational VFL baller, rapper & AFL mentor

  1. This piece is so far from the truth and the AFL are pushing a lie.
    Australians know the truth and that African Refugees are given greater pathways, funding and opportunities than born and breed Aussie kids.
    You calling parents/individuals who have been brutally attacked in public, having their homes invaded by gangs liars, AFL?
    You should be ashamed of what you've become.
    AFL Talking about media influencing while here they are making up lies.
    Even that Woman's body language and eye contact suggests dishonesty.

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