By Jackson Russell
Wallan Magpie Michael Tang will help people of all backgrounds get into football as one of the AFL’s multicultural ambassadors for 2020.
The Magpies forward is the son of Vietnamese refugees and grew up in Fawkner before playing his junior footy at Hadfield.
Tang’s love of the game started when he was invited to have a kick with his mates at primary school.
While his parents were initially worried about the roughness of the game, they eventually relented.
Tang said football gave him and his parents a sense of belonging.
“Having a football club gives you a sense of belonging and that was a key part of my upbringing,” he said.
“My local football club gave me a sense of security and I was able to go there, have my mates and the coaches and it was a community.
“Not only for myself, but for my family, being able to go to a football club, support the team and get along with other parents, it’s the sense of belonging that football clubs provide that’s really important.”
Part of his ambassador role includes attending events like the Unity Cup and national junior carnivals to help coach and mentor teams.
While the AFL season has been postponed, Tang was part of a group of 13 Victorian ambassadors from the AFL, AFLW, Victorian Wheelchair Football League and Victorian Blind Football League named to represent their communities along with Richmond’s Bachar Houli and the Western Bulldogs’ Lin Jong.
Tang said one of the major factors in becoming a multicultural ambassador was that he didn’t have a role model of Asian background when he was growing up and he wanted to be able to provide that to the next generation.
“If I can touch those communities and work with those kids that don’t understand the game but still love sport, it will only grow the game and make it even better,” he said.
Tang said being an AFL multicultural ambassador was about bringing the game to everyone.
“It doesn’t matter if you were born and raised here and grew up playing the game or if you’re just new to the country, it’s about getting everyone included in the game of football,” he said.