FROM CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TO THE VAFA

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Asha Hinton

We continue our look at clubs and their engagement with players of multicultural backgrounds in the lead up to VAFA multicultural round.

Old Carey have again provided a smiling and determined footballer to the VAFA as part of an annual program at the club. Matthew Moketarinja 18, from Hermannsburg, Northern Territory is a name to look out for.
In the Northern Territory, Matthew is well known for being a tough and skillful on-baller who shows great passion and enthusiasm for footy. He simply loves the game. A dominant player in the Central Australian Football League senior competition this season, he won the U17 league best and fairest medal in 2011. Mattthew has been tested in the AFL Northern Territory Indigenous Program and was in the top 10 in most categories. 
Within 10 hours of landing in Melbourne, Matthew was training at Carey’s facility at Bulleen on a typical Melbourne wet winter night. Whilst it was extremely cold and wet, Matthew clearly enjoyed himself on his first training night with the boys. No stranger to the cold winters, as Hermannsburg, 127km west of Alice Springs has a forecast next week of a mild 15 degrees during the day, but a chilly minus two for overnight.
Old Carey President Paul Newton said about the program, "That’s the wonderful thing that football provides, it is a common thread that brings people from all over Australia together. For Matthew it was the first time in a plane, first time away from home and first time he had played on an oval that had been maintained and watered. Regardless, within minutes he was into it and I am very proud of our boys in the way they made him welcome".
There are so many amazing people at a footy club and Matthew certainly has taken his beaming smile and bubbly personality with him and will fit right in at the club before returning home towards the end of the season. 
Old Carey has continued to be a conduit in providing indigenous Australians with the chance of experiencing football in Melbourne. In 2011, they hosted Jermaine Wunungmurra and will continue to engage with indigenous Australians and we in the VAFA can be thankful for that. 
This is an exciting time for Matthew, it’s a great opportunity and let’s hope he continues to enjoy every minute of winning the ball out of the muddy centre of Dunshea Oval in the coming weeks. We would like to wish Matthew all the best for his time at Old Carey and potentially to higher levels of football in the future.