The Multicultural AFL Football TV & Radio Show is produced by multicultural community broadcasters, with live commentaries made throughout the season in Arabic, Dinka, Hindi, Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish and English.
The commentaries are distributed nationally across TV broadcasts and 60 community radio stations, as well as via AFL news podcasts and to community television audiences in Victoria and South Australia, and nationally on Foxtel – Aurora.
“The Multicultural AFL Weekly Football TV & Radio Show is a production of the NEMBC and is the most diverse football show in Australia,” NEMBC CEO, Russell Anderson, said.
“We have been able to tap into the ethnic community broadcasters and with production support of the AFL turn them into sports reporters for radio and TV.
“The background to these people and their love for the game is unique and diverse.”
This is the first time that ethnic community broadcasting has reached such a large audience across multiple platforms.
On Sunday, June 2, the NEMBC AFL project continued with the live broadcast of the game between Essendon and Carlton in Italian, coinciding with Italian Republic Day.
Broadcasters Angela Khan and Mathew Giacomantonio did the live call live from the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) where Essendon defeated Carlton.
The success of the multilingual initiative was covered last week on ABC Radio, with Hindi commentator Harbir Singh Kang telling Amanda Smith that calling in multicultural languages “creates a strong bond, especially if you’re migrated from a country”.
“The whole family ... as soon as they hear their own language, they feel a connection to it,” he said.
Kang calls AFL footy games in Hindi after starting out in his mother-tongue, Punjabi.
Families can now watch the matches on TV and follow with the ethnic commentary.
It’s an initiative which also draws the generations closer.
NEMBC football programs producer, Fiv Antoniou, said that AFL is supporting the NEMBC to put this on air as “we are the only organisation that can do this nationally”.
“It was something that just developed, after a trial period of six months; it was on because it was gathering momentum,” Antoniou, who is of Greek-Cypriot background, said.
“Even second- or third-generation Greeks and Italians who do speak English want to tune into the language footy program, to enjoy Aussie culture in their blood-tongue.”
Antoniou emphasised that it’s the dream of the organisation “to push all this into the mainstream, like they do with Hispanic callers in California and the west coast of America”.
NEMBC ethnic commentators described a challenge in translating AFL lingo into culturally specific terms, such as the much-celebrated “speckie” (when a player makes a spectacular mark by jumping up on the back of another player).
The commentators concluded by saying that community listeners can call up and suggest suitable cultural terms: “We are learning with you.”