WATCHING his compatriot Aliir Aliir crack the AFL lit a spark of self-belief in defender Marty Frederick.
Years later, the Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy graduate is playing a key role of his own among a throng of players driving increased cultural diversity in footy.
Frederick – of South Sudanese heritage - says the sport has given him a sense of belonging, and he is doing what he can to ensure young people of all ethnicities feel the same.
"Seeing Aliir Aliir break through was pretty special for the African community,’’ Frederick told portadelaidefc.com.au.
"For me personally, it was a real stepping-stone to believing that I could probably make it at that level too, because he had shown me what was possible.’’
To mark the start of Harmony Week, which celebrates Australian multiculturalism, Frederick on Monday shared his journey with students from Pinnacle College.
More than 25 cultures are represented at the Elizabeth East school where Frederick empowers young people as a Power Intercultural Program (PIP) ambassador.
Delivered by Power Community Limited (PCL), the program engages Year 11 and 12 students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds over a 10-week period.
The focus is on personal identity, developing an understanding of cultural differences, and AFL game development.
The program is highlighted in Port Adelaide’s recent Social Impact Statement, which documents PCL’s achievements providing education and sporting pathways for students.
"Be accepting of difference and open to meeting new people who will support you on your journey, because every culture brings something unique,’’ Frederick said of the important messages shared in the program.
His sentiment is echoed in the Club’s 2022 membership campaign which heroes the value of belonging at Port Adelaide.
"We should all embrace our culture because it’s a big part of life; it’s certainly something that’s very important to me,’’ said Frederick, whose twin brother Michael plays for Fremantle.
Frederick’s parents arrived in Adelaide in 1998 via a refugee camp in Kenya where they spent two years after fleeing war-torn South Sudan. He and Michael have never visited their homeland.
"Everything my brother and I do is to make sure our family has a better life,’’ Frederick said
Pinnacle College Year 12 student Farnaz Ahamed migrated to South Australia from Bangladesh with her family 15 years ago. She completed the Power Intercultural Program last year and said Frederick was an inspiration.
"Hearing from someone who has had experiences that have touched a lot of people our age really helped us relate to him and understand his story,’’ she said.
"We are young teenagers who are developing, and he made us feel empowered and that we have a voice.’’
The Power Intercultural Program is made possible by major partner GFG, the Department for Education and the Wyatt Trust.