Naitanui could be AFL key: Houli
The imminent drafting of Fijian-born Nick Naitanui could be the key to getting players from a wider variety of cultures playing AFL, according to the league's first devout Muslim, Essendon midfielder Bachar Houli.
Houli, who joined Essendon as the 42nd selection at the 2006 national draft and has played 14 games, yesterday participated in an Auskick clinic in Mirrabooka as part of a three-day visit to Perth for the WAFC's Multicultural Football Program.
Naitanui is expected to be selected in the top three of next month's national draft, and will join Port Adelaide duo David Rodan and Alipate Carlile as Fijian players in the AFL.
"That'll give people the confidence that the game is open to anyone," Houli said. "Anyone who has the hunger to play AFL football can make it. It's a great opportunity to open doors.
"Hopefully in four or five years time we've got kids from lots of different backgrounds playing in the AFL and bringing all of those cultures together."
There have been limited examples of players joining the AFL after being born outside Australia.
Fremantle forward Adam Campbell moved to Australia from New Zealand as a teenager, former Dockers captain Peter Bell was born in Korea, while Hawthorn's Trent Croad (New Zealand), Adelaide's Brad Moran (UK), North Melbourne's Aaron Edwards (Samoa) and former Bomber full-back Mal Michael (Papua New Guinea) have also enjoyed success.