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Falcons jumpers have multicultural feel

Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 11:52 AM
John Townsend, The West 
June 25, 2015, 5:44 am

Soccer looms large as a significant threat to football in Perth’s expanding northern coastal corridor yet West Perth have borrowed from the rival sport as they prepare for their most significant match of the home-and-away season.

West Perth will wear short-sleeved jumpers inspired by British soccer for their international round match against Subiaco on Saturday. The clash of the league’s top two teams is expected to draw HBF Arena’s biggest crowd in nearly 10 years.

The Falcons have given away 60,000 tickets to the game as part of their strategy to sell football as a critical part of the community in a region in which nearly half of the residents were born overseas and a quarter came from Britain.

The three previous international rounds have been outstanding promotional and financial successes for the club — but not on the field where West Perth have lost each match — with crowds of 6044, 6195 and 5362.

Only three bigger crowds have attended Arena games, including 15,082 at the inaugural match in 1994.

Nearly 100 Joondalup residents will become Australian citizens at a ceremony before the game as part of West Perth’s bid to sinks its roots deeper into the region.

“As a club and district we are very proud of the success of this game and what we have been able to achieve in such a short time,” West Perth president Brett Raponi said. “Our club’s location places us under constant threat from soccer for the young boys and girls that we are trying to attract to our code.

“The concept involving the uniquely designed jumper and the citizenship ceremony is our way and indeed Aussie Rules’ way of reaching out and engaging with our community.”

West Perth’s success since moving to Joondalup in 1994 has been manifested in four premierships but the club has no illusions about the difficulties it faces in getting the State’s most diverse multicultural group and fastest-growing migrant population to embrace football.

The short-sleeved jumpers also mirror the attempt in the early 1990s by then WAFL manager Grant Dorrington, now a commissioner, to introduce playing strips that replicated those used in rugby and soccer.

West Perth ran a competition in the 65 schools in their district to create their jumper design.

Joondalup mayor Troy Pickard said the citizenship ceremony was symbolic of the opportunities available to potential new football fans.

“There is nothing as Australian as a day at the footy and we hope our new Australians will stay behind after the ceremony concludes to watch our indigenous game in a live setting — some no doubt who will be doing so for the first time,” he said.

Carramar Primary School Year 5 student Evie House, 10, shows off the jumper she designed for international round with Falcons Brayden Antonio, left, Kody Manning and Drew Rohde. Picture: Bill Hatto/WA News