Almanac Teams: An African Australian AFL Team

‘Chol’: Oil on canvas by Kate Birrell



Eligibility: Born in Africa, or having at least one parent of African, African American or Afro-Caribbean descent.  Player must have played at least one AFL game.



A detailed map of the African continent. [Source:]

Admittedly, some of these players are named slightly out of their usual starting positions, but remember versatility is the hallmark of the modern footballer.  This is one exciting team.


Josh Gibson (Afro-Barbadian) North Melbourne/Hawthorn 2006-2017
Aliir Aliir (Born in Kenya to South Sudanese parents) Sydney 2014-
Sanford Wheeler (African American) Sydney 1989-1994


Héritier Lumumba (Congolese-Angolan) Collingwood/Melbourne 2005-2016
Majak Daw (Born in Sudan to South Sudanese parents) North Melbourne 2011-
Isaac Quaynor (Ghana) Collingwood 2020-


Jason Johannisen (South Africa) Western Bulldogs 2012-
Matt Thomas (Seychelles*) Port Adelaide/Richmond 2006-2015
Ryan Lester (South Africa) Brisbane 2011-


Ian Perrie (Zimbabwe) Adelaide 1998-2007
Mabior Chol (South Sudan) Richmond 2016-
Damian Cupido (South Africa) Brisbane/Essendon 2000-2005


Ahmed Saad (Egypt) St Kilda 2012-2015
Jack Darling (South Africa) West Coast Eagles 2011-
Zac Clarke (African American) Fremantle/Essendon 2009-2019


Stephen Lawrence (South Africa) Hawthorn 1988-1998
Tendai Mzungu (Zimbabwe) Fremantle/GWS 2011-2017
Touk Miller (African American) Gold Coast 2015-


Reuben William (South Sudan) Brisbane 2016-2017
Joel Wilkinson (Nigeria) Gold Coast 2011-2013
Changkuoth Jiath (Born in Ethiopia to South Sudanese parents) Hawthorn 2019-
Jason Holmes (African American) St Kilda 2014-17
Ivan Astruc (Mauritius*) Fitzroy 1897
Tuth “Tom” Jok (South Sudan) Essendon 2019
Ian Muller (South Africa) Carlton, St Kilda 1984-1991
Archie Smith (African American) Brisbane 2014-
Michael Frederick (South Sudan) Fremantle 2020-


Martin Frederick (South Sudan) Port Adelaide (rookie), yet to debut
Emmanuel Irra (Uganda) previously Port Adelaide rookie, now at Norwood (SANFL)


*Note: Mauritius and Seychelles are considered part of the African continent.


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About Damian Balassone

Damian Balassone is a failed half-forward flanker who writes poetry. He is the author of 'Strange Game in a Strange Land'.


  1. Amazing team Damian, it’s great to see the link between these two continents being made in the footballing setting.

    Being a pedant i’m wondering why Stephen Lawrence, & Ian Perrie aren’t in the starting 18? Lawrence played 146 games, including in a premiership, also kicked 30 goals, 5 of those were on debut. Perrie turned out 116 times, kicking 129 goals. Surely their on field performances merit selection in the starting line up?


  2. DBalassone says

    Thanks Glen. Long may the link continue – it will only get stronger & stronger as evidenced by this current wave of exciting African Australian footballers.

    You are correct about Lawrence and Perrie. I must confess I’d compiled most of the side, before I discovered their African heritage. Lawrence was very handy in ’91. Perrie certainly played enough games to be considered for a pocket. He certianly should be included in my ‘follicularly challenged left foot team of the century’.

  3. Stephen Lawrence is an interesting one. His Rhodesian born father Godfrey played five tests for South Africa in the early 1960’s. In one of these he picked up a haul of 8-42.

    They then left apartheid South Africa for Joh’s Queensland. Frying pan to fire ?

    Stephen Lawrence turned his back on footy in his mid 20’s and went across to become involved in the world of faith; where he remains.


  4. Good work Damian!
    Stunning stuff.

  5. Kevin Densley says

    Very interesting and well-researched, DB.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Really interesting Damian. Sensational defence in particular in this team.

    Nice find with Ivan Astruc, big gap between him in 1897 and the players who started to appear in the 1980’s!

  7. Great work Damian – it’s a fascinating insight into the growing influence of African migration on our game. What an exciting team this would be!
    I have to agree about Stephen Lawrence – his 1991 finals series was awesome.

  8. DBalassone says

    Thanks Rod, Kevin, Luke and Stainless.
    The backline is strong indeed Luke. So much so, that I moved Johannisen to the wing to strengthen the midfield. I think the captaincy would be a tossup between Josh Gibson (2 b&fs, 3 premierships, All-Aust) and Héritier Lumumba (premiership, All-Aust, 2nd r/u b&f).
    So true Stainless. It would be interesting to do this exercise again in ten years time. We may indeed have stand alone South Sudanese and South African teams. And you’re right about Lawrence. An oversight on my behalf. He has been promoted to the ruck, with Archie Smith now on the extended bench.

  9. I can think of a couple of AFLW Tigers too: Akec Makur Chuot and Sabrina Frederick. Bigoa Nyuon another in Y&B, but yet to play a game at the highest level.

  10. There’s a book of back stories in this. Thanks for an interesting read DB.

  11. Anyone interested in choosing a player and doing some research?

  12. I’d potentially be keen JTH; difficult to decide who to choose though!

  13. I’ve made comments about Ian Perrie, also Stephen Lawrence. Happy to put pen to paper re this pair.

    Await instructions, or as they say on the Veldt, wag op instruksies.


  14. DBalassone says

    Thanks John, Jarrod and Glen.  Would have liked to have penned a few words on each player for this…but time is an enemy.  Jarrod, some good AFLW gets there.  And perhaps we could add Bigoa Nyuon to the ‘Watch this Space’ section.  

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    You can now add Bentleigh boy Joel Amartey (Ghana) to that team

  16. Did we ever make a call on compiling a book on the subject?

    Please jog my memory.


  17. DBalassone says

    Good get Swish. I believe Martin Frederick also made his debut for Port earlier this year. I’m sure the list will conitnue to grow,

    Glen, I don’t think we did. As JTH said, there’s certainly a book in it.

  18. Can the Australian Olympic 800 metre runner Peter Bol be the runner for this team?

  19. As we are getting closer to the anniversary date of this article, I noticed that LR was commenting on the big gap between Ivan Astruc from 1897 and the next players who started to appear in the 1980s.

    Well, according to Wikipedia for their list of VFL/AFL players born outside Australia, a few gaps have been completed:

    1) Jack Baggott – born in South Africa, Essendon/Richmond, 1927-1937, 147 games, 140 goals
    2) Ted Garside – born in South Africa, Hawthorn, 1931, 6 games
    3) Aubrey McKenzie – born in South Africa, Nelbourne/St Kilda, 1914-24, 12 games, 17 goals

    If these nominations are accepted, is it possible for Jack Baggott to be selected in the forward pocket in the forward pocket of the Africa
    African Australian AFL/VFL team, and therefore demote Ahmed Saad to the extended interchange bench. Also, could Ted Garside and Aubrey McKenzie also go to the extended interchange bench?

    Therefore, as DB already had 9 on the extended interchange bench, if we add Joel Amartey, Martin Frederick, Ahmed Saad (demoted to interchange bench from the forward pocket for Jack Baggott), Ted Garside and Aubrey McKenzie, there will be 14 players on the extended interchange bench. Once 4 more players are added, one can then do a 2nd team of 18 players, without interchange players for either team.

  20. Thank you for letting us comment. noi

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