It’s time to spice up footy

By Trevor Banerjee and Fevin Mascarenhas

Some of my best mates were engaged in a rare argument on a sporting issue on a balmy Melbourne night.  Since one of them was of Indian origin and the other from Pakistan, I figured I knew what this might be about. Cricket, right? Wrong! “Collingwood are going to smash the Hawks this year” said one. “Keep dreaming” said the other!

The face of Australian Football seems to be changing quicker than the first quarter of an exciting grand final. Over the past few years, we have had personalities like Nick Natui from the West Coast Eagles who is of Fijian origin and more recently, Majak Daw from North Melbourne who is Sudanese by birth, have come in and proved to us that neither race nor religion matters in this fantastic game.

So what’s next for footy? Well my natural response to that would be “How about a player from the Sub-Continent?” It does seem like a far-fetched dream, to say that a cricket-obsessed region will churn out an athlete for the AFL. However, believe it or not but some inroads have been made.

The AFL International Cup that took place in 2011 sported 16 teams with one of them being the Indian Tigers. The team was formed with 16 players flying in from India & the remainder were Indian locals living in Australia. It was the team’s second appearance in the tournament & the inexperience showed initially against the Kiwis & Sweden who delivered heavy losses. Not to be deterred, the passion for the game was in full display against neighbouring China which was a closely fought match. So much passion, that Brett Kirk came in at half time & pumped the boys up even more for the second half of the game!

The highlight however, was India’s first ever AFL victory and that came against East Timor in only their 5th game. The team finished strongly in their final game against the highly celebrated ‘Peace’ team which consisted of players from Israel & Palestine and was coached by none other than Robert ‘Dipper‘ DiPierdomenico!

Following on from this, Ash Nugent, the team manager for AFL India gathered a few of the local players who represented AFL India to form a committee & setup the exciting venture of the Masala Football Club. The word masala means a blend of spices and is common to all the languages of the subcontinent. Their focus is to promote Australian Football amongst migrant communities from the subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc.) and to provide an opportunity for the greater community to play football. The objective is not to be an exclusive club, but to offer first generation Australians a means to connect with the community through Australia’s favourite sport.

Masala FC has made great progress since its inception late last year. The team has had over 25 player registrations, who have been actively training since January. The VAFA have also accepted the team to play in the Club 18’s starting this season (2013). Currently the home ground is based at the BJ Powell Reserve in Noble Park.

The club did recently play a practise game at Gosch’s Paddock against Team Africa, on Sunday the 10th of March & are looking forward to their next practise game against the Southern Dragons at BJ Powell Reserve on Friday, March 22 from 6pm onwards. The club would appreciate support during the game & encourages people to come down for the game.

So stay tuned folks and look out for some South-Asian faces in the AFL soon. These kids have some skills and they are not afraid to add their spicy flair to the game!

Masala FC is currently on a recruitment drive for more players. The club is also seeking sponsorship for the operations and potential sponsors/ players can contact the committee members on [email protected]

Ash Nugent                        (President)                         04 01 508 308

Trevor Banerjee                               (Operations Manager)   04 33 313 852

William Fernandes           (Secretary)                         04 02 189 956

Fevin Mascarenhas         (Treasurer)                        04 23 753 419


Please refer to Masala FC’s website & the social networks to be updated on their progress.


  1. Brad Carr says

    Trevor & Fevin, a great story, and a great initiative – both in the sense of expanding the reach of our sport, but also giving migrant communities a greater opportunity for inclusion in the Australian sporting culture.

    Almanackers, I reckon we should get behind these guys – adopt them as “our” amateur team for 2013! Help them spread the word!

    And incidentally, thanks also for explaining the meaning of the word “masala” – I will be less ignorant when I next read a menu as a result!

  2. Fantastic initiative Trev and Fev! When it comes to breaking down barriers there are few (if any) better vehicles than footy so I think your plan is a winner. As for developing some footy talent from the Sub-Continent, I’m pretty sure I remember reading that the Eagles’ Daniel Kerr is of Indian background so if we can get some more like him then the game will certainly be the better for it.

    And have you got a club song written yet? If not, then I think the line ‘Let’s give ’em curry!’ has to be in there somewhere!

    I’m in NZ but I’ll be keeping a close eye on the fortunes of the Mighty ‘Sala’s in 2013!

  3. Hey guys! Thank you for the encouraging words.
    Bob- We actually are working on a theme song and are super excited about it! Although it hasn’t got any curry references in it, it is quite spicy! :D
    Brad- We’d be more than happy to be adopted by the Almanackers!
    At the moment, our main focus is marketing and trying to source a sponsor. Any leads on that or ways to raise funds would be much appreciated guys.
    Thanks again and stay tuned for more!

  4. Dr Rocket says

    Give us an update on the practice match against the Southern Dragons please.

    Really enjoyed seeing the Southern Dragons team comprised mostly of Vietnamese players beat the Vietnam Swans in Saigon a year or so ago.

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