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Stephen Coniglio

GWS GIANTS player

AFL was just a no-brainer for me growing up, but it’s like a foreign language to my family in Italy and England. Some of the responses I’ve had trying to explain Aussie rules to them over the years have been unbelievable! My Nonna and Nanna still constantly tell me to be careful on the field. So I’d say I was raised like any other person with European family heritage.

Nonno came to Australia from the south of Italy in Calabria and worked in the Perth midland, working on trains up there. He had bad hearing from working so long on the railways and in his spare time he worked in the vineyards up in the Swan Valley for extra cash.

We had a little vineyard growing up and we spent lots of time helping Nonno pick grapes and make wine. A lot of my early memories are helping Nonno and Nonna with their massive garden, helping plant fruit and vegetables and helping Nonna cook. These are definitely memories I’ll take with me forever.

Being Italian - food is everything. One of our pre-game traditions when we play in Perth is a feast with all the boys and the team at my place. My Nonna, Mum and aunties cook for over 60 people. They make all the traditional Italian stuff and the boys go crazy for about an hour, it’s great bonding time.

Moving to Sydney at 17, I was so excited to join the GWS Giants for their first year competing. I’ve had dreams of playing footy professionally since I was a little boy. The beauty of sport is its power to bind communities and people. It’s not just a game for kids born here with Australian mums and dads, it’s for everyone.To me, multiculturalism means inclusion. Unless you’re an Aboriginal Australian, somewhere down the line we have all come from a place outside Australia and feeling included is important for kids’ confidence and morale growing up.

AFL does such a great job of including everyone in the game, no matter their background.We made our first finals this year and I’m so proud of the team and the boys. The GIANTS team was a great initiative by the AFL to put a team out west. I’m proud to represent the face of multicultural communities in greater Western Sydney. It’s very fulfilling, having kids come and learn about AFL is the most fulfilling work I do.