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Nanjing Night Net

WITH Melbourne’s multicultural football ties being celebrated this weekend, the City of Greater Dandenong’s St John’s Old Collegians Football Club has plenty to be proud of.

Two decades ago it set up a lone voice in the region for the virtues of amateur footy: no pay to play, you booze you lose and no unruly behaviour.

”We have a motto,” president Peter Phaedonos said. ”Effort, inclusiveness and commitment. You might not be any good at playing but that doesn’t mean you are not welcome – you can still put in the effort and get better.

”We’ve got lawyers, accountants and brickies and we’re non-denominational.”

Hailing from the welcoming principles of the Catholic college a drop-kick up Dandenong Creek (St John’s Regional College), the Jocs last year won their second flag in six years. The 22 seniors hailed from Malta, South Africa, England, Cyprus and Greece.

But their squad was even more varied. Guys from Sri Lanka, Samoa, Mauritius, the Philippines and Sudan played in the reserves. Part of the strategy is having the college’s PE teacher, Matt Jones, as coach.

Fifteen years ago, Jones taught in Darwin, where his views on the values of health and sport were crystallised.

”What can be a very unstructured life for some, team sport can give that structure for everyday life,” Jones said.

”After initial teething problems [with new chums], our club, in a small way, has helped them to assimilate definitely as part of the community and we help out where we can,” Jones said.

This year the Jocs are facing relegation from division one. But St John’s women’s team sits second in the VWFL south-east division, while Sudanese-born Emmanuel Jakwot has been selected to play in the world XVIII at the under-16 championships.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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