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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA

GWS has won an Australian Multicultural Marketing Award. The awards, recently held at the Sydney Opera House, annually recognize multicultural marketing, in particular organizations that "demonstrate vision, awareness, innovation and leadership in communications". The club received the honor for their efforts during a home game against Geelong in 2014. Using the theme of "Many Cultures, One Game", they celebrated cultural diversity with a number of events and leading up to the match. In the week leading up to the game they hosted an Iftar dinner with key community leaders and members of the Islamic and broader multicultural community. A pre-match citizenship ceremony for over 50 new Australian citizens was hosted by number one ticket holder Melissa Doyle before they were presented on-field at half time by inaugural senior coach and director Kevin Sheedy. There were on field performances by Irish, South Pacific and Haka dancers, Arabic drummers and Chinese Lion, Irish and African dancers both pregame and at half time.

The stadium concourse featured drumming workshops, prayer tents, henna tattoos, GOAL signs translated into Punjabi, Dinka, Mandarin and Arabic as well as welcoming fans to the game in 17 different languages. International students formed a guard of honor as GWS players entered the stadium and both teams wore orange bootlaces to represent harmony. The game was also broadcast live in Mandarin on Muse Sydney Chinese Radio and on the Internet.

GWS CEO David Matthews said the club was honored, saying "I want to thank our fans and the people of Western Sydney for their support. As a new club ... we want to reach new communities who can enrich our game. The Giants have a strong commitment to diversity and raising awareness of the game in multicultural communities through programs such as the Lend Lease Giant Community Footprint and Woolworths nutrition program. We want these sort of programs and activities to be ongoing ... as we continue to welcome new fans and celebrate everything that is great about Western Sydney." AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan congratulated the Giants "It's well deserved recognition of the many programs and initiatives the Giants are undertaking to embrace new communities".

In 2014 the club established a partnership with multicultural women's AFL team the Auburn Giants, formerly known as the Auburn Tigers. They also became the first AFL club on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Source: Leigh Meyrick, GWS Media Release

Just days after the AFL Draft was held, the AFL announced that retired Saint Lenny Hayes was the 2014 winner of the Ron Evans Scholarship. The award will allow Hayes to take up a one year employment opportunity with the AFL. The award, named for the late Ron Evans, was created after his passing  to assist retired players who wished to take up administrative roles within the AFL after their playing careers. Ron Evans was a long-time servant of the AFL, beginning as a player with Essendon and West Perth. He later moved into administration as president of Essendon, then was appointed an AFL Commissioner and finally as chairman of the commission. The scholarship was established by his family and previous recipients have been Scott Lucas and Brad Johnson.

Hayes announced his retirement earlier this year after 297 games with the Saints. During his 16 years, he was a club captain, a triple best and fairest winner, a triple All-Australian, played in two Grand Finals and was a Norm Smith Medalist. Hayes’ role with the AFL will see him involved in a number of key areas including player education and welfare programs, national umpiring and talent programs, supporting the Laws of the Game Committee, commercial and strategic initiatives and developing content for AFL Media. He will also serve as a member of the All-Australian selection panel.

AFL General Manager Mark Evans said Hayes was a worthy recipient, noting the respect he had within the football community for his courage and leadership during his time as a player. “Few former players are as universally respected ... We’re delighted a person of Lenny’s caliber is joining the AFL ... and we look forward to him bringing valuable insight, leadership and knowledge to a host of programs".

Hayes said he was looking forward to his new role which would allow him to remain involved in football. "I appreciate the opportunity ... I want to learn as much as I can across the various parts of our game's administration as I work out where I want to direct my energies". Ron's widow Andrea said Ron had been a great advocate of players preparing for a life after football and that the family was pleased to show their support through the award.

Source: James Avery, AFL Media Release

Article last changed on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 5:44 AM EST

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