West Coast cult hero Nic Naitanui plans to start a foundation to aid disadvantaged children from multicultural backgrounds similar to an indigenous project run by Eagles great David Wirrpanda.
Naitanui, an AFL multicultural ambassador, said yesterday he had talked to Wirrpanda and West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett about developing a business plan for the project.
The 21-year-old said visits to poverty-stricken areas of South Africa and his parents' homeland of Fiji had driven a compassionate edge to the off-field side of his football career.
Forging his own successful life after growing up in a low socioeconomic Perth suburb prompted him to want to help others create opportunities.
The David Wirrpanda Foundation's mission statement is to "improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal children by promoting strong role models and healthy life choices".
Naitanui said he hoped his foundation could cover similar ground in WA's multicultural sector and to have it established while he was still playing.
"Coming from a different background myself, it means a lot to me to extend this from just playing football," he said.
"You think where you came from yourself and if you can have role models out there I think everyone should be doing it for their local area.
"I'm trying to drive this now, as soon as possible."
Naitanui said he appreciated how trivial some of his problems were when he saw the hardships others faced in Australia and abroad.
"Going back to the poorer sides of Fiji, you just look at the way they live, but they're all still happy," he said.
"They're still smiling, while I get upset if I play a bad game. It makes you realise you're privileged and you should be enjoying it all the time.
"South Africa was a massive one as well, going into the townships.
"Going to Soweto and seeing 12 to 15 people living in a little shed I'd be battling to fit into sometimes you complain about your bedroom when your bed's not soft enough.
"These guys are doing it a lot tougher in life when you're complaining about little things and it does put it all into context. You do a tour and you feel like you're invading their privacy and you wonder how they're all surviving when there are so many of them.
"Even if just one of them could come over to play footy, it would be awesome for their family to have someone who could provide for them.
"It helps me as a person as well and makes me want to do this even more."
Naitanui said part of his inspiration to help others was also triggered by the remarkable recovery of close friend and former Swan Districts teammate Luke Adams, who was at the point of death after a one-punch assault in Northbridge in May last year.
Adams has enrolled at Curtin University and hopes to join him on a post-season trek along the gruelling 96km Kokoda Trail on October 8.
Adams' friends and family also established a foundation in his name in a bid to "end senseless violence in the community through raising awareness and funds for education programs".
Naitanui said he still sometimes wrote Adams' name on his arm for matches to remind him during hard moments of his good fortune.'Even if just one of them could come over to play footy, it would be awesome for their family.'"Eagles hero *Nic Naitanui *
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