The West

Aussie rules for eager initiate from Iraq
Zain Uafim with his team Central Cougars. Picture: Simon Santi / The West Australian.

Three years ago, Zain Uafim knew nothing about Australian Rules football.

Now the 13-year-old is fully converted and determined to introduce the game to unsuspecting Iraqis.

Zain arrived in Perth when his father, Naji, took up a scholarship at the University of WA to study animal science.

Mr Uafim's speciality is chickens and by year end he will take new-found knowledge and a master's degree back to Iraq, where he works for the Babylon Agricultural Department.

Zain is taking home football.

Last year, he was runner-up with the Central Cougars and won the most accurate award with 20 goals and three points.

This year he moved up to the under-13s in the Northern Cobras Junior Football Club, came fifth in the fairest and best count but was disappointed with his return of 10 goals.

Still, the enthusiasm of the Year 7 student at Westminster Primary School is unbounded.

"I'm going to make a footy club when I go home," Zain said. "I already have eight footies and a full set of rules.

"One day we will bring an Iraqi team to Australia."

An Eagles supporter who comes in at 148cm, Zain knows how to take a hit and knows how to mix it with bigger lads.

"We're a real multicultural team and he slotted into it really well," said coach Jamie Ryder, whose players include indigenous kids, an African, an Indonesian and two from the Middle East.

"We were the youngest team out there this season and he's had to take a couple of hits, especially with his size.

"But he's always at training and always wanted to improve."

Zain, a budding taekwondo champion, has surprised Mr Uafim with his ability to pick up cricket and football. "He is crazy about Australia," Mr Uafim said. "He is very determined to make this football team and I have told him we can come back in a few years."

The West Australian

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