Embley s football future rests in the past

Former West Coast star Andrew Embley has turned back to the game that was his life to explore a family heritage that traces through South East Asia.

Embley has accepted an invitation from AFL Asia to be the inaugural coach of an Indochina All-Stars team, with players from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Burma, the birthplace of his father Maurice.

The team will play its first match at Chonburi in Thailand on August 16 as part of the Indochina Cup, which is now in its eighth year.

The 33-year-old, who retired from the Eagles last year after 15 seasons, said he hoped to use his new football journey to learn more about his family.

He said his grandmother Clara was one of an extraordinary 21 siblings.

The 92-year-old lives in Perth, where she moved in 1964 to escape the political unrest in Burma, now also called Myanmar, when his father was just seven years old.

"I've always had that connection and growing up knowing the Burmese culture," Embley said, adding he plans to visit the country soon for the first time.

"A lot of my nana's sisters and brothers still live there, so it's a big family and who knows where this might lead.

"Without wanting to be disrespectful to my dad or my family, it's probably only been in the last three or four years, having kids of my own and getting a little bit older and more mature, that I'm starting to realise that it's pretty incredible and starting to tap into it a lot.

"The cup is being played in Thailand, but you don't know who might be part of this Myanmar team. There's every chance some might be related to me."

Embley's father, whose four sisters were also born in Burma, went back for the first time three years ago and revisited the "shoebox" home where they grew up.

Embley's late grandfather Clem was orphaned at 12 and spent all his teen years at Twantae Home for boys in Rangoon.

It is expected that the Indochina team, which will play an exhibition match against Australian expats as part of the cup, will be developed with a view to competing in the International Cup in Melbourne in 2017.

"It's probably a long way away from a kid coming out of that system, but from what I've been hearing, a lot of people are doing a lot of work up there," Embley said.

"Wouldn't it be great one day to see one of these young guys end up on a rookie list.

"It's also a credit to the AFL for trying to expand this great game of ours."

The West Australian

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