Exciting young defender Buku Khamis was one of a number of Western Bulldogs players out and about in the west conducting Auskick clinics for local football clubs at the weekend.
Khamis was joined by premiership key defender Fletcher Roberts for a footy clinic at the West Footscray Football Club on Saturday morning.
Other local clubs and Bulldogs players involved were Albion (Toby McLean and Ryan Gardner), St Albans (Luke Webb and Ben Cavarra) and Sunshine (Fergus Greene and Laitham Vandermeer) on Friday night, and Caroline Springs (Lachlan Young and Lewis Young), Seddon (Lin Jong and Brad Lynch) and Yarraville (Billy Gowers) on Saturday morning.
For Khamis, it was a good chance to interact with his local community, while offering a reminder of where it all started for him as a junior with St Albans.
“It is exciting to be able to go out there and be able to play with the kids, teach them a few skills and just to connect with the wider community,” Khamis said.
“It’s just a reminder of the love we all had for the game as kids, as we still do now.
“It’s great to see the kids being happy and showing their passion for the game.”
Khamis landed at the Western Bulldogs last November as a rookie out of the club’s Next Generation Academy.
The 19-year-old, born in South Sudan, got his start at St Albans before graduating into the ranks of the Western Jets in the TAC Cup.
An elite junior, Khamis also represented Vic Metro at the national championships.
Khamis is proud of his heritage and is happy to be a role model for a multi-cultural western suburbs community.
One of his favourite aspects of Australian rules football is its ability to unite people from different cultures.
“For me, it’s very important getting different cultures involved in the game,” Khamis said.
“We’re all connected because of one sport and it allows you to make friendships with people from different countries.
“I want to be an example to anyone out there who wants to pursue playing AFL footy.”
Khamis is relishing his first season at the Western Bulldogs.
While the rookie is yet to receive a call-up to the AFL side, he is learning the ropes off the likes of veteran defender Dale Morris and development coach Rohan Smith.
“Dale Morris has been a really good role model to myself and a few of the other younger teammates,” Khamis said.
“He’s just teaching me things on and off the field that have been really important in my development.”
Khamis is a key member of a Footscray side that is on the verge of playing finals in the Victorian Football League.
His form is “up and down” in his words, which is part and parcel of a young player new to the level, but he is enjoying growing with the younger players on the Bulldogs’ list.
Khamis is aiming for a big finish to the season and will continue striving for an AFL debut this season. The Bulldogs will be looking to enhance their AFL finals prospects when they face Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Sunday. Footscray is also on the road in the VFL, taking on Frankston at Skybus Stadium on Sunday.