Football Profile: Bella on the ball in multicultural WAFL and AFL following


Bella Ndayikeze.
Bella Ndayikeze.

The centre operates in Perth’s northern suburbs with a range of projects and activities including research, community education, advocacy and networking.

It serves the needs of indigenous Australians, refugees and asylum seekers.

As youth programs co-ordinator, Ms Ndayikeze is involved in local parks projects and runs the Edmund Rice Centre Lions, which is an Australian Rules football team of newly arrived young people.

The team was formed in March 2010. Ms Ndayikeze works with local leaders helping coach and manage the program in the Balga area.

Ms Ndayikeze also plays with the Joondalup Women’s Football Club and is often seen on the field on Sundays in the WA Women’s Football League.

Q&A with Bella

Place of Birth: Burundi, Africa

Time in Australia: 11 years

Current role in football: manager of Edmund Rice Lions & Lionesses, an AFL multicultural football program for young boys and girls. Role model promoting Australia’s great game to the multicultural community. Playing for Joondalup Women’s Football Club.

What sport did you grow up with? I grew up with athletics, mostly running races and soccer.

What WAFL club do you support? South Fremantle; I look up to Paul Mugambwa who played for them, retiring in 2015.

What AFL club do you support? West Coast Eagles.

Why is sport important to you?

Growing up, I was really good at school and doing sport made me happy. I never really saw the benefits of sport until I faced a massive problem at home that left me depressed. With the onset puberty, I didn’t understand what was going on, I dropped out of my activities and gained some weight and became very insecure. I wasn’t strong enough at the time to stand up for myself. I struggled to be a part of sport, social stuff with friends and gave a lot of excuses to get out of being a participant.

But someone came to the rescue – the Edmund Rice Centre youth programs coordinator, who taught me to never give up. Through the leadership program, I learned how to be honest, a good person and committed. I got to my feet and took the step of becoming a football coach for the Edmund Rice Lions.

Learning a new sport was very difficult, but public speaking, coaching and the whole experience brought out the real me. It made me very chatty, confident and somewhat bossy with a goal to help young people who may be going through the same issues as I did. That’s why sport and football is important to me, because it gives people, especially young people, purpose in the world.

Favourite thing about football:

The football environment is safe, while making me feel happy and accepted for my diversity. I am African and it’s not normal to play a sport that is so foreign and unknown back home. Having a go and being part of a team that welcomes you like a family member feels really good. The opportunities are endless.