Win some, Laos some

Ekaphon Choumphavanh and Handa Yattivong.
Ekaphon Choumphavanh and Handa Yattivong.

AN international relationship built over more than two years has resulted in one of the more special occasions in Wanneroo Amateur Football Club history.

In early 2013, the side formed a bond with the Lao Elephants Football Club based in the South East Asian nation of Laos.

The Roos have since donated footballs, jumpers and training equipment to the team under the guidance of former premiership player Steve Chapman, who lives in Laos and is president of the Elephants.

But the club�s greatest hope was to one day have a Lao player make his Australian Rules football debut with Wanneroo in Perth.

Last month, it became a reality for two Laotians, Ekaphon Choumphavanh, aka EK and HandaYattivong, who travelled outside Laos for the first time.

The pair suited up for Wanneroo�s 5ths side in a match the home side lost by a goal � not that the score mattered in the context of the occasion for the international recruits.

The duo spent July 22 to July 29 experiencing Australian culture, with the game falling on July 25.

Club president Russell Burnett reflected on an incredible experience for the club and the international pair.

�They�re just from little villages in Lao, they were amazed by Australia,� he said.

Coach Jamie Gunnis brought their appearance into perspective.

�At the end of the day, it is not about their game day performance it is more about them experiencing the club culture of mateship and community engagement which they can take back to Laos,� he said.

Burnett said Wanneroo�s commitments now stretched to communities beyond those involved with the Elephants.

�With many different initiatives, projects and causes already supported by Wanneroo, this promises to be a fulfilling one for EK, Handa and all at both Lao and Wanneroo football clubs,� he said.