2024 Lunar New Year Celebrations Dinner

The second annual Lunar New Year Celebration Dinner was held at The Pavilion at Box Hill City Oval on Saturday February 17, 2024 as we welcomed in the Year of the Dragon. The sold-out event was attended by all levels of Government, dignitaries, local businesses and representatives from Box Hill Hawks and Hawthorn Football Clubs.

The night kicked off with an incredible performance from traditional Chinese culture, the Lion Dance performed by the Cambodian Chinese Friendship Association of Victoria, CCCV Troupe. The energetic performance treated the crowd of over 130 people to a truly special welcome.

The highlight of the night though was undoubtedly the Australian and Chinese connection, the coming together of two special cultures. Several of the guest speakers including Box Hill Hawks President, Ed Sill, and Federal Member for Menzies, Keith Wolahan MP, recounted their own stories of immigrating to Australia. Ed spoke of his Father coming out from Austria for the 1956 Olympic Games, speaking very little English but immediately falling for our indigenous sport of Aussie Rules which allowed him to make new friends and integrate into Aussie society. Mr. Wolahan drew similar comparisons when he moved to Australia from his native Ireland, being drawn to the sport through late Irish champion, Jim Stynes, beginning his love for the Melbourne Demons.

Hawthorn Football Club President, Andy Gowers, applauded the connection growing between the local multicultural community and the Hawks, highlighting the potential for names like Zhang, Wu and Chen to become the next big names being cheered on at the MCG, just as they did for names like Silvagni, Lekkas and Christou through the 80’s and 90’s.

Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Vivienne Nguyen, spoke highly of Diana Lin’s collaborative and connective leadership between mainstream and community groups, emphasising the compassion and effort that make VMC support much easier. She spoke of the importance of breaking down barriers to become a more inclusive and welcoming society, with sport, and Aussie Rules Footy, being a particularly popular vehicle for driving cultural connections. She praised the work being done by the local Box Hill business community and the Box Hill Hawks in fostering these relationships for the benefit of all in their communities. A sentiment echoed by Federal Member for Chisholm, Dr. Carina Garland MP, as she emphasised the importance of children staying active in a community which is rapidly growing, with green space becoming a luxury, she encouraged parents to get their children involved in the multicultural programs offered at Box Hill City Oval.

Box Hill Hawks President, Ed Sill, interviewed VFL Senior Coach, Zane Littlejohn, and Football Operations and Leadership Coach, Clayton Sturzaker, on the upcoming season, the challenges we will face on the field and how the Hawks look to develop young athletes off the field to prepare them for other areas of life outside of Football.

Counselor at the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Melbourne, Li Ding, attended the event with Consul Han Chen. Counselor Ding shared her experience with the AFL in Adelaide, expressing her wish for the Box Hill Hawks to achieve success in fostering community connections and promoting cross-sports culture, especially the exchange of Chinese traditions within the footy club. President of the Federation of Chinese Associations, Derrick Chen, and President of the Chinese Masonic Society Melbourne Lodge Arthur Wu, all spoke of the element of fun involved with Aussie Rules footy and the importance of having a piece of joy in your life, perhaps that can translate to greater levels of participation through multicultural communities, both in Box Hill and beyond. Arthur mentioned that Lunar New Year is about family celebrating together to show love, care and compassion to younger generations. Every Lunar New Year, the Chinese Masonic Society Melbourne Lodge has consistently donated to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and other sectors for over 100 years.

Derrick urged the local Chinese communities and over 100 groups within the Federation of Chinese Associations in Victoria to support the Hawks and collaborate with mainstream industries.

Diana Lin, Community Director at the Box Hill Hawks, welcomed all the event business partners, including Jacky Zhang, Managing Director of Stonemart Memorials, the first Chinese owned Premier Partner of the Club, as well as Choiphy Zhao from Fuja-Fenjiu Group, and Sky Yu from Mt. Jagged Wines. Jacky reaffirmed his commitment to partnering with the Box Hill Hawks to continue to drive engagement and integration between Chinese businesses and the Australian market through the power of sport.

Guests were treated to some more entertainment, including Steph Chen on the flute and other wind instruments, Angela Zhao with her incredible Face Change performance, and finally Beiling Chen with a stunning solo on the electric violin.

In wrapping up the evening, Diana Lin said as a Football Club Board, we’ve championed business, sports, and cultural exchange, organising successful kids footy clinics at language schools and managed diverse multicultural events, including last year’s spectacular Lunar New Year celebration to add to tonight. Box Hill serves as a hub for Chinese immigrants and other diverse residents. With support from local businesses, language schools, and the multicultural community, we’ve fostered cultural cohesion and offered diverse programs. We invite the local multicultural community, especially the Chinese community, to join the Box Hill Hawks family.

In celebrating the Lunar New Year with our friends from associations and businesses with a Chinese background, the Hawks are committed to continuing to work closely and constructively with the Chinese community and their leaders to further strengthen bilateral business relations.

The Box Hill Hawks would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all who attended and made the event such a success. With the New Year well underway, the Box Hill Hawks are more determined than ever to continue to pursue the AFL’s multicultural strategy, focusing on developing programs to increase engagement, participation, talent, and social outcomes.

Dragon means strength, power, fortune and prosperity. Here’s to another successful year of the Dragon for us all in fostering community connections and promoting grassroots sports culture.

The Box Hill Hawks would also like to extend our thanks to the following people and businesses who contributed to the successful event.

Member for North-Eastern Metropolitan Richard Welch

Former Mayor of Whitehorse City council Cr. Tina Liu

Former Mayor of Glen Eira City Council Cr. Li Zhang

CEO of Ausfocus Media- Laura Qin

President of Asian Multimedia- Philip Chui

Sales Director of Australian Chinese Daily newspaper – Jianwen Li

President of Chinese Culinary Federation Australia Tom Zheng;

President of Chinese Community Council of Australia (Vic) Jimmy Li

President of Asian Business Association of Wyndham – Larry Zhao

Managing Director of LouvreElite—Hui Li

President of Chinese Photography Association of Victoria Australia – John Zeng

President of Australia Victorian Multicultural Seniors Association- Diane Feng

President of The Chinese Professional and Business Association- Anthony Lin

President of ACYPI  ( Australia-China Young Professionals Initiative)- Judy Gao

Managing Director of Ikon Finance- John Huang

President of Whitehorse Chinese Friendship Associaiton- Rong Zhao

D&M Honchoi P/L

Photos thanks to John Zeng and Liv Harrison, VFL Content Intern.

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