Written by Bonnie Zhang
The official, well-established Lunar New Year Business Dinner, organised for the first time by the Box Hill Hawks, was held with great success on February 3, 2023.
The event that took place at The Pavilion at Box Hill City Oval was filled with excitement, joy, and of course, some incredible entertainment, featuring Chinese traditional culture, including Lion Dance from Hung Hing Lion Dance Association, Suzhou Pingtan from Shanghai Yue Opera, Zither, Electric Violin, and Group Dance. Participants from all fields were treated to an incredible evening of fun, celebrating the start of the lunar new year, the cultural diversity at sports clubs and enjoying networking with like-minded people in the community.
But the highlight of the night was undoubtedly the Australian and Chinese connection, which was witnessed by a series of guest speakers. Representatives from the Box Hill Hawks, local government, the Cultural Consul of the People’s Republic of China in Melbourne, and multiple business supporters were among the distinguished guests of the evening and, in a delightful atmosphere, presented speeches and exchanged views. The event explored some of the landmark cultural and business achievements brought about through the work of the Box Hill Hawks. It was an excellent opportunity for the Club to embark on its journey to spearhead this grassroots sport with local multicultural businesses and communities in 2023.
The Box Hill Hawks, competing in Australia’s premier state-based football competition, the Victorian Football League, is the only VFL team representing the eastern region of Melbourne. Since aligning with the Hawthorn Football Club in 2001, the Box Hill Hawks have grown from strength to strength both on and off the field. In celebrating the Lunar New Year with its supporters from associations and businesses with a Chinese background, the Club is committed to continuing to work closely and constructively with the Chinese community and the leaders of both parties to further strengthen the bilateral business relations.
Ed Sill, President of the Box Hill Hawks, explained how Chinese community support for its Club makes a meaningful connection with the Australian people, in parallel with its business pursuits.
Diana Lin, Director of the Box Hill Hawks, who is also the former PRO of the Chinese Association of Victoria, former Executive Vice President of the Federation of Chinese Associations in Victoria and is currently the founder and Advisory Board Head of Executive Wealth Circle, and the Board Director of Chinese Community Council of Australia, Victoria Chapter.
Her welcome speech highlighted the milestones that have been made to increase the footy influence in the Asian community. For example, she mentioned that the successful introduction of the Multicultural Footy 4 Fun clinics into some Chinese Language school campuses has greatly embraced cultural diversity, up skilled Asian kids, advocated for Asian families, and promoted these Chinese schools.
Mr. Yucheng Zhan, the Cultural Consul of the People’s Republic of China in Melbourne, on behalf of Chinese Consulate recognised that the AFL is a uniquely Australian game. It also embodies the long history of relations between the two countries. This connection between the football club and businesses with a Chinese background will unearth the shared passion for sports between the people of the two countries, thus bringing the people of China and Australia closer together. The Cultural Consul of the People’s Republic of China will play a vital role in fostering bilateral links in communities, business, education, health, science, arts and sports between the two countries.
Councillor Mark Lane, Mayor of the City of Whitehorse, joined the event as a Guest of Honour. He welcomed all guests and emphasised the opportunities offered by the Box Hill Hawks and their potential role in promoting China-Australia relations in the local community.
There were other speakers who also shared great enthusiasm and encouragement for deepening the multicultural relationship. Former Legislative Council President, Hon. Bruce Atkinson, shared the great point that Aussie Rules Footy is not only about football, but culture and communication. He spoke highly of Diana Lin’s appointment as a club Director and her wider community contributions through various bodies, as well as Managing Director of Stonemart, Jacky Zhang, who have become the first Chinese business to partner with Box Hill Hawks as a Premier Sponsor, and their other numerous sponsorships to support the multinational communities, showcasing the culture exchange success.
Mr. Arthur Wu as a former AFL strategy team member, an influential community leader and the President of The Chinese Masonic Society Melbourne Lodge, supported the Club Board’s initiatives at the beginning, who welcomed the culture collaboration development between footy club and Chinese community.
Mrs. Bihong Wang the President of Asian Business Association of Whitehorse who thanked BHHFC Board’s invitation and mentioned that ABAW values community partnerships and welcome any opportunities for collaboration in the future to create a more diverse and inclusive community.
The Box Hill Hawks would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all those who attended and made the event such a success. With the New Year well underway, the Box Hill Hawks is more determined than ever to continue pursue AFL’s multicultural strategy focusing on developing programs to increase engagement, participation, talent, and social outcomes.