Bailey Banfield was raised in Broome before moving to Perth to play for Claremont. He was drafted by Fremantle in 2017, making his AFL debut in 2018.
For as long as anyone in the family can remember, Bailey Banfield wanted to be a footy player. His father Robert was a successful West Kimberley footballer for the Broome Bulls and became his first junior coach.
As a child, he would spend hours kicking a soft footy with his Chinese grandmother, Shirley, and his mother Debbie would kick with him on the family’s driveway.
‘When Bailey was five, someone gave him a life-sized red Sherrin football easter egg, which had all the teams on the back. After that, he learnt about every team and the ladder. In any round, I could ask him, “What’s the ladder this week, baby?” and he could tell me,’ Debbie recalled.
‘When he was five years old, he told us he wanted to be an AFL football player.’
Bailey’s great-grandfather, Clem Fong, migrated from Canton to Broome in the early 1930s, where he married a local woman, Daisy, herself a child of Chinese parents.
Bailey’s grandmother Shirley was born in Broome in 1937, but his mother Debbie grew up in Perth, where the family entered the Chinese restaurant trade and she worked there whilst studying to be a teacher and eventually moving to Broome.
Bailey is proud of his Chinese heritage: ‘I remember listening to stories from my grandpa and grandma and being amazed at their journey.’
The Banfield family moved to Perth for Bailey’s high school and he made the Western Australian schoolboy teams for the national carnival whilst playing for Claremont Colts in the WAFL.
When the 2016 AFL Draft took place, Bailey was confident of being picked and was disappointed when he was not drafted.
‘Back then the draft was the only pathway to the AFL, so it was all or nothing.’ He recalls.
Bailey had a strong year in 2017 and the teenager won the E.B Cook Medal for Claremont’s Best and Fairest senior player. Despite the accolades he almost missed out on being drafted a second time.
‘I missed out on the first AFL Draft then the Rookie Draft, missed out on the second AFL Draft and then got picked up in the Rookie Draft by Fremantle,’ Bailey explains.
‘There were 209 players picked ahead of me in those four drafts. ‘I just squeaked in, so I had all the fuel I needed.’
At the Fremantle Dockers, Bailey ‘trained the house down’ in the 2018 pre-season and was selected to make his AFL debut for Round 1.
By the end of the 2022 season, he had kicked 31 goals for Fremantle across 61 games.
Lin Jong had a 10-year career with the Western Bulldogs, earning life membership of the club and a fan favourite, earning respect for his on-field courage.
On Sunday, August 12 in 2012, Lin Jong made his debut at the MCG for the Western Bulldogs, an amazing feat to be playing top-flight AFL football only four years after taking up the game.
His selection caught his Chinese heritage parents Vitor and Fay by surprise. They were on holiday in New Zealand, having made the trip assuming he was playing in the lower-tier VFL.
"We were in the hotel room getting ready to watch the game on Foxtel," Vitor recalls. "And then we hear the commentators announce our son's debut."
Lin Jong grew up in Clayton in south-east Melbourne and preferred basketball until the age of 15 before taking up footy and rocketing through the pathways, leading to him being picked at No.9 in the 2012 AFL Rookie Draft by the Western Bulldogs.
His father Vitor was a sports fanatic but his mother Faye wanted him to focus on studying, although she would later convert to become his biggest fan.
"I cried and said 'Why?'"' Faye recalls the moment Lin told him of his football dream. "The game is so tough and it's so easy to get injured. I thought he should study and become a doctor, not a sportsman."
After a strong end to the 2012 season, Lin broke his leg before he could play a single game in the 2013 AFL season. He returned to play six matches in 2014 and helped the Bulldogs win the VFL premiership.
In 2015, he made 13 appearances for the Bulldogs before his breakout season in 2016 where he established himself as an elite footballer, playing 16 senior games, kicking 13 goals and racking up 268 disposals before breaking his collarbone in an elimination final against West Coast Eagles in Perth.
Lin made an astonishing recovery to lead the Bulldogs to a famous VFL Grand Final victory, picking up 29 disposals and winning the Norm Goss Medal for best on ground, a hard-earned reward after playing with a cracked collarbone.
Despite his VFL heroics, the Bulldogs chose not to pick Lin for the AFL Grand Final a week later, instead selecting Fletcher Roberts, his close friend and housemate.
The Bulldogs won the 2016 premiership against the Sydney Swans to clinch the club's first premiership in 62 years.
"It was tougher to swallow because 2016 was my best year at the club," Lin says.
A series of injuries in 2017 and 2018 led to him taking a break from football, and he was diagnosed with depression.
Lin returned to play four more games during the COVID-19-affected seasons of 2020 and 2021, before retiring at the age of 28 after a final hamstring injury. He was awarded life membership of the Western Bulldogs for 10 years at the club.
After Lin's announcement, former Western Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy was asked on SEN radio whether he thought Lin would have been a 150-plus game player if not for the injury setbacks.
"Yeah, I think so," Murphy responded. "He was tough. Proper tough."
Connor Downie was born in East Melbourne in 2002 and his mother Li Xia (Tracy) Lin was an English teacher who migrated to Australia from Xiamen in China, eventually becoming a high school teacher.
For a father with more interest in reading books than sport, Graham Downie had a pivotal role in his son Connor’s football development, including his first kick of the Sherrin football.
‘We were in Federation Square close to grand final time and there was an AFL stall selling small footballs,’ Graham remembers.
‘So we bought him one and went to the Botanical Gardens where we played kick-to-kick.’
Connor’s mini footy went with him to kindergarten and his new friends: ‘all loved their footy and Collingwood’, so he started following the Magpies and joined his local Auskick program at the Forest Hill Zebras.
Connor graduated into Forest Hill Zebras junior teams and developed a strong left foot kick. He was awarded the best player in an U15’s inter league carnival for the Eastern Football League and invited to join The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy.
His representative highlights include making both the Under 16 and 18 Vic Metro team and playing for the Australian Under 17’s team against the New Zealand men’s national team.
He continued to play strongly for the Eastern Ranges representative team and after a season’s break for Covid19, he was selected by Hawthorn at pick 35 in the 2020 AFL draft.
Connor Downie was born in East Melbourne in 2002 and his mother Li Xia (Tracy) Lin was an English teacher who migrated to Australia from Xiamen in China, eventually becoming a high school teacher. His father Graham was also a school teacher.
Connor was given consistent exposure to his Chinese heritage and has visited his mother’s hometown in China twice, first at age four and then when he was 13 where he spent time with his Chinese grandfather Minzeng Lin.
In Melbourne, Tracy ensured that Connor maintained his Chinese connection by speaking to him in Mandarin when he was young and later enrolling him at a local Chinese language school: ‘I’m really grateful because I can speak decent Chinese and hold a conversation and that’s a skill I’m proud of.’ Connor said.
For the opening round of the 2021 season, Connor Downie had one of the more unique AFL debuts in the game’s history.
He was named as a medical substitute for Hawthorn’s match against Essendon at Marvel Stadium, which means it was his official debut, but he never actually ran onto the field.
In Round 22 of the 2021 season, he finally made his on-field debut, helping Hawthorn defeat the Western Bulldogs in Launceston.
Connor Downie had achieved his dream of playing an AFL game and finished with a credible 12 disposals and two marks.
He says of his first game: ‘I felt pretty comfortable and confident at a level that nothing really took me by surprise,’
‘I guess I just embraced the occasion and really enjoyed it.’
His 2022 season was marred by injuries and he was delisted by the Hawks at the end of the season.