Esava Ratugolea’s exceptional work in Geelong’s multicultural community has been recognised with the 23-year-old named the Cats’ 2021 AFL Carter Family Community Champion at Thursday night’s Carji Greeves Medal event.

Ratugolea has been the face of Cats in the Community programs Welcome to Geelong and Welcome to Our Game, both presented by Viva Energy, which look to introduce members of Geelong’s multicultural community to the club and the game of Australian football.

He welcomed guests to the Welcome to Our Game event during the AFLW season, watching the match between Geelong and the GWS Giants and providing invaluable insights into the game for attendees getting their first taste of Australian football.

With AFL COVID regulations preventing an in-person appearance at Welcome to Geelong in July, Ratugolea was more than happy to help with producing welcome and educational videos to be shown at the event, teaching attendees about the history of our game and our club, as well as the basics of the game.

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Carji: Community Champion Award

Find out who is the winner of the 2021 Carter Family Community Champion Award.

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Ratugolea also attended an Iftar Dinner put on by a group of Afghan Women through Diversitat during the Holy Month of Ramadan, proudly representing the club and immersing himself in cultural awareness.

“This role has given me the opportunity to grow and learn off the field, and I can’t wait to see what we can do in the future,” Ratugolea said.

“The Geelong community gives so much to the football club, and I think, as players, we are in such a fortunate position to be able to give back and impact people’s lives, which is why I love what I do so much.”

The club’s community champion award is now known as the Carter Family Community Champion Award, in recognition of the family’s generous support of the Cats’ community program since 2012.

Welcome to Geelong and Welcome to Our Game are part of the Cats Connect pillar of Cats in the Community Programs.

Through Cats Connect programs, we work with our partners to build a sense of belonging and cultural connection to our club, game and community.