CASEY Demons forward Goy Lok didn’t have a traditional road to the club – nor the country.
Lok was born in a refugee camp in Ethiopia and migrated to Australia at age six.
“My mum and dad were born in Sudan and they migrated to Ethiopia and started a family there,” Lok told Melbourne Media.
“I was born in Ethiopia with my five siblings before we came over to Australia.
“We moved down here in 2005 … leaving from a refugee camp in Ethiopia to move into Melbourne.”
Lok says he remembers little about his time in the camps, but from what he can recall, the experience wasn’t overtly dangerous.
“It was pretty safe for me compared to where my family was before I was born,” Lok said.
“It was the safest spot my family had for a while, so I didn’t think there were any issues. Obviously there was poverty, but that was life.”
With some incredible life experience, the 20-year-old uses his story to help others embrace the game of football in an exciting new career path.
Lok works as a multicultural game development officer for AFL Victoria, which allows him to communicate with people of all nationalities and assist their development within various aspects of Australian Rules football.
“I develop the game in the multicultural and diverse aspects,” he said.
“I get as many participants, whether it be volunteers or people playing, into football. So getting them to clubs, working at schools, speaking to parents and things like that.”
Lok has taken a particular interest in teaching young kids, as the role requires him to attend various football events.
“We teach them, we do a lot of school visits … and we go to cultural events,” he said.
“We meet new people there and then they have a state academy for their multicultural team and I coach there as well.”
His role is important in helping people from all walks of life feel comfortable within the sport.
“It’s just being a familiar face that multicultural and diverse backgrounds can relate to and understand that we come from the same area,” Lok said.
“Footy is something that everyone can be involved in.”
Lok is currently at university, learning within a similar field.
“I’m studying international development studies,” he said.
“That’s to do with working in poverty areas, so developing countries.”
While Lok has had an incredible upbringing and is enjoying an exciting working career, he is also a talented athlete.
After playing for the Sandringham Dragons and Vic Metro in his junior years, Lok joined Casey in 2017, winning the VFL Development League best and fairest award in his first season.
“I didn’t quite expect that, but it was really good. That was a good year for me last year but I wish I played more senior footy,” he said.
With the VFL Development League no longer in existence, those who aren’t playing in the senior side have to return to a local club to play football on the weekend.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” Lok said.
“But VFL is the one you ultimately want to play so it depends how hard you want to work to stay in the VFL side. It makes it clear cut.”
Due to competition for spots in the Casey side, Lok has spent some time playing for the Mazenod Old Collegians early in 2018.
“Obviously it’s a different level but I just go there and try to not dominate, but play my best footy,” Lok said.
“I literally think of what I would do in the VFL, and just do that.
“When you go back to the development league some players trod along and think you can’t get in. But it builds that want and hunger to get back in the VFL.”
In recent weeks, Lok has hit some impressive form, forcing his way back into the Casey VFL side.
But holding onto a spot in the VFL is not always easy, with AFL-listed players making up the majority of the team.
“It’s pretty frustrating, but I don’t really take it into account. It’s out of my control,” he said.
“I just go back and work on my game to eventually not get dropped and be the one who stays in the team, not the one who’s always on the fringe.
“That’s what I mainly focus on because I can’t control if the Melbourne boys come back and they drop me.”
While the AFL players can squeeze Lok out of the team, he thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to play alongside some of the countries most elite footballers.
“It’s a good comparison because you want to compare yourself to where you ultimately want to be, so it’s good to play with them at a professional level,” he said.
Lok has now played three games this season, showing continuous improvement with his sharp skills and agility around the ball.