Malaysian Warriors – Australian Rules Football Club stalwart and former influential President Shaun Di Gregorio, affectionately known as ‘Digger’, turned the Malaysian Warriors and the Malaysian Warrior Women – Australian Rules Football Club into an absolute powerhouse on and off the field during his presidency reign. This culminated in their Asian Champs breakthrough success in 2017, the club’s 25 year anniversary and the successful introduction and integration of their highly successful AFLW team! ?
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Nicknames: I always wanted to be called Horse, but you can never name yourself. So just Shauny (a shocker), Digger, Digs and variations of that.
What Clubs have you played for? Redhill AFC as a junior, AGS for school footy, Amateurs with Peninsula, Silvan in the Yarra Valley and the Malaysian Warriors.
Preferred position/s: We’re all on-ballers, but as I get older, I’ve drifted from centre-half forward to now sit on the half-back flank.
AFL team: Hawthorn Hawks
Best player/s in Asia: Back in 2012 we had Michael Ricks, who was 30 and straight out of the WAFL. Outstanding and best by a mile. Josh Leary is probably among the elite we’ve played with, as well as Mike Fay and Lance Orlan, those sorts of guys.
Best teammate/s: On-field – Eggsy and Kurt Stocks. Off-field – my bromance with Peter Woods and Weeksey as well.
Most annoying teammate: Eggsy….. still. He gets me. But he’s a legend of a Warrior, has played 150 games so he’s got a license to do what he wants, and he takes it, and then some.
Most difficult opponents: Hong Kong Dragons (always have an incredibly tall team). Ed Clarke from the Singapore Wombats always used to give us a bit of trouble and has won a few games off his own boot over the years.
Favourite meal: I decided to become a vegetarian last year, so I’m still figuring out what I like. It used to a simple steak.
Coffee or tea: Always coffee.
Favourite holiday destination: I went to Japan last year and loved it. I’d go back tomorrow. So much to do!
Invite 4 people of your choice to a dinner party: A Hawthorn champion, so maybe a Leigh Matthews or a Peter Knights, I was always into tennis, so John McEnroe or a character of the game, from cricket I was always interested in Steve Waugh’s approach to life (always miserable, yet successful), and a sporting legend like Muhammad Ali or someone like that. Wouldn’t be the most intellectual dinner but would be a lot of fun.
Best footy trip: Oddly enough we had a cracking trip to Macau once, which was totally different to any other footy trip. Totally different place.
What do you like the most about playing footy in Asia? The camaraderie and the community around it and having a bunch of blokes you can send out a message to for a beer or to watch the footy. And obviously being able to stay physically active is a huge part.
3 things people don’t know about you: I played Gaelic footy for Malaysia, so I’m a dual international (like Spargs), I’m probably not as good at football as I think I am and I am never going to move back to Australia.
What does the future of AFL Asia look like and/or how do you see the sport impacting local communities across Asia? I hope it becomes a more structured and supported league. I think southeast Asia is a natural market for the game and a natural audience (same time-zone, 500-600 million people, lots of students from southeast Asia studying in Australia), so I’d love to see the AFL recognize it a bit more and prioritise it and give it the attention and time and investment it deserves. Put that together with people from the AFL Asia community and you could seriously have a very viable product in Asia.