Contributed by: Brett Northey
The Australian Football League, organisers of the 2005 Australian Football International Cup, have revealed plans to dramatically increase promotion for the tournament compared with the inaugural Cup in 2002.
There has been a school of thought that the 2002 IC was not heavily promoted because the standard of play was an unknown quantity, given the relatively small number of players in leagues around the world. Three years on and the numbers playing the game outside of Australia has steadily increased, and the importance put on doing well this year in Melbourne has been quite high. Although the football to be played will not rival that of the professional AFL, good quality amateur footy is expected. Importantly, most countries are treating the matches very seriously and the games will bring together the colour and excitement of international competition. Many people have thus wondered whether the AFL will do more to promote the event. Happily, the answer appears to be yes.
AFL Community Development Manager Ed Biggs and Cherie Fraser, in charge of marketing for the International Cup, have told worldfootynews.com that they have allocated a similar media budget for the tournament (in addition to the costs of running the event) as to what the AFL spent promoting the round 13 AFL match between the Western Bulldogs and Carlton in Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory. Aussie Rules is popular in that area, but it doesn't have its own AFL side. Some would see such a budget as a good thing, others may say that one game deserves less than the International Cup, but of course one is a ticketed professional event and the other amateur.
The matches will have free admission and attendances are expected to vary from round to round. Round 1 on Wednesday 3rd August includes the Opening Ceremony at 12pm. Children from some local schools are expected to attend, as well local dignitaries. The Wangaratta matches, in round 4, are also expected to be well attended, with the event likely to receive more attention in a country town. As previously reported, the Souvenir Program will be included in the AFL Record the week prior to the tournament. The Record sells tens of thousands of copies each week at AFL matches, featuring the AFL teams and match previews. This alone will ensure the International Cup is brought to the attention of the footy public.
Of course at the end of the day public interest is heavily influenced by the media. To this end, the AFL will be issuing daily press releases in the two weeks leading up to the Cup, and then all through the series. They have also organised for paid newspaper advertising, and radio spots on non-English language stations. It is also hoped that some players will appear on Channel 9's top rating The Footy Show and Channel 10's Before the Game. There should also be more emphasis on the International Leagues section of the AFL website (under their Development page), in particular the International Cup section.
So it appears that everything is being put in place for a big tournament. The next major step would be to secure a major sponsor and schedule the tournament either in a break between AFL rounds or outside of the main season, but that would probably be premature, particularly as many of the players are keen to take in as many AFL matches as possible during their stay. Perhaps in 2008, or in Cups after that.
World Footy News