AFL response to International Cup funding concerns

Monday, April 21 2008 @ 07:50 am ACST

Contributed by: Brett Northey recently ran a story on some of the problems, particularly financial, facing countries attending the 2008 Australian Football International Cup later this year. The AFL’s General Manager, National and International Development, David Matthews (pictured at the 2005 IC), contacted us to explain the AFL’s position on some of the issues and to highlight their recent investment in international footy.

Matthews acknowledged the heavy burden for attending countries, saying "The AFL greatly admires the work that international affiliates undertake to raise funds to support their programs and events. The International Cup is a large undertaking but it will be a great event". He pointed out that the AFL will "spend $400k hosting the event and (including) $120k covering the accommodation of teams not currently receiving substantial AFL grants. In addition, the AFL makes substantial grants to a number of countries. Note in the previous two International Cups no accommodation subsidies were paid".

Matthews also referenced the huge sums of money involved in football in Australia, most of which is not AFL revenue, the point being that each organisation is mostly responsible for itself. "In the 150th year, this (the International Cup spending) is in addition to more than 100 major domestic events that require budget. Note that the economic impact of Australian football in 2007 was $3.4 billion and let me assure you the AFL doesn't fund that. We fund strategies and programs but cannot fund operations of 300 leagues and 3000 clubs and representative programs as well".

Overall the key message put across was that the AFL’s international commitment has increased substantially in recent years (something which we certainly agree has happened). The International Cup will see an approximately 50% increase in participation and like all Australian Football both in Australia and around the world needs multiple finance streams. "We understand there are costs and we seek to mitigate them through deals and AFL cash grants. Ultimately though, if the game is to grow internationally then funding needs to be sourced locally as well. An International Cup needs to be funded through a range of sources and will be".

To emphasise some of the major achievements since the end of the 2007 AFL season, Matthews listed the four International Community Camps (held in South Africa), the two international games (in Dubai and South Africa), the two youth tours to South Africa, Brownlow Medalist Jimmy Bartel’s trip to Denmark, Sweden and Finland, the appointment of Andrew Cadzow as a full time resource for Oceania, the appointment of a full-time International Coordinator based at the AFL (Yuta Kobayashi) and the work of AFL staff such as Josh Vanderloo, Roger Berryman and Kevin Sheehan.

We asked about Yuta Kobayashi and his role. "Yuta was an AFL trainee in 2007 working between AFL Game Development, Essendon FC (on Japan strategy primarily through interpretation and touring party) and Commercial Operations. He is now full time with the AFL as an International Development Coordinator and reports directly to Josh Vanderloo working with international affiliates and providing specific support to India, China and Japan. Yuta is of Japanese origin and played in the first International Cup in 2002".

Encouragingly Matthews concluded, "We have ambitious plans".

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