Junior footy kicks off in Macau

Monday, August 10 2009 @ 07:17 pm ACST

Contributed by: Aaron Richard

The Pearl River delta region in southern China is famous for two small territories controlled by Europeans until very recently. The larger city of Hong Kong was administered by the British until the closing years of the twentieth century, whilst across the bay the Portuguese maintained their outpost of Macau.

Macau is a small, densely-populated city of about half a million inhabitants, best-known for being the Las Vegas of Asia.

The Hong Kong Dragons have been playing footy since the early 1990s, with a long history of being a power in the Asian footy scene. In Macau however, the presence of Australian rules was restricted to the occasional locally-based player commuting across the water to play in Hong Kong.

This year, this is set to change with the beginnings of Auskick and school footy in Macau.

Troy Harris is orginally from Brisbane, growing up there and playing footy with Mt Gravatt in the AFLQ for over ten years, only to hang up the boots when he moved to Macau 17 months ago. Shortly after arrival, he started playing for the Hong Kong Dragons, making his debut against the Thailand Tigers on tour in Pattaya last year.

This year, he's trying to kick off some footy closer to home, starting Auskick back in May. "We have got 25 kids on our list, all Aussies. We have been in contact with Josh Vandaloo from the AFL in melbourne in regards to getting Auskick packs and footballs to assist us and he has been great in providing us with thirty backpacks. The kids love them."

"I took AFL clinics through the TIS International School for 4 months and had Wednesday afternoon games with kids aged eleven to fourteen. We also advertised through the school that the Auskick program was on every Saturday morning until the end of September, but with July and August being their main holiday break, a lot of the kids head back to their foreign countries. We are looking into playing a game against the Hong Kong Auskick club in September if we can work something out."

At a senior level, starting up a footy side has been much harder. Harris tells us, "I run a sixteen years and over AFL session on every Thursday night from 7-8 pm, but we only get about three to eight guys (all Australian) down for kick. It makes it hard when everyone works in the casino industry to get more numbers down, they all work shift work."

"But we haven't given up hope, and hopefully one day there will be a Macau side in the Asian Championship."

"Considering this is the first year anyone has try to step up AFL here in Macau, hopefully next year there will be more participants. It is not easy trying to set up a club here in Macau and booking ovals is very difficult also."

With the advent of the Asian AFC and the AFL China, and the gradual emergence of more sides in the region, the future looks promising for Aussie rules on the Pacifc rim.

For more information on footy in Macau, contact Troy via aflinmacau AT hotmail DOT com.

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