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China home to new AFL Academy

The AFL is pleased to advise the first Chinese Academy has been launched in Guangzhou.
Located at a Guangzhou Sports University campus in the Guangzhou, Guangdong province, north of Hong Kong, the academy is designed to introduce athletes to Australian football and help identify and develop potential elite players who have the ability to transition into Australia and the AFL.
The two-week pilot program commenced with 27 athletes aged between 17 and 22 who are from basketball, soccer and rugby backgrounds. The academy program will be conducted annually.
AFL International Development Manager Tony Woods said the pilot academy program is designed to reflect the AFL’s intension in China in a very tangible way.
“We need to find ways to connect our game with the growing Chinese community in Australia.
“We are looking at five to ten years ahead. We need to have a long-term approach and we are in for the long haul,” he said.
The academy has received an endorsement from the Guangdong Sports Bureau following key meetings with high level Chinese Government Officials.
“Having the support of the Chinese Provincial Government will open up opportunities for future Chinese athletes,” Mr Woods said.
Former AFL player Darren Flanigan who is currently based in Hong Kong is managing the academy program, which is based on the AIS-AFL Academy. The program is tailored to give athletes an introduction to the game, the rules, skills and the physical requirements to work towards a career in the AFL. The program also includes English lessons and background in Australian culture.
Captain of the Chinese Australian football team that played in the 2011 International Cup, Zhang Hao, is assisting Darren and is poised to become the first full time Chinese AFL Development Officer.
The academy concluded with a two-day AFL Combine designed to set a starting benchmark for the first intake of Chinese academy players. Two players will be selected to attend the NAB AFL Draft Combine in Melbourne in the first week of October.
The Guangzhou Academy launch follows the announcement of the first purpose built AFL oval in Tianjin in October 2011 and an historic AFL exhibition match between the Brisbane Lions and Melbourne in Shanghai in October 2010.
The ‘China AFL Academy’ is supported by the Commonwealth through the Australia-China Council of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australia-China Council supporting the attendance of two players from the Academy at the 2012 NAB AFL Draft Combine.
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China home to new AFL Academy | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
China home to new AFL Academy
Authored by: Cam Homes on Monday, July 23 2012 @ 08:09 am ACST

Does any body know if the Guangzhou Scorpions and/or South China AFL had any input or participated in any way with this Academy? Was it held in conjunction with them or despite them?

China home to new AFL Academy
Authored by: Aaron Richard on Tuesday, July 24 2012 @ 03:58 am ACST

I don't think the Scorpions (or nearby Blues and Dragons) are directly connected to this.  But I don't think either side would neccesarily have anything against the other.

Not sure, would have to ask someone local.

China home to new AFL Academy
Authored by: Brett Northey on Tuesday, July 24 2012 @ 07:39 am ACST

I've previously asked our China correspondent to contact the locals to find out more, so we'll publish what we find out when he reports back.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
China home to new AFL Academy
Authored by: Cam Homes on Tuesday, July 24 2012 @ 08:21 am ACST

G'day Aaron.

It appears that the AFL has failed to take into account that there is already a Aussie Rules presence in Guangzhou, the Guangzhou Scorpions. The 'academy' that is being spruiked here, it seems, is the AFL hoping that it might end up with a chinese 'Mike Pyke' or 'Caolan Mooney' that might just end up playing Aussie Rules if they make the grade at the 'Combine'.

One would have thought that the Scorpions might  have been considered as the logical follow up from the 'academy'. The guys that don't get picked  to go to Aussie aren't abandoned with "Thanks, guys, for coming, might see you next year" but  more like "If you really enjoyed the experience you can continue putting the training etc. you've received by actually continuing to play Aussie Rules IN CHINA with the Guangzhou Scorpions.

I believe the Scorpions would be absolutely rapt even if they managed to just get half of these guys to start to play for the Scorpions. 13 or 14 extra players would almost be enough for a two team 9-a-side or a three team 6-a-side comp to be set up in Guangzhou to compliment the Scorpions team in the SCAFL.

Regular and  frequent  play always goes a long way in establishing a permanent  league/competition, especially for new  players taking up a new sport. A dozen or so new guys taking up the sport in China would be more valuable than just two guys ending up playing at/near top level in Aussie several years down the track.

I guess we can all live in hope that the AFL has actually thought all this through.

The 'dedicated' footy Oval in Tianjin keeps getting mentioned when Aussie Rules in China is talked about, but nothing about chinese(or ex-pats) footy players using it. Is there a competition being played on it, any body know?

China home to new AFL Academy
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, July 26 2012 @ 07:14 am ACST

Hey Cam,

While I agree it's good for the AFL to work with the local footy sides, I don't think we're talking about some giant missed opportunity here.  They are unashamedly seeking elite athletes, giving the a taste of the game, and if they have the right physical results and an interest, they'll look to get them to Australia.  They want a Chinese athlete to help connect with expat Chinese in Australia, and also hold up as a beacon to Chinese in China.

Ideally yes some will find their way to the local leagues but that may be a stretch... consider Mike Pyke, if he wasn't picked up by Sydney, or Shae not picked by Collingwood, would they have gone and played locally in Canada or the US (or Europe if they were playing Rugby/basketball there)?  Doubtful.  But certainly worth having those connections working.  Hopefully we'll here more from the locals on that.

Agreed, would like to hear about regular use of the Tianjin facility.


Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN