Representatives of 14 Australian Rules football clubs from around Asia have met in Bangkok for the inaugural Asian Presidents’ Summit to discuss a game plan for the future of the sport in the region. Presidents of 13 clubs, plus representation from a Pakistan programme still in its infancy, were present, with a further four clubs having their say without being able to attend.
The most agreed upon issue was the future of coordination and structure of footy in Asia. The result was the creation of an Asian Council for Australian football, to deal with issues such junior development and sponsorship, with Phil Johns, president of the Vietnam Swans, receiving the presidency for the new body as well.
Chen Shao Liang may ring some memory bells with our readers. He was the Chinese athlete identified at the AFL's Combine in China last year and he subsequently took part in the main Combine in Melbourne.
This week he flew into Australia and on the weekend suited up for the Southern Dragons in the VAFA. The Dragons are a club that is mainly based around Melbourne's Asian immigrant community, in particular having a good number of Vietnamese players.
Ed: WFN welcomes new correspondent Vineet Basu. Vineet is Media and Communications Coordinator of the Australian Rules Football Association in India.
May 2nd, 2013 - It was that kind of a summer day in Mumbai where people would rather stay indoor than venture out in the scorching heat outside, let alone play under such conditions.
Good luck getting that through to the 80 odd kids who turned up to play in an Australian Rules Football tournament in Mumbai, a considerably bigger affair than last year’s inaugural tournament! No wonder they’re always using the word ‘madness’ in the same breath as ‘Footy’. Well, madness it is and we love it!
Shivaji Park provided the setting for the clash between the Matunga Tigers and the Mahim Cats, the 2 local Footy teams in Mumbai. The lads were divided into 3 age groups viz Under-14, Under-18 and an open age group, to fight it out in a best of 3 format.
Season 2012 Japan Top League saw the entry of the R246 Lions into the League achieving a measure of success in winning several of their matches and (for a brand new team) very competitive in others.
So too, season 2013 sees another new club, the Tokyo Bay Suns enter the league. The new club is the brainchild of two former Narita Hawks and current Samurais players, Yosuke Kuno and Junji Tanaka, between them about 15-16 years experience playing Australian football.
Club media spokesman and only Aussie on the playing list, Brett Snowdon, explained “the club is run as an ‘open club’, the idea that even though our game day squad is set, any members from other clubs are welcome to train with us. Players from university teams with less experience can learn from our experienced players so helping to improve the level of all teams in the league.” The club has already run a special training session where members from the Suns, Magpies, Hawks and Powers attended, around 40 players in all.
This ANZAC weekend proved to be a blockbuster for Australian football in Asia, with international East Asia Australian Football League (EAAFL) matches played in two countries, and many domestic matches played across the continent.
The Vietnam Swans hosted the Jakarta Bintangs in Vung Tau, while the Singapore Wombats hosted both the Malaysia Warriors and Cambodian Eagles. There were important domestic ANZAC matches played in Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and Philippines.
The Swans were defeated by the Bintangs in a close match at the old Lord Mayor’s Oval in Vung Tau. The field is inside a greyhound racing track, but was the very same oval where Australian soldiers played footy during the Vietnam War. The significant event even attracted the presence of three Vietnam Veterans who had graced that very field in the 1960s.
Jakarta won the match 10.9 (69) to Vietnam’s 8.11 (59), marking a win for Jakarta’s first EAAFL match in front of over 500 spectators. This leaves Vietnam winless after their third EAAFL match.
On March 10 the Masala Football Club had it's first outing at Gosch's Paddock in Richmond. In their kit donated by the Richmond Football Club they took on Team Africa on a very hot day. While both sides were fairly well matched skill wise, the superior numbers of the Africans was a big advantage in the heat and they ran out winners by about ten goals.
With no MCG, Aami Stadium or even a Norwood Oval to call their own, AFL Japan's Top League play matches on rented rugby grounds and public parks as do most footy leagues and clubs outside Australia.
The amateur nature of the international footy community has most leagues and clubs playing and/or training on borrowed school or university sports grounds, public parks or any flat* (or not so flat) paddock or river bank they can find.
However, AFL Japan has taken an almost unprecedented step in international footy by opening its own office and shopfront in Tokyo. Opened at the start of 2013 the AFL Japan Office is where all the day-to-day business of AFL Japan takes place, and storage of merchandise and equipment.
Open 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, the office is a physical presence for Australian Football fans in Japan where the public (curious or committed) can walk in and purchase a wide range of AFL Japan and/or Aussie Football merchandise eg. Guernseys, books, DVDs and “Sherrins” or have queries about Japan Footy or AFL answered.
The office is situated at 27-9-101 Denenchoufu-Honcho Oota-Ku, Tokyo. A short 3min walk from Numabe Station, Tokyo Tamagawa Line.
In our continuing series on the future of footy in Asia we look at what is probably the second biggest league in the Asian region, behind only Japan's TLeague (and perhaps the in-development East Asian AFL).
The Lantau Lizards have become the sixth team to enter the South China Australian Football League (SCAFL), joining already established teams in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou. Lantau is an island in Hong Kong, bringing the number of Hong Kong based teams in the league to four.
The Lantau Lizards, along with the Hong Kong Reds and Hong Kong Blues, play under the flag of the Hong Kong Dragons, which are the reigning Asian Champs, while the fourth team from Hong Kong, Hong Kong Gaelic, plays in the SCAFL independently. The Guangzhou Scorpions and Macau Lightning make up the remainder of the league.
The league is currently played weekly with Guangzhou, Macau and Hong Kong alternating between hosting entire rounds to make it easier to afford ground costs and umpires. The matches are played similar to the first round of the NAB Cup, with games having two 20-minute halves and each team playing two matches, totaling six matches for the day.
Here's a story that never made it into an article and has sat in my pile of drafts for almost six years now - reporting some early stirrings of footy in South Korea.
Although it became one of a long of clubs that had some impetus early on but ultimately never saw the light of day, I figure it's worth giving everyone a chance to read the story of the Kimchi Kangaroos - also known as the Seoul Crocodiles, as it was around 6 years ago!