Michael Gallus was asked if there was one word that could describe his recent trip to the footballing heartlands of Pakistan. He answered, “simply extraordinary!” Sadly, for Michael, that’s two words, so he doesn’t win that lovely lounge suite. However, he did win the hearts of Pakistan communities across the country, and he won many converts to our great game.
Michael has just returned from a monumental promotion of Australian football on behalf of the AFL. As previously reported by World Footy News (see Operation: Pakistan), Michael accepted the invitation from AFL Pakistan and gained assistance from Simon Highfield, the Development Manager for AFL Asia, to tour the nation and work with local people to identify ways that game could be further developed.
The AFL has today confirmed the fourth annual Shanghai match will be featured in Round 11 of the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season. Since AFL’s expansion into China in 2017, three successful matches involving Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Gold Coast SUNS Football Clubs have been played at Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai’s Yangpu District. The Port Adelaide Football Club’s vision in partnership with the AFL have led the way in unlocking the potential the Chinese market has on the growth of the game both on and off the field.
All the weekend action for AFL Asia’s showpiece was at the Thai Polo and Equestrian Centre in Chon Buri, Thailand with the 2019 AFL Asian Championships hitting town. The big winners on the day were the Papua New Guinea men’s team and the Malaysia Warriors women’s team
AFL Asia described the event as “Asia’s biggest AFL tournament, the AFL Asia Asian Championships, brings all the best teams from across Asia to play for Asia’s most coveted trophy. Men’s and women’s teams compete in four divisions comprising over 500 players from 14 countries.”
It has historically been a huge event, and this year was no different.
The results from the Men’s Division 1 final saw the Papua New Guinea Muruks defeat the Hong Kong Dragons 36 to 14. It was a huge win for the Muruks as they went back to back after taking the title last year in Kuala Lumpar.
His mission is simple. Go to Pakistan, meet with the people who can grow the game in the nation and work with coaches, players, administrators and potential supporters of the game to further develop AFL Pakistan’s great work to date. Michael Gallus is the man on the mission, and is the right man for the job.
Michael Gallus is already widely known as the founder and administrator of the Footys4All Foundation, a charity that has already distributed sporting equipment all over Australia and the world. More recently, however, Michael took the coaching reins of the Pakistan Shaheens women’s team at the IC17 event in Melbourne.
He has maintained contact since then, both with players and those off-field, placing him in a position of both knowledge and connections to drive the rapid development of the game taking place across Pakistan.
Adam Curley reports on the www.afl.com.au website about the story of Chinese ex-pat Matt Ma and his own journey in footy and how he hopes to impact the future of Chinese descent players in AFL circles.
MATT MA won't be the game's first Brownlow medallist of Chinese heritage.
He won't even play first grade for his club side.
However, Ma, originally from the city of Liaoyang in China, is determined to play a key role in growing the game he's fallen in love with since he arrived in Australia.
Ma is part of the Hurstville Dragons Auskick Program, which has been run in conjunction with the Swans in Sydney's south this year.
Last year, World Footy News reported on a young woman who was defying the odds of gender, culture, religion, economics, geography, climate and other challenges to take the game of Australian Rules football to the mountain villages of northern Pakistan.
Saliha Baig Jaturi inspired many with her determination to take the game she learned to love, by virtue of being a part of the inaugural Pakistan Shaheens women's team at the IC17 in Melbourne. Now her story has caught fire with many other stories in print and television, as well as across social media.
Riley Beveridge reports on the www.afl.com.au website the deal that will see the Port Adelaide Power and St Kilda commit to China for another three years. With new teams and leagues continuing to grow across Asia, the news will be welcomed as the centrepiece to future Asian development from grass roots to elite levels.
PORT Adelaide has struck a deal to take on St Kilda in its annual China clash from 2019 and beyond, with the two sides confirming a three-year agreement on Thursday.
Gold Coast had been Port Adelaide's opponents in Shanghai over the past two seasons, with the first home and away game played on Chinese soil back in the 2017 campaign.
However, the Saints will replace the Suns in 'hosting' a match at Shanghai's Jiangwan Stadium, which has a capacity of around 11,000 people for AFL matches.
Next year's match will be played on a Sunday in round 11, with the AFL confirming that the two sides will again have the bye the following week as they return to Australia.
From the earliest days of Australian Rules football in India, one young man has dedicated his time beyond expectations to help grow the game. Sumesh Sawant (also known to some as Sumesh Bond) has been involved as a player, coach, official, teacher and so many other roles and he is only 24 years old.
When I spoke to him a few years ago, Sumesh said he fell in love with the game when introduced to is as a teenager, mainly because of the athleticism and strong body contact involved. He also loved learning the skills, but especially loved the team aspects of the game, and has made many of his friends today from his involvement in the game.
Whilst there are times where the unification of all footy parties in India could be questioned, there is no questioning Sumesh’s commitment to the game. He has been a constant conduit between the kids and players from many sectors of Indian communities and the organisations running the game. His own infectious enthusiasm has been spread to others, helping grow the game in India.
(Picture: Sumesh with then AFL India President Sudip Chakraborty in 2013)