A healthy crowd of around 200 onlookers and players were present to see the excitement unfurl as the Australian-Irish Swans took on the Irish-Australian Gaels in Vietnam for St Patrick’s Day. More than 50 players, from nine nations, were split into two mixed sides of 15, with each side having plenty of subs.
The scoring was modified with a goal in the net only amounting to three points, and a score over the crossbar only registering one point.
15 minutes quarters were played, alternating between codes and balls (rather than playing International Rules), beginning initially with the native Irish game. A tightly contested first half meant that scores were tied going into the big break. The second half was a lot less confusing as everybody had become more accustomed to the rules, but the Irish-Australian Gaels' persistence paid off and they managed to wrap up the game with some straight kicking in the fourth quarter.
The game was played in great spirit and both teams got together after the match for dinner and to celebrate St Patrick's Day with a few pints of Guinness.
A raffle was held after the game, which generated 9.5 million VND ($450USD) for Loretto, an organisation which helps disadvantaged children through education programmes.
In early February Richmond Football Club CEO Brendon Gale spoke to Melbourne sports radio station SEN and without prompting took discussion down the path of playing an exhibition game in India. Not often do things move so quickly – that now, 3 weeks later we see reports of plans coming together for Richmond to ‘host’ Greater Western Sydney Giants in Mumbai perhaps as soon as February 2013.
Once again worldfootynew.com is putting out the call for help in covering footy in Asia.
We're looking for someone to write articles on all or part of the region. It includes the expat-based clubs in some nations through to the League in Japan and the exciting expansion in China.
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The India Tigers were somewhat of a surprise appearance at the 2011 International Cup. At their international debut at the same tournament three years earlier, the team failed to win a match and upon their return to India, the governing body disbanded. Whilst interest in the sport amongst the players was strong, channelling this interest into structured clubs participating in regular matches would prove impossible in the short term.
The AFL’s decision to again support an Indian squad, without any visible progress between 2008 and 2011 was controversial. Will this support pay off? We explore the progress football is making in India post IC11.
The Southern Dragons, a footy club based mainly around Melbourne's Asian immigrant community, travelled to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on Saturday January 7th for a tour match against the Vietnam Swans, a club composed mainly of Australian expats living and working in Vietnam.
On this occasion, it was the Vietnamese from Australia who ran out decisive winners over the Australians from Vietnam, the final margin being 11.14 (80) to 5.6 (36) in favour of the Dragons.
The Dragons play in Melbourne's Southern Football League, where they this year claimed their first-ever senior flag by defeating Mount Waverley in the Division 3 Grand Final. Reflecting the club's depth, the reserves also made it to the decider, although they had to be content with being runners-up. (Herald Sun report here).
Approximately half of the Dragons' players are of Vietnamese descent, with the remainder including (among others) Camdodian, Chinese, Thai, Greek, New Zealand and Anglo Australians. One of their stalwarts is Jiaming Pi (aka JP), a native of China who came to Australia as a teenager and is well-known to the international footy crowd for leading the Chinese Red Demons at the last two International Cups. JP is currently a multicultural ambassador for the AFL, provided commentary in Mandarin for the crowd at the ''Shanghai Showdown'' between Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions in 2010, and maintains a blog dedicated to coverage of footy news for Chinese speakers.
Players from the Southern Dragons have trained with the Swans in Saigon, as members of the Swans have with the Dragons in Melbourne - "Damo" Judd from the Vietnam Swans even having played a match with them. In July 2010, four of the Southern Dragons joined the Swans and Vietnam Veterans at the MCG for a formal prematch function with the Sydney Swans, photos of which can be seen here.
The Melbourne Football Club are continuing to talk up their commitment to China, both as a training venue and as a land of commercial opportunities. Amongst that are community programs and developing the game there.
It's early days yet, but it's pleasing that the Demons are still very much interested in pursuing relationships in China. Hopefully some continuity can be established in centres such as Beijing and Tianjin (site of the first dedicated footy field in China).
It has taken 21 years – but the Osaka Dingoes have secured their first Japan AFL Premiership, overpowering the Eastern Hawks by 22 points.
The teams had met in Osaka in the regular season, with the Minor Premiers, the Dingoes running out winners 78 to 42 winners
The start of the Grand Final went Osaka's way. The Dingoes scored early in the First Quarter, courtesy of D. Moon, who ended up with six goals for the match. By Half Time their lead was 21 points, and the match looked over. In the Third Quarter, the Hawks managed to claw their way back into the game and at Three Quarter Time, Osaka's margin had been narrowed to 7 points, and momentum was with the Hawks. Osaka must have been given a rev-up at the final break, as they kept the Hawks scoreless in the final quarter, whilst adding two more goals to their tally.
The AFL has helped launch the first purpose built AFL oval in Tianjin as part of its ongoing commitment to grow Australian football in China.
The $1.5 million project is a collaboration between the City of Melbourne, the AFL and the Melbourne Football Club. They attended today’s launch along with the Vice Mayor of Tianjin Madam Zhang Junfang and the Vice Director of the Tianjin Binhai Development Investment Holding Co. Ltd.
AFL InternationalDevelopment Manager Tony Woods attended today’s launch in Tianjin and said the AFL was planning more activity in China, including an AFL Combine and exhibition matches.
To most AFL players an annual Perth to Brisbane away fixture represents the ultimate taxing football road trip.
Spare a thought then for Jakarta’s Matt Stephens who chalked up his 100th International game at this month’s Bangkok 2011 Asian Australian Football Championships, the first player to do so for the club.
Matt’s remarkable international football journey commenced following a successful career with the Ainslie football club in the ACT. His subsequent move to Jakarta has seen him play his away fixtures in places as diverse as Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Vientiane, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manila, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The tournament nature of Asian footy season has also seen him line up against Timor-Leste, Dubai, Brunei and a number of Australian touring teams.
Thanks to Rob Spurr for this report.
PHOTO: Matt Stephens (right of photo) in action for Jakarta against the Vietnam Swans.