It took nearly 40 years to develop the first competitive team of Australian Football in India, after the very 1st exposure of the game in India in 1969, when Western Australia Football League toured India, to when the Indian Tigers participated (jumper pictured left) in the International Cup 2008 in Melbourne. The team then comprised of players mostly drawn from West Bengal and Indian residents in Melbourne.
Thereafter it has taken three more years to spread the joy outside the state of West Bengal in eastern India to the state of Kerala in southern India.
Rajeev Raj, a member of the Kerala Olympic Association and a big sports enthusiast, has taken up the responsibility to promote the game in his state. Hence 40 odd players from different sporting backgrounds are practicing the game in the city of Kozhikode, where a week long footy clinic was organised in April and it led on to the first ever Aussie Rules match played on 22nd April 2011.
The good work has been carried forward by Rajeev, who has started organising footy clinics in a few schools of the city and is looking forward to spread the game to all the districts of Kerala and have a state championship very soon.
The Australia Network provides Australian TV content into Asia (on satellite/cable TV) much the same as Radio Australia does with radio content. It is a government program that has been provided by the ABC but with programs from across the Australian TV networks. On weekends this extends to coverage (often live) of AFL matches. This provides a strong link and easy access to the game for homesick expats but also a window into the Australian game for many Asian locals who have an interest in the game.
With a number of junior programs being conducted by footy clubs across Asia, other than playing the game there is no better way to give these kids an appreciation of the game than by being able to show them footy beamed live from a packed MCG, Footy Park or Subiaco. Developing links with the local community can also be based on gatherings around the TV particularly on Anzac Day and for the AFL Grand Final when many are introduced to the AFL for the first time.
This is however all under threat with the current 10 year deal set to expire at the end of August and the winner of the next 10 year tender, is yet to be announced by the Departmentof Foreign Affairs & Trade. According to AusNet's CEO, Bruce Dover, "DFAT has indicated in the associated tender documents that in any case in thefuture, sports programming on the channel should be limited, as 'much of the Sports [football] historically shown appeal more to the expatriate community rather than the target audience.' Consequently, sports programming - be it NRL, rugby or AFL - will be significantly restricted on the channel after August 2011."
One of the world's oldest non-Australian football competitions is underway for 2011. This Japan AFL season features six teams playing five rounds plus finals. Given the Earthquake and Tsunami that devastated the country earlier in the year, it's impressive that apart from a struggle for sponsors, the season was launched without issue.
Brett Kirk, retired former Sydney Swans captain, and now International Ambassador of the AFL, stopped in India as part of his World Tour.
Kirk's base in India was Mumbai, and this is where he kicked off his tour with a clinic in the city at the Oval Maidan, Churchgate. It was followed by a meeting with Austrade officials in Mumbai to join hands and help develop the game in India.
In this installment, we check in with the Beijing Bombers, the China Reds' tour to Thailand for the ANZAC clash, a new club starting up in Qingdao, and Jiaming Pi's blog on the SBS Chinese language website, promoting footy to the Australian Chinese community.
The Shanghai AFL has returned for 2011, with two rounds being played in April so far. A number of new faces have been signed up to all three teams, including a number of young Chinese students, as well as recently retired North Melbourne player, Shannon Watt.
So far the Dockers, who have still yet to win a title in their two seasons, have looked the goods and are favourites to claim the Spring Season cup.
Read on for full scores and photos of the action from the Shanghai AFL's first two rounds for 2011.
The Vietnam Swans will this weekend host the Hong Kong Dragons in Vung Tau for the second ANZAC Friendship Match.
The venue for the match is the Vung Tau Greyhound Racing Track, which was used as the venue for footy matches by Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Former AFL star Richard "Ossie" Osborne, who played with Footscray, Fitzroy, Sydney and Collingwood during a career spanning 17 seasons, will be a special guest taking part in the match.
Elsewhere in Asia, the Thailand Tigers are taking on the China Reds in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, near Hellfire Pass on the site of the infamous Burma Railway, where numerous Australian POWs lost their lives in the Second World War.
In Indonesia, the Borneo Bears are hosting the Jakarta Bintangs and Bali Geckos, in what will be their 3rd annual ANZAC Day Cup in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan.
After four rounds of the South China AFL for 2011, the Hong Kong Red remain undefeated at the top of the ladder, with four wins from four starts. Round 4 saw the first Hong Kong local derby held, with the Reds overcoming Hong Kong Blue by just 3 points.
In the other match in the round, the Macau Lightning broke through for their first win, accounting for the Guangzhou Scorpions by 49 points.
We're not sure when this footage is from, but it features AFL Indonesia's junior footy league. The players look to have a mix of experience with some looking very smooth and others a little raw. Some clever soccer skills were also on display.
The opening day of the SCAFL was a huge success exceeding the expectations of all concerned. The weather was great and the slightly less than capacity crowd were treated to an exciting day of Aussie rules.
The venue, Guangdong University of Technology Stadium or GUTS, proved to be the perfect venue for the opening round of the competition. The first class facilities ensuring that The Guangzhou Scorpions were able to host there visitors from Hong Kong and Macau in a style not always seen on the Asian footy scene.
The opening game saw the hosts take on Macau Lightning in the first of six 12-a-side games played during the day; under an NAB Cup 15 min half format.
Thanks to Jon Hopper of the Guangzhou Scorpions for the following report. Well Done to the SCAFL board and teams on an a great opening round. LEFT: Some members from the Scorpions.