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.
The International Cup is the undisputed pinnacle of worldwide Aussie Rules. But in recent times there have been a number of tournaments scattered across the globe that have fast become prestigious in their own right, capturing an “FA Cup” type aura, and are a much sought after addition to any team’s trophy cabinet.
In North America it’s the U.S Nationals, for Europe the European Championships and Euro Cup, and on August 13th we'll see the thirteenth annual Asian Championships held in Bangkok, Thailand.
While China is fighting out IC2011 in Australia, their Aussie ex-pat dominated sister team will be battling out the Asian Champs alongside ten other mainly ex-pat teams in what is the holy grail of Asian football. The eleven participating clubs include hosts the Thailand Tigers and visitors the Singapore Wombats, Hong Kong Dragons, Indonesia Bintangs, China Reds, Malaysian Warriors, Vietnam Swans, Laos Elephants, Macau Lightning, Cambodia Cobras and Asian Barbarians.
Thanks to Luke Anderson for this report. Luke is currently based in Singapore, but has experience in footy in Canada, and is an assistant coach with the French national team at this year's IC.
The Southern Dragons Football Club, in Melbourne’s Southern Football League (SFL) have had quite a big week. They have received a great little kick along financially and have received some mainstream media exposure. One example is the Herald Sun article that can be found here.
AFL Victoria and the TAC have this year run a campaign named 'Blood Oath’. It’s targeted at young men and is about getting them to pledge to look after their mate’s safety when they're driving. More info: www.facebook.com/mybloodoath
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.