On the 22nd of November under lights on a very cold and wet evening, the Tokyo Goannas won their fourth consecutive Japan AFL Premiership, a remarkable achievement in a rapidly improving competition. The Goannas defeated the Eastern Hawks by 38 points in a dominant display of hard-running and relentless ball-pressure.
Following the Australian Football League's announcement of an exhibition match next year between Brisbane and Melbourne in Shanghai, further Australian media reports say the AFL has fielded interest from a major media company to broadcast matches into the giant communist country.
The AFL's David Matthews was quoted as saying, "We have rightly been preoccupied with establishing our position at home and branching out into other states and areas of Australia. But now is the time to say, 'If we have got an international aspiration, we need to have a look at these type of opportunities'.''
An article in The Age says Negotiations with Shanghai Media Group, which broadcasts into 20 million homes in southern China, have proved immediately fruitful, with the broadcaster already signing on to broadcast next October's clash and also keen to expand coverage and pursue a closer partnership with the AFL. A delegation from the Chinese broadcaster will travel to Australia in March to take in the season-opening match between Richmond and Carlton at the MCG. Partly they will be there to learn how best to broadcast the sport but also to test the waters for a longer-term involvement.
As suggested in recent articles, the AFL has now confirmed that the Brisbane Lions will take on the Melbourne Demons in Shanghai's World Expo on October 17 next year. The match will be staged at the Jiangwan Sports Centre, which has a capacity of up to 30,000.
Dual announcements were made, with Victoria's premier John Brumby and Kevin Sheedy at a press conference in Melbourne's Chinatown and the AFL's David Matthews and Western Bulldogs showman Jason Akermanis attending a signing ceremony in Shanghai.
Brumby has predicted that "This will be a great way to promote our game, it will be a great way to promote AFL and it will be a great way to build a stronger relationship between China and Victoria". His state will be spending AUD $6 million promoting themselves at the six month World Expo.
Matthews signed the stadium agreement with representatives from the Yangpu Government at the KIC Resource Center. Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions will play for the Kaspersky AFL Cup, named after software protection company Kaspersky, one of Melbourne's major sponsors. Matthews said "We are extremely excited to be able to bring Australia's indigenous game and all its unique skills to Shanghai as we continue to develop the code internationally. This is a great way to position ourselves as we keep ramping up our international strategy. We will see what the opportunities are across the world".
"Jason Akermanis put on a kicking display to the schoolkids at the signing ceremony here in Shanghai and he was amazing. He just has universal appeal."
The Australian media today reported that plans for an exhibition match between the AFL's Brisbane and Melbourne football clubs in the Chinese metropolis Shanghai are well underway.
The game is slated for next October, with an Asian club championship also linked into the plans for an Australian Rules Football World Expo.
Long-time international footy fan Kevin Sheedy told the ABC that they were close to signing a ground for the match, and that he saw huge potential across Asia for the game to expand beyond the current expat-majority scene.
2007 Brownlow medalist Jimmy Bartel and Bulldog Tim Callan will tomorrow return from India, where they have spent time assisting charity Red Dust. Red Dust is a, "non-profit health promotion charity that seeks to improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged youths in remote communities." They are based in Australia but are, "globally focused".
Bartel and Callan worked for five days at a slum in Bapatla, a remote town in Southeastern India (in the same state as Hyderabad), conducting sports clinics, "as a means of developing rapport with the children, before encouraging them to attend afternoon classes focusing on hygiene and other life skills."
An article about their journey, which was completely independent of AFL India, appeared in the Geelong Advertiser, prior to their departure.
The minor rounds of the 2009 JAFL season have finished in exhilarating fashion with the makeup of the Top Four not settled until the final seconds of the final match.
Heading into the final round, the top two teams, the Eastern Hawks and the Tokyo Goannas, would play off to decide the minor premiers. The Tokyo Goannas earned that honour by running out 14.9 (93) to 7.13 (55) victors.
Following India’s participation in the 2008 International Cup, it appeared that football had finally established a presence in the world’s second most populous country. An AFL India board had been established; the product of ex-VFL footballer Brian Dixon’s earlier work, and despite no clubs, a small playing group and high costs, it managed to get a team to the International Cup. On top of this, the board seemed to have reasonable plans for growing the game in India, based around the country’s major population hubs.
Yet twelve months later there has been no news from the country. World Footy News set out to investigate why.
As indicated in the Friday October 2nd edition of Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun, it appears an AFL match exhibition match is scheduled to be played in China in October 2010.
The article "China Sold on Footy" mentions AFL identity Kevin Sheedy's trip to Shanghai in July of this year, with Sheedy visiting the proposed stadium in Shanghai and claiming there was "huge potential for the game" in China. The match is scheduled to take place on October 16 between two AFL teams yet to be finalised.
The scheduling of the match in October next year will ensure a busy month of football for the AFL, with Draft Camp, Draft Selection, AFL Trade Week and the expected International Rules Series all expected to take place in October 2010.
The Jakarta Bintangs have for the past 12 years conducted an AFL Grand Final breakfast in Jakarta an event which has grown to be arguably the largest AFL Grand Final function held outside Australia.
This year was no exception though the Bintangs, always the innovators, seem to have pulled off a coup by having the Jakarta Globe as one of their sponsors.
The English language daily newspaper, which has mainstream circulation in Jakarta, had a 4-page liftout on the AFL Grand Final, including full teams, analysis and predictions along with a write-up of the Bintangs' current progress in developing the game locally in Indonesia. I would venture to say that the coverage exceeded that of most of the Sydney and Brisbane dailies.
The piece-de-resistance however, was at the conclusion of the game, where those who were at the Bintangs function in the Shangrila Hotel were presented with a Jakarta Globe Cats 2009 Premiers poster in the style of the late WEG of the Melbourne Herald.