Following the creation of the Beijing AFL in 2009, the Shanghai Tigers kicked off China's second domestic Australian rules football competition on March 27th, with the North Shanghai Crows, West Shanghai Dockers and Shanghai Eagles clashing in a four-match afternoon of footy at the Shanghai Rugby Football Club.
Players from Australia, China, Ireland, US, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea pulled on the boots for the three teams, with the Eagles defeating both the other sides to sit on top of the ladder after round one.
The AFL's China Development Manager Andrew Sawitsch is now based in Shanghai, and has been working to introduce a modified version of Auskick into the city's schools. There are also plans to start senior football at the Shanghai Sports University, players from which could form the nucleus of the Chinese team at next year's International Cup.
With the announcement of an AFL exhibition match between the Melbourne Demons and Brisbane Lions to be played in Shanghai's Jiangwan Stadium in October 2010, there has never been a more exciting time for the Australian game in China.
The Vietnam Swans have announced that they will this year host their first ANZAC memorial match on the weekend of 24-25 April this year. The match will be a domestic clash, with the Hanoi Hawks taking on the Saigon Saints in Vung Tau, close to Saigon and Long Tan.
ANZAC Day, which commemorates Australia and New Zealand's fallen soldiers, is a common fixture for international footy events, with matches this year scheduled in places of significance to Australian military history including Villiers-Bretonneux in France, Hellfire Pass in Thailand, and Long Tan in Vietnam.
Back in 2004 and 2005, teams from some of Melbourne's multicultural communities came together to take part in the Multicultural Cup, an Australian rules football lightning tournament organised by Aussie Rules International.
After a hiatus of four years, the tournament is back in 2010, renamed the Harmony Cup, featuring some new sides and planned for March 21st. Teams from the Greek, Italian and Lebanese communities are back onboard, along with Team Africa and Team Asia from the 2008 International Cup. Also planning to attend with a few players with International Cup are India, and newcomers Indonesia and Albania.
Team Indonesia - branding themselves the "Indo Footy Stars" - are being coordinated by Fawwaz Sungkar, who took some time to talk with WFN about the team's preparations.
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.