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.
Round two of the Japan AFL season has been (mostly) played and won, with another emphatic win to the Tokyo Goannas, who after only two rounds, are already looking like favourites for the flag.
The Goannas started the round with a 108 point victory, their 15th in succession since 2007, over the Komazawa Magpies in Chiba.
The reigning premiers booted 5.4 to nothing in the first quarter on the way to an 18.22 (130) to 3.4 (22) demolition job. Although led tenaciously in the ruck by Tanaka, the Magpies had no answer to the ball-winning ability of the Goannas midfielders, Wilson and Jones especially prominent.
At Shinshiro Sogo Park, accuracy in front of goal gave the Nagoya Redbacks a tough win over the Tokyo Leopards.
The Leopards came out all guns blazing, dominating the first quarter 6.4 to 2.0 For the rest of the game, however, inaccuracy in front of goal cost Tokyo dearly. At half-time they had 15 scoring shots to 6, but the margin was only 14 points. As the saying goes, poor kicking is poor football, and the Redbacks came to life in the second half, running out 14.7 (91) to 9.14 (68) victors in a hard fought affair.
The Osaka Dingoes - Senshu Powers game will be played in October.
The Asian Championships played in Kuala Lumpur on 5th September, 2009 were immensely successful in terms of participation with 10 Senior teams, 3 Under 18 Teams, Auskick and over 400 players, seniors and juniors participating. After a day of intense competition, last year's winners Dubai (UAE) Heat and Jakarta Bulldogs both managed a repeat triumph in the Senior and Junior competitions.
Dubai Heat last weekend won the Asian Championships in a repeat of 2008, defeating the Singapore Wombats in the Grand Final. The Heat trailed at half-time but superior fitness saw them overwhelm Singapore in the final stanza to score a well-deserved victory.
Third and fourth spots went to the Bali Geckoes and Hong Kong Dragons, who were defeated in the semi-finals by the Heat and Wombats repectively.
The pinnacle of the Asian Football season, the Asian Championships this year were held in Kuala Lumpur at the Selangor Polo Club on 5th September.
In the Juniors grade, the Jakarta Bulldogs also went back to back, asserting their superiority over the St Johns Malaysian Warriors, though the Malaysian boys' effort is to be highly commended as they took on far more experienced rivals and gave them strong competition.
The all-important draw for the 10th Asian Australian Football Championships in Kuala Lumpur on 5th September took place at the Australian Ambassador's residence on 27th August.
Group A consists of title holders Dubai Heat, hosts Malaysian Warriors, three-time winners Hong Kong Dragons, two-time winners Jakarta Bintangs and Thailand Tigers.
Group B consists of three-time winners Singapore Wombats, three-times runners-up Bali Geckoes, Lao Elephants, China Reds and Vietnam Swans.
Each team plays the others in their Group with the top two in each group progressing to the semi-finals, the winners of which play off in the Grand Final.
Whilst weather, injuries and depth of fitness within the squads are always a factor in an event of this nature, the teams in Group A promise intense competition, with all five harbouring realistic expectations of a strong showing.
On known form, Singapore and Bali look the likely semi-finalists in Group B.
A big day is promised on September 5th at the Royal Selangor Polo Club with the action kicking off from 8.30am and the final being contested at 4.20pm.
In addition to the main games there will be a Junior Under 18 competition as well as Auskick.
The Jakarta Bintangs stunned the Bali Geckoes and reinforced their Asian Championship prospects by defeating the Bali Beckos by 5 goals on home turf for the first time in 4 years at Kuta on August 15th.
A minutes' silence preceded the match - dedicated to Craig Senger and others lost to us in similar circumstances. It was a reminder to live every day as though it was your last.
Fitting, because that was how the Bintangs played. From the opening tap to the final siren the Bintangs were always in control. Led in dazzling fashion by Dave "Butcher" Edwards who kicked a club record 12 goals, the Bintangs held sway at every change.
The game strategy was simple, get the ball quickly to the big fellow down forward and he would do the rest. And with Matt Jolly and Chris Bandy winning the ball with regularity in the midfield, and with Bali captain Peter Muir well held, contested possession was achieved with sufficient regularity to build a match winning lead by half time.
While Bali managed to slow the momentum in the last two quarters, the result was never in doubt. A trademark Marzio Da Rae dropkick sealed the win just before the siren.
The Geckos have played in the Grand Final of the Asian Championships in two of the last three years, whilst the Bintangs have had a number of disappointing years since their glory years early in the millennium.
Possibly, the positions may be reversed in this year’s edition of the Asian Championships.
The Asian Championships is the goal of all teams in the Asian region. Being played in tropical conditions, subject to vagaries of weather and in a lightning premiership type format, the day is a true test of stamina, team management and above all, depth.
Yet, for all the elements of luck that can play a part with the draw, with injuries and other factors, usually the best side wins.
Whilst many internationals are played during the year, and nearly all clubs have some sort of intra-club domestic competition, like racehorses aiming at the Melbourne Cup, it is the Asian Championships that all conditioning is aimed towards.
This year is the 10th edition of the Championships - Hong Kong and Singapore have won 3 each, Indonesia (as a combined Jakarta-Bali side many years ago) 2, and Dubai 1.
Coinncidentally it is the 10th year of the Malaysian Warriors Football Club and they will be hosting the Championships on Saturday, 5th September at the Royal Selangor Polo Club, situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
On a day where bigger issues overwhelmed the football, the Vietnam Swans defeated the Laos Elephants by 4 points in a important warm-up game for the upcoming Asian Championships in Kuala Lumpur.
Craig Senger had been a player with the Jakarta Bintangs Football Club and tragically lost his life in the recent Jakarta bombings of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels.
Prior to the match, the Australian Ambassador, the Deputy / Minister Counsellor from the Indonesian Embassy and Dave Kainey (“Official Legend” of the Jakarta Bintangs and former Swans President) addressed all players and spectators. A minute's silence was observed.