Further to our report Football's home ground in Tianjin, more details have been reported in Melbourne's Age newspaper regarding plans to build an Australian Football stadium in Tianjin, China. The article says that Thomson Perrett, a golf course design firm, now has design plans for the ground which will be the first purpose-built Aussie Rules ground in the giant Asian nation.
The story did point out that there is grass-roots support for the game, with matches already played on smaller venues. Tianjin, 137 kilometres south-east of Beijing, has a population of over 10 million. It was interesting to note that the report cites AFL community facilities manager Ken Gannon as saying the ground would host Chinese and Asian championships.
"This provides a home for some of the activities that have been taking place," Gannon said. And for those worried that the AFL might be spending Aussie footy money overseas, this is another example of leveraging other sources of funding, with the article saying, "The AFL was not contributing any capital to the development".
China, India and Japan, were the three Asian teams to compete in the 16-nation Australian Football AFL International Cup last month. China was the only Asian nation to participate in both the Asian Championships in Singapore (through a mostly expat-Australian side) and the International Cup, events which unfortunately this year were held concurrently.
The Timor-Leste (East Timor) Crocs will be represented at this weekend's 12-team Indigenous Community Division of the AFLNT's annual
pre-season carnival in Darwin, from Friday October 10th until Sunday October 12th at TIO Stadium, Marrara.
The Crocs were invited to compete as a team in their own right, however this was not possible and the team decided instead to send a small delegation to play in a combined team with Australian Defence Force personnel and East Timorese residents in Darwin.
Luke Gosling from the Timor Crocs said, "the Timorese players are very happy to be coming to Darwin and playing their newly adopted sport of Australian Rules Football. One of the Timor-Leste players to watch is Amaro da Silva, who is also a very good soccer player. With strength, natural agility and hand-eye coordination, Amaro and the other Timorese players have taken to the sport quickly."
Thus far in Timor-Leste, as well as in representative games played this year in Indonesia, the team has played 9-a-side on a soccer field. The tournament in Darwin will be the first time the players have experienced the larger field and different gameplay of 18-a-side.
Gosling says, "In many ways the Timorese players are quick and agile like the Northern Territory's indigenous players, however they lack the many years of practice that comes from growing up with a footy in their hands. The Timor-Leste players have a great opportunity to learn from playing the community teams and from their own Timor-Leste and Australian teammates."
The Crocs are scheduled to play their first match this afternoon at 5.30pm.
The annual Bali9s tournament hosted by the Bali Geckoes at the Canggu Club will be played on November 1st. This year’s tournament will see four teams from the Indonesian region competing, Bali Geckos, their fierce rivals the Jakarta Bintangs and newly formed clubs the Borneo Bears and Timor-Leste Crocs.
Played in a 9-a-side, lightning premiership type format, each team will play the others with the two top teams playing off in a grand final.
Whilst the far more experienced Bali and Jakarta sides would be favoured to win through to the final, both Borneo and Timor Leste could take heart from the efforts of debutants Laos in the recently concluded Asian Championships, who proved that novice teams could cause upsets.
The Bali9s has been a prestigious trophy since its inception in 2002, the inaugural winners being the Bintangs. That year’s tournament took place just a week before the tragic Bali bombings in which 202 people lost their lives, 88 of them Australian. The 2003 edition which marked the one year anniversary of that event was particularly poignant, being attended by luminaries such as the then Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, and for the football fanatics, Ron Barassi, Mick Martin and Dermott Brereton. Jason McCartney played for the Geckoes on that day, but even he could not stop Bateman’s Bay from annexing the trophy.
The tournament has a lost some of its lustre in recent years, being usurped by its sister contest, the Bali9s Masters, a similar event for teams comprising the over 35’s. However, this year's competition, involving teams from the same geographic area, should be hotly contested and may become a fore-runner of an annual competition involving the same four teams.
The boldest innovation of the 9th Asian Championships in Singapore on September 6th was the first Under 16s Championship involving teams from the Jakarta Bulldogs, Singapore Wombats, Singapore Gaelic Cubs and Hong Kong Dragons. Anyone who was present could not have been anything but uplifted to watch these young lads, the vast majority of whom were non-Australians, show the levels of passion, excitement and commitment that we have come to expect with our game.
In recognition of the great strides made in the development of Aussie Rules in Beijing over the last few years, the Beijing Bombers have warmly welcomed an approach by its namesake, the AFL's Essendon Football Club, to make BARFC an affiliate club.
While in Melbourne in early September to see the China Red Demons compete in the International Cup, BARFC President Mic Mittasch met with Essendon's new Multicultural Development Officer to establish the relationship between the two Bomber clubs.
The Essendon Football Club multicultural program was established to develop opportunities to engage people from diverse cultural backgrounds in the game of Australian football with the view to broaden both the participation and supporter base in the game. Jieh-Yung, an Australian born Chinese recently took over as Essendon's Multicultural Development officer and was keen to see the two Bomber clubs work together to continue the development of the game in Beijing.
President Mittasch was excited about the potential for the relationship following his meeting with Jieh-Yung. "This will be a great opportunity for the Beijing Bombers to establish some important relationships and enable us to continue to develop as a club in Beijing" Mic said.
"Essendon has already provided the club with several signed items of merchandise which we will be auctioning off at the Grand Final Day. They have also committed to provide us with training and playing kits once their new sponsor is finalised and they are open to further suggestions on how the two clubs can work together. We look forward to developing the relationship with this great club over the coming years."
Full results of the recent Asian Championships are here, with points tables and scores.
Group A went much as expected. The China Reds' win over Jakarta Bintangs was somewhat of a surprise and Malaysia were desperately unlucky not to beat Bali, having the lead until the last few seconds.
As expected, Hong Kong and UAE dominated Group B, though it was evident from the first game they played that UAE had a very formidable and very fit team. In their initial outing in an Asian Games, Laos were very impressive. Thailand were disappointing given their strong lead-up form. Like Malaysia in Group A, Vietnam were competitive but could not convert chances in front of goal.
The semi finals went according to form in the preliminary matches and the two best teams met in the final. UAE were superb, their standard of play was excellent and ability to convert second to none, to kick 10 goals straight in any form of football is no mean effort, and they ran out deserved winners on the day. Singapore fought hard, but were outclassed in the final.
As is traditional, at the conclusion of the Asian Championships an Asian All Star team, now known as the Asian Lions is chosen. This year, in addition to the honour of selection, thanks to a donation from Big Rooster Footy, each player was presented with an all-star team jumper.
Geoff Blethyn played 84 games for Essendon between 1968-72 and 1976 kicking 216 goals, topping the 100 goals in 1972, was leading goal kicker twice with Claremont and played in the Port Adelaide premiership side in 1977. He played his last game for Malaysia in 1992. He has always maintained contact with the Warriors but had not seen a game in Asia since that date.
At the invitation of the Malaysian Warriors, Geoff attended the 9th Asian Championships held in Singapore on 6th September. His comments on the Championships make interesting reading and are reported verbatim below.
UAE Heat have won the 2009 Asian Championships held in Singapore on September 6th, comfortably defeating pre-tournament favourites Singapore in the final 10.0.60 to 3.6.24.
Played in good conditions before a very healthy crowd, the Heat were simply too good. Kicking with the aid of the breeze in the first half and with their midfielders well on top, the Heat were able to rattle on five goals before Singapore were able to reply. At half time, the Heat led 6.0 to 1.2, and the Wombats faced a mighty task.
Further salt was rubbed into the wounds when the Heat goaled early in the second half to put the game beyond doubt. To their credit the Wombats fought back, but it was clear the Heat had too much run, were too fit and too good around the ground. The Wombats goaled twice, but the boys from Dubai iced the game with the equivalent reply late in the half.
Pictures courtesy of Mark Stennett of the Malaysia Warriors.