Like Michito Sakaki and Tsuyoshi Kase last year, two young Japanese Samurais from the JAFL's Tokyo league have spent two months joining the AFL’s Essendon Football Club in pre-season training. Hiroyuki Toyama, aged 20, and Hiroaki Seino, aged 21, both joined Bombers training following the Aboriginal All-Stars game at the start of February and will finish up at the end of this week when they have to fly back to Japan for Uni. Among their experiences with Essendon, Hiroyuki and Hiroaki took part in an intra-club practise match and lined up for the Bendigo Bombers Reserves.
Footy in China is continuing to be developed in several locations, with Tom Mattessi filling an AYAD position in Tianjin, near Beijing, having good success getting locals involved in the sport. A big difficulty must be that most Chinese would never had heard of Aussie Rules. Encouragingly Mattessi has made some inroads there, with a local television station running a good piece on his program.
Footy in India has been in the limelight of late, with Brian Dixon’s world tour including a stopover in that country. Some of his achievements were detailed in Dixon rebooting footy in India, and WFN was recently lucky enough to have caught up with Brian to have a chat about his trip. We also investigated two lesser known football links in the world’s second largest country - an Indian player who embraced the game in Europe, and a popular novel exploring Indian-Australian links, with Aussie Rules an interesting feature.
As previously reported on WFN, a 'future leadership' group of Essendon footballers conducted coaching clinics in Tokyo and Osaka earlier this month as part of a Development Trip to Japan. JAFL President Hideki Miyasaka hailed the visit a success, with the Tokyo clinic being well supported by players from the Tokyo based clubs, and the Osaka clinic also incorporating a session for women's and junior footy. Hideki also reports that Essendon showed an interest in two young Japanese Footballers, but, at this stage, have still not decided whether they will invite them to pre-season training or not.
The following rundown of both clinics is provided courtesy of Hideki and the JAFL.
Within Australia, knowledge amongst locals that Australian Rules football is being played overseas is far from commonplace. It does gain small mention however, at larger events such as the International Cup, Arafura Games, Barassi Youth Tournament and occasionally, when a national team tours Australia.
Japan is lucky to be one of the more recognised countries that play the game outside of Australia (albeit on an amateur basis). Aside from mainstream media, World Footy News has also run numerous stories on both the clubs in Japan and their representative squad, the Samurais. Yet what most people aren't aware is that there are actually two separate football entities in Japan, the Japan Australian Football League (JAFL) and the Nippon Australian Football League (NAFL). Almost all previous attention has been directed towards the JAFL and their representative side, the Samurais, with two brief mentions of the NAFL, in Four teams, but in two leagues - footy in Kansai, Japan and Japan AFL 2006 Preview.
In a previous story we reported on Brian Dixon's world tour to promote Aussie Rules, visiting China, Argentina, the Philippines and Cuba. While in Calcutta last month he held a number of clinics with local schools, putting down the foundations for four clubs in the metropolis and the potential for Indian representation at the 2008 International Cup.
Recently a group of current and ex-AFL footballers were led around northern Vietnam on a CARE Challenge, visiting CARE projects and meeting local HIV/AIDS sufferers. The culmination of the trip also saw a footy match played between the CARE AFL All Stars and the Hanoi Swans.
The Essendon Football Club is sending seven of its younger players on a personal development trip to Japan this week. As part of the trip, the players and coaching staff will hold clinics in Tokyo and Osaka on behalf of the AFL. Essendon's website also reports that the Essendon staff will be testing the local Japanese players to determine which two will join Essendon for 2007 preseason training.
The fourth annual Bali 9s Tournament was held on October 8th with home-town heroes the Bali Geckos sneaking home in a thrilling grand final victory over the Malaysian Warriors.
The Bali 9's remains a unique fixture on the Asian Footy calendar. It provides the only opportunity for Asian and Australian Aussie Rules Teams to play each other, attracting a number of touring Aussie sides since 2002, including the Western Whalers, Bateman's Bay Sea Hawks, Balmain Tigers and Keysborough Wombats.
In a sudden burst of enthusiasm for the international growth of Aussie Rules both Geelong and Port Adelaide's coaches have spoken positively about the sport getting a foothold outside of Australia. Mark "Bomber" Thompson, coach of the Cats, speaking ahead of his club's match in London against Port, singled out China as a highly desirable market to push into, speculating that his club may play there next year (presumably against Melbourne). There's also an online poll WFN readers may be interested in answering.