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.
Tianjin Normal University, China's first all-Chinese Australian Football team, will take on the all-Australian Beijing Bombers on October 22nd. This will be the first ever China vs Australia game of Aussie Rules Football, to be played at the International School Beijing at 1pm. Five of the best Chinese players from this match will then be sponsored by the Beijing Bombers to join the team for a match against the Shanghai Tigers later this year.
The 7th Annual Asian Championships of Australian Football, held on the 26th of August at Cibubur, just outside of Jakarta, have been hailed a great success by all involved and once again raised the bar on the standard of footy played.
As promised, the tournament produced high quality footy and evenly matched teams with the Singapore Wombats the standouts and eventual Grand Final winners, downing the Bali Geckos in a rematch of last year's Asian Champs Grand Final, 9.5.59 to 3.8.26 - Read on for Grand Final and Ladder results.
Whereas once the Asia region was seen by the international footy community as being a bunch of expats having a kick in the park, it is now gaining recognition as an area of real growth potential for the sport.
Editor: Thanks to regular reader Sean for this report on Asian footy in Australian media.
This Saturday the 26th of August, over 200 Aussie Rules Footballers lace up their boots and take to the Jakarta Bintangs' home ground in Ciburbur to compete in the 2006 ANZ Asian Australian Football Championships. Despite the withdrawal of teams from Shanghai and the Philippines, this year's tournament attended by the Hong Kong Dragons, Japan Goannas, Thailand Tigers, Malaysian Warriors, Singapore Wombats, Bali Geckos and, of course, the Jakarta Bintangs promises to be one of the closest fought yet. In anticipation, we take a quick look at the competing teams.