The prospects of Aussie Rules putting down some permanent roots amongst the locals in China are looking more and more positive, with the Melbourne Football Club continuing its exploration of commercial interests and confirming that footy has been accepted into several educational institutions. Getting government sanctioning is important in all countries, but none more so than in (partially) Communist China.
Key outcomes from a 10 day visit by Demons officials, the Melbourne City Council and the AFL included:
- visits to Beijing, Shanghai and Melbourne's sister city Tianjin
- commitments from several Chinese education, health and sports authorities were secured to allow the introduction of the Australian game over the next 12 months
- interest from large television broadcasters in adding AFL coverage to their schedules
- up to 15 players will be heading to China in October to run clinics and training seminars for expatriate and local players
- continuing to examine possibility of playing an exhibition match next year in Tianjin
- plans to bring one or two players back to Melbourne to train with the club and learn to deliver training programs
- again affirming the hope to have China represented at the 2008 International Cup, with perhaps 16 countries expected
The Arafura Games were once a huge part of footy's international takeoff, with the competition the first tournament to feature international representative matches between national teams such as PNG, New Zealand, Nauru and Japan, as well as some of the expat sides from Asia and Aboriginal squads from the Australian outback.
Although the International Cup largely filled the market for a major international tournament, the Arafura Games still has Aussie Rules, albeit as a demonstration sport, and a developmental team from the Japan AFL is currently in town for the event. The Japanese have played three matches so far, defeating the NT Buffalos twice and the NT Crocs once, with another game against the Crocs to come tonight.
The AFL's Melbourne Demons have increased their push into the Chinese market, now announcing a focus on Chinese students studying in Australia and a new club website, melbournefc.com.au/china, published in Mandarin. Melbourne's The Age newspaper reported today that Demons officials have spent the past 10 days in China furthering plans for Australian Rules to be played at over 20 schools and universities in Tianjin.
This year, the juggernaut that is the Asian Australian Football Championships rolls into Bangkok, home of the Thailand Tigers - hosts for 2007. The tournament has been scheduled a little earlier than usual this year for the weekend of July 14th, a fact that has seen many of the Aussie Rules teams of Asia, including four of the region's powerhouse teams, dust their boots off and blow the preseason cobwebs out with early match practise to get season 2007 underway.
In November last year, a representative Under 15 Pancawati side from the West Java Australian Football League (WeJAFL) hosted a Jakarta based British International School Under 15 team. Excitingly, this was the first time that the BIS kids had played a game of Aussie Rules. Even so though, the BIS squad gave the WeJAFL team a run for their money in a nail biting clash. A full match report by Robert Baldwin of the WeJAFL can be seen here on the Jakarta Bintangs website.
In another article posted on the Jakarta Bintang website, From Little Things, Big Things Grow: Banda Aceh Bandits AFC, veteran Bintang, Matt Stephens, takes a humorous look at the tentative first steps of a couple of the Aussie Rules faithful as they attempt to establish a new Australian Football Club in the devastated Indonesian province of Banda Aceh.
Australian football first came to Pakistan through the drug-help organisation, Tanzeem-e-Insidad-e-Manashyiate (TIM) in April of last year (see Pakistan keen to spread the word). Whilst the sport is still very much in its infant stages in the country, WFN marks the league’s first birthday with a look back on AFL Pakistan’s story so far.
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.