Samurais Michito Sakaki and Tsuyoshi Kase are heading Down Under in the hope that they may be able to cut a swathe through the opposition and make it as professionals in Australia's national game. The following article is by Ryann Connell and appeared in Japanese paper The Mainichi Shimbunon November 23, 2005.
Our understanding is that the two Japanese players have been assisted in travelling to Australia with sponsorship from QANTAS, Robert Walters and members of the Japan AFL. Kase and Sakaki are pictured in action for Japan at the recent 2005 International Cup in Melbourne.
AFL club Melbourne recently made the news after announcing it was investigating playing an exhibition match in the Chinese metropolis Tianjin. The Demons are now about six weeks away from announcing a five-year development plan, supported by the City of Melbourne and the Tianjin regional government, according to General Manager of Business Development Shane Anderson.
Melbourne Football Club players and officials have commenced post-season volunteer work on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi, where they are constructing a school as a memorial to former teammate Troy Broadbridge. Troy was tragically killed in the Boxing Day tsunami last December.
The Singapore Wombats won the 2005 Asian Championships, the second win for the Wombats in six years. The Wombats fought off a fit and determined Bali Geckos in the Grand Final with the final score Singapore 7.3 (45) to Bali 2.4 (16), watched by over 700 onlookers. The Championship Cup was presented by His Excellency, Australian Ambassador Tony Hely.
Nine teams participated in the 2005 Championships - the Hong Kong Dragons, Singapore Wombats, Malaysian Warriors, Thailand Tigers, Jakarta Bintangs, Bali Geckos, China/Shanghai Tigers, Japan Goannas and the Philippine Eagles.
Melbourne Lord Mayor (and Demons' number one ticket holder) John So is looking to extend Melbourne's sister-city relationship with the Chinese metropolis Tianjin through an exhibition game featuring the Demons, possibly as early as next year. So (born So Chun Sai in Hong Kong and a familiar figure in Melbourne's multicultural community) has discussed the idea with Tianjin mayor Dai Xianglong who is keen on providing the Demons with a stadium to exhibit Aussie rules football.
Plans for WAFL grand finalists Subiaco and South Fremantle to tour to Mumbai, India have been postponed until 2006 for organisational reasons, but there are big plans in the west to put some significant energy into promoting Aussie Rules across the Indian Ocean rim, from Indonesia, to India, to South Africa.
With a bid on for the 2008 International Cup and a delegation from the AFL South Africa visiting Perth this week, Perth might be the place to watch for a big burst in footy's international development.
WFN spoke with the Western Australian Football League's General Manager Grant Dorrington.
Some interesting results in July / August in the Asian region, which only adds to the excitement of the upcoming Asian Championships. Hong Kong proved their current title holder status by thumping Thailand in the Land of Smiles. Malaysia continued their solid run into September with a good win over Jakarta, and Bali further added to Jakarta’s woes a month later by crushing them in Jakarta.
The Collingwood sponsorship deal struck today with Wizard has given Collingwood and football a foot in the door with NBC, and negotiations are under way to have Collingwood matches and highlights packages broadcast into Asia. It may also be the first step in bigger things to come.