Plans to promote Australian football in China were boosted this week, with the announcement that a football 'ambassador' has been appointed to grow the game in the world's most-populous nation. Based in Melbourne's sister city Tianjin, the position has been created to pave the way for a visit by the Melbourne Football Club later in 2006.
Japanese players Michito Sakaki and Tsuyoshi Kase will be keenly waiting to see if they get a run in trial games with the Bendigo Bombers in the Victorian Football League. Currently training with AFL club Essendon, the pair will need to impress Bendigo's coach, Matthew Knights, a former champion of the Richmond Football Club. The Bombers have a relationship with Bendigo that sees them use the VFL club to play their AFL players not selected in any given round.
Melbourne daily newspaper the Herald Sunreported on January 16th AFL club Essendon are considering sending one of the Japanese players training with them over summer to its VFL feeder team, the Bendigo Bombers.
The Tokyo Goannas failed by 6 goals in their quest to win the Japan AFL premiership for the 3rd year in a row yesterday going down to the Samurais in the Japan AFL's season decider at the Radisson Ground, Narita. Final score 170 - 133.
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.