India appears to be one of Australian football's hot spots at the moment, with a growing organisational structure, interest from AFL clubs and grass roots support coming from Australia. One such example is a recent trip organised by the Bendigo Netball and Football League. Bendigo is a regional city in Victoria with a strong Aussie Rules culture. Thanks to Mikey Dynon (a Bendigo local who was involved with India at IC14) for bringing the trip to our attention and to the original author of the report, Bruce Claridge.
Indian Trip Report.
After many months of planning, promotion and anticipation the first BFNL India Trip departed from Tullamarine Airport at 11:30 am on Wednesday November 5th, 2014.
The team's main goal was to prepare the way for future annual trips by connecting with key people in Kolkata who would open doors of opportunity for teams to follow.
The initial team of Bruce and Jan Claridge, Paul Byrne, Connor Byrne, Justin Abrams and Ben and Toni West formed a unified group with a clear mission and the initial expectations of the group were far exceeded as the week together unfolded.
The following article is from the website of AFL Asia, detailing the efforts of the Jakarta Bintangs to win the SEAFL Championship for 2014.
For the second year of the SEAFL (South East Asia Football League) Championship, the Jakarta Bintangs have claimed the title for the second time.
Going into November’s Asian Championships, the Bintangs were undefeated.
The Bintangs were cleaning up everything in their path whether at home or abroad. Scalps included the Singapore Wombats in Singapore and the Vietnam Swans in Vung Tau, Vietnam, at the Annual ANZAC Friendship Match. Unfortunately for the Bintangs, the Champs were less successful than they might have expected – but those games were outside the scope of the SEAFL.
The Hiroshima Cranes, Japan's newest Australian Rules football team, has recently played in their first hitout against estbalished opposition. Jonathan Cooper, formerly from the Osaka Dingoes and now a key part of the new Cranes outfit, sent this story about the event.
Australian Football in Japan has a very long history, but since 2004, Japanese Australian Football has been governed by the Japan Australian Football League. Teams from Osaka to Tokyo have participated in a national competition which has involved some very strenuous road trips. Despite being a small country in area, Japan is very long archipelago. Distances are vast, and domestic travel is very expensive. In 2014 with 7 teams in Tokyo, and very strong, established teams in Nagoya and Osaka, the JAFL made the decision to separate the league into an Eastern and a Western division.
Despite some initial hurdles and early challenges, the Western division of the Japanese Australian Football League has recently been going from strength to strength. With the support of the league and the international football community, a new team has been established in Hiroshima, and there are now three teams out west – The Hiroshima Cranes, Osaka Dingoes and Nagoya Redbacks. Several other teams are also a very real possibility in 2015.
The Port Adelaide FC has connected with a new club in Guangzhou, China with the Zhujiang (Pearl River) Power running out onto the field for the first time recently.
The Zhujiang Power join four other sides in their local competition in Guangdong Province of Southern China - the Huizhou Hawks, Dongguan Giants, Guangzhou Scorpions and Guangzhou Sports University Seagulls.
Port Adelaide hosted the Chinese national side at the IC14, with the Chinese marching before the match between Port and the Sydney Swans in round 20. They have also recently formalised an official partnership with the Hong Kong Australia Business Association.
The full story from the PAFC website is reproduced below.
LEFT: A player from the Zhujiang Power keeps ahead of his Guangzhou Sports Uni opponent.
The Footy players from Bengal had not yet gotten over the festive spirit when they were served up another delightful treat. They got some true Aussie Footy flavour as 4 of the finest Footy players from Essendon Football Club of the AFL came down to have a joint training session with the players at Bongaon, West Bengal. The training was a part of the club’s ‘Embracing India’ initiative and true to its name, Joe Daniher, Dyson Heppell, Zach Merrett and David Zaharakis embraced the occasion in style.
Around 200 enthusiastic players from Bongaon, Kolkata, Howrah and Khardah turned up for the chance of a lifetime. Some had made a 10hr long round-trip to attend the training and their efforts did not go in vain. A few players had even made the trip from Ranchi, Jharkhand to grab this opportunity. The players were put through their paces Aussie style, and their skills with the Footy impressed even the professionals. “I was really surprised how many young boys and girls turned out for the AFL India super clinic," Daniher said."They had some pretty impressive skills. Zacka and I took them through a few drills and they didn't miss a beat, we might have even met the next Dyson Heppell or Jobe Watson today."
The following article by Thomas Kean appeared in the Myanmar Times in September during the lead up to the Asian Championships in 2014. The work of Julian Clark has become legendary throughout Asia, and elsewhere, and this story examines his background and influence on the game, as well as his latest achievement – bringing the game to the nation of Myanmar.
“This is my advertisement, mate,” says Julian Clark. He tugs at his Cambodia Eagles polo shirt with one hand, a mug of cold beer recently poured from the tap at Savoy Hotel’s Captain’s Bar in the other. “My job is to use this to recruit people.”
Julian “Big Rooster” Clark, a veteran of 20 Australian Rules football seasons as an expat, has made something of a career out of nurturing new teams wherever his work as an engineer has taken him.
The Philippines Australian Football League proudly hosted the 2014 Asian Championships last weekend where teams met to decide which was the best Australian Rules football nation in Asia. Described as “the pinnacle of the AFL Asia calendar”, it was the Singapore Wombats who revelled in the glory of being 2014 champions.
The event was somewhat sandwiched between the battle for European supremacy (Euro Cup) and North American bragging rights (USAFL Nationals) but drew a strong and enthusiastic following for a great day’s football.
Following are the results from the 2014 Asian Champs that were held in Clark, Philippines on 11 October 2014.
Inor da Silva just loves Australian Rules football. A member of the Timor Leste Crocs International Cup team in 2011, Inor still lives the game as much as he can. His social media pages are littered with photos of the glory days of the Crocs playing against international teams. He is proud to fly the flag and holds the hope that one day Timor Leste footy can come back.
Inor says, “Yeah we keep training in Dili every Sunday. We have got many players at training. But we still look for support for our national team, the Crocs, but we can’t find it. We hope to have good support [in the future] to get to the Asian champions tournament in the Philippines Cup. We hope we can get support soon.”
Back in 2008 World Footy News wrote a story, Timor-Leste Crocs enter Asian Footy, looking at the start of the Timor Leste Crocs and the development of the game in the nation. Back then it was full steam ahead, but after their IC11 involvement the Aussie Rules footy scene has dropped away.
2006 Norm Smith Medallist, Andrew Embley, from the West Coast Eagles has signed on as the inaugural coach of The Indochina All Stars, a combined football team of nationals from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.
The team will play its first match in Thailand on Saturday, 16 August as part of the Indochina Cup, now in its 8th year. It is expected that the team will develop over the next three years and compete in the International Cup in 2017 in Melbourne.
Andrew who had an illustrious 15 year career at the West Coast Eagles is excited about getting involved in Asian Football and developing local players over the longer term. Andrew has Anglo/Burmese ancestry with both his Grandparents and Father being born in Burma (Myanmar) migrating to Perth in 1964.