Contributed by: Jake Anson Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:50 am ACDT
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.
The possibility of promoting Australian football in Tianjin was first raised by Melbourne's Lord Mayor, Cr. John So, following a meeting with Tianjin mayor Dai Xianglong in September last year. So proposed that the Melbourne Football Club hold an exhibition match in the Chinese metropolis, which led to a feasibility study by the club as reported earlier on worldfootynews.com ("Melbourne developing Five-Year Plan for Footy in China"[*1] ).
An article[*2] in this week's Sunday Herald-Sun announced that the Demons, in co-operation with AusAid and Melbourne City Council, have appointed a football ambassador to realise the Tianjin plan. Sports management graduate Tom Mattessi, 23, will help organise the Demons team visit to China in October or November, which will be tied to a TV marketing campaign introducing Melbourne to the Chinese.
His mission will also involve introducing Australian football to schools through fitness programs, establishing Auskick training sessions, creating teams of Chinese players and finding sporting fields big enough to play the Australian game on.
As is occurring in several other nations, Mattessi's appointment is being funded by AusAID through its Australian Youth Ambassador grants program. He will be based at the Melbourne City Council's offices in Tianjin, which has enjoyed a 25-year-long siter city relationship with the Victorian capital.
Tianjin is located 120 kilometres southeast of Beijing, and is home to a population of 10 million. Encouragingly for Australian football, the Tianjin Government is fully backing the initiative, which Melbourne's mayor John So has been working on for several months. Worldfootynews.com will continue to publish information on this development as it becomes available.