Contributed by: Aaron Richard Thursday, May 17 2007 @ 08:37 pm ACST
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[*1] , 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.
IN A sign of the multicultural times, Melbourne Football Club has become the first AFL team to set up a website in Mandarin.
The club's website — www.melbournefc.com.au/china — is part of a push by the Demons to attract people of Chinese background, especially international students, who it says have been neglected by the Australian rules fraternity.
The club has also invited about 500 international students to watch its May 27 game against the Kangaroos. Information about the rules of AFL and a running commentary will be provided to the students in Mandarin.
"Of course, we are trying to build our supporter base, but we are also wanting to be involved in the community as well," club business development manager James Taylor said.
About 25,000 international students arrive in Melbourne from China each year, according to club estimates. Melbourne University research has warned that international students have been subject to unofficial racial segregation.
More broadly, Melbourne Football Club hopes to attract attention from Chinese people in China as well as Australia. Demons executives have been in China for the past 10 days, with representatives from the AFL and the City of Melbourne, to build participation by Chinese school students in Australian rules football and prepare for upcoming events.
Australian rules will now be taught in more than 20 schools and universities in Melbourne's sister city, Tianjin.
Kenneth Nguyen will moderate a panel of representatives from Melbourne Football Club and Intrepid Travel, and Republican campaigner Jason Yat-sen Li, as part of the AsiaConnect 2007: New Opportunities in Asia conference at Sofitel Melbourne on Friday. Phone 8344 4800 for registration details. The Age is a sponsor of the conference.