Australian rules football in China
Australian rules football in China is an article on the sport of Australian rules football played in the People's Republic of China. Interest in Australian football in China has received a boost after the AFL, the premier professional football competition in Australia invested in an AFL exhibition match in Shanghai in 2010, an AFL academy in 2011 and building a dedicated AFL oval in Tianjin in 2011
The sport has been played in the People's Republic of China since the 1990s. There are a number of senior clubs, including in the bigger cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, as well as Auskick programs in other cities such as Suzhou, Jiangsu province.
Regional clubs and programs
Australian rules was first played in Beijing in 2004, with the foundation of the Beijing Bombers.
The Bombers play an annual China Cup series against the Shanghai Tigers, as well as starting a 3-team metro league known as the Beijing AFL in 2009.
The Guangzhou Scorpions were formed in 2010, playing matches against the Hong Kong Dragons and Macau Lightning.
The Hong Kong Dragons were formed in 1990, and have been one of Asia's most successful Australian rules football clubs since this time. The Dragons play against other Asian teams regularly and have competed at all Asian Australian Football Championships to date.
The Dragons also coordinate an Auskick juniors program.
Australian football began in Macau in 2009, with the introduction of Auskick and matches at the International School of Macau. The Macau Lightning senior team debuted in 2010, with matches against the Hong Kong Dragons and Pokfulam Vikings. They made their first Asian Championships appearance in Shanghai in October 2010, but failed to win any matches at the tournament.
A club was established in Shanghai under the name of the Shanghai Tigers in 2002. The Tigers have a playing list consisting mainly of expatriate Australians, with some British, American and South African players as well.
The sister city relationship between Tianjin and Melbourne saw the beginnings of football development in 2005. By 2007, a development organisation called the AFL China had been formed, with Tianjin Normal University having two Australian football teams at its main campuses.
A representative team mainly consisting of expat Australians in China has competed under the names China Blues and China Reds in International fixtures and Asian AFL Championships. The first national representative team composed entirely of Chinese nationals appeared as the China Red Demons at the 2008 Australian Football International Cup.
Chinese community in Australia
Chinese Australians have been playing Australian rules football since the late 19th century. The Ballarat Chinese Football Premiership was covered extensively between 1892 and 1896, in local newspapers.
Between 1973 and 1985, Les Fong was a prominent and acclaimed player in the Western Australian Football League (WAFL), which held equal status to the VFL during that period. He was also selected for six State of Origin games for the Western Australian team, including the first such game (1977). Fong played 284 games for West Perth in the WAFL and remains the club's longest-serving captain (1980–85).
At present there are a number of Chinese Australian players in suburban and amateur leagues, perhaps most notably with the Southern Dragons, in Divisions 2 and 3 of the Victorian Southern Football League.
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