Australian rules football in China

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Australian rules football has been played in China since the 1990s. Interest in Australian football in China 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 built a dedicated AFL oval in Tianjin in 2011.

Senior clubs[edit]

There are a number of senior clubs spread throughout China, including in the bigger cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Tianjin, as well as Auskick programs in other cities such as Suzhou, Jiangsu province.

Regional clubs and programs[edit]


Australian rules was first played in Beijing in 2004, with the foundation of the Australian Expatriate team, the Beijing Bombers.

The Bombers play an annual China Cup series against the other Australian expatriate team the Shanghai Tigers, as well as starting a 3-team metro league known as the Beijing AFL in 2009.


In late 2011 into early 2012 Darrell Egan Founded the Dongguan Panther Blues team at a middle school in Humen Dongguan. The team is also known in Australia as the China Blues consists of 15 to 18 years old student players, with some old school players up to the age of 20. The team went on to play Chinese teams of locals which formed in mid 2013 and is now coached under team's original captain Lin Honghue (Leighton Lin). Darrell Egan now acts as the team's Australian Liaison manager. The Dongguan Panther Blues established the first Chinese team of locals in China in 2014. Carlton Blues player Wally Koochew (See Below) being a pioneer as the first Chinese player in VFL/AFL history the Dongguan Blues team are also the pioneers in China.[1][2][3]


The Guangzhou Scorpions Australian expatriate team was formed in 2010, playing matches against the Hong Kong Dragons and Macau Lightning.[4]

Hong Kong[edit]

The Hong Kong Dragons Australian expatriate team was 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.

Auskick, the Australian football program for juniors, grew in the early 2000's after two Victorian expatriate families managed to secure official support and equipment from the AFL in Australia. Players trained at the iconic grounds at Happy Valley as well as the Australian International School Hong Kong (AISHK).[5]

A second Australian expatriate team in the Pokfulam region of Hong Kong was in existence in 2010, playing as the Pokfulam Vikings and conducting some matches against the Dragons.[6]

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 Australian expatriate senior team debuted in 2010, with matches against the Hong Kong Dragons and Pokfulam Vikings.[6] They made their first Asian Championships appearance in Shanghai in October 2010, but failed to win any matches at the tournament.[7]


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 city of Suzhou does not currently have any senior clubs, although in 2007, 18 schools had introduced the sport into their curriculum.[8]


The sister city relationship between Tianjin and Melbourne saw the beginnings of football development in 2005.[9] 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.[10]

The Tianjin program is sponsored by the Melbourne Football Club and the Melbourne City Council, through links formed by former Melbourne Lord Mayor John So.


A junior program called the Gobi Desert AFL existed at a primary school in Hami, Xinjiang in the 1990s, but this has now disappeared.

International Competition[edit]

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.

International Cup[edit]

  • 2002: Did not compete
  • 2005: Did not compete
  • 2008: 15th
  • 2011: 5th (Division Two)
  • 2014: 4th (Division Two)

Chinese community in Australia[edit]

Wally Koochew of Carlton

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.[11]

Wally Koochew played four games for Carlton during 1908, in the Victorian Football League (VFL), becoming the league's first Australian player with Chinese heritage.

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).[12] Fong played 284 games for West Perth in the WAFL and remains the club's longest-serving captain (1980–85).

In August 2012, Lin Jong, a player with the Western Bulldogs of Taiwanese and East Timorese background, was elevated to the senior list and made his debut against Richmond.[13]

In March 2016 Team China captain Chen Shaoliang, 23, joined Port Adelaide on an AFL international scholarship for the season.[14]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Mallia, Paul (12 December 2010). "Dragons Finish Season on a High". Hong Kong Dragons. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Richard, Aaron (6 May 2010). "First Hong Kong-Macau local derby this weekend". World Footy News.
  7. ^ Nugent, Ash (7 October 2010). "hanghai to host Asian Championships". World Footy News.
  8. ^ Northey, Brett (27 October 2007). "Dees see China investment already bearing fruit". World Footy News.
  9. ^ Parry, Peter (19 September 2005). "Melbourne link to China development". World Footy News.
  10. ^ Richard, Aaron (21 November 2007). "Beijing defeat Shanghai and Tianjin found second team in big week for Chinese footy". World Footy News.
  11. ^ 'A death blow to the white Australia policy': Australian rules football and the Chinese community in Victoria, 1892-1908
  12. ^ West Australian Football Commission, 2012, Western Australian Interstate Football Representatives 1904 - 2011 (19 May 2012)
  13. ^ Landsberger, Sam (9 August 2012). "Lin Jong elevated to the Western Bulldogs senior list". Herald Sun.
  14. ^