Australian rules football in China
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.
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
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.
The Guangzhou Scorpions Australian expatriate team was formed in 2010, playing matches against the Hong Kong Dragons and Macau Lightning.
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).
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. 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.
- 2002: Did not compete
- 2005: Did not compete
- 2008: 15th
- 2011: 5th (Division Two)
- 2014: 4th (Division Two)
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).
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- 'A death blow to the white Australia policy': Australian rules football and the Chinese community in Victoria, 1892-1908
- West Australian Football Commission, 2012, Western Australian Interstate Football Representatives 1904 - 2011 (19 May 2012)
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