Well it was that time of the year again when we ventured off to China with a couple of our young committed local lads, to represent Vietnam in the AFL Asia team. President Eric “Kerro” Kerrison has more:

The Main Game (and the Power vs. Suns)

Whilst the warm up game (Port Power vs Gold Coast Suns) was again a less-than-impressive display of skills, the main game between AFL Asia and China Reds was an absolute cracker. It did not disappoint anyone who stayed on to support!

Asia Lions Shanghai 2018

The Asian Lions. Photo courtesy of the legendary Ben Carpenter-Nwanyanwu. 

The skill level of the boys is certainly getting stronger every year: strong marks, accurate kicks and effective tackles are becoming the norm. They’re also getting much better at communicating. Like Dang said:

“We lost to China and we were disappointed, but what we gained is more important. We realized that we – a team from Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Korea and Japan – are able to communicate in the same language of footy. “Ball ball”, “back back”, “pass pass”, “kick kick”… all very simple but really works on the field. Footy is helping us to erase the language and culture barrier.”

What really impresses me is that the local guys are actually making genuine friendships with the rest of the players in their representative team. As they are starting to mingle across cultures, the ‘clickiness’ between countries is disappearing.

Dang and Nas in Shanghai 2018

Mates: Dang (Vietnam Swans) and Nas (Cambodia Eagles). See Ben’s full series of photos from the trip here.

All clubs that sent players across can be so proud of the athletic and social development of their players. It’s a noticeable change, and I look forward to yet again watching the AFL Asia rep team next year in Shanghai, where I am confident that they will take the chocolates.

AFLX Debuts in Shanghai on Sunday

The Sunday saw a great 6-team, 9-a-side AFLX competition take place. This was a fantastic day and again gave the local players more opportunity to get some game time in.

As it was only 9 aside, the AFL Asia players were split up to ensure they all got some quality time. The Vietnamese contingent of travellers, including an ex-President, current President, International Cup best player and a couple of the local Vietnamese guns pulled on the guernsey of the newly formed “Yangshuo Beerfish”.

Matt Gale and Yangshuo Beerfish

Pictured: Oun (Cambodia Eagles), Dang (Vietnam Swans), Matt Gale and Nas (Cambodia Eagles).

Together with a couple of Japanese and Indonesian players, the Beerfish only just missed the Grand Final. Great day out and a successful showcase of the AFLX format here in Asia… not to mention an honourable kick-off to the latest team to be added in Asia.

Yangshuo Beerfish ALFX 1

Yangshuo Beerfish ALFX 3

Yangshuo Beerfish AFLX 4
All AFLX photos courtesy of AFL Asia / Michael Pross aka Anything’s Prossyble.

Another Step Forward for Footy in Asia

Chatting with Dang after the tournament, the significance of these trips and tournaments couldn’t be more clear:

“AFLX is absolutely amazing. AFLX shows me how hard AFL Asia is trying to bring footy to Asia. When the number of players and size of field are smaller, and rules are reasonable for first time players, I believe that it will be played by more people in Asia.

This whole weekend has helped me to have new friends, exchange culture, and broaden my eyes to a well-developed city. It also show me that there are presidents, leaders, sponsors behind do really much to support, to take care of us local footy players as members in a family.”

These events make you realise that, while there is still some work to do to grow the game in Asia, that there are plenty of passionate volunteers and locals who want to make AFL a success in the region.

The Pres Eric Kerro Kerrison