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Asia footy unites for the first time, reports City Journal

Posted by Vietnam Swans on August 20, 2013

City Journal reports on “Asian footy unites for the first time.”

A week prior to the Inaugural Presidents’ Summit on 27 July 2013, ABC Radio journalist, Alex Robinson interviewed Mark Stennett (now AFL Asia Secretary) and Phil Johns (now AFL Asia President) about the future of footy in Asia for the program, “Connect Asia”.

Alas, the program was canned! Doh!

Alex liked the material and so, notwithstanding the demise of Connect Asia, he has published an article on City Journal titled, which also includes the original radio interview. The article is reproduced below.

Independent clubs in Asia are gearing up to launch themselves as a new look “AFL Asia” if they can get approval.

Just like the formation of many local clubs and competitions in the area, this is the latest initiative from passionate expatriates and locals rather than an effort from the official AFL.

It is the first formal effort for clubs to work together in the region and aims are to unite and clarify the goals Asian clubs and to work together on a number of issues including:

  • Competition structure
  • Major events and cups
  • Auskick and development
  • Sponsorship

The announcement comes after 13 clubs from China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Pakistan, Cambodia, Indonesia and Bornea met together in Bangkok last month at the very first Asian President’s Meeting.

New President of AFL Asia and the Vietnam Swans, Phil Johns was pleased with the outcome, calling it a great success.

“For me, the main thing was the establishment of Asia AFL. Now, we can create some structure and order and coordinate far more effectively for a much bigger result,” said Mr Johns.

“It’s still all volunteers at this stage so that will dictate the speed we can travel at but, we now have a plan going forward. A big achievement.”

In terms of structure, AFL Asia is currently formed of two leagues, the South China AFL and the East Asia AFL. Teams will still compete in these two native leagues but there is a future for cross league competition according to Mr Johns.

“It would be up to the individual leagues as to how they would structure their games. We need to work with what we have and the best people to work that out are the ones on the ground,” he said.

“Going forward, it would not be unreasonable to assume that there would be some momentum to have a play off between leagues. But that would be at a later stage.”

A number of “Super Saturdays” have also been proposed with multiple games being played across Asia on the significant days.These would include rounds on Australia Day and ANZAC weekends, as well as a Rivarly Round.

In addition to senior football, AFL Asia claim they are focused heavily on Auskick and development programs.

Both the Singapore Wombats and Hong Kong Dragons have 300 children registered and the rest of the area is keen to emulate this despite issues with coaching, equipment and financial support.

It has been a big year for AFL in Asia with the debut season of the East Asia AFL.

The league, which comprises many teams from AFL Asia, has been helping expatriates feel connected back home, while growing the game internationally as well.

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