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Red flag no barrier to footy in China

  • Wednesday, May 23 2007 @ 06:15 am ACST
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The prospects of Aussie Rules putting down some permanent roots amongst the locals in China are looking more and more positive, with the Melbourne Football Club continuing its exploration of commercial interests and confirming that footy has been accepted into several educational institutions. Getting government sanctioning is important in all countries, but none more so than in (partially) Communist China.

Key outcomes from a 10 day visit by Demons officials, the Melbourne City Council and the AFL included:

- visits to Beijing, Shanghai and Melbourne's sister city Tianjin

- commitments from several Chinese education, health and sports authorities were secured to allow the introduction of the Australian game over the next 12 months

- interest from large television broadcasters in adding AFL coverage to their schedules - up to 15 players will be heading to China in October to run clinics and training seminars for expatriate and local players

- continuing to examine possibility of playing an exhibition match next year in Tianjin

- plans to bring one or two players back to Melbourne to train with the club and learn to deliver training programs

- again affirming the hope to have China represented at the 2008 International Cup, with perhaps 16 countries expected

Melbourne chief executive Steve Harris was quoted on Real Footy in Demons' diplomacy charms China as saying "... we received confirmation that Australian football has been been granted state endorsement for schools and universities to play. The Tianjin education commission committed to having Australian football in 10 junior schools, 10 middle schools and three universities by the end of this year".

"Through a national fitness and wellbeing campaign, known as the Sunlight program, which aims to offer every child one hour of physical exercise per day, schools and universities will be supported if they opt to add Australian football to their curriculums.

"All of which opens up the need to train and teach more locals about the game and its various forms of development programs, such as Auskick."