Contributed by: Graeme Carey Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 11:33 am ACDT
Further to our report Football's home ground in Tianjin, more details have been reported in Melbourne's Age newspaper regarding plans to build an Australian Football stadium in Tianjin, China. The article says that Thomson Perrett, a golf course design firm, now has design plans for the ground which will be the first purpose-built Aussie Rules ground in the giant Asian nation.
The story did point out that there is grass-roots support for the game, with matches already played on smaller venues. Tianjin, 137 kilometres south-east of Beijing, has a population of over 10 million. It was interesting to note that the report cites AFL community facilities manager Ken Gannon as saying the ground would host Chinese and Asian championships.
"This provides a home for some of the activities that have been taking place," Gannon said. And for those worried that the AFL might be spending Aussie footy money overseas, this is another example of leveraging other sources of funding, with the article saying, "The AFL was not contributing any capital to the development".
China, India and Japan, were the three Asian teams to compete in the 16-nation Australian Football AFL International Cup last month. China was the only Asian nation to participate in both the Asian Championships in Singapore (through a mostly expat-Australian side) and the International Cup, events which unfortunately this year were held concurrently.
Gannon said the AusKick program was operating in China and about 10,000 junior footballers were participating.
Thomson Perrett principal Ross Perrett said different grasses (fescue rather than couch), irrigation systems and soils would be used at the Chinese ground to Australian grounds.
"We're intending to get the earthworks done before the winter freeze and following that, they're anticipating to be planting grass next April; ready to play on next August or September."
Given the ongoing development of the game in China it is to be hoped that the existing clubs in Beijing and Shanghai can synergise with the builders of the stadium, and the AFL community facilities management group to further develop the game in the most populous nation on earth.
The full article, by Adrian Lowe, is China to get its first real footy ground[*1] . Similar reports also appeared in other mainstream Australian media.