Contributed by: Aaron Richard Sunday, January 08 2012 @ 08:46 am ACDT
The Southern Dragons[*1] , a footy club based mainly around Melbourne's Asian immigrant community, travelled to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on Saturday January 7th for a tour match against the Vietnam Swans[*2] , a club composed mainly of Australian expats living and working in Vietnam.
On this occasion, it was the Vietnamese from Australia who ran out decisive winners over the Australians from Vietnam, the final margin being 11.14 (80) to 5.6 (36) in favour of the Dragons.
The Dragons play in Melbourne's Southern Football League, where they this year claimed their first-ever senior flag by defeating Mount Waverley in the Division 3 Grand Final. Reflecting the club's depth, the reserves also made it to the decider, although they had to be content with being runners-up. (Herald Sun report here[*3] ).
Approximately half of the Dragons' players are of Vietnamese descent, with the remainder including (among others) Camdodian, Chinese, Thai, Greek, New Zealand and Anglo Australians. One of their stalwarts is Jiaming Pi (aka JP), a native of China who came to Australia as a teenager and is well-known to the international footy crowd for leading the Chinese Red Demons at the last two International Cups. JP is currently a multicultural ambassador for the AFL, provided commentary in Mandarin for the crowd at the ''Shanghai Showdown'' between Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions in 2010, and maintains a blog dedicated to coverage of footy news for Chinese speakers.
Players from the Southern Dragons have trained with the Swans in Saigon, as members of the Swans have with the Dragons in Melbourne - "Damo" Judd from the Vietnam Swans even having played a match with them. In July 2010, four of the Southern Dragons joined the Swans and Vietnam Veterans at the MCG for a formal prematch function with the Sydney Swans, photos of which can be seen here[*4] .