Contributed by: Ash Nugent Friday, November 23 2012 @ 08:45 pm ACDT
As mentioned in Tigers Expanding AFL Territory Across India, AFL India is preparing for the first ever inter-city football tournament in India, to be held in Kozhikode this December.
AFL India held an official media launch for the tournament in Gurgaon last week, where they announced OGM (Oil and Gas Mining) as a major sponsor, and the company's ambassador, former Australian Test cricket captain Steve Waugh, as the tournament's patron.
AFL clubs Richmond, Essendon and GWS and Big Bash club the Melbourne Stars all sent in signed jumpers as auction items, which have assisted AFL India raise money for the tournament.
Read on for the Official Press Release.
India's First Australian Rules Football tournament - A dream come true for players and organisers
Players from Mumbai, Calicut and Madurai middle will don AFL (Australian Football League) jerseys and boots next month in the first national level Aussie Rules Football competition to be played in India.
The tournament comes after a three-year campaign by AFL India (the governing body of the sport in India) to promote the sport and combines the work of Global Community Sports and Reclink Australia to introduce the game at the grass roots level, with patronage from Australian cricket legend Steve Waugh and sponsorship from Australia Unlimited and Perth-based Oil and Gas Mining Institute.
For the players, the tournament provides opportunities they could only have dreamed of such as travelling interstate, mixing with people of different backgrounds and being pioneers of a new sport, said Lincoln Harris, India coordinator for Reclink Australia.
"The tournament is as much about Footy (popular nickname of the sport) as it is the individual and social benefits that come with being part of a team,’’ said Harris. "Aussie Rules is a great leveller, but it also empowers people.’’
Harris’ Mumbai teams were brought together by his love of the game and experience seeing Reclink Australia draw people together. Reclink Australia is a charitable organisation whose mission is to provide sporting activities to enhance the lives of people experiencing disadvantage.
Madurai team coordinator Rick Shrowder, whose company Global Community Sports runs a programme that captures and shares the experiences of young people in different countries being introduced to Aussie Rules Football, says that the game could easily win over players in India, both male and female.
"Australian football requires very little equipment which makes it ideal for small communities who have limited resources – we’ve seen this with soccer’s success in Africa. The fast paced high scoring nature of the game also makes it popular with all age groups,’’ he said.
Rajeev Tharani, Secretary of Kozhikode District Olympic Association has been the driving force behind the teams from Calicut, apart from the various other sports he manages for the Olympic Association of Kerala, with support from P. A. Hamsa, Secretary, Kerala Olympic Association.
The tournament, which is an outcome of continuous support from the Australian Trade Commission in India, will include training sessions for players and umpires, as many as 10 games played in a round robin format over 2 days and a grand final.
AFL India’s Chakraborty, who is also captain of the team representing India in AFL, the Indian Tigers, sees the tournament raising awareness about sports other than cricket and hopes participation can expand to eight states, a regular national competition and school programs within five years.
Apart from the short term prospect of being crowned national champions, players will be appraised for selection to the Indian Tigers to play in the next AFL International Cup, along with the opportunity for one participant to travel to Australia for a footy exchange program. With so much to play for there is sure to be true grand final atmosphere on the day.