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GAIL Convention highlights AFL's growing international appeal
Written on the 21 July 2014 by scotch
This article by Ali Clarke (Football Writer) appeared in 'The Advertiser', 12 July 2014.
LAST night’s crowd at Adelaide Oval had a distinctly international flavour with more than 50 overseas students on hand to cheer on the Crows. The children are here as part of the inaugural Global Alliance for Innovative Learning conference hosted by Scotch College.
Visiting from New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, China and India it’s fair to say they don’t quite understand our game just yet. “It’s been quite fantastic to watch these kids from all over the globe interact and learn from each other,” said the conference’s co-ordinator Abhra Bhattacharjee
“You see the Indian kid wanting to play cricket, the South African kid wanting to play rugby and then you’ve got all these Aussie kids trying to teach them about AFL.”
They also had a lecture from Crows chairman Rob Chapman on the difficulties of taking the AFL global.
“We can genuinely see the day we’ll play the game for points in somewhere like South Africa, Malaysia, China or Indonesia as it’s just a natural extension of the league’s expansion into the northern states,” he said.
“I think once those teams bed down in say, the next five years, it’s the next logical step.
“The Crows’ discussions over the past three or four years have revolved around Malaysia and Indonesia mostly because of proximity and the inter-reliance with Australia for trade. Steven Trigg and I even went over there to look at ovals and potential club areas a few years ago.”
Adelaide has already identified it will have to travel a bit further afield if it is going to make the most of an increasing interest in overseas talent identification.
While their first international recruit Brian Donnelly signed in 2008 but returned home after failing to break into the Crows’ senior side, Chapman says they cannot ignore a widening market.
“People have stated we would be foolish to ignore the US talent pool and while in the past we’ve targeted Ireland, we need to start thinking a bit broader and cast our net a bit wider,” he said. While this type of player identification is limited by cost and he acknowledges poorer clubs will be hampered, he still does not think it should come under the equalisation umbrella.
“At this stage because some of these clubs are being pioneers and taking risks and heading to those markets, we should be incentivised to go that way, not penalised,” Chapman said.
The AFL’s international and national talent manager Kevin Sheehan says the league aims to get six-to-eight international players onto lists ever year by targeting Ireland, New Zealand and the US.
“The US is an emerging market and we got there looking for the ruckmen and tall defenders the like of which can compete against blokes like Aaron Sandilands,” he said.
“We’ve four now on lists from the States and one of them is the biggest bloke tested in the history of our testing.”
He refers to the 211cm Mason Cox, who had three clubs chasing him before settling for Collingwood.
Photo: Crows defender Rory Laird with international students Vivian Wang, Matilda Wiech, Rocky Jiang, Connor Welsh and Khanyi Ndala who cheered on Adelaide against Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval.
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