Thursday, August 15, 2013

AFL Indonesia pioneers local 'Aussie Rules' and expands the game in Asia

Indonesia’s three ‘Australian Football' clubs, the ANZ Jakarta Bintangs, Bali Geckos and Borneo Bears, all established by influential Australian expatriates since 1995, have joined the new eastern Asian representative body, AFL Asia.  The umbrella organisation will represent 11 foundation clubs from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Timor Leste, Hong Kong, Macau and China and provide support to two regional leagues, South East Asia AFL and South China AFL.

Australian soldiers photographed playing Australian Football in Morotai, Maluku, in 1945. Indonesia's AFL clubs in Jakarta, Bali and Balikpapan were all founded from 1995. 

The Australian Football League’s International Development Manager Tony Woods welcomed the formation of AFL Asia: “The AFL is very aware of footy clubs in Asia that … are well networked throughout the region and are passionate and committed to promoting footy across the region. They also have increasingly encouraged the participation of locals to play the game. The formation of a single entity, AFL Asia, will make it easier for the AFL to engage effectively in Asia.”

Through AFL Indonesia, the Bintangs, Geckos and Bears have conducted Indonesian derbies, participated in and hosted Asian football championships and pioneered volunteer local Australian Football development in the world’s fourth most populace country.

Indonesian AFL players representing Jakarta-based 'Garuda' squad and the Balikpapan Bears battle for the tournament title on ANZAC Day 2012 weekend in East Kalimantan

With the assistance of Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development-appointed, volunteer football development officers, the Jakarta Bintangs conduct programs in local schools four times a week for up to 100 students and a weekly community based Auskick clinic. Development squads are now in place in Bogor, Cileungsi and Central Jakarta and four junior clubs, Ciluengsi Eagles, Setiabudi Dockers, Kemang Bintangs and Bogor Thunder, participated in the 2013 ANZ Australia-Indonesia Cup. In June, 11 of the local players were selected to form a ‘Garuda’ team to play two Bears teams, also with indigenous players, in an ANZAC Day 12-a-side competition in Balikpapan. The most talented of the Indonesian players are now included with Australian and other expatriates in teams representing the Jakarta club in international games.

AFL Bali Masters hosted annually by the Bali Geckos

The Bali Geckos host the annual Bali Masters, an over-35's 9-a-side event which attracts up to 18 teams from around Australia and Asia. In 2012 the club started its own weekly Auskick junior development program with the aim of holding a junior carnival attracting Auskick teams from around Australia.  The Balikpapan Bears are also conducting an Auskick program in East Kalimantan province.

AFL Indonesia has formed a 500 Club to raise funds to equip and send the first fully indigenous Indonesian representative team of 25 local players to Melbourne in 2014 to compete in the AFL International Cup. The fund was launched by the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia – and West Coast Eagles’ fan – Greg Moriarty in July 2012, and sponsor membership ($500) is invited from Australian Rules followers (johneddy14@gmail.com).

Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Greg Moriarty, launches AFL Indonesia's 500 Club to send first Indonesian indigenous team to the AFL International Cup 2014 in Melbourne

Through its chairman, John Eddy, AFL Indonesia is a member of Australian Sports Group Indonesia (asgi@sportsdynamics.biz) which brings together Australians prominent in Indonesian AFL, soccer, rugby, cricket, hockey, athletics and sports administration. The group is preparing a brief on the Australian sports volunteer experience in Indonesia and its impact on Indonesia-Australia people-to-people relationships.

The Bintangs, Geckos and Bears fund much of their operational costs and junior development programs through their separate annual AFL Grand Final functions. The Bintang’s all-day program, held in a 5-star Jakarta hotel and featuring the live broadcast, guest AFL players and donated AFL memorabilia, is the largest social event for the Australian expatriate community in Indonesia.

Indonesia receives broadcasts of four AFL games every weekend during the season through the ABC’s Australia Network that are retransmitted by all local pay-tv stations and screened at international hotels and pubs in Jakarta and Bali. The AFL’s internet live streaming of all games is also available by subscription.

The Jakarta Hawks (@JakartaHawks) are the only AFL club supporters group in Indonesia. Endorsed by the Hawthorn Football Club, the fans meet to watch live matches at convenient Jakarta venues. The Jakarta Hawks are a sponsor of AFL Indonesia's 500 Club and are a member of the Asia Hawks Network.


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