Last Friday, 22 August 2014, The Age published an article by Martin Flanagan regarding Brian Dixon’s mission to take Australian Rules to the world.
An excerpt from the article is reproduced below.
Brian Dixon’s wife Carmel describes him as a passionate, stubborn man and says his feeling for Australian football is “like a love affair”.
Ever since I can remember, Dixon has been championing the idea that Australian football should be an international game. It’s led to him being regarded as an eccentric, a bit of a footy nutter, in the way I imagine Tom Wills was viewed in 1879 when he declared it was the moment for Australian football to be taken to the world.
Wills’ idea was to send Geelong and Melbourne, the two oldest clubs, to play a series of exhibition matches in England or, alternately, to send one club to England and the other to the United States, to excite an interest in the Australian game. History suggests Wills’ sense of timing may well have been right.
Dixon and Wills share several characteristics. In addition to having an international vision for the game, they were both champion players. Dixon played in five premierships for Melbourne in the 1950s and ’60s. He would have played in six had he not disobeyed coach Norm Smith and played an inter-faculty game at Melbourne University just before the 1955 finals began…
He says the first time he thought Australian football could be an international game was in 1961 when Melbourne conducted a series of clinics in New Zealand. “The kids loved the game.” That’s what sustains his belief that Australian football can still be an international sport – everywhere he takes the game, kids love playing it. Among the countries he’s taken the game to are Iran, China, India, Argentina, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, the UK, the US, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, Cuba and the West Indies.
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