The sport of Australian Rules football will be used to commemorate the ANZAC Centenary across Asia this Saturday through AFL Asia’s massive ANZAC ROUND of matches.
Seven clubs will be hosting ANZAC matches in conjunction with dawn services in some of the most significant locations in Asia where Australian Defence Forces have previously served.
“ANZAC matches have become a special part of playing footy in Asia.” AFL Asia President Darren Whitfield said. “Our clubs and players realise the significance of the day, using it to celebrate the relationship we have with the communities we now live in”.
AFL Asia’s ANZAC games will this year be played on Saturday 25th April in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines.
Headlining this year’s AFL Asia Anzac Round will be reigning Asian Champions the Singapore Wombats’ first visit to Vung Tau for the Vietnam Swans’ 6th ANZAC Friendship Game, following a dawn service at the nearby Long Tan Cross Memorial.
The game will be played once again at the Vung Tau Greyhound track – formerly the Lord Mayor’s Oval where Vietnam Football League matches were held between Australian units from 1966 to 1971.
“Our ANZAC Friendship Match is our biggest game of the year” Vietnam Swans President Grant Keys said. “The history associated with Vung Tau and the support that we receive from the veterans that travel back each year makes this game so special. It defines us as a club.”
In Kuala Lumpur the Malaysian Warriors will be looking to continue their impressive 2-0 start to the AFL Asia season when they will host the Jakarta Bintangs following a dawn service.
The Warriors are the form team in AFL Asia after big away wins against the Swans and Thailand Tigers, with Warriors President Shaun Di Gregorio looking forward to the grudge match against their old rivals.
“We’ve got what will be one of the AFL Asia matches of 2015, two teams evenly matched with lots of history. It’s sure to be an absolute cracker of a game.” Di Gregorio said.
In Thailand the Thailand Tigers will return to Kanchanaburi on Saturday for the 12th annual ANZAC Commemorative Match, with a dawn service and wreath laying ceremony at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery prior to the game. The Tigers will play one of AFL Asia’s newest and most exciting clubs, the Myanmar Fighting Cocks, in what promises to be a fitting and hard-fought contest.
“It’s always a special privilege being able to play an ANZAC match in a place with so much history, and in front of people who were part of that history” Tigers coach Patrick Fitzgerald said.
While Australian ex-pat players continue to dominate Asian footy, a recent focus on local development is starting to bear fruit, no more so than in Indonesia and South China where local players will feature heavily in ANZAC fixtures.
In Hong Kong, the Dragons in conjunction with Port Adelaide AFL club will host an all-Chinese player exhibition game, ANZAC lunch, Auskick clinic for 300+ kids and a special ANZAC Round of the 6-team South China Australian Football League (SCAFL). The SCAFL includes two teams of Chinese players from Guangzhou.
In Balikpapan, Indonesia, the Borneo Bears will face off against the Jakarta Garuda’s, an all-Indonesian team that made their debut at the 2014 AFL International Cup.
In Manila, the Philippine Eagles will also be honouring the day with a special ANZAC round of their PAFL between the Dingos and the Eurekas, who have been battling for bragging rights in Manila since 2005.
In Pakistan several games have been organised across the country to commemorate the day, coordinated through the Pakistan Australian Football League.
For more information about AFL Asia and its clubs visit our website www.afl-asia.com
Photograph: Scenes from the 2014 ANZAC Friendship Match at the Lord Mayor’s Oval, Vung Tau between the Vietnam Swans and Malaysian Warriors (Courtesy of Rock Portrait Photography)
Darren Whitfield, President AFL Asia and President of the South China AFL email@example.com +852 62785069
Grant Keys, National President Vietnam Swans and VP AFL Asia firstname.lastname@example.org +84938438481
Shaun Di Greggorio, President Malaysian Warriors email@example.com +60 17 207 6221
Brendan Cunningham, President Thailand Tigers firstname.lastname@example.org +66-86-704-0888