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A great story mixing Junior Auskick Players from Vietnam and South Melbourne FC and AFL ASIA’s Vietnam Swans and Cambodian Eagles.

From AFL VIC:

AUSKICKERS ON TOUR IN VIETNAM
A group of young Auskickers have returned from Vietnam after a once-in-a-lifetime trip to help spread the word about Australian football.
July 17, 2015
For South Melbourne Auskick Coordinator David Wolf it was an idea that grew legs, and eventually wings.

Wolf and five sets of father and sons have just returned from Vietnam after completing a mission to spread the joy of Australian football and NAB Auskick to South East Asia.

After talking to one of the dads of a local SMD Auskicker, who just returned from living in Vietnam and was part of a unique Auskick program in the nation’s capital, Wolf started to plot a very different type of footy trip.

“We realised there was a strong connection between the Saigon Swans and South Melbourne Districts through the Sydney Swans (formerly South Melbourne) and the plan was hatched to take a squad of SMD Auskickers over to experience AFL in Asia and also promote the game,” he said.Vietnam2

“The concept was strengthened last year when I travelled to Vietnam and spent a few hours one night kicking a footy in the middle Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) with my son.

“Having 15 local kids watch on with total confusion but then join in was terrific, and it was amazing how language barriers quickly disappeared.”

“After seeing the massive smiles on their faces when we left the football with them, I was convinced we (SMD Auskick) could do more to grow the game in Vietnam.”

While on holidays, Wolf also caught up with Saigon Auskick Coordinator Kevin Hornblower, handing over the 30 footballs and kick-starting a now flourishing international relationship.

“Over the past twelve months we kept in touch and earlier this year we received formal invitation to attend the Saigon Swans Auskick clinic then later that day play an exhibition match at half time of an AFL Asia Cup match,” he said.

After months of planning, six South Melbourne Auskickers and their dads made the journey, taking their love of Australian football along for the ride.

“It was certainly a little more appealing holding an Auskick clinic in 30 degree weather instead of five, and in the end there was about 35 local kids and our group that took part,” Wolf said.

“Then later in the day we held a clinic for local kids from Ho Chi Minh to come and try, and to see our nine-year-old boys overcoming the language barrier and teaching boys and girls about how to kick and handpass a ball was just incredible.”

Wolf and his group of junior and senior ambassadors also took to the streets to hand out footballs and were again amazed by the joy it brought he kids and how days later they could be found still playing kick to kick in the streets.

To cap off the remarkable trip, the SMD Auskickers, with a couple of imports, also took to the field at half time of the AFL Asia Cup match between the Cambodian Eagles and Saigon’s Vietnam Swans.

Wolf said the trip had exceeded their expectation and the benefits were endless.

“A few people have asked about the point of taking a group of Auskickers to Vietnam but for me the benefits are obvious.”

“Our kids live in a very fortunate environment and it was the experience of a lifetime for them to see how children in other countries live, and how important sport is to them.”

“We were also able to promote the game in a country that there is a massive opportunity for football to grow, and after seeing how much joy it brought local kids, I’m now more convinced than ever that is the case.”

Plans are already in place to bring a group of Vietnamese kids out for a massive football weekend earlier next year, and for a return trip with a new bunch of South Melbourne District Auskickers later in 2016.

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