By Darren Whitfield
I’m pleased to report that AFL CEO Gill McLachlan, together with the Chairmen of Port Adelaide FC David Koch, and Gold Coast Football Club, Tony Cochrane, confirmed that the first ever game for premiership points outside of Australia or New Zealand will be played in Shanghai on Sunday 14th May 2017. The historic announcement was made at a press conference at the Museum of Chinese Australian History.
The game will be played at the massive Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai, the same venue that the 2010 Brisbane v Melbourne exhibition game was played. In central Shanghai, the historic stadium has a huge grassed area 1.75 times that of a standard AFL field, and is expected to draw a large crowd to hopefully fill the 15,000 seat capacity. The extra space on the field will be made available for corporate tents and the like.
Photo: Port Adelaide players Tom Jonas and Chinese recruit ChenShaoLiang at Jiangwan Stadium earlier this year. (courtesy PAFC)
A whole weekend of Australian themed activities is planned, an Australian food and wine expo, travel tourism expo, and education expo are all planned to accompany the event. Brand Australia will be on show and the Australian Government are on board to be involved in these events. David Koch sent out the call to businesses that would be interested in being involved.
AFL Asia are also proud to announce that we are preparing to play a tournament in Shanghai that weekend (Saturday 13th May) to co-incide with this history making event. Many AFL Asia clubs have already pledged their interest in the weekend, details of the AFL Asia tournament will be made available once the grounds are confirmed.
It is also hoped that Auskick will be played at half time to showcase some of the Auskick talent from China and possibly Hong Kong and beyond. There are many AFL Asia clubs and National Teams from around Asia vying for the spot of curtain raiser game if it’s made available.
Photo: Port Adelaide Power AFL team with TEAM CHINA in 2014. (Courtesy PAFC)
Along with the many programs in South China with schools and Universities, there are now 12 high schools in Shanghai that are now teaching AFL in their school sports curriculum, now that AFL has been recognised by the Central Government as an approved sport. Chinese players from TEAM CHINA’s proving ground the Guangzhou Sports University have been employed to assist in coaching these students. We hope to see more expansion of this process around other regions in China.
Port Adelaide FC have full-time development officers employed in China, including Guangzhou Scorpions ZhangHao, and four full time staff working on China and the Shanghai game project. Port Adelaide’s Andrew Hunter is leading the charge in China and was named the “unsung” hero of the venture by Chairman David Koch.
Port Adelaide General Manager of Marketing and Consumer Business Matthew Richardson stated “There has been an enormous amount of work go into this, and there is even more to come, but on behalf of everyone at the Port Adelaide Football Club I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your efforts and support in the development of this crazy dream. Hong Kong Football Club, PAFC Business Luncheon, 16th May 2014, it all started at that point. Andrew Hunter has then come in and done a quite incredible job, amazing really when you consider all the elements, will make quite a story one day I’m sure!”
Port Adelaide Football Clubs Media Release is provided below:
Port Adelaide to host historic first game in China
Wednesday 26 October 2016
The Port Adelaide Football Club will make history as the host of the historic first AFL Premiership Season game in China.
The Power will travel to Shanghai’s Jiangwan Stadium to play the Gold Coast Suns on Sunday May 14, in a game that will be broadcast back into Australia by host telecast partner Channel 7.
The game, which has been the product of more than two years’ work by the Power in conjunction with the AFL and the Government of South Australia, follows on from Port Adelaide’s successful development of a broadcast rights deal with China’s national broadcaster CCTV to show AFL football to the world’s most populous nation during the 2016 season.
The Round 5 Anzac Round game was the most-watched minor round game in the history of the AFL, drawing almost 4 million viewers between China and Australia alone.
Supporting the game will be moves by key partners to strengthen ties to Australia’s primary trading partner.
The Ausgold Mining Group – a Perth-based gold and copper-ore mining exploration and development company – is the official match day partner for the game.
Port Adelaide chairman David Koch said the success of the foray is the result of a two-year target to play premiership season football in China, as well as a longer strategy to establish a footprint in Australia’s northern neighbour.
Playing in China is expected to open new commercial opportunities for the Power as it helps expand the global footprint of Australian football through game participation in addition to an annual match.
That financial opportunity is something that the Power has identified as key to growing into one of the southern hemisphere’s premier sports clubs.
“This is a moment many people thought would never happen, let alone as soon as 2017,” said Mr Koch.
“The AFL will become the first elite foreign competition to play a regular season game for points in China, beating the likes of the NBA, English Premier League, Major League Baseball and NFL. That is an monumental achievement in itself and speaks volumes of the strength of the relationship between our two nations.
“This is so much more significant that just playing a game for premiership points on foreign soil. This is a landmark moment in the development of Australia’s sporting, cultural, political, economic and tourism ties with China.
“The appetite for AFL football in China is even stronger than we could have imagined when Port Adelaide began forging relationships there.”
A full audio/visual file of Mr Koch’s press conference with AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and Gold Coast Suns chairman Tony Cochrane will be available on portadelaidefc.com.au later.
What they said…
David Koch, Port Adelaide Football Club chairman
“Before the 2016 season we struck a deal with Central China Television to broadcast three games into China plus a weekly documentary featuring the development of our Chinese recruit Chen Shaoliang and highlights of each AFL round.
“The audiences for those initial games (of up to 4 million people) far exceeded our expectations and saw CCTV expand its coverage to broadcasting an entire AFL game every week.
“To get to the stage we are at now is thanks to the incredible amount of work already done by so many people within the Port Adelaide Football Club, The AFL, the Governments of both China and Australia, The Gold Coast Football Club and our business partners, in particular Mr Gui with ShanghaiCRED and Ausgold, the Chinese owned gold mining company operating in Broken Hill.
“The Ausgold story epitomises what this venture into China is all about and the potential it represents. Sally Zou, the CEO of Ausgold, saw a Port Adelaide game broadcast on CCTV in China and enquired about the club. Ausgold is now Port Adelaide’s official match day partner for this game against Gold Coast.
“But this is not the end, this is really only the beginning, and the hard work really starts now.
“Our commitment goes so much further than just playing one game in China each year. The game of Australian football is becoming accessible to Chinese people from every walk of life as we continue to roll out education and participation programs in Chinese schools and universities. We are also making significant investments in Chinese social media platforms WeChat and Weibo.”
The Hon Jay Weatherill MP, Premier of South Australia
“It’s fantastic that Port Adelaide’s dream of an AFL match in China is now officially a reality.”
“This is a history-making step for the Port Adelaide Football Club and a pivotal moment for South Australia’s relationship with our biggest trading partner.
“This is about more than a match of football.
“Sports diplomacy is an important part of our strategy to deepen our links with the world.
“Port Adelaide’s partnership with China will help increase awareness of the South Australian brand, open doors for businesses, attract investment and create jobs.
“The State Government has already committed $250,000 towards a 25-episode documentary series called The AFL Show, which is produced by Port Adelaide to help raise the profile of South Australia in China.”
Sally Zou, Ausgold Mining Group CEO
“The Ausgold Mining Group are delighted to be the official Match Day Partner for the historic first AFL game to be played for premiership points in Shanghai.
“This game will be an exciting highlight of a new long term partnership with the Port Adelaide Football Club which will see Ausgold proudly supporting the Club and our respective communities in Adelaide, Shanghai, Broken Hill and across Australia!
“We are very proud to be involved in this ground breaking venture!”