After an extensive process AFL Asia are delighted to announce that Grant Dooley, Matt Gale, Tom Lashan, Jarrod Roberts and Chia Sabbatucci have been elected onto the inaugural AFL Asia Advisory Board (AAAB). 

With a high calibre field of nominees to select from, the AAAB members were elected by AFL Asia’s Full Members in consultation with Asia Development Manager Simon Highfield. The elected AAAB members will play an important role in assisting Simon in what will be an exciting era ahead for AFL Asia. 

Get to know your AAAB members…

Grant Dooley is based in Singapore and comes with a wealth of experience in the corporate business industry and has played enormously influential roles with the Hong Kong Dragons, Guangzhou Scorpions, Jakarta Bintangs and most recently as a board member of the Williamstown Seagulls in the VFL. Grant was the founder of the South China Australian Football League (SCAFL) and the SCAFL-based Guangzhou Scorpions. With close to 30 years experience in football administration, Grant’s business management experience, skillset and vision for footy within Asia will be invaluable to the new AAAB. 

Grant Dooley and family pictured 2nd from the Right.

Matt Gale was AFL Asia’s most recent President and served in that position for close to 2 years, as well as fulfilling the Coaching & Umpiring Development Coordinator role for the past 3 seasons. Matt has held numerous responsibilities during his tenure centered around managing the Asian Championships, Shanghai Cups, local development, women’s football, and coaching and umpiring education. Matt’s established relationships with the wider AFL Asia community and it’s clubs will create a great sounding board for the AAAB, as will his ability to assist Simon in his role and contribute towards AFL Asia’s major tournaments throughout the year. 

Matt has ushered AFL Asia from strength to strength and his continued involvement will help maintain the momentum.

Tom Lashan’s investment as AFL Asia’s Foundation Sponsor via his company ANS has been a key catalyst behind the AFL’s decision to employ a full-time resource to manage AFL Asia’s day-to-day operations. Tom is based out of Hong Kong and is passionate about the growth of football within Asia. Tom and his ANS team also became sponsors of the St. Kilda FC earlier on in the 2019 AFL season, which allows his brand to grow in the Australian market and also on the big stage in China during the annual Shanghai game. The AAAB are determined to tap into Tom’s business expertise and his network of contacts as AFL Asia aims to build it’s commercial portfolio. 

AFL Asia Foundation Sponsor ANS’s Tom Lashan will bring his business expertise and network to the AAAB.

Jarrod Roberts has fulfilled a variety of roles and responsibilities over the past 10 years with the Thailand Tigers, including a 5 year stint as the club’s President. Most recently Jarrod was one of the key figureheads behind the AFL Asia 2019 Asian Championships tournament and the backbone of the Thailand Tigers Asian Championships Hosting Committee. Jarrod is well respected within the Asian region for his passion for local development and to grow the game on a grander scale. Jarrod will become a pivotal member of the AAAB and his intellect related to managing the Asian Championships will be vitally important moving forward. 

Jarrod and the Tigers team went above and beyond in this year’s Asian Champs and his experience from this and upcoming events will be crucial to the AAAB’s direction.

Chia Sabbatucci’s passion for footy within the Asian region is evident for all to see and is highlighted by the energy she has brought to various roles at the Jakarta Bintangs (AYAD Development Officer & Secretary) and the Vietnam Swans (Vice President & Women’s Coach) over the past 9 years. Chia’s leadership and ability to bring a footballing community together on a journey has been the cornerstone to her success and was ultimately utilized to start the Vietnam Swans Women’s team. Chia’s a strong advocate for the growth of Women’s football and is expected to play a key role in this area and the overall development of the game. 

Chia – on the right – has been a key driver of the Vietnam Swans and AFL Asia’s AFLW emergence over the past 2 seasons.

AFL Asia would like to sincerely thank the previously established committee, who laid the foundations of success and paved the way forward by assisting to establish the newly implemented AAAB. Darren Whitfield has served as President, Vice President and as Treasurer since AFL Asia’s inception in 2012 and has been a passionate advocate for local development during his involvement. Grant Keys is a highly respected and holistically visioned leader, who served as President, Vice President and AFL Liaison Officer over an extended period of time. Cameron Fidler background in accounting and law has been exceptionally helpful during his two stints as AFL Asia’s Treasurer, whilst Greg Hinchliffe is a well renowned and respected leader within the AFL Asia fraternity and has served the previous AFL Asia Committee for the past 2 seasons. 

Asia Development Manager Simon Highfield welcomed the new AAAB members and paid homage to the previous committee by saying; 

“AFL Asia is entering an exciting new era with the formation of the AFL Asia Advisory Board, which will be tasked with providing strategic direction, advice, and action to AFL Asia’s events, initiatives and investment into the future. Those individuals who have been selected on the Board are well-versed and experienced in the region, bringing a variety of skills and ideas that will challenge, adapt and develop the sport through a variety of departments, improving AFL Asia’s business, programs and events. Grant, Matt, Tom, Jarrod, Chia and myself are thrilled and humbled to be able to lead the sport into the next chapter of AFL Asia.”

“Whilst our transition is exciting, we must acknowledge the heritage of AFL in Asia, and without the hard work, passion and determination of many hard-working individuals, including the most recent AFL Asia Committee that catalysed and supported this governance initiative, this opportunity wouldn’t be possible. To that, a sincere thanks and congratulations must go to Grant, Cam, Matt, Darren and Greg on some passionate, voluntary hours spent furthering the game in Asia. It is with thanks and gratitude to have worked with you, and will continue to work for those who will take part in future AFL Asia opportunities, and that we can continue to grow and provide more opportunities to communities across Asia.”

AFL Asia’s new AAAB will meet for the first time this week in a what will be an exciting chapter ahead for the region, with the AAAB aiming to bring a strategic, professional and holistic approach to growing the game more broadly within the region moving forward.