AFL team Port Adelaide Power are hopeful they will be able to play a proper game of Aussie rules football for Premiership points in China come 2017. Zoe Law talked to some Chinese students studying in Melbourne to get their thoughts on moving the sport to China.
Australian Football League (AFL) team Port Adelaide Power has revealed it intends to play a Premiership game in China as early as 2017 as part of its sponsorship agreement with a Shanghai property developer.
In order to promote Australian football to the world’s largest population country, the Power have revealed three of its games will be broadcast on Chinese Central TV (CCTV) — one game between Port Adelaide and the Essendon Bombers was recently broadcast — and will hold various footy training camps and activities in big Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.
While news of Port Adelaide’s venture into China marks a historic moment move for the AFL, Chinese sports fanatics and students in Melbourne aren’t feeling as optimistic about the sport’s chances in the country.
RMIT student Tommy Chen, a supporter of the soccer team Real Madrid, says he is aware of AFL but is “not interested in it”.
This disinterest from Chinese nationals is not new. In 2015, the AFL tried to make a push into the Chinese market by opening its own official Weibo account, updating its less than 600 followers with AFL news in Mandarin.
Despite the league’s best efforts, comments left under the AFL’s Weibo account suggest the sport might not take off, unlike sports such as soccer and basketball which have international appeal and are already popular in China.
As for the Power’s partnership with its new sponsor, RMIT business student Jen Li feels it’s all a ploy.
“[The] AFL just wants to get sponsors from China. I don’t think they really want to introduce footy to China,” she said.
Others however are a little more optimistic such as Jia Song, a design student also from RMIT, who feels “its good to see a new sport introduced to China”.