In a first for young footy fans, members of the local Indian community were welcomed to the Adelaide Crows Football Club for the first ever Next Generation Academy – India Engagement session.
On 11 August, the Adelaide Crows got together with Multicultural Communities Australia to organise an introduction to footy training sessions. More than 50 people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds attended the first training session. Youngsters 15-19 years were particularly encouraged to participate and attend training sessions.
The session started with an introductory talk by Crows CEO Andrew Fagan, followed by a tour of the AAMI stadium, the Crows’ home ground. Then the young ones learnt footy rules and then had a full-on training session just like the Crows do!
It was all part of plans to popularise Australian Rules Football internationally. AFL is encouraging clubs to grow and spread and many clubs are eying the Indian subcontinent to popularise the game.
The Crows are in partnership with Essendon for this vast market. The two have already played an India-themed game in Melbourne. They are now eyeing a pre-season match in Mumbai or Delhi as part of a plan to capture the hearts of the Indian community.
Both clubs say they are committed to improving resources in India to develop and strengthen the local competition. They are already looking at the possibility of broadcasting games on Indian TV and are open to exploring the opportunity to host exhibition games.
But Fagan insists that a game is not paramount to the Adelaide Football Club’s international strategy. “Our strategy is not reliant on a game being played in India – or any other international market,” Fagan told reporters. “Our objectives are with business exchanges and game development. We are exploring with Essendon to see how we can work together in a partnership in India. Whether that leads to an exhibition game is not the question today.”
“India already has a great connection with Australia by way of cricket, tourism and education with international students here in Adelaide. Adding Australian football to that mix is a natural extension,” he added.
According to Essendon, the partnership with the Crows will have two clear strategic objectives: to increase participation and engagement with the Indian community in Australia, and to grow and develop the game of AFL in India. They are committed to improving resources on the ground in India and to develop and strengthen the local competition.
Over the next three years, the two clubs aim to develop a range of joint initiatives including AFL India Game Development Program, cultural awareness, development of strategic partnerships to increase participation and awareness of the game in India as well as facilitating businesses to invest further in Australia.
Thus, both clubs have a strong focus off the field too, beyond Australian football. Adelaide Football Club hopes to be working in four continents: Australia, Europe, the US and Asia.
However, with the Indian sub-continent in the spotlight now, youngsters in Adelaide who play or are interested in footy, have a great opportunity to fulfil some rookie dreams!