The umbrella organisation will represent 11 foundation clubs from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Timor Leste, Hong Kong, Macau and China and provide support to two regional leagues, South East Asia AFL and South China AFL.
The Australian Football League’s International Development Manager Tony Woods welcomed the formation of AFL Asia: “The AFL is very aware of footy clubs in Asia that … are well networked throughout the region and are passionate and committed to promoting footy across the region. They also have increasingly encouraged the participation of locals to play the game. The formation of a single entity, AFL Asia, will make it easier for the AFL to engage effectively in Asia.”
Through AFL Indonesia, the Bintangs, Geckos and Bears have conducted Indonesian derbies, participated in and hosted Asian football championships and pioneered volunteer local Australian Football development in the world’s fourth most populace country.
With the assistance of Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development-appointed, volunteer football development officers, the Jakarta Bintangs conduct programs in local schools four times a week for up to 100 students and a weekly community based Auskick clinic. Development squads are now in place in Bogor, Cileungsi and Central Jakarta and four junior clubs, Ciluengsi Eagles, Setiabudi Dockers, Kemang Bintangs and Bogor Thunder, participated in the 2013 ANZ Australia-Indonesia Cup. In June, 11 of the local players were selected to form a ‘Garuda’ team to play two Bears teams, also with indigenous players, in an ANZAC Day 12-a-side competition in Balikpapan. The most talented of the Indonesian players are now included with Australian and other expatriates in teams representing the Jakarta club in international games.
The Bintangs, Geckos and Bears fund much of their operational costs and junior development programs through their separate annual AFL Grand Final functions. The Bintang’s all-day program, held in a 5-star Jakarta hotel and featuring the live broadcast, guest AFL players and donated AFL memorabilia, is the largest social event for the Australian expatriate community in Indonesia.
Indonesia receives broadcasts of four AFL games every weekend during the season through the ABC’s Australia Network that are retransmitted by all local pay-tv stations and screened at international hotels and pubs in Jakarta and Bali. The AFL’s internet live streaming of all games is also available by subscription.