Hong Kong kids have a ball on Adelaide's field of dreams
Updated 21 July 2014, 16:02 AEST
Story and Images: Peta Astbury
It's every kid's dream to play their chosen sport in front of a big crowd and for a group of young Aussie Rules players from Hong Kong a half time game in front of 46,786 AFL fans at Adelaide Oval, saw their dreams come true.
The Hong Kong AusKickers are barracking for the home team on Adelaide Oval - "Go Power!" Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
Chairman of the Port Adelaide Football Club - David Koch - is helping the club to build links with China. Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
The kids get to ask Port Adelaide player Lewis Stevenson some tough questions before the game. Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
The Hong Kong AusKickers forming a Guard of Honour for the Port Adelaide players. Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
The Hong Kong AusKickers will run out to the field from here. Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
The Hong Kong AusKickers get some attention from the crowd while running around the boundary line. Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
Hong Kong Dragons Head Coach Brian Jackson, surveys the teams from the middle of Adelaide Oval. Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
Hong Kong AFL AusKicker - Cooper, kicks! Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
It's a serious game out there! Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
Hong Kong AusKicker Sam in action! Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
Playing in the Dragons jersey - it's Max G in action. Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
Hong Kong AFL AusKickers - it's a ball up in the little ones match. Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
And he's down! The Hong Kong AusKickers are competitive on Adelaide Oval! Image: Peta Astbury (Credit: ABC)
AFL football is played widely overseas with international participation estimated at more than 100,000 participants. There are clubs and links with the game all over the world. In Hong Kong, the local team the Hong Kong Dragons was established 24 years ago. It currently has a membership base of 50-60 adult players participating in the South China Australian Football League and 400 children in the the AFL junior AusKick program.
AusKick, the AFL's development program is popular with both boy and girls both in Australia and abroad. The half-time AusKicker game, where AusKick associations are invited to play on AFL grounds during senior matches is a traditional part of the spectacle and an unforgettable experience for all involved.
At the Port Adelaide versus Essendon game on Saturday July 5, 45 children aged between 4 and 14 years and their parents travelled from Hong Kong to Adelaide to take part. The junior players wore jumpers from their four local Hong Kong teams as well as Hong Kong Dragons and Port Adelaide strips.
Chairman of the Port Adelaide Football Club David Koch says the club has been building links with China for some time, and regularly invites Chinese students who are studying locally in Adelaide to experience Port Adelaide games.
"Links like this are not only important culturally for Chinese students studying here in Adelaide but also (important) commercially as well," he says. "There is an increasingly large Chinese business community here in Adelaide and also Chinese based businesses having operations here. The Port Adelaide joint major sponsor - Energy Australia - is owned by Hong Kong based CLP Group, so 'Port Power' and 'China Power' - it's an alignment made in heaven!"
Of the Hong Kong AusKickers David says: "It's a terrific link between ourselves and the Hong Kong AFL community and for them to come down and have the experience of playing on Adelaide Oval in front of 50,000 people is something special for them and it's something special for us to have them here."
The AusKickers we met certainly agreed:
Max, 9 years old
Max is pumped and ready for the game!
Max is 9 and was born in Hong Kong. He has been playing AFL football for 4 years and he says its been a lot of fun. He plays all positions, but hoped that he could play forward in the AusKickers game to try for some goals. When asked about playing on Adelaide Oval, Max says: "I'm a bit excited and nervous but I will enjoy it out there." Max is looking forward to the crowd cheering him and kicking a goal, with his parents looking on. Max says that there aren't many children in Hong Kong, apart from Australians, who know about AFL.
Jeremy, 13 years old
Jeremy in the tunnels before running out onto Adelaide Oval
Jeremy is 13 and plays half-back, he has been playing Aussie Rules football for about 10 years. When asked about playing on Adelaide Oval, Jeremy says: "I am excited about it and really looking forward to it. It will be really good fun!" Jeremy is hoping for a win. Jeremy says that children at his school in Hong Kong have a general idea of AFL.
Max G, 12 years old
Max G taking some time out in the rooms before the game
Max G is 12 and plays mid-field. He has been playing for 5-6 years and is a Port Power supporter. When asked about playing on Adelaide Oval, Max says: "I am very nervous but I am excited too. I am excited about the Guard of Honour and seeing all the players." Max is also excited about being a 'half-time hero'. Max attends a Canadian school in Hong Kong and says the children at his school don't know much about AFL
Sam, 6 years old
Sam, ready to play under lights
Sam is 6 and plays mid-centre. He has been playing for 2 years. When asked about playing on Adelaide Oval, Sam says: "its exciting [and I'm] a little bit nervous." Sam is most looking forward to scoring goals and getting the ball. Sam says that the children at his school know a little bit about AFL and he has tried to explain the rules to them before.
Cooper, 5 and Max, 7 years old
Cooper and Max are looking forward to playing on Adelaide Oval
Cooper is 5 and Max is 7. Cooper was born in Hong Kong and has been playing for 2 years. Max has been playing for 3 years. Max plays forward pocket and Cooper plays forward. When asked about playing on Adelaide Oval, Cooper says: "that it will be good", and Max says: "it will be great!". They are both looking forward to kicking some goals. Max says that some of the children at his school know about AFL.
Henry, 7 years old
Henry is no stranger to AFL football - his uncle Matthew Allan played for both Carlton and Essendon
Henry is 7 and plays both forward and back. He has been playing for 3-4 years. When asked about playing on Adelaide Oval, Henry says: "I'm excited. I like running on big fields - I feel confident. I did it last year at (Melbourne's) Etihad stadium." Henry is looking forward to playing and kicking the ball, and winning! He says that there are some children who know about AFL at his school in Hong Kong.
Oscar, 4 years old
Four year old Oscar thought it was very special forming the Guard of Honor with his Grandfather - Port Adelaide Football Club Chairman David Koch
Oscar is 4, he has been playing for a little while. When asked about playing on Adelaide Oval, Oscar says that he is hoping to kick a goal - "you kick the ball so high and if you kick it in you score points". Oscar says that the children in his school don't know how to play, but he has tried to teach them.
Angus, 11 years old
Angus training before the half-time game
Angus is 11 and plays in the backline. He has been playing for around two years. When asked about playing on Adelaide Oval, Angus says: "I'm a bit nervous and scared but excited". He is looking forward to kicking a goal. Angus says that he has tried to explain the rules to his friends, but they didn't really understand.