Australian football gathers steam

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2007, 12:00am

To promote Australian Rules football among Hong Kong's youngsters, the Australian Rules Junior Football Club of Hong Kong organised a tournament at Tin Kwong Road sports ground on Saturday.

The Junior Dragons played an inter-club game as the lead-up event for the Hong Kong Dragons senior football club's match against Jakarta Bintangs at the Kowloon venue.

The Hong Kong Dragons won by nine points.

'We're really happy with the way the programme has come along in Hong Kong,' said organiser, Tanny Sutton.

'Australian Rules is a major sporting code in Victoria where we come from. Our family really missed Auskick when we came to Hong Kong because our kids enjoyed it so much.

'We weren't really sure how much demand there'd be here for something like Auskick, but I guess we shouldn't have been surprised by the amount of interest.

'It's a programme that's proven to be a terrific way for kids to develop their general ball, co-ordination and teamwork skills, while having fun with their friends.

'We've now got kids from soccer, rugby and other sports who love it. It's also become a great community of families.'

To continue the programme's development locally the Australian Rules Junior Football Club of Hong Kong and a modified competition for 13- to 15-year-olds - under the name of Junior Dragons - was set up earlier this year. But the game is run by volunteers and built around family involvement.

Auskick is held every Saturday morning in Kowloon during May, June and August (to coincide with the Football League season in Australia).

The Auskick development programme started in Hong Kong in 2004 when expatriates Rod and Tanny Sutton decided to test the level of interest in the city. With the support of a handful of other volunteers, the programme has been steadily gathering steam and this year it boasts about 100 children. Auskick, aimed at boys and girls aged 5-12 years, combines the ball-handling skills of basketball with the teamwork of soccer.