How to take Australia’s game to the world

Nick Symonds Roar Rookie

By Nick Symonds, Nick Symonds is a Roar Rookie

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    Richmond have had a dream start to 2017. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

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    Aussie Rules is an obscure and little-known sport abroad and the AFL could do more to promote it.

    These are some ideas that I think might help.

    Grand final time slot
    Moving the grand final to a night or twilight time slot would help spread awareness in Europe so people can watch it in the morning.

    Not everyone who watches it will become a fan, but some will. In a continent the size of Europe even small percentages add up quickly.

    In the same way that some people watch the Super Bowl out of curiosity people might tune into the grand final once a year.

    People in England already watch the BBL so maybe they would also take interest in the AFL grand final if the start time was better.

    Music
    As a theme song the AFL should go back to using That’s The Thing About Football.

    Songs like One Day in September, Holy Grail and Up There Cazaly might all be popular but That’s The Thing About Football has the most universal lyrics.

    Tourism
    If the AFL was featured in tourism brochures millions of people visiting Australia will become aware of the sport.

    How can you tell people about Australia and not even mention the nation’s biggest sports league?

    ‘AFL world cup’
    Soccer has a world cup, cricket has a world cup, rugby has a world cup, but Aussie Rules has an ‘International Cup’.

    If players win the competition they want to be able to sing “we are the champions of the world”, not “we are the champions of the international community”.

    Royalty
    Prince Charles is the patron of AFL Europe but I think there could be room for more such roles.

    Princess Mary could be made patron of the DAFL in Denmark and Daniel Ricciardo could be made patron of a new AFL Italia.

    Think of the publicity it would generate if he had a game of kick to kick with the other drivers in the pit lane at Monza.

    Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull

    British league
    The BBC have a section on their news website called ‘Australia news’.

    This could help spread awareness of the sport to a global audience if they cover the AFL and a new league in Britain.

    Teams could come from London, Dublin, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool.

    European league
    A European league could also help to spread the game.

    It would be good if players in Europe could compete in a league that has proper ovals without having to travel all the way to Australia.

    Teams for a European league could come from London, Dublin, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Copenhagen, Rome and Zagreb.

    They could start by playing AFLX on a pair of rectangular pitches at their club and then turn them into ovals when circumstances allow.

    It would also be a good idea for AFL Europe to work with the European Cricket Council to lobby for oval grounds.

    The return of cricket in Germany is a story in itself. The sport is booming because of refugees.

    USA v Canada Super Bowl
    If there was a match between the USA and Canada before the Super Bowl it would get plenty of attention.

    It might even become America’s new favourite sport.

    Euro games
    A final program of sports to be contested at the next European Games in 2019 has yet to be decided.

    If the AFL make a big push maybe Aussie Rules could be included in the list of events.

    World Games
    The World Games are held for sports which aren’t included in the Olympics as a kind of audition.

    Some of the sports include Orienteering, Body Building, Dance Sport, Sumo, Ultimate Frisbee, Tug of War, Korfball and Fist Ball.

    Surely Aussie Rules can compete with sports like Korfball and Fist Ball.

    Commonwealth Games
    Since the Gold Coast is hosting the games next year maybe they can sneak in Aussie rules at the last minute without telling anyone.

    Olympics
    Obviously having Olympic status should be the main objective in spreading the sport globally.

    But should it be in the summer or winter games?

    People in Iceland have played the sport in temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius so cold conditions shouldn’t be an issue.

    It’s also becoming quite popular in Scandinavia to the point that it even drew the attention of Al Jazeera who did a story about it.

    Patience
    Aussie Rules might not take off internationally overnight but one day it will. The AFL just need to do more to promote it.

    Maybe it will still only be a niche sport but it should at least be a niche sport that people know about and can associate with Australia.

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