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Australian Rules football has been accepted as a demonstration sport at this year’s Africa Games despite only one African nation playing it.
A team of indigenous Australians from underprivileged backgrounds will play a one-off exhibition match against a team from South Africa, in the opening week of the September 3-18 Games in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.
The inclusion of the sport in the Games, which are held every four years, is a result of lobbying from Aussie Rules International (ARI), a non-profit organisation aimed at promoting the sport internationally.
They will also run coaching clinics at a simultaneous camp for children from nations throughout Africa, as well as giving away specially-designed guernseys and footballs, in an effort to promote the Australian code.
ARI’s general manager Brian Clarke said the sport was accepted by the Games’ organisers, as they viewed it as a potential positive past-time for African boys and young men.
“We offer an opportunity to channel their aggression into a contact football code, it’s going to be welcomed by African governments,” Clarke said.
The initiative follows the early success of an AFL-driven Australian Rules program for school children in South Africa – Footy Wild – which began in 2007.
There have also been several tours of South Africa by Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) AFL Academy sides in recent years.