India next in AFL's expansion: report - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

India next in AFL's expansion: report

19/08/2008 06:33:56 AM Comments (0)

The AFL looks set to stage exhibition matches in India early next year in a new push to establish Australian Rules football in a new overseas market.

National cricket captain and AFL fan Ricky Ponting may be used to spearhead the push, according to Fairfax newspapers.

It's expected the AFL will host two Indian matches in March next year, with North Melbourne, Essendon and Richmond said to be lobbying hard to play in New Delhi and Mumbai.

The AFL has already scheduled a repeat of this year's Collingwood-West Coast match in South Africa and may also host another match in the US city of Miami.

Richmond invited Sujatha Singh, the Indian high commissioner to Australia, to a recent match against Essendon and also hosted Indian Consul-General Anita Nayar to two matches.

"No decision has been made about the teams yet, but we are very keen to go and be one of the clubs involved in the first AFL match played over there," Richmond president Gary March told Fairfax.

"It's a great opportunity. There are growing cultural and population ties between India and Australia.

"The Tigers, being a revered animal in that country, would be a perfect fit for the Indian market."

The AFL will announce its international fixtures in four to six weeks, AFL spokesman Patrick Keane said.

The AFL has recruited Austrade and Melbourne-based Stride Sports Management, co-owned by Ponting, a North Melbourne supporter, to guide the Indian push, Fairfax said.

Austrade's New Delhi commissioner, Peter Linford, has worked with the AFL for months on the deal.

The AFL wants to capitalise on Ponting's profile in India. In May, he hosted an AFL function in Kolkata to sell football to Indian business leaders.

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