AFL European Challenge @ KIA Oval
AFL will return to the KIA Oval this year after the Australian Football League (AFL) today confirmed the Western Bulldogs would meet Port Adelaide on Saturday November 3. In an exciting new development the game will be played as a twilight match.
AFL General Manager National and International Development and General Counsel Andrew Dillon said elite AFL teams would return to London for the first time since Port Adelaide played Geelong at the ground in 2006 to continue to support the development work of AFL Europe in building the profile of the game outside Australia.
“There are now 21 countries affiliated under AFL Europe with more than 4600 players competing in regular competitions across Europe while a large Australian expatriate community in England, primarily centred in London, retains strong links to their clubs at home,” Mr Dillon said.
“The staging of a match between two AFL clubs continues to promote our game internationally and enables us to continue to build the returns from overseas broadcast rights that flow into both game development here in Australia and overseas.”
AFL Europe hosts an annual competition for its affiliated leagues the Euro Cup and combined British Isles and European Continent teams will compete in a curtain-raiser before the Bulldogs / Power match on November 3. Ireland has won both the 2002 and 2011 AFL International Cups, for players not born in Australia.
Both clubs intend to use the match as a key part to the opening of their training preparations for the 2013 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, and will factor in promotional work for the sport in Europe while in London as well as professional development work with visits planned to elite EPL Clubs.
AFL Clubs were first part of matches in London in the 1980s, with matches also played overseas at various times in New Zealand, the USA, South Africa, Canada and recently in Shanghai, China in 2010 as part of the 2010 World Expo.
Mr Dillon said he expected the game would again be heavily supported, in line with all previous matches in London.
“The games in London over some two decades have been extremely valuable in building awareness of our sport, while both the Bulldogs and the Power will be able to tie in a key preparation period for the 2013 season to help develop their younger players in particular.”
Simon Garlick, Western Bulldogs Chief Executive, welcomed the opportunity to participate in the London match.
“The Western Bulldogs are viewing the clash as a unique opportunity to not only promote our great game but to also kick-start our 2013 pre-season campaign by taking advantage of the professional development opportunities overseas – particularly those forged through our education and sports science partnership with Victoria University,” Garlick said.
Port Adelaide Chief Executive Officer Keith Thomas said the club would further enhance its preparation for 2013 by supplementing the London game with visits to leading international sporting organisations including a camp at the Australian Sport Commission European Training Centre in Italy, co-funded by the players and staff.
“For Port Adelaide, this trip is an exceptional development opportunity for our young squad to share the experience of training, playing and learning in some of the most outstanding sporting environments in the world as we build for next year and beyond,” Mr Thomas said.
AFL Europe said it was delighted to see a return of two senior clubs.
“An AFL match in Europe provides our members and fans of the game to see the stars they watch online and on TV each week up close and personal. We envisage great support from our AFL Europe community in attending the match which will further highlight the progressions being made in the growth of the game in this part of the world.” AFL Europe Chairman Glenn Lovett stated.
Surrey County Cricket Club CEO Richard Gould also said they were delighted to host the AFL fixture at the Kia Oval in November.
“The ground has hosted many AFL matches over the years and we are sure that the first game since 2006 will provide as much entertainment for spectators as we have come to expect.
“It has always been a popular and colourful event in our calendar and we look forward to it immensely.”
The AFL have appointed Australian major event company Event Planning Group (EPG) as their event delivery partner for the match. EPG, who have operations in Europe, will plan and manage the London based logistics and marketing of the match.
Tickets on sale from Wednesday 25th July. £5 kids and from £20 adults available at www.kiaoval.com