Did you know that Australian football was probably the first western ball sport to include Chinese participation? Now having merged cultural and social aspects, it’s a whole different ball game.
Excitingly, Dongguan Blues is the first Chinese Australian football competition team in China, founded by Darrell Egan. Darrell commented, “After giving football training workshops in schools in Macau from 2010 to the middle of 2011, I created the first Chinese Australian style football (澳大利亚风格足球) competition team in China. In 2012 our team pushed for the emergence of more Chinese teams, which led to other teams being created in late 2013 in Guangzhou. In 2012 an Australian journalist and football supporter interviewed our team actually.”
Not so long ago, Darrell promoted the sport with Australian historians, claiming that Chinese participation in Australian style football started in 1892, in the gold mining town of Ballarat.
Darrell said, “Our team shares a link with the Carlton Blues team in Australia which had the first professional Chinese player for the team in 1908, with a family link back to the Australian goldfields in the 1800s. Australian style football initially took its inspiration from an aboriginal game called Marngrook, which was a keeping’s off game played with a possum skin ball.”
Tom Wills—the inventor of the modern sport—witnessed this aboriginal game as a child among aboriginal children in Central Victoria and combined elements to make up what it is today. It differs from British rugby and U.S. gridiron and is less impacting than those sports. The sport includes skills from basketball, rugby, volleyball and soccer. According to research, of all western ball sports in the world, Australian football is very likely to be the first with the participation of Chinese people.
It differs from British rugby and U.S. gridiron and is less impacting than those sports. The sport includes skills from basketball, rugby, volleyball and soccer.
In 1892 a game was played at the Eastern Football Ground in Ballarat, between a Chinese team of gold miners and a Chinese team of gardeners. The gardeners’ team won by four goals. There was also a Chinese style ceremonial procession through the Victorian Country town at this time. According to Darrell, “It was a time of difficulty for Chinese people in terms of being accepted by the Anglo Australian community and this effort by the Chinese community to put on this event was remarkable.” The coach of the Dongguan Blues team, Lu Tuwang joined Darrell in traveling to the football ground where this historic game was played to promote a key part of history with historians in the Australian media. Lu Tuwang spent three months undertaking football development with the Monash Blues University team in Australia.
Ian Koochew has been a great supporter of the Dongguan Blues team. His grandfather, Wally Koochew (Gaozhu Weili) was the first Chinese professional player to play with the all Anglo Australian Carlton Blues team in 1908. Coincidentally, Darrell Egan’s great uncle, Alex Barningham started training at the Carlton Blues team in 1908 and would have likely met Wally Koochew (Gaozhu Weili). How rather uncanny! Wally Koochew’s father, James Koochew played in the 1892 Ballarat game for the winning gardeners’ team. Anyway, boldly and without any Chinese language skills, Darrell introduced the team with Lin Honghui whom is now the team manager. Darrell is currently the Australian liaison manager for the team, providing the team with training and motivational support. Lin Honghui gained support from Darrell to undertake three months football development in Australia, landing him his coaching qualification.
Darrell Egan commented, “I have put together a football and education exchange program with a college in Australia that has degree level sports development, which can be attached to the development of the sport in China.” He added, “We have created 46 pages of adapted playing rules and competition structure rules, in which we seek contact and engagement with sports departments and school participation in China.”
Their objective is to share and empower local sports organizations with Australian style football in the journey of evolving this sport. Darrell added, “It is our hope that such a shared development journey will be the basis of good cultural and social relations and understanding between both countries. We look forward to and welcome sponsorship interest and co-operation with government sporting departments. Also, we are seeking middle schools who will be interested in our development exchange program.” For further information or to contact Darrell Egan, scan the QR code in the center of the left-hand page, and send a message saying “Australian football.”