Doing business in China, this is [inaudible] the signing of a deal this morning, during the 2017 Season a game will be played for Premiership points outside of Australasia for the first time here in Shanghai. And, Port Adelaide will be one of the teams. This will further develop the AFL code in China by supporting school programs, a Chinese National team, competitions within China and further broadcasting agreements.
I think as we all know, and I say this as a former mediocre rugby player, AFL is the most exciting football code. An enormous field, extraordinary athleticism, it is the leaping, jumping flying game, where the big men fly, as they say, and where possession is everything, possession is everything. It is a game that moves faster than any other, so exciting.
Of course, this Chinese involvement in AFL is far from new, in 1908 the first Chinese AFL player Wally Koochew, his father was from Huangpu south of Guangzhou, made four senior appearances for the Carlton Football club. That trend continues today with players like Lin Jong, who is a talented young Australian mid-fielder of Chinese, Timorese descent, who plays for the Western Bulldogs, and Cheng Shaoliang, who is training with Port Adelaide now.
Now on the 8th of April, China’s national broadcaster CCTV began broadcasting AFL games throughout China. Port Adelaide defeated Essendon, in the first AFL match ever to be broadcast on CCTV, and reached an estimated audience of between one and two million people. This is a very exciting day for a very exciting game, in the most exciting place in the world.
Here we have, we are here in China, this is an extraordinary transformation. I will be talking more about it at lunch time today, but just consider this. Fourty years ago this great country, barely engaged with the global economy, and now it is either the world’s largest single national economy, or shortly will be. It is a remarkable transformation, and Australia is part of this transformation and it is wonderful that our national football game is going to be part of it too.
I am really proud to be here, thank you.
I now invite the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, to witness the signing of the MoU.