Melbourne: The Australian Football League (AFL) is all set to foray into Indian market by playing two exhibition matches in early next year apart from scheduled Collingwood-West Coast game in South Africa.
AFL has selected two preferred venues to play the games - Feroz Shah Kotla cricket ground in New Delhi and Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, according to a report in ‘The Age´ newspaper today.
While Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has denied his club’s participation on Indian soil due to existing South African commitments, three other clubs - Richmond, Essendon and North Melbourne - are reportedly lobbying for the first game to be played in India’s capital.
“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 said, adding, “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.”
Essendon chief executive Peter Jackson confirmed that the club has been negotiating for months to play in India.
“It’s no secret we would love to go,” Jackson said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity, and would fit right in with our club’s history of developing the game with different cultures and communities. We would even make a financial contribution to meet some of the costs if required,” he said.