Adelaide to Shanghai: Taking Australia’s game to the world
On February 19 , Wakefield Press held a book launch for Andrew Hunter’s Port Adelaide to Shanghai: Taking Australia’s game to the world.
This book was notable for having started as a Master of Arts thesis in the Department of Asian Studies under the supervision of Prof Purnendra Jain and Dr Gerry Groot and later with important help from Prof Nick Jose from Creative Writing.
The book details the long and often uncertain path that turned the idea of working with China to host Australian Rules Football, into a reality. From inception to realisation took years and numerous visits together with some luck and eventually high level support from Prime Minister Turnbull and Chinese counterparts. Success was never certain until the final signing of contracts and the conclusion of a substantial sponsorship deal from Shanghai tycoon Gui Guojie and his Shanghai CRED company. Port Power subsequently played games for AFL points in Shanghai.
There is much which is remarkable about the success of the this venture. While a substantial portion was undoubtedly due to the untiring efforts of Andrew Hunter, long a proponent of sports diplomacy and former professional volleyball player, the support of the club and subsequently its fans also played a significant part. That it was South Australia’s Port Adelaide, of all the AFL clubs, which was able to pull off this initiative is still underappreciated but points to the possibility of future successes, for both Port and other AFL clubs. It is also an example of South Australia achieving something that few would have expected and would assume could only occur in the more populous eastern states.
Also notable were the number of Adelaide University staff and graduates present, many of whom had contributed to the project over the years. Quizzing Andrew Hunter, the Port Adelaide Football Club CEO Keith Thomas and former captain, Tom Jonas, was Australia China Business Council head Sean Keanihan of Norman Waterhouse Lawyers. Sean also learnt Chinese in the Department of Asian Studies as an undergraduate.