After Ricky Ponting helped launch Footy in Kolkata, West Bengal, with a bunch of 150 players participating, the game of Australian Rules Football has now spread to 7 states of India with more than 8500 players who have participated actively in the sport since 2014.
The Indian team which first participated in the International Cup in 2008 went home winless, but got its first international victory against East Timor in 2011 and has also participated in the tournament in 2014 with better performance every time. IC17 will see a fresh set of players with support from the Essendon FC to help get the team perform better.
Brett Kirk’s time in India in 2011 as a part of his world tour encouraged Sudip Chakraborty, a player in the 2008 squad to take the sport seriously and help it grow in the country which makes the footballs themselves. This led to formation of the ‘Australian Rules Football Association of India’, the national governing body of the sport registered with the Indian government and in turn help register state associations to make Footy a nationally recognized sport in India.
With most of the development work done voluntarily, grants from the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian High Commission along with partnerships with not for profit organizations in India has helped the process. Essendon FC very recently got Sudip over to Melbourne to work for the club and help engage Indians in Australia to embrace Australian Football. The development work in India is being led voluntarily by young leaders in every state under ARFAI, for whom Footy brings a new opportunity in their underprivileged lives.
India now has its annual National Championship with all the seven state teams participating in senior and junior divisions to win the titles. Jharkhand Crows and the Bengal Tigers have been the most dominant state teams till date. Very recently, Kevin Sheedy, one of the legends of the sport was part of a trip led by Essendon Football Club to India during the national champs to help identify Indian talent in the sport.
For more information visit - http://aflindia.org/