Much to the delight of Australian expats and others in Thailand who have become fans of this spectacular sport, the Australian Football League (AFL) season resumed on Thursday (18th March).
In the first game of the season, the reigning Champions Richmond (the Tigers), continued their form and defeated Carlton (the Blues) by 25 points in a fast-flowing open game.
AFL games often feature at sports bars across the country and home tv sets. As one fan says “I can see more direct telecast games in Thailand than I could ever see back home; and the telecast times are very user friendly.”
Depending in which state the games are played, AFL games are typically played from 9 AM to 3 PM Thailand time.
Current Covid-19 restrictions are limiting game attendances to half their usual numbers, but that means around 40,000 fans at the ground rather than double that number during the season with a grand final at the traditional home of the game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground previously attracting around 90,000.
AFL football in Thailand is a fast growing sport under the jurisdiction of the newly formed AFL Association (Thailand). In Bangkok, this year the Thailand Tigers is celebrating a 25th year anniversary. Maybe one day we’ll see the ‘Hua Hin Hurricanes’ in action!
There’s a big game coming up in Kanchanaburi on April 24th between the Tigers and Phuket Power. This will be held on the day before ANZAC Day, an important day for the recognition of Australia and New Zealand armed service men and women in world conflict zones.
Last year saw the inaugural Amarinda Cup played in Hua Hin, an international rules hybrid game based on AFL and Gaelic Football codes. The next edition is likely to be soon returning with discussions underway.
There’s no need to be Australian to be an AFL football fan. This is an exciting, rugged, physical game but without violence either on or off the field. Fans from opposing teams can be at the same bar or sit alongside each other at the ground enjoying friendly banter, an unlikely scenario at that round ball game AFL fans know as soccer!