Why the China experiment is worth the effort for AFL and Port Adelaide
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Following the success of Port Adelaide’s first venture into China, the AFL has confirmed a return bout will go ahead as planned in 2018.

Round 9, Saturday May 19 is the date and once again the Gold Coast Suns will be the opposition despite rumours they did not wish to return.

Let’s hope they hold up their end of the bargain a little better the second time around. With former Power favourite son Stewy Dew now at the helm of the Suns, that’s all but guaranteed.

Now to make it bigger.

Enter SA Premier Jay Weatherill with the announcement his government will support the event after grabbing naming rights for the stadium in Shanghai.

The clash will now be held at Adelaide Arena at Jiangwan Stadium.

The Power is also listening closely to the feedback from this year’s game. More tickets, more shade and more beer were the major issues.

All will be improved, well two out of three at least.

Warm sunny conditions prevailed for most of the day this year and plans are underway to increase the shaded areas.

Hospitality was also a slight problem for travelling Australians and while consumption of alcohol will still not be permitted at seats in the stadium, options are being explored

This event is a learning experience for the AFL and it’s slowly slowly approach as the Power seeks to “Australianise” this experience as much as possible while understanding the cultural differences between the two countries.

The game attracted 10,000 people last year and 13,000 is the target for 2018.

It is a great win for the Port Adelaide Football Club hot on the heels of their trade successes of being able to lure Steven Motlop, Jack Watts and Tom Rockliff to Alberton.

The first two will be looking forward to their first AFL match on foreign soil, with Rockliff having made the trip to New Zealand with Brisbane to take on St Kilda in 2014.

Who wouldn’t.

I was lucky enough to play in two overseas games in the button-up boot days.

The first was a South Australia vs Western Australia game indoors at BC Stadium in Vancouver.

Needless to say the game doesn’t feature in many record books.

A record small crowd of a couple of hundred at best suffered through the contest.

It had been a great experience until game time.

Injuring my knee and flying home for a reconstruction probably didn’t help my memories either.

Game two was for the Crows against the West Coast Eagles at the Oval in London back in 1994.

Now that was fun.

We had trained at the ground the day before, which consisted predominantly of a game of cricket with Andrew Jarman in his whites caught behind for a first-ball duck, much to our delight and his disgust.

This game was well attended and if my memory serves me correctly a much better spectacle.

Those exhibition games didn’t last much longer but they were fun.

The Irish experiment has taken its place but that is also coming to an end. The China experiment is not.

It must be allowed to thrive and survive. History suggests that will not be easy.

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