Aus­tralia looks to reap ben­e­fits of Euro­pean tourists

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Ar­se­nal play a dou­ble-header of friendly matches in Syd­ney this week and the ar­rival of the English Premier League gi­ants is seen as a golden op­por­tu­nity for foot­ball in Aus­tralia. The Gun­ners’ new £52.5 mil­lion ($68 mil­lion) record sign­ing Alexan­dre La­cazette could make his de­but in to­day’s meet­ing with the reign­ing A-League cham­pi­ons Syd­ney FC.

And West­ern Syd­ney Wan­der­ers will then get the chance to mea­sure them­selves against Arsene Wenger’s men on Satur­day at the ANZ Sta­dium. The matches pro­vide greater vis­i­bil­ity to these clubs and can help the sport con­tinue to grow in Aus­tralia, ac­cord­ing to Damien De Bo­hun, the for­mer A-League head. “The tours by Euro­pean clubs re­in­force the pop­u­lar­ity of foot­ball glob­ally. It also gives fans a tan­gi­ble way to con­nect with the play­ers-after see­ing them on their tele­vi­sion screens, they can lit­er­ally touch and feel them when they’re out here,” De Bo­hun, who is now in charge of ma­jor events in the state of Vic­to­ria, told AFP.

“Tech­ni­cally, it also gives peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to see close up the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the over­seas clubs and those clubs can also share some of their in­sights and play­ing and train­ing tech­niques with lo­cal clubs and their play­ers.” Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur played in Aus­tralia last year as part of the In­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­ons Cup, while Liver­pool played a post-sea­son game against Syd­ney FC in May. “It’s great for the clubs to play foot­ball against big­ger and bet­ter op­po­si­tion,” added De Bo­hun. “It gives those clubs an ex­po­sure to the world foot­ball scene, a case in point are the West­ern Syd­ney Wan­der­ers who won the Asian Cham­pi­ons League in 2014. “The tours help lo­cal clubs aspire and play at a higher level in Aus­tralia.” De Bo­hun also said that such matches have helped show­case the tal­ents of in­di­vid­u­als who have since gone on to earn moves to Eu­rope.

One, ex-Wan­der­ers mid­fielder Aaron Mooy, was picked up by Manch­ester City and has since joined Premier League new­com­ers Hud­der­s­field Town.

Goal­keeper Mathew Ryan, once of Cen­tral Coast Mariners, has just signed for Brighton and Hove Al­bion from Va­len­cia while his for­mer club col­league Tom Rogic is now star­ring for Celtic. “The Euro­pean clubs can grow their global foot­print. The big spon­sors of the clubs who have of­fices in this part of the world also want to see the ben­e­fit of play­ing in Aus­tralia and its prox­im­ity to the big mar­kets in Asia,” added De Bo­hun, who helped or­gan­ise the re­cent in­ter­na­tional friendly played in Mel­bourne be­tween Ar­gentina and Brazil. One of the ob­jec­tives of host­ing such matches is to con­vince other lead­ing clubs that the fa­cil­i­ties on of­fer are worth trav­el­ling the long dis­tance to visit. “Hav­ing Brazil and Ar­gentina come to play in Mel­bourne opens the eyes and ears of other clubs and coun­tries to play here,” he said.

“Some coun­tries who will play at the World Cup in Rus­sia next year have ex­pressed an in­ter­est in com­ing to play in our city. There is a clear plan go­ing for­ward.” — AFP

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