11/03/2009 - 22:00

Dockers leap into Sth Africa

11/03/2009 - 22:00

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THE Fremantle Football Club is confident of securing another three-year licensing agreement with the AFL to operate in South Africa after launching the league's most successful overseas football project.

THE Fremantle Football Club is confident of securing another three-year licensing agreement with the AFL to operate in South Africa after launching the league's most successful overseas football project.

The AFL has tried to promote football outside of Australia for several years, venturing into countries such as the US, New Zealand, and more recently South Africa.

In 2006, the AFL wrote to all 16 clubs inviting them to be involved in the new market in South Africa; only four accepted - Collingwood, West Coast Eagles, Carlton and Fremantle.

Of those, Fremantle's project in Potchefstroom has been the most successful, with corporate partnerships with South African miner Nkwe Platinum, ASX-listed Continental Capital, and boutique airline Air Mauritius enabling the program to happen.

Through the sponsorship agreements, Fremantle has signed up 8,500 members and employed six developmental officers.

"South Africa has been focused on because some of the impediments that you might have in some of the other countries are not going to necessarily be there," Fremantle general manager, strategic partnerships, Darren Beazley said.

"For one, you have a favourable exchange rate, you've got a huge population in terms of 45 million people, you've got some kids playing rugby and other kids playing soccer, and what makes this appealing to the AFL is what we call first-choice athletes.

"We [Fremantle] got into this for three reasons. The first one is very much developmental; we wanted to develop our people, our players and our staff.

"The great thing is it gives people within our club great skills and experiences.

"The second thing was to look at talent. And the third thing was potentially commercial returns. But we've got to be careful with that, we don't want to be seen as a corporate raider, we want to be able to see that the money that we bring out of South Africa, we're investing back into that country as well."

Mr Beazley said the project's three major sponsors were strategically targeted so the club could reach the largest audience possible in South Africa and for the program to be viable to operate from Perth.

Air Mauritius WA manager Andrew Gill said the three-year deal with Fremantle included assisting the club with air travel and freight, although the terms of the deal remained confidential.

"Basically for us, it will increase profile of the airline with signage on the ground,'' Mr Gill said.

"The AFL dominates the media from May right through to September so this strategic partnership is highly beneficial for Air Mauritius because very much so, it raises our profile also in the WA market."

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