Cameron excited by 'bold' Giants' American dream

GREATER Western Sydney's idea of playing a home-and-away fixture in the US remains a long way from becoming reality, but the bold plan has the backing of coach Leon Cameron.

Reports in The Age on Monday revealed that the Giants have held talks with the AFL about taking a home game to the US in the future, with potential opponents and a venue yet to be discussed in any great detail. 

A suitable ground would be the biggest obstacle for the League if they went ahead with the plan. 

The state of California looks to be the most preferred given its proximity to the eastern states of Australia, but the USAFL has over 40 teams spread across the country and any match would no doubt draw plenty of support from expats living in the US. 

GWS already has a relationship with a USAFL team in Irvine, California, a city about an hour south-east of Los Angeles. 

Formerly the Orange County Bombers, the club was relaunched as the OC Giants earlier this year.

Cameron said although discussions were only at the preliminary stage, the idea of taking a Giants game overseas was an exciting one.  

"We haven't been shy in wanting to promote our club in different ways, we take three games a year to Canberra, and you've got to look at all opportunities for a young club," he said on Wednesday.

"The thing I like about our club is that we're bold and we want to be aggressive in not only promoting the game, but our footy club. 

"We've got some really good connections in America and we're really lucky in that way, and the AFL clearly likes to grow the game as well. 

"Our club is willing to have those discussions and the AFL is keen to have them as well, so where that leads to I don't really know, but it's great to be a part of."

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Greater Western America: Giants seek USA game

The Greater Western Sydney Giants and the AFL are exploring the novel concept of playing a game for premiership points in the United States.

The Giants have confirmed that they are interested in playing one of their home games in the USA, as a way of growing interest in the club and the game.

While the Giants say the American dream – with California among the favoured locations – is very much in the "preliminary stages" and is a long way from being realised, they have strong support for the concept from financial backers and have tested the waters with Tourism Australia.

'There's significant enough interest from investors and supporters, locally and in the US, to explore the possibility," Giants' chief executive David Matthews said of the American proposal.

Matthews said the club's preference would be to play a game for premiership points – as has previously happened in New Zealand and China – on the basis of offering an overseas market the best version of the game.

"My view is that when we take our game away to new markets you really want to take the product that is best," Matthews said.

"Our preference would be a premiership game. That said, like a lot of clubs we're in discussions with the AFL about their aspirations for AFLX."

The AFL is considering America as a potential venue for their modified version of the game.

The bye round or a game at the opening of the season appeal to the AFL and the Giants as the ideal options for an American game – and the bye round opens up greater geographic options due to the summer climate.

The preference is for a major world city such as LA or New York, but the Giants and the league are open to different locations. The AFL's official airline, Virgin, flies directly to LA. But the chances of playing a 'real' game in the US will depend heavily on whether the AFL and the Giants can find an appropriate ground, since most of the stadiums have smaller rectangular fields.

The USA push has come, in part, at the suggestion of a small group of Americans who have become generous patrons of the Giants.

Our preference would be a premiership game.

David Matthews, GWS chief executive

Matthews has raised the idea with AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and with head of game development Andrew Dillon, while the executive responsible for overseas markets and games in Shanghai, David Stevenson, has just started examining the feasibility of a game in America.

Whereas Port Adelaide has had to find another club willing to give up a home game to host the Shanghai match (initially Gold Coast, now St Kilda), the Giants' contractual deal is for seven games at Giants Stadium and three in Canberra, leaving them the possibility of playing a home game elsewhere.

"In contractual terms, we've got a spare game," said Matthews.

The AFL has previously played exhibition games in the USA, most recently between North Melbourne and the Sydney Swans at UCLA in Los Angeles in 2006.

But the UCLA field has since changed to artificial grass, meaning it is no longer a viable option for a game worth premiership points.

In the event that the logistics of a game in the USA prove too challenging, the AFL has an interest in exporting AFLX to America, where the modified rules can be accomodated on a smaller field.

"USA is an attractive prospect based on their love of sport, connection to Australia and significant trading partner," said Stevenson.

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Welcome to the OC GIANTS

The global expansion of the GIANTS continues in 2019 with the Orange County GIANTS the latest club to don the orange.

Formerly known as the Orange County Bombers, the Southern Californian club will officially relaunch on Saturday, March 9, at Balboa Bay Club, Newport Beach with star forward Jon Patton in attendance.

OC GIANTS President Kosta Condous said 2019 is shaping as a big year for the club in the USAFL.

"Everyone at the club is ecstatic to become part of the GIANTS family,” said Condous.

“We have a proud history dating back to 1998 when the Orange County Bombers became one of the first Aussie Rules clubs formed in the US.

“This new partnership and our re-branding as the GIANTS is a huge opportunity to further grow our great game in Southern California and improve the long term prospects of our club.”

The OC GIANTS are the latest team in a strong network of clubs around the globe including:

South London Giants (England)
Skane Giants (Sweden)
Zaprude Giants (Croatia)
North Leinster Giants (Ireland)
Greater Glasgow Giants (Scotland)
Wurttemburg Giants (Germany)
Copenhagen Giants (Denmark)
South Berlin Giants (Germany)
Notre-Dame-De-Grace Giants (Canada Women’s)
Sydney Giants AFC – Nova Scotia (Canada)
Indianapolis Giants (USA)
Nanhua Giants (China)
Maharashtra Giants (India)
Central Giants (Dunedin, New Zealand)

The OC GIANTS are looking to strengthen their 2019 playing list via a player exchange program and are currently accepting applications from experienced and talented Australian players aged 21 years and over.

Many GIANTS players based in Sydney have enquired about the involvement of Ryan, Seth, Marissa and Summer, who became favourites of Australian fans in their hit TV show named after the beautiful Southern California region over a decade ago.

All parties are still in negotiations.

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