Preview by Chris McAsey
With a huge geographical spread across China, the Reds bring together players from Beijing, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Xiamen.
Guangzhou Scorpions president Michael Ouzas says that while training together is difficult, local clubs in each city have been training twice a week to gear up for the Champs.
‘Club captains chat regularly to provide updates on player progress and performances.
‘The Reds don’t have the same expat presence of other teams in the region, but we’ll be showcasing talented local Chinese players who are keen to represent their country.’
Team China last entered a team into the Asian Championships back in 2019, so it’s a few years since the squad has played together outside China.
‘There has been a huge leap in the skill development of locals since the squad last played in an international competition,’ he says.
‘Lots of hard work has been done by all the coaching volunteers to provide opportunities for locals to develop.
‘We aren’t quite ready to become a powerhouse, but we want to show the AFL world that Team China is back, stronger and eager to compete and show of our skills.’
Team China doesn’t have a full women’s squad yet, but all clubs are inclusive and women participate regularly in training.
One of many training hubs across China, at the Reds have come together from six different cities.
Gun players to watch out for
The majority of the team are hardened Team China players who have travelled and played together previously.
Standout players include ferocious captain Whisker Lin from the Guangzhou Scorpions. Whisker’s, whose skills and and on-field leadership are exceptional. Howard Zhang, known as the GOAT of Chinese football, is donning the Reds guernsey again and will be a strong presence across half back at the Champs.
The Beijing Bombers training in 2023 ahead of their players joining Team China.
The local talent
The Reds’ new players are excited about travelling and playing with their mates in Thailand. Five debutants are joining the squad, including University Seagulls ruckman Xie Linhong. Linhong has a big tank and will provide lots of drive out of the middle.
The Guangzhou Scorpions cohort of 2023 Asian Championships players.