Playing for Australia
Australia's football history with Asia didn't just begin in 2006 when admitted to the Asian Football Confederation. The Australian football story stretches back more than 150 years through the presence of Australians at the birth of the modern game in England. British migrants established football in Australia and the game grew with the arrival of more immigrants who became players, spectators and officials. But when the time came for the Australian game to find its own identity, and to express it through its national team, the Anglo-Australian relationship failed. Instead, it was Asia that played a key role in the development of Australia's national team in its first two decades - and Australia played a significant role in Asia. Links with Asian neighbours suggested other ways to make progress on the international stage. While Australia flirted with FIFA and Olympic football, it was clear London still called the shots. Australia's football stagnated while top Asian teams reached new heights. Trevor Thompson’s book Playing for Australia – the First Socceroos, Asia and World Football compares Australia's experience with other paths taken by football's leading nations in the Asia Pacific region, and gives an account of big matches, tournaments, and key players on and off the field in Australia and Asia up to the Second World War. When it comes to balancing Australia’s football history with geography, it’s not an issue of being British, European or Asian, but forging a uniquely Australian identity.
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