Dear members and supporters,

In the end it was probably a bit of an anti-climax, but I can tell you there was a great sense of relief, satisfaction and above all pride when the AFL finally confirmed what the Australian PM had promised in April this year… we are playing in Shanghai in 2017!

The details of the game have been widely reported, and if you need to know more, I would encourage you to read this.

Not so well explained perhaps, is why we have embarked upon this journey, and what it means to our club.

Yes it’s new. It’s exciting. It’s history in the making, and it will be a blast for our players to play the first ever game for premiership points in the heart of one of the most amazing cities in the world.

But it means much more than that.

At the heart of our decision to take on this monumental task, was the acknowledgment that for Port Adelaide to continue to be the club we all expect it to be, we needed to find a way to grow.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as aware as we are, of the position that Port Adelaide commands in the footy world!

To those not closely associated with the club, we are very often seen as the smaller of the two AFL clubs, which reside in a relatively small city, playing a game that is only played in Australia.

There is widespread acknowledgment of our history of punching well above our weight when it comes to on-field success, but you get the picture - it’s very easy for Port Adelaide to be minimalised by people outside of South Australia.

For an ambitious club, competing against significantly bigger and more financially advantaged opponents, it was clear we needed to play a bigger game. Our ability to provide the elite facilities and resources required to ensure long term on-field success depended on it.

The question was how?

We already enjoyed fantastic, loyal support from the Port Adelaide faithful, both from a membership point-of-view and in corporate SA.

Our recent strong push into the national market has attracted wonderful partnerships with quality organisations such as Renault, Energy Australia, Oak, Four’N Twenty and many others.

We secured a strong stadium agreement at Adelaide Oval and hold the privileged position of having the most engaged members and supporters in the AFL backing our club.

And yet with all that, Port Adelaide remains in the mid-range of the AFL in regards to its financial position - financially safe, but not prosperous. Capable of competing strongly, but perhaps not of consistently finding the edge that often means the difference between winning and losing in one of the most intense competitions in world sport.

Port Adelaide wants to be the club that is always pushing the boundaries to find a way to win premierships. Always finding ways to do things differently and better to give our players an edge.

Our history is full of stories of hard work, adversity, and spirit… but it should not be lost on us that some of the very best innovators in the modern game cut their teeth here at Port Adelaide: Mark Williams, Alastair Clarkson, Phil Walsh and Darren Burgess readily come to mind and there are many others.

Creating a winning edge through creativity and innovation takes more than great minds, you have to build an environment that enables great coaches and players to maximise their talents. You have to provide them with the tools they need to succeed.

Enter China. It is Australia’s largest trading partner, strategically important to South Australia. It is the world’s most populous country and largest economy sitting right next door.

These were obvious and compelling drawcards but the risks were just as clear: A different language, distance, no footy heritage, sport is not as culturally important to the Chinese as it is to Australians and we kept being told that doing business in China was ‘different’.

We had no idea what that meant.

So we weighed it up and decided to quietly move forward. First into Hong Kong through our great friends at the Hong Kong Football Club, who extended a guiding hand and tried to explain what we were getting ourselves into whilst gently encouraging us forward.

Through this association we became aware of Team China. In the true spirit of ‘give before you take,’ we offered to sponsor their involvement in the AFL International Cup in 2014 and again in 2017. A star was born - Chen Shaoling - who has developed into a great ambassador for our ‘Open to the World’ campaign.

We sought advice from the SA Government and worked together to promote the virtues of our great state through the excitement of our great game.

Enter Loretta Lai and the marvelous Mr Gui Goujie of Shanghai Cred.

Following Loretta’s generous introduction to the club, Mr Gui fell in love with the game, Port Adelaide and encouraged us to think bigger.

“I want to take this wonderful game home as my gift to Shanghai.”

The challenge of playing a premiership game on Chinese soil was issued and accepted… and the rest is history!

Having now officially announced the game is on, we can begin the process of promoting our club to a broader audience.

An audience which has already started watching Port Adelaide on television sets and mobile devices right across Australia and China. They will be learning about our club and our players in high schools and in universities throughout southern China. They will be watching Chad Wingard perform trickshots on Weibo and Wechat and in bus and train shelters.

We will be hosting trade delegations for businesses and government representatives and using sport diplomacy to encourage friendship and trust between our two communities. The living example of how sport diplomacy works was when the Port Adelaide family wrapped its arms around Team China on their last visit to Australia and welcomed them to our great club. These are powerful images that Andrew Hunter and our dedicated China team, have used extensively to reinforce the power of using sport to break down cultural barriers.

It’s working.

Yesterday, we welcomed another outstanding company into the family. Ausgold, a mining company with interests in WA, Queensland and Broken Hill, heard about Port Adelaide and its Chinese ambitions and sought us out. Yesterday, through their dynamic leader Ms Sally Zou, Ausgold was announced as the official partner of our ‘Open to the World’ campaign and match day partner for the Shanghai game in another major partnership with our club.

There will be more.

Our China Engagement Strategy is about building friendships and commercial partnerships with the Chinese community both in Australia and in China.

It provides Port Adelaide with a uniquely powerful point of difference, not only in the AFL, but in Australian sport.

It makes us bigger and more compelling as a partner.

It enables us to grow and support our all- consuming ambition…

To Win Premierships and Make Our Community Proud.

We’ve only just started, but yesterday was an important day for our club.

Bring on 2017!