AFL prospect looking to be ‘an ambassador for footy in China’

The AFL has made no secret of its desire to grow the competition in China.

A home-and-away game was first played in Shanghai three years ago, and Melbourne battled the Brisbane Lions in an exhibition match there back in 2010.

But the best way to grow a sport in China is by having a genuine marquee player – just ask NBA purists what Yao Ming did for basketball in the communist state during his hall-of-fame career with the Houston Rockets.

The AFL has never had anyone with a Chinese background become a star.

But Eastern Ranges product Connor Downie could change that.

Part of Hawthorn’s next generation academy, the left-footed wingman says it would be ideal to land at the Hawks in next week’s AFL draft.

But several clubs have expressed interest in Downie and there are no guarantees he will be playing under four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson next year.

Prospective draftee Connor Downie is hoping to end up at Hawthorn and be a Chinese AFL role model. Credit: AAP

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