Opens window for sending email Posted in Front Page News , People of the SMJFL

By Ben Pollard

Josh Barry has gone a long way since his six years as an East Malvern junior in the SMJFL.

All the way to Hong Kong, in fact.

You’ve surely heard about Sydney’s AFL premiership victory this year, but what about the mighty efforts of the Hong Kong Dragons just a month earlier?

Josh, 27, represented the Dragons when they won the Asian Australian Football Championships title in Bangkok, Thailand in August.

If you didn’t know the tournament existed, you may not know how popular Australian football is in the south-east Asian region.

Joining Hong Kong in the Asian Championships were the Thailand Tigers, Vietnam Swans, Malaysia Warriors, Laos Elephants, Jakarta Bintangs, Bali Geckos, Phillipines Eagles and reigning champions the Singapore Wombats.

Josh (the son of current SMJFL board member John Barry) played in the midfield as the Dragons went through the tournament undefeated.

After six matches on a sweltering day at the Thailand Polo Club, the Dragons fought off fatigue to come from behind at halftime and win the grand final against Jakarta.

It was Hong Kong’s first triumph in the Asian Championships since 2007.

“The grounds we played at were amazing, probably the best football grounds I have ever played on,” Josh said.

“I would never have thought that in Thailand. The venue was a polo club, so they can obviously afford good ground staff.”

Josh is an engineer in Hong Kong and just one of a large group of Australians feeding their passion for footy while working in the region.

Many of them are involved in the South China AFL (SCAFL) competition with other players from Asia and around the world.

Josh represents the Hong Kong Reds in the five-team SCAFL, which also features the Hong Kong Blues, Hong Kong Whites, Macau Lightning and Guangzhou Scorpions.

The Reds finished on top of the ladder after the home-and-away rounds and won through to the grand final against the Hong Kong Whites on August 25.

Unfortunately the Reds were well beaten, but Josh was still named in their best players.

It seems the SMJFL can produce footballers for the international stage too.

* If you have an interesting story about what a former SMJFL player is doing now, let us know if we can use it on smjfl.com.au. Please email Opens window for sending emailadministration@smjfl.com.au with any details.