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Olympic business -

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Mick O'Regan: Let's head back to Beijing, but not to the crowds clambering for seats in the Birds'
Nest or waving the red flag at the Water Cube.

Beyond the lane markings and behind the scenes are a lot of other people hard at work in the
Chinese capital.

They're networking big-time, using the extraordinary pulling power of the Five Ringed Circus to
meet and greet, and make a business deal.

Peter Grose has been working in Beijing for a few years, with his firm ABT Creative, establishing
corporate connections between local firms and Australian business.

For him, the Olympic Games provide a very special business opportunity.

Peter Grose: I think what happens during the Games is it's a great opportunity for companies that
have been doing business and have been developing connections up here to cement those
relationships, but also to foster new relationships and expand their opportunities in this market.
And it works both ways. It works on the In and it also works on the Out. The Chinese are very keen
to meet with and develop relationships with Australian companies that are coming to the Games, so
it works on both parts.

Mick O'Regan: Now obviously the connection with China commercially over the last, well quite long
while now, has been through the export of raw materials and resources, particularly for China's
burgeoning economy. The focus of the sorts of meetings you have, is it less to do with raw
materials and more to do with events and technology and developed products?

Peter Grose: Really the whole range. A particular focus of our own company is actually for the
Australian government, for Business Club Australia, which really is a networking opportunity for a
whole range of diverse sectors of businesses - financial, clean energy, mining, health, and over
the period of the two weeks, we're setting up a large Club Lounge which is called Business Club
Australia and that takes over a floor of the Hilton Hotel, and businesses will be creating
networking opportunities within that environment. There'll be forums, presentations, and obviously
a lot of the Ministers from the various sectors within Australia will be in part hosting those
particular events.

Mick O'Regan: Now those events, are they to build markets and to develop markets within China, or
at a meeting like that, would you get representatives from all sorts of other countries beyond
China who would also be interested in developing commercial links with Australia?

Peter Grose: The primary focus is China. There may be others coming, but the primary focus is the
China relationships, and sport's always been a great glue for social networking. It's just a great
opportunity for people to be able to get together in a more relaxed environment that holds forums
and holds serious discussions and I think that's an important part of doing business in China, is
that unlike relationship marketing that you hear of in Australia where you win a business
relationship with a client and then you work on that relationship, up here you do it the reverse.
Here, they want to get to know you, they want to feel comfortable with you as a person, but also
your company and its values, and they build a relationship in these social environments before they
cement a deal on doing business with you.

Mick O'Regan: Now Peter, you talk about sport being a glue, but is there a difference between sport
networking at the sort of meetings you've organised, and the more conventional and familiar notion
of sports marketing where the companies might buy naming g rights on a jersey or a stadium or a
product, something like that? How is the network distinct?

Peter Grose: Well networking is much about countries, as much about industries, and even as much
about even cities, and there are cities, countries and business industry groups promoting
themselves here as a collective group. And I think that's an important difference. It's not about
just sticking your name on a jersey or having a promotional ad with a sport in the background, it's
really about being able to promote companies and industries as a group.

Mick O'Regan: And I suppose there is simply no other opportunity like the one that the Olympics
affords, to do that on the scale that can really make a difference?

Peter Grose: Well the Olympics are the greatest show on earth, and certainly attract a high level
of interest and a high level of involvement from people at the top end of the business scale.
There's I think the World Expo does that as well, and coming up to 2010 in Shanghai, China will
have another focus of the entire world on them again when the Expo comes here. And that will no
doubt involve quite a lot of sporting events as well.

Mick O'Regan: Right, no doubt. Can I ask you, when the people, particularly Chinese people, come to
these meetings, is there largesse on the part of the Australians who organise it? Do the Chinese go
away with some sort of showbag of Australian products, or services?

Peter Grose: Well within the BCA Club they are in an environment where they can see, hear and talk
about Australia and Australian businesses, so they experience that within the environment that they
enter, more so than the thing that they take away. I think the important thing is how you follow it
up, and how you develop those relationships rather than giving away showbags.

Mick O'Regan: And from your point of view, what are the criteria of success? What are the measures
that will show that these meetings and the effort and money put into them have been well spent?

Peter Grose: In simple terms, probably increased trade, and Australia has ways of measuring that.
In intangible terms, just the development of more links and better relationships between companies,
governments and industries.

Mick O'Regan: So Peter, do you have to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Australian sport and
Australian Olympic sport in order to break the ice with sports-based conversation?

Peter Grose: No. The conversation is always about business. The sport is the spectacular that glues
it together, that enables you to come together as a group, but the conversation is generally about
business.

Mick O'Regan: And the other thing I'm interested in: in those conversations, are you dealing
directly with the businesspeople from Beijing, the Chinese businesspeople, or is there the
ubiquitous presence of a Party official that he or she would necessarily be part of any discussion?

Peter Grose: It depends on whether you're dealing with a State-owned enterprise or whether you're
dealing with a private enterprise obviously. But at the sort of functions that certainly BCA is
holding, you're dealing with people at the top level. There is a cross-section of State-owned
ministerial representation within certain meetings, so there is a representation for State-owned
enterprise, but there's also quite a representation of entrepreneurial and individual companies as
well.

Mick O'Regan: What's the sense that you get of the knowledge of Australia and Australian business
that's in the heads and hearts of the Chinese people that you're negotiating with?

Peter Grose: Oh, very good. I mean a lot of the relationships have been going on as you'd be aware,
for many years. The reasons for Ministers and others to come up here is really to continue to
develop and grow what is a nation that is growing in at a huge rapid pace. There's obviously a huge
amount of opportunity, both for Australian companies coming into China to bring their expertise,
their knowledge and experience, and develop opportunities within the market up here, but equally so
as China grows, they're growing outward as well, and part of our own process is to help support
those Chines companies that are needing to present themselves on world markets.

Mick O'Regan: You must have a vested interest, Peter, in the Chinese doing very well in the Medal
tally, because I - and this may be wrong - but I imagine that nothing would facilitate a happy
meeting than the Chinese people being able to look at the screen and see another Gold Medal being
slung around the neck of one of their compatriots.

Peter Grose: Yes, well it's a good chance as we keep two tallies, one for the Games and one for the
business, and we'll see who wins more Gold.

Mick O'Regan: Indeed, Gold, Gold, Gold Australia. Peter Grose, thank you very much for being on The
Sports Factor here on Radio National.

Peter Grose: Thank you, Mick, and all the best, we'll see you on the winner's podium.

Mick O'Regan: Peter Grose, from ABT Creative, on the line from Beijing. And if I'm on the podium,
one can only wonder what the event must have been.

Well that's our show for this week. Next week we'll be heading offshore to play the game we started
at home.

Sally Nowlan will report that Australian Rules football is not only interested in the Gold Coast
and Western Sydney, it's got its eyes on Africa.

GAME ATMOS

Sally Nowlan: Now Mtutu, we're standing in the beautiful sunshine here. There's a lovely green
field and we've got the Aussie Rules goalposts up and lots of kids running around, and really, we
could quite easily be in Australia watching these training sessions here. But in actual fact we're
in the South African township of Alexandra, just on the edge of Johannesburg. It's seems like a
pretty unusual place to find kids playing Aussie Rules. So just go back a bit and tell me how this
all started.

Mtutu Hlomela: AFL football in South Africa started back 11 years ago when we had the Australian
Defence Force up in the north-west. They took some time in running coaching clinics in the rural
areas of the north-west, there were some very keen people from the north-west government who wanted
this game to be part of their province basically. And that's how it all started, and around about
the same time, South Australian Office for Rec and Sport with the Western Cape Department for Rec
and Sport in Capetown, they were looking for a trainee to come and learn the game of Australian
Rules football, learn the game and come back and teach South Africans the game. And I was
fortunately that person.

Sally Nowlan: What is it about it that you like so much?

Mtutu Hlomela: You know if you want to compare it to the other sports, it is the most spectacular
game in the world, and there's no doubt about that. Some of the things that happen in the game, you
know, the spectacular marking, the long kicks, the long bombs when people kick goals, you don't get
that in soccer, you don't often get draws in football, where in soccer you get lots and lots of
them, and you waste your money to watch a soccer game. But in football there's always a winner and
a loser, there's hardly any draws, it's a spectacular game, there's always something spectacular in
a game, and that's what people want to see.

Sally Nowlan: Eleven years down the track, here today we've got hundreds of schoolkids with their
coaching clinics going on. Just how big is Aussie Rules in South Africa these days?

Mtutu Hlomela: Since last year we've established what we call the Footywild program. We're now not
only available in the North West province where it all started from, now we've got four provinces
around the country, the Western Cape down in Capetown, in Durban, the north-west as well as
Gauteng, with just over 8,000, 9,000 participants across the country, and we're looking by 2009 to
get about 30,000 participants by then. I know it's very ambitious, we'd like to promise less and
achieve more and 30,000 is a very conservative number.

When you think of the number of kids that do not have the opportunities in South Africa, and that's
our target, that's our market, the kids that do not have opportunities from soccer, from rugby,
from cricket, from tennis; we're targeting those kids. It's not that big at this stage, but in the
years to come we will change the face of sport in this country because of the way we do things, not
because it will become the biggest sport in South Africa, but we would like to see us becoming the
best run sport in this country.

Mick O'Regan: Changing the face of sport in South Africa. More on African Rules football next week
in Sally Nowlan's report. And wouldn't it be fantastic to imagine that one day there'll be another
sporting rivalry between a Springbok Aussie Rules team and a team representing Australia; something
to look forward to at least in our minds.

Thanks to the production team of producer Andrew Davies and to our technical producer this week,
Costa Zouliou.

I'm Mick O'Regan, thanks for listening. I hope you'll join me again for another edition of The
Sports Factor here on ABC Radio National.