Hardie Grant Publishing

Helping you simplify your multilingual communications

Football diplomacy – the way to a Chinese leader’s and the Chinese diaspora’s heart.

Multiple Services

Historical Research
Graphic Design

Quality Guarantee

AFL Subject Experts
Cultural Context
Consensus Building

Tight Deadlines

Urgent Turnaround
Urgent Changes
Meeting Launch

Who would have thought that Aussie Rules – AFL – football, could promote friendship and trade! Well, during the 2017 visit by late Premier Li Keqiang, China’s second-most powerful man at the time, he attended an AFL game – in fact the season opening match – between the Sydney Swans and Port Adelaide, “the sporting equivalent of patting a kangaroo”, accompanied by our own Charles QIN, Mandarin football interpreter!

Charles hasn’t divulged which team Premier Li ended up backing although he was at one stage adorned with a black, white and teal scarf and he was accompanied by then Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, who chose the Sydney Swans! Premier Li said “I insisted I get another scarf rooting for the Sydney Swans … on this occasion, wearing two scarves is making me really hot.” Premier Li said via an interpreter (was that you, ever-diplomatic Charles?).

Hardie Grant Chinese Translation Commissioned

Six years later with this history unknown to the publishers, CHIN was commissioned to produce the Chinese version of a book titled Celestial Footy, a 300 pager written (in English) by Patrick Skene.

The book tells the story of Chinese heritage Aussie Rules and early on recounts the first “Celestial football match” held on the Victorian goldfields in 1892 – the miners versus the market gardeners. The book chronicles “the participation and passion of Chinese-heritage immigrants and the obstacles and adversity these men and women have overcome to play the game they love.” (ABC Radio).

Chinese players joined with Aboriginal players to establish a team during White Australia Policy days and Mr Skene’s book divulges stories of 60 Aussie Rules players of Chinese background right from the beginning up to the present. Skene told SBS: “We are fed the stereotype that the Chinese were just here for the gold and they didn’t really involve themselves in local affairs… but through these stories, a very different picture emerged.” (SBS). His book, titled “Celestial Footy”, comes from Australians referring to Chinese as “celestials” or “children of the sun” during the goldrush era.

Another tale we loved was that the first Chinese-Australian football team born in Ballarat in the early 1900s was called the Rice Eaters. There was also a player by the name of Billy Wong who helped the small Victorian country town of Mooroopna win the local premiership in 1896; ninety years later, his great grandson, also Billy Wong, helped the same town to the premiership again!

More recently Aussie Rules has been played in Shanghai on a number of occasions and the AFL and various clubs have cultivated Chinese footy fans with special days for international students, Chinese-themed games and even Mandarin commentary; they are also developing programs to attract players from Chinese backgrounds.

With this rich background and lots more to learn, CHIN was thrilled to be commissioned to translate the book in Chinese.  There was a lot to take in and our team was excited at the prospect.

Aussie Rules Chinese Translation Challenges

But what to call Aussie Rules? Back in the day, CHIN was involved in explaining Aussie Rules to visiting Chinese groups – we called it Aoshizuqiu, (Australian football) to distinguish it from Zuqiu (or soccer as it is commonly called in Australia). There was also ganlanqiu, which was more like ‘rugby’ or American gridiron? But once the game landed in Shanghai, it became 澳式橄榄球  (Aoshiganlanqiu)

Marcus LIU, CHIN’s Language Manager, captained the project to translate, design and layout and complete this work by the deadline for its launch and entry into the collections of passionate football fans, historians, and soon to be more Chinese converts to Aussie Rules! Our team of translators and editors became experts in footy, its history, its personalities and stories. 

Some challenges in the project that were identified:

  • Translating names from the 19th century is not easy as many of our immigrants’ names were changed on entry to Australia and they did not have Chinese characters to express them. Some followed the Chinese order of Family name – Given name, some treating each character as a name; sometimes given name became family name that was passed on for generations. The names of people or places were recorded based on the dialect the person spoke, which could be a variation of Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien or dialects from other regions and areas.
  • The challenge of translating specific historic stories – a huge amount of research was required to find out the full story behind the words. One sentence about one person sometimes required us to look up the life story of them to find out the right expression.
  • Translating words that originally were translated from Chinese in history back into Chinese – e.g. ‘celestial’ – the Chinese translation of ‘Celestial Footy’ the book’s title –  there can be many possibilities and it was a challenge to find the right term that reflects that period of history.
  • Lots of slang – “ballsy move” comes to mind
  • How to deal with derogatory terms like “hit the Chink”

Gege YUAN, translator and now football guru, coordinated an expert team of translators, typesetters, editors, researchers and proofreaders to deliver the work on time (and it was a very short turnaround) and on budget.

At the book launch at Carlton Football Club, the author praised CHIN’s work in front of a crowd of around 200, including current players, descendants of the early Chinese footballers and footy fans. Some attendees couldn’t wait to read it (the Chinese version). We hope you like it too.


With over 30 years of experience you know you’re in safe hands

We believe that our language solutions should be made to fit your needs. Every language project is unique. Whether you need to:

  • Translate your materials,
  • Interpret for a meeting, or
  • Market a service or product.

That is why we place a high priority on understanding your goals and your desired outcome. These can include knowing your audience, the languages needed, your budget, and the deadline. We do all this before we translate or copywrite the first word.

Working with us is easy as 1, 2, 3.

Step 1

First, talk to our local Australian team on
1300 792 446.

Step 2

Send us your documents or brief, and we'll prepare a quote.

Step 3

We'll keep in touch with you throughout the work and deliver by your deadline.


Services that enable you to communicate across languages and cultures​

For more than 30 years, we have been the gold standard for translation, interpreting, and Chinese marketing. We have you covered whether you need to speak in another language, prepare written translations, or want to market to Chinese people in a way that is respectful of their culture.


Got a question? We’d love to hear from you


Level 4, 221 Queen Street, Melbourne 3000
GPO Box 2231, Melbourne 3001

P. 1300 792 446
F. 03 9670 0766


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