Scene-setter to grow footy in US


Doren James, General Manager of the United States Australian Football League (USAFL), is committed to growing the sporting relationship between Australia and the United States through Aussie Rules - Australia’s biggest spectator sport.

Born and raised in the USA, Doren has reaped the rewards from his experience working in Game Development at AFL in Melbourne in 2009 and his early exposure to the sport during his study abroad semester in 2001 in New South Wales, which equipped him with solid knowledge of the sport to continue to nurture the sense of cultural exchange and cultural understanding that comes from playing footy upon returning home.  

Doren takes us on his AFL journey in a recent interview with Advance. 

What does your current role involve on a day-to-day basis?

I oversee league administration, manage relationships with key business and government partners and manage planning for our regional and national championships.

Do you think your football experience in Australia has helped to advance your career back home?

Absolutely, the time I spent in Australia, at AFL House, allowed me to gain a unique insight into the AFL’s international strategy, whilst also developing key relationships across the league and community football.

What are the differences between the US and Australia in terms of sports culture?

Australian sports are club and community focused while US sport is primarily focused on school teams. Many Aussies continue to play club sport while most Americans retire from their sport after graduating.

What do you enjoy most in your role?

I enjoy meeting Aussies who are passionate for the sport as much as I enjoy introducing Americans to the sport and watching their faces light up when they see it for the first time. What I appreciate the most is that footy community is very welcoming. I know that wherever I go in the US, Australia or around the world to have a kick I will instantly have a group of new mates.

What was your favorite part of playing footy in Australia? 

Everyone at the club was very supportive and encouraging in helping me to develop my game.

Apart from your football passion, what are your hobbies?

Outside of football, I enjoy camping, running, traveling, keeping up with my 3 year-old son.

Are you a global Aussie who is missing out on AFL and NRL games this season? 

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