2006 Norm Smith Medallist, Andrew Embley, from the West Coast Eagles has signed on as the inaugural coach of The Indochina All Stars, a combined football team of nationals from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.
The team will play its first match in Thailand on Saturday, 16 August as part of the Indochina Cup, now in its 8th year. It is expected that the team will develop over the next three years and compete in the International Cup in 2017 in Melbourne.
Andrew who had an illustrious 15 year career at the West Coast Eagles is excited about getting involved in Asian Football and developing local players over the longer term. Andrew has Anglo/Burmese ancestry with both his Grandparents and Father being born in Burma (Myanmar) migrating to Perth in 1964.
AFL General Manager Football Operations Mark Evans tonight announced Geelong Cats coach Chris Scott would join the coaching panel under Alastair Clarkson for the 2014 Virgin Australia International Rules Series.
Scott, who led the Cats to the 2011 premiership and boasts a career winning percentage of 76 per cent with 69 wins from 90 matches in charge of Geelong, will join Fremantle coach Ross Lyon as one of Clarkson’s two senior assistants.
Evans said he was delighted Scott had accepted the invitation to be part of the Australian coaching structure, as the AFL was determined to gather the best possible resources around the playing group in a bid to regain the Cormac McAnallen trophy.
With the AFL season closing in on finals time the smaller regional matches have come to an end for 2014. In saying that the two Tasmanian venues at Aurora Stadium and Blundstone Arena are still active but are part of a six match deal for footy in the state, as is Star Track Arena (formerly Manuka Oval) in Canberra which has three matches throughout the year.
The matches referred to here are the one-off regional showcases in Alice Springs, Darwin and Cairns which finished last weekend when the Western Bulldogs upset the Gold Coast Suns up at Cazalys Stadium in Far North Queensland.
Now that these matches are done and dusted, it is possible to look at the value of these games. But that value cannot simply be results or money made. When considering value, local aspects need to be taken into an overall equation.
There is an argument from down south that taking clubs away from their home fans is not always a popular move. Some say that the average fan cannot afford to travel to such far flung locations, which is probably true. Even if this results in better TV coverage, there is nothing like watching your team from the grandstands.
The South African Lions finished 11th in 2002, 8th in 2005 and roared up to 3rd in 2008. Their goal in 2011 was to make the Grand Final but they dropped to 5th. 2014 sees them return to Australia with only a few experienced campaigners and some very young talent. Their goal - make the top four and from there have a crack at winning the tournament.
Traditionally the South Africans have played a fast, attacking, but at times chaotic style. A lack of regular club matches has probably deprived them of the chance to consistently experience pressure football every week for a long season, and to practice structured play under real match pressure. But their academy program and the first steps towards a national league are addressing these issues so it will be interesting to see whether the Lions can return to the top four and challenge the best the rest of the world has to offer.
When asked about the likely style the Lions will bring, AFL South Africa National Operations and Local Partnership Manager July Machethe explained "To play entertaining and competitive footy in all of our games".
The Finland Icebreakers are readying for their second International Cup campaign this year, after attending back in 2008. With a relatively small local league and a limited pool of players to choose from, the Finns have been battling to finalise their squad for the tournament, with numerous withdrawals due to finances, injuries, work and family commitments.
However, they have also been able to select Finns playing at clubs in Ireland, the USA and Asia, as well as a handful of Finns currently living and playing in Australia, so the Icebreakers are still optimistic about their chances of making a good impression Down Under in 2014.
Mika Kupila spoke to WFN about the team's preparations and goals.
AFL Fiji return to the international arena with the Senior mens team "Fiji Tribe" and their first ever senior womens squad the "Fiji Vonu" looking to fight for a spot in the final of the mens and womens fixture at the 2014 International Cup.
The Fiji Tribe hope to make it one better and take it to the premier squads such as 2011 Premiers Ireland, Pacific neighbours New Zealand and the powerful Papua New Guinea after claiming top spot in Division 2 at IC11.
Fiji Tribe return a more stronger, skillful but most of all experienced side compared to the side which claimed division 2 at IC14. The new look Fiji Tribe in the black and ocean blue strip look set to fire up IC14 and be a very competitive group of young men.
The Community Round fixture has been released. Clubs across Victoria were asked to apply to host these matches and the AFL reportedly had a very strong response. So much so that many clubs missed out and subsequently made their disappointment known to the AFL and requested to remain as backups should there be any issues with the selected clubs.
Matches will be played across suburban Melbourne and in regional centres including Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong. Some top quality matches that will majorly determine who will battle for the top few places in the mens tournament include the NZ vs USA match as Montrose, Ireland vs Nauru at the QEO in Bendigo and PNG vs South Africa at Geelong.
The three Women's Division matches will be played at Plenty, St Albans and Wheelers Hill.
Nauru is a tiny Pacific Island nation that has the distinction of being the only country in the world that has Australian Rules as its national sport (assuming that status is disputed/shared by several sports in Australia). The capital city is Yaren and the population is just 12,000 but the number of Australian football participants is around 300.
The the national team is known as the Nauru Chiefs and they are a team just below the top tier at the International Cup and capable of stepping up with an upset.
Road to the International Cup
After finishing IC08 in fourth place Nauru were probably a little disappointed to finish sixth at IC11. Coming up against PNG in their second Division 1 match was probably an unfortunate draw, which saw them play South Africa in the 5th/6th place playoff. On form most would have expected them to win that match but they were narrowly beaten by the South Africans. The Nauru domestic competition is made up of six teams that are based on AFL club names and colors. They are the Bulldogs, Magpies, Cats, Bombers, Kangaroos and Hawks. The Bulldogs have won the last three Grand Finals (and were Premiers and Champions in 2012 and 2013).
The senior competition is capped at 180 players (30 on each team). This number is set due to the number of volunteers available and all matches are played on one ground. AFL Nauru President Mathew Batsiua told us "We are thinking of expanding next year to 7 teams meaing that we will have a bye each week. The board will make a decision on that after the cup. Numbers (of people wanting to play) are definitely increasing hence the thinking of expanding to 7 teams next year as many players have been missing out."
The Irish Banshees are the defending International Cup Women's Division Champions. In 2011 they defeated allcomers including Canada in the Grand Final. Their squad was made up of players from Ireland but also a heavy contingent of Irish players who had been playing in Sydney.
There are almost 2 million people living in Australia who have Irish ancestry according to the 2001 Census, and approximately 250,000 Irish Citizens living in Australia. Australians with Irish ancestry form the second largest migrant group after the 6.3m people with English ancestry.
With strong ties like this, it is no wonder the Banshees will again be right at home when they visit Australia for the IC14, in fact less than half the team are making the long haul journey from Ireland with the rest of the squad already based in either Sydney or Melbourne. Having picked up most players through Australian Gaelic football connections the Banshees already have the building blocks for what will be an impressive line up once again.
As a feature of Multicultural Round, Indian AFL fans in Australia will be able to watch Essendon Football Club’s Sunday afternoon game on FOX Footy with Hindi and Punjabi commentary by PRESSING RED. PRESS RED: EMBRACING INDIA will broadcast the game inthe two biggest Indian dialects LIVE from 4.35pm.
To view the PRESS RED: EMBRACING INDIA trailer featuring captain Jobe Watson, click here.Essendon has established itself as the AFL club of choice for Melbourne’s Indian community and PRESS RED: EMBRACING INDIA is another example of the club’s ongoing commitment to grow its relationship with the Indian community.
PRESS RED: EMBRACING INDIA will feature the experienced call team of broadcaster and presenter Manpreet Singh, radio broadcaster Gurtej Singh and special commentary from Essendon captain and AFL Multicultural Round ambassador Jobe Watson as well as a Tom Bellchambers and Alex Browne.
The AFL and Australia Post are inviting up to 30,000 new arrivals to Australia to join in the celebrations this Multicultural Round, thanks to the My Passport to Australian Football campaign.
Round 18 of the Toyota AFL Premiership season will celebrate ‘Many Cultures, One Game', highlighting the contribution multicultural communities make to Australia's Game at all levels as well as the ongoing initiatives across the AFL to engage with new communities and potential fans.
People who hold an international passport can access free tickets to attend an AFL match during Multicultural Round but they must pre-register to download the tickets by visiting www.afl.to/myaflpassport. Tickets are limited so people are urged to register as soon as possible.