Chicago-Labrador exchange program announced

Saturday, December 18 2004 @ 07:37 am ACDT

Contributed by: Aaron Richard

The Chicago Metro AFL will get a boost next year from the on- and off-field experience of Darren McCumber from QAFL club Labrador. In return, Chicago local Jeremy Morgan will take to the field for Labrador for season 2005. 2004 has been a season of considerable change for Aussie Rules in Chicago. After the Illinois Ironmen folded a few years back, Chicago had two clubs, the Chicago Swans and Chicago Sharks, separately playing and developing footy in the Windy City. This year the two teams came together to found a metro league, the Chicago Recreational AFL, with four teams playing in a league modelled on the Golden Gate AFL established by the Santa Cruz Roos a few seasons ago.

Supporting the new league by way of providing a new set of jumpers were the Gold Coast's Labrador Tigers. Labrador are now working to create a stronger alliance with the Chicago Aussie Rules scene, with the 2005 exchange hoped to be the start of a regular program.

The first Labrador player to take up the offer of pulling on the jumper in Chicago is their 2004 reserves captain Darren McCumber. In addition to his on-field experience, McCumber is no stranger to the challenges of developing footy in foreign territory, having been a driving force in the creation of the Mount Isa AFL. He will arrive in April, just in time for Chicago's first MAAFL gameday and the first round of the Chicago Metro league.

Chicago's Jeremy Morgan will spend six months living, working and playing footy on the Gold Coast, gaining valuable experience in the day-to-day workings of a grassroots club in Australia. The Chicago AFL are hoping that the possibility of an exchange experience in Australia will be a powerful recruiting tool and give new converts to the game something to aim towards.

With Labrador coming on board, the Sydney Swans having supported the Chicago Swans in the past and AFLQ powerhouse Southport supporting the Sharks, the Chicago boys can probably lay claim to being the only international club with the support of three solid Australian Rules sides.

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