Contributed by: Aaron Richard
The Barassi International Youth Tournament board will soon announce major sponsorship for next year's event with strong rumours suggesting the VFL Club (Virtually Forgotten Legends) will be joining the Barassi Tournament Board in presenting the 'VFL Club Barassi Youth Tournament 2006'.
The 2006 event will be the third time the youth tournament has been held in Canberra, the first in 1998 and the second in 2003. Last year, in lieu of the tournament taking place, as a special once-off tournament an ACTAFL selection (junior players drawn from the league around Australia's capital Canberra) visited Christchurch, New Zealand, playing against junior teams from the province of Canterbury.
The 2006 event is looking likely to showcase 10 sides, including a handful of Australian teams and teams representing the USA, South Africa, Nauru, Samoa, New Zealand, PNG, Denmark and possibly either separate UK and Ireland teams or a combined British-Irish selection. Organising committee chairman Mark Cloney is eager to point out that there are still vacancies available for sides from anywhere around the world to compete. 'We'll take any sides who want to come over - school sides, other youth sides, and we'll pit them against sides of equal standard. The tournament's age limit is under 16s, but if there's a team from a school who want to bring over say under 14s, we'll find teams for them to play.'
The ACTAFL is very supportive of the event, lending resources, providing umpires, holding coaching clinics, giveaways – all at their own expense. As Cloney says 'footy in southern NSW and Canberra really needs to fight with rugby league and union to get attention, an event like this really helps give local players something to aspire to. The aim is to keep focus on footy in the (Canberra) area, it's a unique event focussed here.'
Despite the ACT focus for the main event, there will also be lead-up matches played in Melbourne and Sydney, an experiment which may continue into the future if it works out well.
The tournament organisers are also happy with the support from the AFL, with Game Development manager Dave Matthews reported to be 'right behind it'. The committee is fully independent of the AFL, but AFL Community Development Officer Ed Biggs is a previous member of the committee and the event is currently the only international youth tournament listed in the AFL's development policy plans.
On September the 23rd of this year, major sponsors for the tournament are to be announced, with a strong rumour suggesting the event may become the 'VFL Club Barassi AFIYT', the VFL Club being a group of former VFL/AFL premiership players formed in 1993 by Phil Maylin, Peter McConville and Alex Marcou, who contribute to various charities and generally aim to give back to the sports community.
World Footy News