Contributed by: Brett Northey
The annual Australian Football League's AIS Camp sees elite young players from around Australia invited to attend a training camp in which they are put through athletic and skill tests under the watchful eye of AFL scouts. In a tremendous breakthrough for international Australian Football, 15 players from outside Australia have been invited, the first time this has occurred.
So far World Footy News has been able to confirm that two New Zealand players and two from Japan have been asked to attend. Those players are: Alex Fakatoumafi (Manurewa Raiders, New Zealand), Andrew Lealofi (Wellington City Saints, New Zealand), Michito Sakaki (Waseda University, Japan) and Tsuyoshi Kase (Senshu University, Japan). We understand there will also be players from PNG, South Africa and Great Britain.
The AFL draft camp will be held at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra from 3rd - 11th December 2005. The Camp will also involve 30 of the best young footballers from around Australia aged 16 - 18 years who are members of the Australian Institute of Sport / Australian Football League Academy squad.
This is great opportunity for the young men to demonstrate their abilities and in many respects they will be representing all junior international footy players. It also again emphasises that the AFL and its clubs are starting to embrace the international dimension to the development of the game.
The NZAFL has issued the following profile of its two players:
Alex Fakatoumafi is a 18 year old who has only been playing the code for 12 months. He represented the NZ senior Falcons at the recent AFL International Cup in Melbourne. The NZ team won the Tournament. He is an athletic tall (6ft 2) with above average kicking and marking skills. He possess excellent leg speed for his size and is very strong. He has the ability to take a strong pack mark. He plays for the Manurewa Raiders Club in the Auckland AFL.
Andrew Lealofi is a 17 year old 6ft utility player who also possesses outstanding leg speed and has above average skills. He has only been playing the game for just over 12 months and has been developed through the Wellington AFL with the Saints club. He competed for the NZ Junior Falcons at the September 2004 Barassi Youth Tournament held in Christchurch, his first introduction to AFL. In the games played against a Canberra representative team, he was voted the standout NZ player of the carnival.
NZAFL General Manager Rob Malone said "The fact that the AFL is searching International markets for the potential elite player is very encouraging. The NZ boys are developing at a rapid rate and this wonderful opportunity will only accelerate their development. Both Alex and Andrew will hold their own in the physical testing and their skill development will benefit from being surrounded by the best Australian juniors during the intensive week-long camp".
World Footy News