Contributed by: Ben LeahyThe 7th Annual Asian Championships of Australian Football, held on the 26th of August at Cibubur, just outside of Jakarta, have been hailed a great success by all involved and once again raised the bar on the standard of footy played.
As promised, the tournament produced high quality footy and evenly matched teams with the Singapore Wombats the standouts and eventual Grand Final winners, downing the Bali Geckos in a rematch of last year's Asian Champs Grand Final, 9.5.59 to 3.8.26 - Read on for Grand Final and Ladder results.
The win was an unexpected one for the Wombats. They entered the Champs with a win loss ratio from their Domestic and International Games this year of 2 to 9 and, after off-season player departures, were missing 11 players from last year's Grand Final team, including their star forward from the 2005 Tournament.
Their bookie defying victory left many of the Wombats' players visibly emotional after the final siren. Wombat's Coach, Lou Millicevic, told WFN, that given the challenges facing them, "The club is very proud to win back to back Asian Championships and be the first team to win the Champs three times."
Lou attributes the Wombats' successful title defence to a mixture of luck, tactics, fitness and rotation. "There's always an element of luck in these things. The only time all year that I've been able to field my strongest squad in one game on one weekend is for the actual weekend of the Asian Championships. We were also lucky during the tournament to get our team through to the Grand Final injury free."
The Wombat's also came prepared for this year's Championships with a number of strategies and tactics up their sleeve, seeking advantage in everything from their knowledge of the Ciburbur ground to the Kevin Sheedy-esque ploy of having unavailable players suit and warm up with the playing squad before matches. Lou also cites the Wombats' International Rules hit-outs with their Gaelic counterparts in Singapore as valuable preparation for the tournament. The speed of the hybrid game not only helped the Wombats with their fitness and rotation strategies, but even helped familiarise the players with the AFL's new fast kick out from behinds rule that was adopted for this year's Asian Championships.
By all reports, the Wombats were the tournament standouts, but the evenness of the rest of the competition was highlighted by the sinking of two time Asian Champs, the Hong Kong Dragons to the bottom of the table, and by the strong performances of the Malaysia Warriors and Thailand Tigers. Malaysia ensured the Japan Goannas would remain near the bottom of the table with a thrilling one-point victory coming from a goal after the siren, while the Thailand Tigers overcame a half time deficit to deny the Jakarta Bintangs the chance of a home Grand Final clash with the Wombats. Bintangs coach, Grant Dooley, whilst proud of the rest of the Bintangs performances, was left to rue a lost match to the plucky Tigers. In a report for an Indonesian newspaper he adjudged that "This was definitely the tournament the club will look back on as the one that got away!"
The 2006 Championships were not only notable for the close competition, but for the high standard of skill displayed. The standard of footy has been raised with each ensuing year since the inception of the Championships, but with a healthy sprinkling of WAFL and A-Grade Melbourne footballers across the competing clubs, 2006 saw an extra level reached. Wombats coach Lou Millicevic is adamant that some of the stronger clubs in Asia, when able to draw upon their full lists, would not look out of place in A-Grade Melbourne metro footy.
In a further plus for International footy, the tournament's best player as judged by the umpires was Yuta Tsutsumi of the Japan Goannas - the first indigenous recipient of the medal. Yuta is a veteran of the Samurais' 2005 International Cup campaign and plays for the Senshu Power back home in Japan. Runner-up for the umpires award was Dragons President Nathan Byrne who was a bright light for the Firebreathers.
A huge thankyou must go to the Jakarta Bintangs and everyone involved for staging a tremendous tournament. A healthy crowd was present all day, including Bill Farmer, the patron of the Jakarta Bintangs and Australian Ambassador to Indonesia as well as the ANZ's Indonesian Manager who represented the tournament sponsors.
The Bintangs were able to introduce some innovations to the tournament this year with two senior grade WAFL umpires flown in courtesy of QANTAS, and with their staging of an exhibition game between Indonesian players from Pancawati and Bandung versus a Barbarians (mixed) side from the tournament teams.
See below for all the 2006 ANZ Asian Australian Football Facts provided courtesy of John Williams from the Jakarta Bintangs.
People to thank
ANZ, Aphrodite, Intertek, Hill & Associates, International SOS, Le Meridien, Coca-Cola, Qantas, FPI, Lane Moving, Dos Hermanos, Greenfields
The overseas teams for coming, especially Japan (it is a long way for them)
Australian Ambassador, Bill Farmer
Iain Shearer (overall organisation), John Williams (Thailand Nanny, organisation), Cath Eddy (sponsorship document, official scorer, timekeeper), John Eddy (umpires), Greg Parham (scoreboard), Alan (scoreboard), Tim Hakfoort (co-ordinating the Bintangs' football and the exhibition match)
Team Nannys - John Williams, David Nicoll, etc. Robert Baldwin (Pancawati team for exhibition) Kangarudas (for running the tickets, food stall, raffle) - Bec Hamer, Annemarie, Donna Telfer in particular
Played Won Points Percentage
Singapore Wombats 4 3 12 141
Bali Ghecko's 4 3 12 134
Jakarta Bintangs 4 2 8 141
Thailand Tigers 4 2 8 76
Malaysian Warriors 4 2 8 59
Japan Goanna's 4 1 4 115
Hong Kong Dragons 4 1 4 76
Singapore Wombats 9 5 59 defeated the Bali Ghecko's 3 8 26
Best player in the Grand Final - Ash Martin (4) Singapore Wombats Singapore had a very large squad, and that obviously saved their legs, but their strength was in being able to field 14 players who could all play quality football. It was also obvious that they train together understand how they work together and they took their chances in front of goal. They were easily the best team on the day and in the Grand Final having taken some of the self belief out of Bali by beating them fairly comfortably in the round-robin games.
Player of the tournament (by umpires votes) Yuta Tsutsumi (Japan Goanna's)
Leading Goal Kicker Andrew Taylor (Singapore Wombat) 10 goals
Goal of the tournament Leigh Hughes (for Bali Ghecko's in the final)
Mark of the tournament Andrew Taylor (Singapore Wombats v Thailand)
Asian All Stars Team (as nominated by the teams)
Singapore - Andrew Taylor, Grant Broderick, Billy Barker, Ashleigh Martin, Dave Secomb, Justin Hotton
Bali - Peter Muir, Leigh Hughes, Sammy Gosling, Nick Klaus, Ed Andrews
Jakarta - Ryan Wilson, Matt Jolly, Chris Elliott
Thailand - Greg Mellor, Geoff Everett, Ben Will
Malaysia - Paul McCalman, Scott Mc Donough, Winner Santos,
Japan - Taishi, Ben Sachse, Travis Wilson
Hong Kong - Adrian Harrison, Dan Seow, Matt Campbell
Champions Year Venue
Indonesian Bintangs 2000 Jakarta
Singapore Wombats 2001 Bangkok
Indonesian Bintangs 2002 Singapore
Hong Kong Dragons 2003 Hong Kong
Hong Kong Dragons 2004 Kuala Lumpur
Singapore Wombats 2005 Manila
Singapore Wombats 2006 Jakarta
Reports/Sin Bin/Sending off
None ! Only a few minor incidents of over aggressiveness. One bad/high tackle that did not get punished.
Nothing serious (many torn muscles and twisted ankles). One trip to hospital for a dislocated finger (precautionary only). SOS sent an ambulance, expat doctor and 2 paramedics, they were attentive and alert. Doc Richard Lindsay also helped out.
World Footy News