AFL confirms African juniors for 2007 All-Stars game
Saturday, December 23 2006 @ 05:50 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
The AFL has confirmed that the 2007 "Once in a Dreamtime" game, to be played in Darwin between Essendon and an Aboriginal All-Stars side, will feature South Africa's under 19s taking on the Qantas AFL Indigenous Youth Team as the curtain-raiser.
The Africans will be touring Australia in February in the sequel to the successful youth tour to South Africa by an indigenous Australian squad in February 2006 (see Indigenous Aussies take series 3 - 0 but South African footy a winner). Several players from the Aussie squad were recently drafted to AFL clubs. It will be a great opportunity for the Aussie Rules community to see how the game is progressing in South Africa, with players on show who will hopefully go on to take the international game to the next level, most likely alongside the many talented juniors coming through in Papua New Guinea. The tour to Australia will also include a match in the Northern Territory's Kakadu (Jabiru), which will no doubt highlight a major difference in facilities between the excellent TIO Stadium in Darwin and grounds in regional areas. Former Kangaroos and Adelaide player and Bali bombings survivor Jason McCartney, now the AFL's Youth Coordinator, will mentor both junior sides and said the series marks "a significant week of cross-cultural exchange between two of the oldest Indigenous peoples on the planet".
The All-Stars match starts at 7pm on 9th February 2007 and will feature many of the game's exciting players. A crowd of over 15,000 is expected in Darwin and Northern Territory fans would do well to get along early to see the next big step in Australian Football's international journey.