Contributed by: Troy Thompson
Football in the US is now over ten years old. The game is still currently evolving and trying to settle on workable formats. Clubs seem to ebb and flow in terms of their player and financial strengths and their ultimate strategies can change as they gain more experience of football life. Over the last two years the MAAFL looked like it was settling down with a pretty solid group of clubs competing for their Championship, but after rumours of changes over the offseason, more details of a new structure have been revealed, including greater flexibility and a possible new club.
We've also got further information from Atlanta's Wayne Kraska about the reasons for the change to the structure (an update since article first published).
The MAAFL has revealed its new structure for 2007 on their website; that structure will be in a two Division format. The Championship division will be running under a similar format as the past years under a set schedule with only Nashville, St Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago and Milwaukee competing to become the MAAFL Champions. Missing from the 2006 Championship competition are Atlanta and Dallas who have both switched their focus to local development, but will still be involved in the second layer of the league - the Regional Division. Atlanta are running the AARFL and Dallas seem to be having another go at jumpstarting the TXAFL.
The Regional Division will include clubs Baton Rouge, Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City, Louisville, Minnesota and newcomer Mobile (in Alabama) who will “play games according to their own development and local needs”.
The MAAFL aim to bring more teams into the Championship division in coming years and also bring other new teams under its banner “for the needs of publicity, development and support in all facets of the game.” This will hopefully include Texan teams Houston and Austin as they develop and any new clubs. The league will also be holding its own conference to discuss future development as it applies to its member clubs. Certainly having a twelve team block overall gives the league a large member base and possibly more power to have their say in overall USFooty politics, as well as benefits that a larger organisation can offer their member clubs in terms of sponsorships deals.
At this stage schedules have not been released but are believed to be close to being finalised.
The full announcement can be viewed here on the MAAFL website.
Further discussion courtesy of Atlanta's Wayne Kraska:
Both the Atlanta Kookaburras and the Dallas Magpies have stepped down from the main MAAFL competition both citing reasons to further develop their local competitions during 2007. In 2006 both Atlanta and Dallas were unable to travel with good numbers to remain competitive. Both teams perhaps and a few others around the US looking towards the Golden Gate League as an example of how to grow the sport locally.
The Golden Gate League in California with four solid teams appeared at the USAFL Nationals with two rep teams and over 80 players and assistants in their traveling party. Their main team seeded into the Nationals Div 1 without ever having played a game together during the year were very competitive beating Milwaukee and Boston convincingly for a 2-1 record. Their loss was to eventual tournament winners San Diego.
The five remaining teams now in the MAAFL Championship Division are the Milwaukee Bombers, Cincinnati Dockers, Chicago United, St Louis Blues and the Nashville Kangaroos. In the Divisional League are the Atlanta Kookaburras, Baton Rouge Tigers, Kansas City Power, Louisville Kings, Minnesota Freeze. New kids on the block are the Mobile Alabama Pirates believed to be generating out of the Australian maritime builders AUSTAL based in Mobile. Other teams out of Texas are mentioned also in the mix. Houston and Austin have both shown in recent times signs that the Dallas Magpies influence and development strategies are doing well in their state.
It has not been announced what criteria each division will have in the way of games played but its sure to be interesting reading. We noted the MAAFL website has a separate ladder for each division.
So in summary it's perhaps the MAAFL taking stock and teams being realistic about their travel obligations. The MAAFL does however look on paper to have jumped from 7 teams to 11 over the New Year and may have more to come.
World Footy News