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Monday, January 18 2021 @ 11:15 pm ACDT

International juniors needing more exposure

General News

In several countries Australian Football has moved beyond what could be considered the first and second phases of game development - expatriate Australians playing the sport and local adults then learning the game. With junior development beyond small groups now taking place in countries such as PNG, New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa, Tonga, China, the UK and Canada, budding young talent needs to be exposed to the highest levels of competition and training if they are to reach their full potential and attract the eye of AFL scouts. For the past couple of years there have been signs of some positive moves in this area but there hasn't been a breakthrough yet. We look at what's on the cards but by no means confirmed.

The Barassi Youth Tournament is one stage on which juniors can display their star qualities, and organisers plan to host it again soon after the 2008 International Cup. The drawback for that tournament is the cost of getting whole teams down to Australia, but it still provides an excellent chance of juniors to shine. Then there is the framework established by AFL Papua New Guinea, which has the best junior pathway, with AFL Queensland providing a superb pathway through participation of PNG under-age representative players and teams competing in Queensland state championships.

The other major avenues of potential are the Australian Institute of Sport camps, in which young Aussie talent goes through a system of training and trials. There are draft camps for prospective AFL draftees and a scheme for younger players. In a promising sign, seven international hopefuls also attended part of a 2005 camp, but in 2006 the only overseas attendees were the South Africans and New Zealanders as interested onlookers. While that was disappointing, the AFL had only just introduced some exciting new measures to allow AFL clubs to give scholarships to young international hopefuls. This gives clubs a chance to take a punt (that's Aussie for take a risk, not the American derogatory usage in NFL) on international prospects, and makes invitation to the AIS camp all the more important to give players exposure to AFL talent scouts.

The AFL's Talent Manager and well known supporter of international footy, Kevin Sheehan, explained that "The AFL will invite, through a rigorous application and screening process, up to 10 international scholarship prospects into a development camp with our best Australian under 17 players. Given the approval of the International Scholarship list was only ratified in August it hasn't allowed sufficient time this year to set up a comprehensive screening and application process - so this will start in 2007". That was said towards the end of 2006, and appeared in our article AFL encourages international apprentices.

At time of writing the AFL have yet to announce if any international players will attend a camp this year. There may be logistical reasons for it to not happen, and we haven't been able to confirm the plans one way or another. Our last information suggested that an invitation was still possible, so let's hope a handful of international footy's brightest young athletes get an opportunity to shine. But increasingly it seems they may have to wait until 2008.

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International juniors needing more exposure | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
International juniors needing more exposure
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Tuesday, October 09 2007 @ 02:25 pm ACST

Let's hope the newer batches of kids through the Farum Cats for example might get recognition. I loved checking out the best players for Denmark, and seeing the number of 18-22 yr olds who have come through this program.

I'm likely to get back on committee of my VAFA club next season, and am interested in following leads of (previously) Powerhouse, Hampton, and Box Hill North of developing 'international' links and or 'scholarship' opportunities.

Should there perhaps be a 'forum' to allow players for the Int Cup next year who may be interested in coming out a little early to arrange to train and perhaps play a ressies game or 2 at local Melb clubs as part of their preparation?

International juniors needing more exposure
Authored by: Aaron Richard on Tuesday, October 09 2007 @ 03:40 pm ACST

That's an idea worth considering - for anyone reading this with connections to suburban Melbourne clubs who might be interested in a spare international recruit, drop us a line and we can collate them as a story.

Which club are you with, Mick?

WFN writer Troy Thompson was previously a member of Brunswick West in the VAFA, plus I believe there are a few ex-BARFL players with Richmond Central.

We'll see if we can make the connections.

International juniors needing more exposure
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Wednesday, October 10 2007 @ 08:18 am ACST

I'm with Syndal Tally Ho, so D4 VAFA, so right in amongst Richmond Centrals and the like. Ideally D4 VAFA might be an ideal environment. For now. One hopes that it's a window of relevance that may only last 10 years!!

International juniors needing more exposure
Authored by: Aaron Richard on Wednesday, October 10 2007 @ 02:47 pm ACST

I played for St Marys in VAFA D4 in 2003, I think that year you guys were in D3. I don't have any conctacts at the club these days though.

I'm sure there'd be a few international clubs and leagues interested in sending players over for a few weeks' footy, one of the problems is clubs sometime lose interest or connections (I think the Powerhouse-Denmark scholarship has fizzled out, don't know about Hampton this year), so there'll probably always niches opening for clubs like Box Hill North or Syndal-Tally Ho.

Some of the international teams have players who could easily play higher grades, I reckon NZ or PNG could hold their own in about D1 or D2, the USA are probably in the same boat. The improvement between 2002 and 2005 was huge, we might see another big jump in standard next year.