Contributed by: Brett Northey
The heartland for Australian Football in South Africa has been North West Province, with Gauteng also growing. The increased push into the Rainbow Nation has also seen development in Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal, and although the focus will be on juniors, open age footy has begun there, adding to the possibility that the 2008 version of the national side, the Buffaloes, could have representatives from all four footy provinces.
Earlier in the year Western Cape saw its first adult match. From a personal perspective it was particularly pleasing. WFN had been contacted by a local fan of the game who was keen to play his first match, but at that stage development in the Province was focussed only on juniors near Cape Town. Australian Football's journey as a sport has been a long and slow one, and all we could offer was encouragement and contact information, part of which he was already on top of. So it was remarkable to hear just a week later that development officer Allison Simons and local volunteers had decided to go ahead and stage a senior match, and our reader had duly played his first game of Aussie Rules, taken a "speccy" and loved every minute of it.
More recently two of South Africa's more notorious communities (which means struggling townships in need of help) have engaged in their own first Aussie Rules battle. KwaMashu took on Umlazi in what could become a great rivalry for the sport in Durban, capital of KwaZulu Natal (the Province known to tourists as Shaka Zulu's old stomping ground), but of course everything starts with humble beginnings and this match was certainly a "friendly". The two townships should be the first of many to be introduced to Australian Football in the next couple of years. The guest coaches for the day were Mark Bolton, Jason Johnson and Nathan Lovett-Murray from Essendon, and Kris Massie from Adelaide, who were visiting KwaZulu Natal with World Vision and the AFL Foundation. Also making appearances as guest goal umpires were Derek Lindsay (Chairman of the AFL Foundation) and Reverend Tim Costello (Chief Executive, World Vision). For the record, KwaMashu stormed home to snatch victory.
Keep your eye on AFL South Africa's website for more details of the emerging story of Australian Football in Africa.
World Footy News