Talent camp as AFL stars and clubs head for Africa

Sunday, December 02 2007 @ 09:38 pm ACDT

Contributed by: Brett Northey

The AFL website is reporting new details of activities in South Africa (a talent camp in Pretoria) plus apparently confirming what has been reported as on the cards previously - an exhibition match in February '08 and a return tour of an Australian indigenous youth team.

The AFL's story says that former "Essendon premiership player Adam Ramanauskas will be the guest coach at the inaugural Talent Camp in South Africa in December. Ramanauskas will join AFL South Africa head coach Mtutu Hlomela at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria for the camp from December 19-20". There will be 40 players aged 13 to 16, participants of FootyWild, the South African version of Auskick. Hlomela is pictured at left.

It also reports that it will be players from this group that will take on the Australian indigenous youth team in February 2008. Previously the matches have featured a significant representation of older South African players, so this will be the first chance for the young products of the AFL's renewed push into South Africa to strut their stuff.

AFL South Africa operations manager Anthony Kelly said, "In 12 months we have established more than 115 primary school teams across four provinces. To have a player of Adam Ramanauskas’ calibre visit South Africa will enhance the program and assist our best players in their development".

With some exciting news of the continuing growth of footy in Papua New Guinea (coming soon), with its pathway through AFL Queensland, and the rush of Ireland's Gaelic games players to the AFL, there are three clear heavyweight countries emerging in international Australian Football (though Ireland in a very different manner to the other two). Not to downplay excellent work being done in many other countries, but China is also looming as a nation that could leapfrog much of the pack too.

As previously reported, the West Coast Eagles are heading to Durban next week. They will conduct clinics and train at the home of Super 14s rugby union team the Durban Sharks. Fremantle, Carlton and Collingwood are also scheduled to conduct camps in South Africa early next year.

The AFL's article confirms that Fremantle and Carlton will play an exhibition match next year, at Centurion Park in Pretoria on February 2. The original intended venue of Sedgars Park in Potchefstroom, AFL South Africa's home, was unavailable due to cricket commitments.

The full article is Rama goes FootyWild and features as the main story on the AFL website.

It has also been good to see a lot of new content in the AFL's International Leagues section (which has been repaired to allow stories to be displayed dating back to early 2007) and the HQ section on the AFL's front page (including plenty of material not sourced from worldfootynews.com).

Of course not all footy fans voraciously devour news on the major footy websites or newspaper sports sections. So it's pleasing to see the information slowly being disseminated by other means to further fans. The recent edition of the Adelaide Crows' Members Update, emailed as a pdf to all members (around 50,000), included a preview of the club's new recruit, Patrick Dangerfield, from the Geelong Falcons under 18 side. Part of his bio read "He is a graduate of the AIS-AFL Academy and toured South Africa earlier this year". Although that's a small mention, small pieces of information like that will slowly sink into the collective consciousness of the Australian public, and they'll come to accept as the norm that our game is played internationally.

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