AFL Europe proposed
Monday, October 20 2008 @ 08:37 am ACDT
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
Soon after the launch of AFL Oceania as an AFL administrative zone, and AFL Middle East as an AFL-affiliated league, now comes a proposal for AFL Europe. Its author, Ciarán O' Hara, explained to WorldFootyNews.com that it was formalised recently with the IC08 after around 12 months in the planning and in some ways is a continuation of ideas stretching back even further.
Aussie Rules has grown past its expat foundations in Europe, and the European leagues (with the exception of the Australian-heavy London footy scene) are now composed of a majority of local players, with a healthy population of Irish, New Zealanders and North Americans adding to the mix.
Those administering the leagues are also increasingly often locals, such as Irishman Ciarán O' Hara, who is a founding member and former President of the Dublin Demons and for the last two years has been President of the Australian Rules Football League Ireland (ARFLI), having held a league office of some sort since its foundation.
He was the European Representative on the AFL’s International Advisory Committee from 2000 to 2002, and was involved with the Atlantic Alliance and attempts to establish a European Australian Football Council in 2001 (that was perhaps before the need was widely realised, prior to so many new nations taking up the game). O' Hara was involved in Ireland's triumphant 2002 International Cup squad as Media Relations manager, and took over as Ireland National Team Manager last year, having held the post for a brief time in 2005 before work commitments meant he had to withdraw. He looked after all of the team's logistics and coordinated fundraising for the Warriors' IC08 tilt, whilst continuing as head of the Irish league and developing the AFL Europe plan.
Apologies for the delay in publishing, as we were focused on the EU Cup. Below is the first part of his proposal, and soon we'll publish part two which includes a suggestion for a full-scale European championship - not the only one currently being discussed. We hope to gather feedback from the European leagues on their thoughts on all these ideas.
To Whom it Concerns,
My name is Ciarán O' Hara, and I am President of the Australian Rules Football League of Ireland. I am writing to you in advance of the EU Cup in Prague to put forward some suggestions on behalf of our league for the future of Australian Football in Europe. I do this following some discussions with various parties at the recent International Cup in Australia and in the knowledge that a substantive forum will be held at the Cup in Prague.
Unfortunately we will be unable to attend as we are scheduled to play the All Australian Amateur U-23 team in Dublin that weekend, but I would like to wish all participants the very best of luck over the course of the cup.
The ARFLI would very much like to be a part of the development of European Footy in the years ahead, however as a body which elects our volunteer officials and holds them accountable in that manner, we believe that a similar structure and form of accountability must apply to any governing body for European Football.
We also believe that irrespective of Financial support or otherwise that the best way forward is for that body to be affiliated with the AFL and be branded as AFL Europe. The AFL have invested the best part of twenty years in establishing a Brand, and association with that brand is highly beneficial to all our leagues. The AFL have appointed Tony Abate to deal specifically with football in Europe and looking forward he would be the liaison point between any European Football body and the AFL.
Below are some of our thoughts on the structure, activities and role we would see for a European Body.
We believe that membership should be open to all leagues in Europe but that only one league may be the overall National Body for the sport in a particular country. Therefore we would see two types of membership, Full Membership and Associate Membership.
Full Membership would be open to established leagues with more than two established clubs. Full Members might be Central European AFL, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Spain and Sweden.
Associate Membership would be open to newly forming or emerging leagues or teams from unrepresented regions such as Peres Peace Team, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Turkey etc..
The Body should consist of two levels of administration.
1. European Council
This would consist of nominated officials from each member league or association (preferably one per country) who would act as the voting council on all issues such as the constitution of the association, the appointment of an Operating Executive, the division of financial or other resources, the timing of events, the hosting of events and the rules of those events. Full Members would have a vote, associate members would have 1/3 of a vote, this is to encourage regionalised leagues such as in Central Europe. For Example were Belgium, Holland and a team from Luxembourg to form the Benelux AFL they could then become full members. Were the Peace Team able to form a Peace League, they too would obtain full membership.
2. Operational Executive
An Executive Committee charged with the day to day running of the association. At this stage of Development we would suggest that all these positions be voluntary as any finance obtained would be better spent developing the sport rather than spent on salaries. Long term it may be possible to have paid positions. This Committee would consist of the following Officers with specific responsibilities.
Charged with the overall running of the association, leading all other officers and reporting on activities to the council. This person would need to formulate strategic plans relating to all aspects of the association. They would work with all other officers to ensure that all areas are being run in a manner which moves European Footy forward.
Responsible for the prudent and fair control of the associations finances, monitoring day to day spending and ensuring that all spending is accounted for.
· Administrative Development Executive
Responsible for assisting leagues and clubs in developing strong and efficient administrative structures. This person would ensure that there is an exchange of intelligence among various members and ultimately that all member leagues and their clubs are viable in the long term.
· Games Development Executive
This person would help leagues and clubs attain appropriate levels of accreditation in coaching, umpiring and playing. They would be responsible for dispersing intelligence and resources which benefit the growth of football throughout Europe.
· Commercial Executive
This Person would work closely with the President/CEO to obtain partners and sponsors for European Football Competitions and activities while also working with the various leagues to improve their ability to leverage revenue in their own territories and Australia.
· Media Relations Executive
This person would be responsible for producing all media releases for the association while also managing the publication of association websites, magazines, videos and promotional material.