Contributed by: Aaron Richard
The Scottish Australian Rules Football League this year has bounced back in a big way after a few tough seasons, 2009 being the first time in four years for the home and away series to be completed without any matches being forfeited.
The year began with the consolidation of the Glasgow and Edinburgh sides to one team in each city, joined by newcomers the Aberdeen Dingoes from the east coast. The three clubs now having a total of 65 active players, with plans for further clubs in Stirling, Dundee and Perth.
SARFL board member Douglas Hunter had a chat with World Footy News about the league's progress, future expansion plans and junior development.
Hunter explains that the Stirling club is still very much in the formative stages. "At the moment we have 4 players. I am working towards having a team which, while being closely affilated with Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen can also function independently and this will include a representative for the team. For now, I will be taking training and organising the recruitment."
"As regard to the EU Cup team, at the moment the team will be made up of ten Scots and four Aussies, which is a significant step in the local players' progress. Wayne Harden from the Aberdeen Dingoes and Alan McSparron from the Edinburgh Bloods will be in charge of the team in Croatia."
At this stage, our players are focused on developing our own league and national team, and as much we do not have players in the British Bulldogs this year. We feel that at this stage it is important to focus our energies on strengthening our own team. "
"Also due to the practical aspects of the training being held in London or surrounding areas it would involve a considerable financial and time commitment for any of our players at this time. However, we do have a very supportive relationship with AFL Britain, which we greatly appreciate and intend to continue."
The Scottish Puffins hope to have their first-ever international test against Wales in October. Earlier this year, two Scottish sides also took part in the first ARUK National Cup in Newcastle, where the Glasgow Sharks made it to the semi-final stage only to be beaten by eventual winners Southampton, the Edinburgh Bloods making it to the final.
Hunter believes the matches this year have had a competitive edge not seen before in the league. "As you know the league was in some turmoil at the end of last season. All the stumbling blocks have been removed and we now have a list of 65 registerd players with the SARFL."
"Our plans for next year are to have local coaches trained to certificate level with the aid of AFL Britain. Our strategy for growth for the coming year includes putting all our efforts into starting teams, not just in Stirling, but also Perth and Dundee. We have also had contact with players in Ayrshire area."
"We also have made some inroads into schools and had a very successful two-day training camp with 10-14 year olds, thanks to the aid of South Lanarkshire Council, where we coached 70 kids over the 2 days."
The league begins its final series on August 29th, with the Aberdeen Dingoes playing the Glasgow Sharks for the right to challenge the Edinburgh Bloods in the Grand Final on September 12th.
World Footy News