Contributed by: Brett Northey
The following is a press release from the AFL regarding the entry of a World 18 side in the annual NAB AFL Under 16 Championships. We have referenced other media reports on this in a recent story; apologies for not getting the full release to our readers immediately, due to staff absence.
The AFL today announced it would introduce a World XVIII team of international-born players to compete in the 2010 NAB AFL Under 16s Championships, with the aim of further developing the talent pool for the game and the medium-term aim of producing AFL-standard players.
AFL General Manager of Development David Matthews said the World XVIII, which would allow the best international youth players the opportunity to be showcased and developed at NAB AFL Under 16s Championships and would therefore incentivise international affiliates and AFL Clubs to identify talent.
The World XVIII would be comprised entirely of players born outside of Australia, who had been living outside of Australia for at least three years and had been identified as talent prospects through one of the AFL’s international affiliate programs.
Mr Matthews said the AFL’s overseas talent programs had increasingly identified young athletes who had the potential to play AFL football at the elite level, with most prospects coming from Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Japan, Fiji, Tonga, Nauru and Samoa. Other talented athletes could also be identified from affiliated leagues in Canada, the USA, China and continental Europe, he said.
These players now needed to play against top-class youth opposition to further their development to discover if they could reach AFL standard.
“Historically, AFL Clubs have considered it difficult to speculate on or invest in International talent at the expense of local talent, given the limited number of positions available on their Primary and Rookie Lists, but the recent introduction of the International Scholarship List provides them with scope” Mr Matthews said.
“The predominant focus of the AFL industry will remain on domestic talent, but a targeted approach to international talent will aim to develop international players for the AFL competition and also to stimulate the development of the game in foreign markets, particularly at youth level,” he said.
Mr Matthews said the World XVIII would play matches against Division Two sides (NSW/ACT, NT, Qld and Tas) in the 2010 championships, with the players also to take part in a five-day high performance camp to hasten their development, while in Australia.
For 2010, the majority of players in the team would be expected to be drawn from the PNG, New Zealand and South Africa young player pools, with one or two representatives from the other countries who have domestic AFL competitions in place.
Players up to the age of 18 would be allowed to play, as their development would not be as advanced as Australian 16 year-olds who had grown up with the game.
“The AFL must be innovative as we strive to maintain and increase our talent pool,” Mr Matthew said.
A number of current AFL players were born outside of Australia – Daniel Kerr (India), Harry O’Brien (Brazil, Trent Croad (NZ), David Rodan (Fiji), Michael Quinn (Ireland) and Aaron Edwards (Samoa) -- with Karmichael Hunt the most recent signing to the game, born in New Zealand and with parentage from the Cook Islands.
World Footy News