Two international sides for AFL Under 16 championships
Thursday, December 17 2009 @ 07:40 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
In another amazingly positive and unexpected move the Australian Football League has decided to field two international sides in the NAB AFL Under 16 championships in 2010, to be staged in western Sydney.
Originally a World side was to be selected to compete in Division Two of the tournament against Australian states and territories Queensland, NSW/ACT, Tasmania and Northern Territory, giving international youth an unprecedented chance to be exposed to AFL scouts and to compete at a higher level. The recently selected Oceania Training Squad was likely to fill most of the World spots, but the AFL has now decided to field both World and Pacific Islands teams.
The addition of the Pacific Islands team opens the door for many more juniors from around the world, with South Africa likely to dominate the World XVIII but presumably a number of spots up for grabs for players from other countries. The only downside is that the strength of the international teams will be less than a single side, making it that much more difficult to be competitive with the Aussie opposition.
AFL General Manager of Development David Matthews said several factors had led to immediately enlarging the AFL’s search for international talent including:
- The success of the recent AFL Oceania Under 16 Championships which had been attended by AIS-AFL Academy Coach Jason McCartney.
- The recent experience for four young talented South Africans to engage for a week with the AIS-AFL Academy and a week with an AFL Club.
- The fact that a key feature of the NAB AFL Draft and NAB AFL Rookie Draft was the selection of several international or international born players.
“We have an opportunity to better engage other countries in our game and while eight teams representing the states and territories of Australia will continue to generate the majority of the talent for the AFL competition we do want to provide more compelling career pathways for international talent,” Mr Matthews said.
According to AFL statistics there are currently 52,908 international Australian Football participants playing in 273 clubs in 38 senior leagues throughout Europe, Asia, the United States and the Pacific region.
AIS-AFL Academy Coach Jason McCartney said he was so impressed with the talent at the recent AFL Oceania Under 16 Championships that it definitely justified the inclusion of a separate representative team in next year’s NAB AFL Under 16 Championships.
“The raw athletic capability of some of the players was outstanding. It is certainly quite exciting to think what this squad could look like with the natural skill and speed of these boys,” McCartney said.
The NAB AFL Under 16 Championships will be played in Western Sydney between July 3 to 10 next year.
The competing teams will now be:
Division I: Vic Metro, Vic Country, Western Australia, South Australia
Division II: Queensland, NSW/ACT, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Pacific, World XVIII
Tell us which countries you think might have junior talent ready for the World XVIII. In a squad of say 30, what would the make up be?