Contributed by: Brett Northey
AFL South Africa has once again staged its national championships, then followed up with a friendly against the touring Australian Amateur Football Council's Under 23 side, drawn from the amateur leagues in Victoria, SA, WA and leagues in Tasmania. This initiative has seen the Aussies doing the kind of South African tours we've seen in the past, but really getting heavily involved in teaching the up and coming Lions players, especially in an area considered lacking, coaching of team tactics.
The third annual footyWILD National Championships culminated with a victory to the home Province Western Cape Magpies over the Gauteng Blues in a tough encounter at Khayelitsha Cricket Ground on Friday afternoon (Oct 1). Besides the match at Khayelitsha Cricket Oval, Cape Town, the AAFC 13 day tour was also scheduled to include an exhibition match at Monash University, Johannesburg, on Wednesday October 6 . It has been an all-round effort, with support from the AFL, the AAFC member states, government and a state league contribution with the WAFL’s Community Development Manager Cameron Agnew outstanding in an umpiring education role throughout.
The South Africa Lions versus AAFC Under 23s match started off as purely a friendly and then in the second half the players mixed to form two even teams, a great way to impart knowledge. During the national championships in the preceding days six AAFC players shadowed each of the four Provincial teams competing, allowing them to share their skills and knowledge.
The home side, Western Cape, remained undefeated throughout the Championships and scooped the major awards with Khaya Sikiti winning his second Best & Fairest award in 2 years whilst his local team-mate ‘Stone’ Mbhalo was brilliant in the final collecting the Best On Ground Award. The Magpies proved too strong for a relentless Gauteng Blues outfit, which had improved considerably from 2009 when they finished third.
Last years finalists the North West Dockers beat relative newcomers the Kwa Zulu Natal Eagles in the consolation final to take third place.
The Grand Final was played in terrific spirit with plenty of signs of the traits that make Australian Football such a unique and exciting game to play and watch - there was lots of hard tackling, creative use of hand and foot and plenty of spectacular marking, including an incredible ‘speccie’ in the goal-square by Gauteng Blues high-flying forward Steven Malinga that had the crowd in raptures.
South Africa’s first full time scholarship player to Australia, Bayanda Sobetwa, created opportunities for his team-mates at will, making his return to Khayelitsha after a season with Greater Western Sydney, one to remember for all the right reasons.
“It was amazing to see the passion that South Africans have for the game,” said Western Australian Amateur President John Davies at the Championship function.
Former St Kilda player Mick Dwyer on tour with the AAFC was equally impressed, “The South African boys do things that we can’t physically do in Australia”, said Dwyer. “The athleticism and speed on display were amazing and if you keep working hard the skills will continue to improve.” said Dwyer speaking to the players after the finals.
Consolation Final Result:
North West Dockers 7.8 (50)
Kwa Zulu Natal Eagles 3.9 (27)
Grand Final Result:
Western Cape Magpies 4.10 (34)
Gauteng Blues 1.4 (10)
Championship Ladder – Final Positions
1. Western Cape Magpies
2. Gauteng Blues
3. North West Dockers
4. Kwa Zulu Natal Eagles
Best on Ground in Final: Simphiwe Mbhalo (Stone) - Western Cape Magpies
Best & Fairest for Nationals: Khaya Sikiti (Western Cape Magpies)
Leading Goalkicker for Nationals: Steven Matshane (Maplunka) - North West Dockers
Best Youth Players (U19):
Western Cape Magpies – Yanga Gqodo (16 yrs)
Gauteng Blues – Tumi Molele (17 yrs)
North West Dockers - Boitumuelo Thiboeng (18 yrs)
Kwa Zulu Natal Eagles - Msizi Mkhize (14 yrs)
‘Character First’ Development Awards:
footyWILD Coach – Muzi Mthembu (KZN Eagles)
footyWILD Team Manager – Sipho Magogo (North West Dockers)
footyWILD Field Umpire – Zanele (KZN)
footyWILD Goal Umpire – Kgomotso (North West)
footyWILD Boundary Umpire – Chumisa (Western Cape)
Best & Fairest winner Khaya Sikiti (Western Cape Magpies) with Gino Capogreco, President, South Australian Amateur Football League
World Footy News