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AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011

Europe

The AFL Great Britain National Conference was held on the 20th November 2011 in Birmingham.  On the agenda was a list of the key dates for 2012, a move to rename to AFL England and numerous items to drive development such the Brit Cup, juniors and a European tour by the AFL AIS Academy.  The following article is not formal minutes but give a bit of an insight into the many issues discussed by a body that covers a relatively large number of clubs and leagues.

The meeting started with key dates for the 2012 season. Key events to be considered included the Olympic Games which will be held in London from July 28th to August 11th, and the AFL Grand Final on September 29th. Next came important Australian Football events in Europe, including the AFL-AIS Academy’s European training camp on March 31st, the AIS Academy vs European Legion game on April 7th, the Brit Cup on July 7th, the AFL London Grand Final on August 4th  and the EU Cup on October 6th. Then the dates for other events such as an overseas GB Bulldogs game on August 25th and the Haggis Cup and ANZAC Cup on April 21st were finalised.
 

After the calendar was decided, there was a brief discussion on the Brit Cup and the AIS Academy:

The Brit Cup was re-designated as a regional event, though as previous, top performing clubs would be invited as stand alone participants. A suitable venue would need at least 2 quality pitches, with consideration for facilities such as changing rooms, a bar and BBQ, nearby accomodation and access by roads and public transport. Clubs would be allowed to bid for the right to host the cup, which is to be re-branded as AFL England’s showpiece event.

Understandably, discussions about the AFL-AIS Academy’s European tour caused much excitement, with AFL Europe’s plans including a possible game against a European national team, a game against an Australian expat team, and a warm-up game for the European Legion against a European national team.

After those discussions, the meeting moved onto a brief AGM where positions were decided for next year. Adam Bennett retained the position of President, Donald Eastwood was put down tentatively for Secretary post, as was Rick Shrowder for the Juniors post, and the Umpires post was left vacant, as were two new posts - Events and Promotion.

Then there was a brief run through of the GB Bulldogs performance at the International Cup: The total cost was £58,700, mostly contributed by players. A 26 man squad had been selected from 60 applicants, which included 19 players from domestic leagues and 7 eligible expats based in Australia. The squad was coached by Head Coach Mark Pitura, and Assistant coach Rob Fielder. The team recorded wins against 2 higher ranked teams (Denmark and Canada) and only lost against the top 4 ranked teams, and went on to its highest ever finish - 7th, up from 9th in 2008.


After these presentations, the main discussion of the conference got underway:

(1) National Governing Body Status-

NGB Status applications are made through Sport England and cover England only. If granted, it would allow AFL GB/England to apply for grants. This could help get people in paid positions to support volunteers.

Sport England is very interested in development with juniors. Current volunteers working with juniors or in schools around the country need to be ascertained for use in the application.

AFL GB/ England is already recognised as the governing body for the sport in England by AFL Europe as a consolidation of the previous BARFL and Aussie Rules UK.


(2) AFL GB/ England-

AFL GB was formed from the BARFL and Aussie Rules UK in 2006. It is still largely based around London and is separate from the WARFL (Wales) and SARFL (Scotland). The only times the three nations co-ordinate is for the PLI payments, the Brit Cup and the GB Bulldogs. Outside of this, AFL GB only represents England.

Therefore a name change from AFL GB to AFL England was proposed. The name change would possibly help support the application for NGB status with Sport England, and would be a more accurate description of the area of coverage and representation.

There was however concern that the name change might affect the future of the GB Bulldogs. The AFL might wish AFL England to submit an English team for the International Cup, and the Bulldogs cannot compete under an AFL England logo.

AFL Europe General Manager Ben Mc Cormack suggested that the AFL would likely have no problems with the three countries continuing to compete as the GB Bulldogs. Other points raised were having a minimum amount of players from Scotland and Wales, and members of the SARFL wishing to put forward a Scottish team into the International Cup, though it was decided by members present that this was a long way off.

The proposed name change was put to a vote, despite concerns that no-one from WARFL or SARFL was there to voice their opinions or concerns. This in the end proved to be the reason why most people thought a vote should go ahead, and the motion was carried, opposed by 1 member from AFL London’s Wandsworth Demons.


(3) AFL Europe-

AFL is now interested in Europe as a regional development option for talent and future fans etc.

AFL Europe now covers 21 countries: 16 full members and 5 associates. Full members must have a minimum of 3 clubs and be recognised as the sport’s governing body in that country.

More needs to be done across Europe on junior development. This is a massive challenge and is resource intensive therefore currently not much is being done. However, there is huge potential, especially if the AFL is interested in development in Europe. For now, more reporting needs to be done of current junior programmes with evidence consolidated to get a better idea of numbers.

AFL Europe is planning on increasing awareness of the sport by holding AFL 9’s (rec footy) competitions in London and in Universities.

AFL Europe is creating a startup pack for new clubs to help with equipment and kits. This would at least include footballs, jumpers and support. However, they are waiting on a grant to come through from the AFL and cannot commit to anything until they know how much that will be. (AFL GB also has lots of junior footballs and some other equipment from Sport England)

Recently two coaching courses were held at the International Cup and at the Euro Cup in Belfast. More coaching courses are planned before the start of the season in April, including simple Level O courses for people such as teachers.

AFL Europe will continue to look into developing umpires. The current culture towards umpires is not ideal- a new culture of respect towards umpires is needed. An umpire code of conduct is needed. Training needs to be increased so at least two people from every club are competent umpires within 3 years.

It was great to have a women’s game at the Euro Cup, but women’s football does not appear to be coming together in Europe. More women need to be involved in existing clubs, but there also needs to be an outlet for them to play. (A similar situation exists for juniors)

This discussion ultimately led to the decision that a new post needed to be created for women’s football in AFL England, and being the only female present, WFN’s female football writer and ex-VWFL player Tobietta Rhyman was elected to the post.

A raffle will be held in the European region to help raise funds. First prize would be a trip to Australia including 2 AFL Grand Final tickets, and second place would be a trip within Europe. Individuals and clubs could purchase tickets then sell them on at a profit to help with club funds. The draw would be about a month before the AFL Grand Final.


(4) England Dragonslayers report-

Because the GB Bulldogs squad took precedence this year, there has only been one Dragonslayers training session. The Dragonslayers competed in the Tri-Nations Cup and the Euro Cup.

The Irish teams at the International Cup and the Euro Cup were a good example of development and including players from other sports, such as GAA. NGB status and sponsorship would help with development.

The Brit Cup needs improving. More marketing and funding is needed, including nationwide awareness. Again, NGB status would help with this.

The game needs to move forward, gain awareness and get more people involved in the game, especially juniors and their families. There are also lots of off field as well as on field areas to develop.


(5) Juniors Academy-

An U21 European Legion team play the AIS Academy in Europe as part of a three year commitment- this might be extended into a permanent annual fixture if the AFL is committed to expanding their operations in Europe. In January there will be a trial near Heathrow for juniors wishing to take part in the Legion team.

A facebook page was suggested to keep track of academy players who could meet and train at least once a year. A new meeting should be arranged during pre-season for juniors and junior development enthusiasts.


(6) Umpiring-

Umpires are needed for the continued development of the game- cannot expand the game without competent umpires. AFL London can get by with passing expat Australian umpires, but elsewhere umpiring workshops need to be set up. At least 2 players from all clubs should be encouraged to go along, but especially international level players need to attend.

A code of conduct for how players treat umpires is needed. This should also be extended to coaches and captains.


(7) Other points-

Sudip Chakraborty (AFL India president / Indian Tigers captain and also another writer with WFN), now studying in England, reported that most AFL equipment is made in India and can be obtained for as little as 1/6 of the cost.

New ideas for competitions included an Inter-rules competition between the GB Bulldogs and their Gaelic Football equivalents, perhaps held in London, and a touch competition, again in London.

There was also a mention of the four team Movember Cup held in Central-North West Division on Sunday 27th November which raised  money for the Movember charity. The cup was renamed the Nathan Blakely Movember Cup in honour of one of the Manchester Mosquitoes players who unfortunately passed away during surgery. The CNW teams which took part were Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Wolverhampton and the cup was won by newcomers Leeds.

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AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011 | 25 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Darren_C on Wednesday, January 18 2012 @ 12:15 am ACDT

As far as I'm aware Scotland plans on fielding a team in the 2014 International Cup.

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AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Aaron Richard on Wednesday, January 18 2012 @ 05:33 pm ACDT

 I've heard in the past that they've been interested in principle for a while, but haven't had the playing numbers or the resources.  They might have by 2014 though.

Wales would probably be better placed than Scotland to send a team in 2014 at this point.

I'll follow it up with the WARFL and SARFL guys in the near future.

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Wednesday, January 18 2012 @ 07:49 am ACDT

I am interested to hear more of the official or unofficial thoughts from Scotland and Wales on this 'devolution' or separation of the AFLGB nations.

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AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Brett Northey on Wednesday, January 18 2012 @ 10:43 am ACDT

Definitely worth Aaron or Tobie doing a follow up interview with Wales and Scotland to get their thoughts on the devolution and the impact on the Bulldogs and future International Cups.

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Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Cam Homes on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 08:32 pm ACDT

Interesting to see a figure put on the cost of GB's IC campaign, 58,700 pounds.

Would be interesting to see what it cost other nations to participate in the IC?

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AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Brett Northey on Friday, January 20 2012 @ 10:16 pm ACDT

Cam, a rough guide I've always been told by countries is around AUD$100,000.  Very much depends on the exchange rate and the airfares.  E.g. 58,000 pounds now is about AUD$86,000, but a few years ago it would've been more like AUD$130,000.  Some countries fund a fair bit of that through sponsorship and joint fundraising, whereas some rely almost entirely on the players self funding.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Friday, January 20 2012 @ 11:39 pm ACDT

 Remember that figure of 58k sterling is with 7 of the squad Australian based expats. 

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Darren_C on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 04:43 am ACDT

I was under the impression that AFL GB got the funding and not much if anything was filter to 'the rest' of Great Britian. So whats the point of being called AFL GB?

 How do you say Wales would be better placed then Scotland? The Glasgow Sharks alone have had 24-25 people down to pre season training and there is only 5-6 of us aussie, the rest are locals the club is getting bigger every season. Insert the other clubs players and their growth over the next 2 years, the fact the expats already in Australia that could be in the team which seems to be the trend to cut costs.

I think Scotland is very well placed.

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Cam Homes on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 10:30 am ACDT

Howdy Darren C

I believe Wales currently has a 6 team 9-a-side competition and Scotland a 3 team 9-a-side competition so by weight of numbers Aaron probably assumed Wales PROBABLY had a better chance than Scotland. From what you are saying numbers are growing in Glasgow which is terrific news and I note that the Sharks ran a 6-a-side internal comp recently, which we all hope can be sustained.

Weight of numbers is crucial for at least a half decent crack at competing in the IC's and European Championships which are played at 16-a-side or more, and more than just a couple of reserves are essential for (from the players perspective at least) participation to be a satisfying and worthwhile exercise.

Looking forward to seeing Scotland playing a couple of full Internationals in the meantime.

Also, Darren are you in a position to tell me the number of  "registered" players and/or adult and juniors currently playing in the Scotland AFL?

Thanks

Cam

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Darren_C on Friday, January 20 2012 @ 11:09 pm ACDT

Cam,

I couldn't give you the number of registered players in the SARFL. But the Glasgow Sharks are running a Scottish Auskick program which has proved successful with more schools wanting on board from the initial 4 we had. We have also started to try and get together a womens team, we've had a number of interest people down and so far had about 7 ladies down regularly to training.

The ultimate goal of the 6's is to expand to 7s, 8s, 9s. So we have a fully functioning Glasgow competition. I will give it 2-3 years. Then the best players of that league play for the Sharks in the SARFL.

I see your point about weight in numbers. And will agree to some extent. How's the growth going in Wales?

Although the 9 a side can't be used completely as a yard stick for performance, but the results of Scotland are continually improving looking at the 6th place finish at the Euro's.

 

Tobietta, how are the individual teams going to make an impact if the current GB squad only has less then a handful of players outside of England? You have to go out and get smashed the first number of games to learn, grow and improve.

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AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Tobietta Rhyman on Saturday, January 21 2012 @ 01:00 am ACDT

Darren_C I realise the current Bulldogs squad is a bit lacking in non English players and non London players and I think it's absolutely ridiculous! I'd rather that change that than go separate but from what I've heard from outside AFL London, that's not happening, which is a shame. So if separate IC teams is what it takes to develop the game, go for it and best of luck!

However, I'm not AFL London- I'm CNW- and I have ZERO intention of fielding a Londoners plus token others women's team for the Euro Cup/IC14. That's not what development means to me. I'm hoping I can get 9+ girls together for the Euro Cup and I'm prepared to travel around to find them. But can I get a full team together for IC14? That's going to be a challenge. If Scotland can, then again, go for it and best of luck! But the most important thing is like you said, getting there and playing the games and getting that experience. National pride is important to me too- if England ever beat Ireland I'd have a permanant grin for weeks. But refusing to team up for that alone and then the girls don't get to play is as petty as carrying over a grudge from men's footy.

---
Little Pommy Girl
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AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Darren_C on Tuesday, January 24 2012 @ 12:10 am ACDT

yes in terms on IC14 a GB team is going to do better. But I don't see anything wrong with going there with the intention of being in Div 2 and having a crack at that. Look at France, they came along in leaps and bounds, then put on a good show at the Euro Cup. You learn through playing games.

Would it at all be plausable for England to field say City (London) and Country (the rest) in carnival type tournaments to get the people outside of London more representitive experience?

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AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Cam Homes on Saturday, January 21 2012 @ 01:35 am ACDT

Thanks Darren for getting back to me with the info about the Sharks, numbers are looking very good at the Sharks (about 30-40 by the look of it) and I wish you all the best with your expansion.

Getting an internal/local 6's or 9's going certainly looks the way to go(Germany has chosen a similar path by the look of it, and the yanks) as opposed to trying to get up to 16 or 18- a-side format straight away. 

Sweden West League have got an 5/6-a-side indoor league at present during their winter, the more regular and frequent the players can get a game the better I reckon. 

Again, best of.

Cam

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Bryce Stone on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 11:29 am ACDT

 

 

I think it was a great move forward for AFL GB to change its name to AFL England last year as this truly reflects who they are, English not British. WARFL has always been independent and I’m glad with this move as it clearly distinguishes the two organisations. As for Wales playing in the International Cup (IC) it was always my opinion when I was with WARFL that in the formative years we focus on developing our league especially recruitment of local players rather than deplete our limited resources and funds on sending a team to the IC which is a huge expense for possible little reward. That being the case we fully supported the GB Bulldogs at the time as this gave our Welsh players an avenue to have international experience which around 10 of our players have had between 2008 - 2011. However I think with the increased amount of players along with administration and coaches available in Wales I believe the 2017 IC will be a realistic target for the Red Dragons to strive for and hopefully the next European Championships may be the first step towards that.

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 01:23 pm ACDT

Great to have some comments from Darren and Bryce, both people that are or have been heavily involved in their respective leagues (Bryce founded the WARFL).

Are you still involved in the WARFL at all Bryce or did you move back to Australia?

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Bryce Stone on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 03:53 pm ACDT

Hi Brett, hope you're good. I returned to Australia mid last year and "retired" from WARFL and footy in general, but still keep a keen eye on what's happening over there. Looking forward to seeing Wales play in the IC at Adelaide Oval one day!.. now that's another topic, SANFL host the IC, why not??

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 05:33 pm ACDT

I'm sure they could come up with a long list, but happy to have a chat to you about it one day to see if we can stir some interest.  Perhaps the new Stadium Management Authority would be interested.  Nearby ovals would be Uni Oval and Park 10 (Bob Neil numbers 1 and 2), of course with all the issues of availability.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Tobietta Rhyman on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 10:19 pm ACDT

Personally I think all three countries should stick with the GB Bulldogs until the national teams are good enough to make an impact and not just get trounced but that doesn't seem to be well received. But I understand that the former AFL GB did nothing for WARFL and SARFL and even outside of London wasn't that well represented. However when that scene then transfers to women's footy and you get people telling me we'd rather not compete than work with AFL England, you've got to wonder why they're even there cos they sure ain't interested in developing the women's game.

---
Little Pommy Girl
[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Ian Mitchell on Tuesday, January 24 2012 @ 11:11 pm ACDT

I think people need to look at the GB squad list from the IC to see that there were plenty of players from outside London represented.

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Aaron Richard on Wednesday, January 25 2012 @ 09:00 am ACDT

If the squad list we got is correct, the 27-man squad as listed in the official IC11 guide had:

8 from regional England

12 from London

5 playing in Australia

2 from the WARFL

From memory, some of the guys playing in the English clubs were Welshmen or Scotsmen. 

So the balance between London and regional England isn't too bad in the case of the Bulldogs' squad.  In Adam's preview I think he mentioned that the regional players are becoming more and more represented in the national team.

A standalone English side wouldn't be very different to the current GB Bulldogs in terms of squad, and would do fine in Div 1 at the next IC.

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: kaswain on Wednesday, February 08 2012 @ 03:53 am ACDT

G'day all,

Have been following World Footy but haven't post many messages. Been fascinating reading the comments from all. Firstly, I should introduce myself to those that don't know me, my name is Kim and I am the Head Coach of Wales (as well as the Cardiff Panthers).

I do agree with Darren_C  comments, I was under the same impression that in the past the funding that went to AFL GB never filtered out to Scotland or Wales (or maybe even out of London). This was in the past, and was at the early infancy of Aussie rules (in Wales at least). 

In Wales, we are slowly growing in players' numbers but I believe we are still a few years of from competing in a full 18 aside matches for a couple of reasons, a) we only have a few players that has experienced playing 18 aside footy and b) we haven't got the depth to be competitive to play 18 aside.

One of the 6 teams in the WARFL is Bristol who don't have any Welsh players (from memory) and in the Panthers team 3 of the players play for Scotland. I think Ian Mitchell raised a very good point - we need start looking at players outside London representative. Yes a few of the Welsh players do play in English clubs and have represented Wales.

Just to note, in the recent EU Cup Scotland came 6th and Wales came 7th so there is very little to choose between the two teams.

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: kaswain on Wednesday, February 08 2012 @ 03:56 am ACDT

Forgot to say, G'day Bryce, nice to see you still keeping a close tab of WARFL and Aussie Rules in UK. Hope all is well with you.

From freezing cold Cardiff, Kim 

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Wednesday, February 08 2012 @ 09:05 am ACDT

Hi Kim,

At the 2008 International Cup, my wife got chatting to Ed Doe's dad who had come out from Wales to watch the young man playing for Great Britain.

What ever happened to Ed?  He was into Rugby Union too I gather, but a useful footy player.  Is the Ed Doe at Blackheath Rugby club the one and the same?

 

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: kaswain on Thursday, February 09 2012 @ 03:31 am ACDT

Hi Michael, 

Year after the 2008 IC Ed started university. He's based in London nowdays. I am hopeful he will came back to playing footy afterwards as he was indeed a very good young player. Very gifted with natural talent. Not sure what rugby club he used to play for but can't imagine there are many players name Ed Doe! 

Kim

[ # ]
AFL Great Britain / England National Conference 2011
Authored by: Tobietta Rhyman on Thursday, February 09 2012 @ 09:23 am ACDT

There's a guy named Ed Doe at Blackheath rugby club and this is his facebook http://www.facebook.com/ed.doe1. Seems like the right one cos he's got lots of Aussie rules mates and he's a member of GB Bulldogs facebook page *datamole*

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Little Pommy Girl
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