Contributed by: Harley Vague
Parrs Park in the West of Auckland is the setting for the return match of women’s U18 Football, the Australian Woomeras versus the New Zealand Kahus. It’s the last football game on the N.Z. football calendar. Fortunately Parrs Park is well drained as the area had received torrential rain for much of the Sunday morning leading up to the game which was played in light rain and a blustery East wind.
The Kahus were looking to improve on their first outing with the Woomeras where they were comprehensively beaten. Parrs park is quite a picturesque ground with good a surface, good markings, facilities and solid goal posts. It’s also the home ground of the Magpies, one of six teams in the Auckland league.
The Kahus won the toss and decided to kick with the aid of a slight cross wind which unfortunately swung around almost straight after bounce down. The Woomeras were immediately into attack and the Kahus were constantly defending but after a period they able to break out of defence and mount attacking moves. It was a good quarter with the slightly inaccurate Woomeras scoring only one goal four behinds.
In the second quarter the Woomeras were on target slotting in some great shots to extend their score to five goals and five behinds.
The third and final quarters were similar in that that Woomeras were able to extend their score to nine goals six behinds and fourteen goals fourteen behinds respectfully. The Kahus had definitely improved on their first outing not only restricting the Woomeras to half their previous score but started orchestrating their style of play both in defence and in attack.
Considering that the Woomeras were drawn from all over Australia with a long history of Australian Football and the Kahus were drawn from the Auckland and Whangarei with a more limited playing experience it was a very encouraging result. In the slippery conditions there were some good skills on display. With more experience the Kahus will learn to instinctively make the right decisions and not to hesitate, making them competitive at national level. Indeed they were little unfortunate to be caught by some of the nuances of the game like slipping over on top of the ball or holding onto the ball a little too long when busting through a pack to be penalised for holding the ball.
Talking to Alex from AFLNZ he is very positive about the direction of Australian football in N.Z. The recent investment by the AFL in N.Z. is starting to show dividends with some juniors filtering through to community football. Even though N.Z. is a predominantly R.U. country there is a positive attitude by participants in AFL programs towards a new sport particularly because it is less restrictive and very physical.
The Kiwikick program is constantly expanding with a growing number of schools and participants. As such it needs a great deal of organisation and help made easier by an enthusiastic reception. Alex is also confident that crowd numbers will rebound at the next game in Wellington as the game will be in the afternoon, on a normal weekend, with popular teams and hopefully with reasonable weather.
Most people don’t know that there was a period when Australian Football was strong in N.Z. and that in 1908 N.Z. defeated NSW and Qld at the Australian Carnival winning 6 out of 11 games whilst on tour. Considering N.Z. isn’t too far removed from the situation in Sydney that saw the introduction of the Sydney Swans at AFL level we might seeing the foundations of something much bigger in the future.
World Footy News