Our AFL Asia correspondent Yoshi reviews the IMPACT Invitational Cup Tournament held last weekend in Osaka.
On Saturday, July 7th, the Osaka Dingoes created club history by hosting two international teams as well as 2 Tokyo based AFL clubs for our first ever IMPACT Invitational Cup Tournament held at the Canadian Academy in Kobe. It was the first time for the club to invite international footy clubs.
It had rained heavily in the Kansai Region the previous two days before the tournament and travel chaos occurred the day before causing train and bus services to be cancelled. Even I got a weather warning about the landslides around my apartment on Thursday night. An evacuation order was made by the Kyoto City Council that sent me to a nearby former primary school building for a sleepover.
After the discussion with the board members and players, we have decided to go ahead on the tournament.
The wild weather conditions made some players from Tokyo and Osaka being impossible to be present at the tournament. Subsequently, the instant merged team was formed by Tokyo Football Club (already having been merged by players from Tokyo Bay Suns, R246 Lions and Eastern Hawks) and Osaka Dingoes. We all were Dingoes for the day. Other participating clubs were the Singapore Wombats, Indonesia Volcanoes (merged team made up of the Bali Gekkos and Jakarta Bintages) and the Senshu Powers.
Due to the reduced number of participating teams, we narrowed the number of round games from 10 to six. After the Opening Ceremony, the first match started at 10:30 am played between Singapore Wombats and the Dingoes.
All matches were played two 12-minute halves with a three-minute break.
The Indonesia Volcanoes demonstrated attacking footy as well as forming tight defense line throughout the day. Three former AFL players (Rick Olarenshaw, Chad Fletcher and Brian Lake) helped them to win games.
The Singapore Wombats brought 18 players into the tournament. They fought hard with defensive game plans in the wet conditions, which kept opposition forwards quiet.
The Senshu Powers are a University footy club and their young players demonstrated great ball handling using skills in the midfield with fast paced handpasses and kicks. Their on field performances were similar to the Western Bulldogs style footy in 2016.
The Dingoes fought hard with our ball use in the midfield and movement towards the forward line. Whilst putting much pressure on the opposition all over the field reflected our great efforts.
The Indonesia Volcanoes dominated the round robin matches winning all three matches, whilst the remaining 3 other teams shared one win and two losses record. However, the Senshu Powers (77%) had a better percentage than the Singapore Wombats (71%) and the Dingoes (60%)
The Indonesia Volcanoes gave the Senshu Powers the opportunity to pick the best Japanese players to challenge the experienced Volcanoes in the Grand Final.
The Japanese side demonstrated fast paced ball handling skills and tackled the Volcanoes ferociously, but the Indonesian's dominated the footy more and used their speed to score more goals.
The Indonesia Volcanoes won the first ever IMPACT Invitational Cup 2018 defeating the Senshu Powers 9.3 (57) to 2.1 (13). The Winner's Cup was handed to the Indonesia Volcanoes during the closing ceremony.
At the closing ceremony, the Indonesian and Singaporean clubs mentioned how they were impressed with the skills and ability of the Japanese players.
The IMPACT Invitational Cup MVP was awarded to Senshu Powers' ruckman, Kento Takahashi. The runner up was Bryce James from the Indonesia Volcanoes, and I got one vote.
After the Tournament, we hosted our Sportsman's Night at our proud sponsor, the Blarney Stone Shinsaibashi in Osaka.
The live coverage of the Western Bulldogs versus Hawthorn was played on the big screen and we all enjoyed watching the professional game with food and beverages.
An interview to ex-players conducted by the Dingoes President and Player Coach Matt Gale followed. When introducing these three legends, I sang Essendon, West Coast and Hawthorn club songs in honour of premiership footballers.
Auctions were done after the interviews. Footballs used during the tournament signed off by Olarenshaw, Fletcher and Lake and footy guerneseys were sold.
It was a great day for footy in Asia and everyone had great experiences. International players also enjoyed touring Japan.
My on field performances were much better than my first time playing footy at IMPACT Anzac Day Cup. I have chased ball hard and touched footy several times. During Round 6 against the Volcanoes, I kicked the first goal in my life and it was memorable. After the final siren, two Volcano players chaired me off which was great.
Rd 1 Singapore 5.7 (37) def by Osaka 6.2 (38)
Rd 2 Indonesia 8.6 (54) def Senshu 4.2 (26)
Rd 3 Osaka 4.1 (25) def by Senshu 5.3 (33)
Rd 4 Singapore 2.0 (12) def by Indonesia 5.5 (35)
Rd 5 Senshu 3.1 (19) def by Singapore 3.2 (20)
Rd 6 Indonesia 9.6 (60) def Osaka 1.2 (8)
Grand Final Indonesia 9.3 (57) def Senshu 2.1 (13)