NZ to compete at Australian Country Championships
Monday, November 07 2005 @ 04:55 PM CST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
In somewhat of a breakthrough for Australian football in New Zealand, the Kiwis have been invited to attend the 2006 Australian Country Championships. With Papua New Guinea and NZ both close neighbours of Australia, they are both benefiting from increased interaction with Aussie leagues. PNG has so far pursued a juniors pathway with AFL Queensland, and NZ now take a significant step towards their goal of being recognised as a football peer to the Australian states. As the championships pit region against region, the Kiwis will also bring some of their best Australian players, provided they are now based in New Zealand.
In the press release below, NZAFL General Manager Rob Malone discusses the opportunity and how it is hoped NZ can come to be recognised as though it is a developing Australian Aussie Rules state - a logical next step. Hopefully other nations will see this as another important achievement in their overall goal of growing the game - although NZ are assisted greatly by AFL funding and from being geographically close to the epicentre of Australian football, they are blazing a trail to show the wider footy community in Australia that our game is demanding attention around the world - something that all leagues may benefit from in future. And as reigning International Cup champions, in many ways the Kiwis will indeed be representing international footy.
After winning the 2005 International Cup, the NZ Falcons have been invited to compete in the Australian Country Championships in 2006. The Australian Country Football Council and the New Zealand AFL have announced that a team from New Zealand (NZ) will take on the Australian's at their own game at the Australian Country Football carnival to be held on the Queensland Gold Coast in July 2006.
NZ, the reigning International Cup champions, will pit their skills against Australia's best country footballers, including an exciting Aboriginal All Stars team.
Aussie rules football in country Australia has a similarly impressive record to NZ's Provincial rugby when it comes to prodcuing the highest standard of footballers and football teams. The NZ team will be worthy competitors as they establish a new avenue of cross Tasman rivalry.
"The involvement of a team from NZ is a fantatsic development for the Austalian Country Football carnival. Aussie rules is a great game and to have our Kiwi cousins fielding a team at the 2006 carnival will add to the experience of playing representative football" said John Lussick, President of the Australian Country Football Council.
Rob Malone, General Manager, NZAFL said "the opportunity to play against quality teams at the 2006 carnival in Queensland will certainly continue to build on the momentum of the development of Aussie rules in NZ. One of our key strategic aims is to achieve full integration into the AFL system, that is to be considered an eighth state in relation to representative competition, coaching / umpiring accreditation, junior development resourcing and commercial and broadcasting arrangements".
"To this end, the invitation to field the NZ team in a quality carnival of this nature is a wonderful opportunity. The NZ team will comprise both Kiwi born and Australian origin players who have being playing in the NZAFL Provincial leagues for more than two years. We are extremely grateful to Australian country football for this opportunity and we look forward to July 2006".
Tournament: Australian Country Football Carnival
Date: Friday 28th & Sunday 30th July 2006
Venue: Gold Coast, Queensland
Division 1 - ACT (Canberra), NSW, Victoria, WA
Division 2 - Aboriginal All Stars, NZ, Queensland, SA, Victoria Districts and Tasmania