Long term view to IC2008 - part two
Thursday, September 21 2006 @ 01:07 am ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
In part two of our long range look at the 2008 International Cup we consider which countries might attend for the first time. We also review previous standings and have a stab in the dark at possible finishing order at the next Cup.
Five countries come to mind as possible new attendees. In Europe the leading candidates would be Sweden, Germany and France. The Swedes have had a solid league in the south for many years and the game has been growing in other centres such as Stockholm. Similarly Germany has a stable but small league, and France have several clubs in the making but really just Strasbourg as a regular side. Signs are good in all three countries but it's unlikely they will attend. Sweden are the best chance, and Germany probably could consider it, but AFLG President Malte Schudlich has previously told WFN that the league is unlikely to be ready by 2008 and money would be better spent on promoting the sport internally. Their recent belting by Denmark points to how early in the development stages the German league is.
China and Tonga must also be slim chances. Both have development officers getting the locals involved. In China's case the first sides based on locals only got onto the park this year, so they would need a lot of support towards the next International Cup, but with a massive economy, over a billion people, the support of the Melbourne Demons and Melbourne City Council and officials in Tianjin, it's a matter of how much those entities want it to happen. In Tonga's case their development body TAFA has focussed on juniors, and with most players around 13 to 15 years old the next Cup will be too soon for the majority. However there have been some senior matches and if AFL support is right then they too are a chance.
Some of our readers are probably wondering about countries they've heard mentioned in the past that aren't yet listed here - nations such as the Solomon Islands, Argentina, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Fiji and Pakistan. We'll cover them in brief. The Solomons, last we heard, had dropped footy, disappointed by a lack of support from all parts of the football community. Argentina appear to have a small league but information is scarce and there has been little sign of outside interaction. Indonesia has a small league for locals, but as slightly built and relatively poor rural villagers, the International Cup is unlikely to be high on their agendas. Both the Israeli and Lebanese leagues were very small and based around expatriate Australians and dual citizens. It's not known whether either league continues. Fiji dropped footy after a very short lived flirt with the game, and Pakistan has only just begun a small program. There are a variety of other countries that have active footy programs but which are unlikely to attend as they consist primarily of expatriate Australians who are ineligible under International Cup rules.
Out of Nauru, Sweden, Tonga, Spain, Germany, China and France, it is unlikely that more than three will ultimately find the numbers, time and finances to attend. We will include them all in our ponderings just in case though. Below is a list of the final rankings for 2002 and 2005, and a very early guess at the relative strengths of teams that might be there in 2008. If even 14 teams make it Down Under it will be a great event and have worldfootynews.com's volunteer writers more than busy!
2002 International Cup - final rankings:
2. Papua New Guinea
3. New Zealand
6. Great Britain
11. South Africa
2005 International Cup - final rankings:
1. New Zealand
2. Papua New Guinea
6. Great Britain
8. South Africa
2008 International Cup - early guess at rankings of possible attendees:
1. Papua New Guinea
2. New Zealand
3. United States
6. South Africa