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AFL Ontario returns this weekend
Authored by: Shane Hendrickson on Monday, May 26 2014 @ 01:31 pm ACST

It's actually six teams in the second division with the inclusion of Etobicoke this year. I think with the number perhaps eight or so clubs could field a reserves in the next two years.

Also, the Blues are working a juniors program but is struggling to get participation. 



AFL Ontario returns this weekend
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, May 26 2014 @ 10:03 pm ACST

Thanks Shane.

I keep thinking Canada is so close to making the leap to something special for international footy.  A 10 team men's league in the Ontario region, backed by a 6 team (and hopefully growing) second division, a growing women's league, the exposure of kids through Aussie-X... it all adds up to a significant footy scene in one region.  With that kind of critical mass, who knows, they could be on track for a large amateur league that wouldn't look out of place in an Australian city.

And across on the west coast the BC league is back up to 5 teams and the North Delta Junior AFL is still running (not sure about the numbers though, possibly down, hard to tell from the website).

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
AFL Ontario returns this weekend
Authored by: Shane Hendrickson on Tuesday, May 27 2014 @ 10:44 am ACST

 I read that Edmonton had ambitious plans for both a men's and women's metro league with four teams each. It's also the first year AFL Quebec has had a separate men's and women's league, compared to the coed, so there's definite signs of steady growth everywhere.

Back to Ontario, their Twitter account said that 61 players played in their first Ontario footy match in the opening round just gone. The Blues div 2 and women's sides will play their first matches in the next two weeks and we have at least six men and four women (that I can think of) to debut as well. So at least 70 new players in Ontario this year. Hopefully it's a good year of consolidation before more expansion. I don't see another first division side coming any time soon though.



AFL Ontario returns this weekend
Authored by: Brett Northey on Tuesday, May 27 2014 @ 11:07 pm ACST

Unless there's a regional area crying out for a team I don't particularly think there would be a need for another division one club anyway.  I don't think leagues like that should be mimicking the AFL, they should be aiming for a model more like metropolitan Australian amateur and community leagues.

For me, real consolidation is when the existing 10 clubs grow to all have division two, juniors and then division three etc.  Then you have the safety of large numbers that can survive downturns, survive the departure of key off field personnel, have bigger fundraising and social events, grow a past players association that can support the club and develop a stronger local community footprint.

It also allows the development of elite players who move up to Div 1 but just as importantly allows the retention of not so good or purely social players who can still have fun playing in a lower grade - those people are often also the heart and soul and drivers of a club.  It also allows Div 1 to become a polished product at the top of a genuine pyramid structure to footy.

So when a league goes from say 4 to 5 teams I get excited.  But when they get up to 8 or 10, I'm actually more excited to hear that there's growth of a reserves or a second division... that says permanent roots are being put down.

Keep up the good work everyone across Canada.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
AFL Ontario returns this weekend
Authored by: Cam Homes on Wednesday, May 28 2014 @ 08:28 pm ACST

Have to agree with you, Brett, having a reserves grade makes it easier for a new team/club to start up if they join the reserves competition at first thus avoiding regular thrashings by the Div 1 'stars' whilst learning the game (especially since the locals taking up the game haven't had the game bred into them from birth).

It would appear that the Ontario League could well be the most stable(don't want to put the mocha's on them here) league set up outside Aussie. Ten clubs, 18-a-side with a pretty strong reserves competition backing them up and locality/suburbs based to boot. AND a women's comp.

Greater Western Sydney started playng in a lesser grade before they entered the AFL(the league), Central District and Woodville did it in the SANFL and German AFL did it in 2009 with Stuttgart playing their first season in the 2nd Division (the league reverted to a single division the next year).

Still on Kanuck footy, I notice that the newly formed Nova Scotia AFL played a  mini season last year (9-a-side) between Halifax Dockers and Halifax Giants. They also hosted the Toronto Dingos in an "exhibition" match (and performed admirably agin seasoned players apparently) in October last year. All encouraging signs of further (all be it slow) growth of footy in Canada.