Tash Gunawardana interviewed former Adelaide United captain Marijana Rajcic who was selected at pick no.32 by the Adelaide Crows in the 2017 AFLW National Draft. Congratulations and good luck to Rajcic in her first season at the Crows this year.
Why did you swap codes from women’s soccer to women’s Australian Rules football?
It was something that came out of the blue really. I had not ever really thought about playing AFLW, until my best friend planted the seed in my head. The opportunity presented itself and I thought why not give it a crack. A new environment, new people and a new challenge.
Do you think there will be other players from the W League who might swap codes like you and play in the AFLW?
Yes for sure. We already have the likes of Bri Davey, Ellie Brush & of course Jenna McCormick who have made the switch to AFLW. But I know a number of girls who have made the switch and are currently playing SANFLW. But as AFLW continues to grow, I know girls will see what AFLW has to offer them and make the switch.
Tash Gunawardana recently interviewed Fremantle Dockers midfielder Dana Hooker ahead of the upcoming AFLW season.Hooker was the inaugural best and fairest winner for the Fremantle Dockers AFLW side in 2017.
When you were a kid, what other sports did you play other than footy?
I grew up playing a few different sports. I did athletics and played basketball and softball all the way into high school. In early high school I started playing football and then that became my sport of choice when I was about 16.
What did it feel like to be the first female best and fairest champion at the Fremantle Dockers?
Winning the inaugural fairest and best was certainly a great achievement that I am proud of. The night itself was something I will not ever forget but overall, to have been apart of this inaugural team at Freo and started building the foundations for the women’s side, that’s pretty special.
In a big few weeks for the USAFL currently in the offseason, there has been change at the top and parting of ways between tje league and the Tampa Bay ARFC.
Steve Grandfield who was elected USAFL President just this past October has resigned the position "due to professional opportunities outside of football". Following a highly successful National Championships in San Diego and riding a wave of optimism, the league is looking for some stability at the top after previous president Denis Ryan resigned for personal reasons and the position then being filled leading to this year's election by VP East, Mike Sheppard.
Per the USAFL constitution, if the President role is vacated, the longest serving Vice President fills the role until the next AGM. Sebestian Aguiari who has been the Vice President of the West Region since 2015 with the agreement of the USAFL board will now serve as USAFL President until the next AGM in October.
The USAFL also released the following statement on the group calling themselves Major League Footy based around the Tampa Bay ARFC/ St Petersburg Swans "We are aware of some social media activity regarding Major League Footy (MLF) recently and we want to make sure it is very clear that the USAFL is in no way affiliated with MLF or any of its operations. MLF is a For-Profit organization and its business model is in conflict with the USAFL's Non-Profit status. Subsequently, be advised that the Tampa Bay ARFC / St Petersburg Swans are no longer a USAFL member club."
With the start of the new AFLW season getting closer – the Round One clash between arch rivals, Collingwood and Carlton, on February 2nd – Adam Curley from the www.afl.com.au website reports that the GWS Giants have a new weapon up their sleeve ahead of the new season – Irish legend, Cora Staunton.
ONE OF Ireland's most decorated athletes, Cora Staunton, is looking forward to being just another Greater Western Sydney player when the NAB AFL Women's season starts in February.
Staunton is a Gaelic football legend in her country, a dominant forward who just last month was named an All-Star – the equivalent of the AFL's All Australian honour – for a record 11th time.
The 36-year-old is a household name in Ireland, having first represented her county Mayo in 1995, aged just 13, and is one of the game's biggest stars, so she told AFL.com.au just days after arriving in Sydney that she's happy to leave the spotlight behind to concentrate on learning her new code.
At half time in the NTFL match between the Tiwi Bombers and St Mary’s there was little to suggest the final outcome. Both teams were locked on 50 points apiece in an arm wrestle where Saints gained the upper hand in the first quarter before the Bombers bounced back with a strong second quarter.
But that was where the similarities ended. Fourteen goals to four after half time saw the Bombers capitalise on their strong work to finish the first half to blitz Saints and record a valuable 65 point win. The performance has seen the Bombers jump up to sixth on the ladder, just a game outside the top five with plenty of time to secure finals. They sit just half a game behind the shaky Saints and have a steadily improving percentage. With their next two matches being against teams below them on the ladder, the Bombers have a great chance of finishing the season strongly.
Saints, on the other hand, have to regroup quickly or risk the unthinkable – missing finals. They simply must win their next match against struggling Wanderers before playing the improving Waratah, Buffaloes and Nightcliff – a trio of matches that will define their season.
Nat Edwards from the www.afl.com.au website reports on the AFL’s latest bold move to use the new to be revealed AFLX football format as a key weapon in growing Australian Rules football in both China and India in coming years.
THE LEAGUE will use its new high-octane format, AFLX, to make a significant push into China and India in the future.
The fast-paced, shortened format will make its debut in February across three separate tournaments starting in Adelaide on February 15 at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Melbourne will host the second lot of AFLX round-robin matches at Etihad Stadium on February 16, before the game heads to Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
But what about the rest of the world? If the Rest of the World were to play against any of the teams above, what is the best team they could muster? We have determined eligibility for our theoretical world selection along the line of the International Cup eligibility rules and we have named the 2017 World Team (so this does not include foreign born but Australian raised players).
This year we have named Irishman Zach Tuohy as captain of the 2017 team after his sucessful move to Geelong where he was a key part of the Cat's defence and featuring in finals footy.
As with the International Cup the coach can be Australian but should have a strong link with international football. This year we have selected David Lake the coach of the PNG Mosquitoes and assistant coach of the Brisbane Lions AFLW team. Lake led the Mozzies to their second consecutive International Cup title.
I was listening to the cricket today and one of the guest English commentators enquired as to the process in picking which team to support in the AFL. His question was probably aimed more at Melbourne, the epicentre of the game, but the question itself is valid no matter where you are from.
It isn’t an easy answer, either. Firstly, the question has answers that fit for grass roots connections right through to national and international clubs. There are so many ways a person can become attached to a club.
Whether it be geography, traditions, family, success, colours, personal connection, sporting idol or just throwing a dart at a dart board, people always have a story to tell. Most of those conversations will revolve around the VFA/VFL/AFL lineage, and interstate competitions such as the WAFL, SANFL NTFL and more, but the connections to a club are still vast.
For a number of years the Osaka Dingoes in Japan were one of the mainstays of the national league in the country. For a good few years, the Dingoes were right up there with the Tokyo Goannas as the teams to beat. However, in a world of change, things didn’t stay the same, and the once mighty Dingoes fell on harder times as their club and the league around them looked at changing the footy landscape – for a number of reasons.
The end result saw the Osaka Dingoes stand on the edge of a precipice and look down into the void of footy oblivion. Part of Japanese footy history and nothing more.
But that didn’t happen, and Matt Gale, president of both AFL Asia and now of the Osaka Dingoes, tells the story of how close the club came to extinction and how they have found their way back. It hasn’t been an easy ride, and at times has been fractious, but the end result is one of confidence and potential.
The young girl positioned herself behind the goalposts as usual. She did this at every training session to watch her brothers. On the field the coach barked orders and the players continued another set of sprints, sweat pouring from their brows, but knowing this was the last training session before the Christmas break.
Hannah watched the players. She watched them complete their handpassing drills every training night. She watched the kicking drills. She watched the tackling, the marking, everything. Tonight a tear ran down her cheek when she wished that maybe Santa might one day grant her the chance to play her favourite game. Maybe this Christmas?
As she sat watching, her cheeks still red from her gentle weeping, the coach turned around and faced her. Hannah was unsure why or what had happened. Maybe something was going on behind her. But the coach started motioning for her to come out onto the field.
Tash Gunawardana interviewed Lauren Spark from the Western Bulldogs AFLW team. Spark plays ruck and key defender for the Western Bulldogs and she used to play for the Wimbledon Hawks in the AFL London competition and for Melbourne University in the VFL Women’s competition.
What made you choose women’s football over women’s beach volleyball? I loved beach volleyball and still do, but it’s a tough sport to progress further in, with limited coaches and players available. I had always wanted to play football and wasn’t until age of 27 I met a friend who was playing and went down to join her at Melbourne University Women’s Football club.
Did you play any other sports growing up, other than beach volleyball and football?
Yes played all sorts, mainly tennis as a junior and then netball as a teen.
In the current Australian Rules football climate the idea of a national league team being located outside of Australia is still being viewed as untenable and unnecessary by many. So, imagine how far-fetched an idea it must have been to suggest the re-location of a VFL team to the United States back in the late 1980’s.
To further highlight the extravagance of the idea, many international-based competitions were yet to be created and only a very embryonic network of Australian Rules football competitions existed outside of Australia. In fact, the Sydney Swan shad only just moved permanently to the harbour city in 1982 and the West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears were admitted to the VFL in 1987 – the competition was barely a national one much less ready to go overseas.
Yet, the following excerpt from Michael Warner’s story in the Herald Sun newspaper sheds light on this idea – which almost ironically could be seen as a forerunner to expansion and development processes for the game in the decades following.