The new 2017/18 NTFL season got off to a flying start in Darwin this weekend. After a winter sojourn where many players travel across the nation to play footy in other state leagues and metropolitan or country competitions, they return to Darwin for Australia’s number one summer footy competition.
It was set to be a very interesting season with the AFLNT controlling body making significant changes to the rules of the game by restricting the amount of fly-in/fly-out players on team lists in the hope of evening the competition. Time will tell if the initiative works and helps to generate more opportunity for local youth, but the Round One results were, by and large, a mixture.
In arguably the match of the round, last year’s premiers, St Marys, came up against last year’s big improvers – Nightcliff Tigers. It was the Tigers, however, running away to an 80-point win to exact a little revenge for missing last year’s grand final.
During the 2009 AFL Middle East season, the Bahrain Blues first entered the fields of footy battle when they played in the Dubai 9’s tournament. By later that year the nation’s Australian Rules football team was a part of the AFL Middle East competition proper. Big things were possible and the sky was the limit.
Then came the “Arab Spring”, a period of political turmoil across much of the Middle East and northern Africa, which saw massive protests and clashes across many nations. Bahrain itself was a part of this. The island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia saw clashes and the unsettled nature of the events between 2010 and 2012 (predominantly 2011 in Bahrain) saw the landscape change for footy as many ex-pats once involved in creating the Blues left the nation and Australian Rules football, as with other endeavours, stalled.
English fans will have partied well into the night in Bordeaux after the nation took out the prestigious Euro Cup titles for both the men’s and women’s competitions. It will be remembered as a landmark day for English Australian Rules football as the years of hard work behind the scenes and on the training tracks resulted in a memorable result for the nation.
A moment should be set aside for Irish teams, both the men’s Warriors and women’s Banshees going down in the finals to the England teams. They Irish were brave, but the results in each final showed the English a long way ahead on the scoreboards, suggesting luck had little to do with results.
Whilst the victors quite rightfully will enjoy their tournament and take away fond memories, some of the lesser lights also stood out in a tournament, which continued to bring great opportunity to participating nations.
It was their destiny. The Multiplex Bulls entered 2016/17 confident that it would be their season. It would be their breakthrough premiership – their reward after having already felt the pain of four premiership defeats in previous seasons. Admittedly, one of those was a pre-season cup in their inaugural season, but they still hurt.
Last season it was the Bulls first into the Grand Final and they waited as the Dubai Dragons won their way into the final clash of the year. However, this year it would be the Bulls – finally.
It was not. They went down by just a goal. Not only were the Bull’s hearts broken again, but the margin was further salt into raw wounds…so close and yet so far.
The Bulls now have a new season ahead of them, but acknowledge how much the club hurts. According to the club, “the Bulls were gutted last year to not take the prize, but we are looking forward to another strong and successful season. We have been training in some pretty awful summer conditions since August.”
In part one of this feature the case was argued that for the good of both the AFLW and international footy (both women's and men's) the AFL needs to allow and encourage international rookie spots on AFLW lists starting now, ready for AFLW 2018.
The benefits include a pool of internationals ready to: boost the standard and colour of the AFLW, to promote the sport back home, to demonstrate a semi-pro pathway exists, and to one day provide opposition that will allow Australian women the chance to pull on an Australian jumper to play a true Aussie Rules international (a potentially alluring but difficult to quantify enhancement to AFLW).
All this for virtually no cost as the spots should be in addition to the regular lists, they don't even need to include payments (better if they do but initially I think most will agree we'll take what we can get). These women will put their lives on hold for a precious opportunity and will repay the game many times over in return. Just allow the free hit list positions and, like in the AFL men's competition, allow rookie elevation to replace an injured player (there were plenty last season) if the international is deemed good enough. And if she is good enough then presumably she'll be given a regular list spot the following year.
I've put out the call myself, I've shown the backing for this or similar ideas from people in the international footy community from our own Troy Thompson to Peter Holden on Girls Play Footy to former USAFL President Denis Ryan and Great Britain Swans Team Manager and GB Bulldogs player Jason Hill.
Now let's hear from AFL club the GWS Giants, from an international team captain, from a current AFLW player very familiar with international footy, and a player who could've benefited from such a position during 2017.
To have a kick and have some fun and chase that ol’ football.”
Such was the theme of last weekend’s Lions Cup – the inaugural football tournament put together by the ALFA Lions in Lyon France. The event brought together Lions teams from France, Germany, Denmark and England to compete for the honour of being the greatest Lions in Europe.
The format was a six-match round robin draw, pitting each team against each other once. After the six completed matches, the results saw a three-way tie on wins at the top. The North London Lions, Odense Lions and ALFA Lions recorded two wins each – the title being decided by for and against.
If you were to believe the comments of former St Kilda coach, Grant Thomas, the team with the worst list in the AFL just won the premiership. If you take the time to read further, across a variety of social media platforms, you can see that there is a Victorian bias in the draw and finals fixtures, particularly the use of the MCG as a permanent Grand Final venue. Former West Coast premiership veteran, Sam Butler, has stated as much.
Everyone is entitles to opinions, and past VFL/AFL players or coaches are in a uniquely knowledgeable position, being so close to the highest levels of the game. But it doesn’t necessarily make them right and a short look at some history and data can put things in a different perspective.
The AFL is constantly under fire for their efforts to even out the game. Strangely, I still remember people critical of the then VFL for not doing something about the “Silvertail” Carlton Blues when they could seemingly “buy” premierships. The poor old AFL/VFL cannot win here - they have either made it too even or not even enough. Classical “Goldilocks Syndrome” where to many it is never “just right”. From my position that view is distorted heavily by whether or not one’s own team wins a flag or languishes again outside the finals.
Richmond defender, Bachar Houli, is one footballer who had given much of himself off field to create important footballing, academic and social pathways for young Muslims – particularly young male Muslim youth – to assist them on life journeys. The development of his Bachar Houli Academy, aimed at young Muslim males, and also the Bachar Houli Cup – junior matches for Muslim boys and girls in schools both important initiatives.
His role in the community has been vital in allowing young Muslims to navigate their ways through life at so many levels. His commitment has been unwavering, doing most in a selfless voluntary role.
One could be excused for thinking that his own role as a player for the Richmond Football Club is almost secondary to loftier goals – and perhaps in the grander scheme of things it is.
But today was as much Bachar’s day as any of his team mates, his club, or Tiger supporters everywhere. Today, along with his Richmond team mates, Bachar became a part of AFL/VFL history as he helped enormously as the Tigers downed the Adelaide Crows to take the 2017 AFL Premiership.
As the AFL world turns its attention to tomorrow’s AFL Grand Final at the MCG between the Adelaide Crows and Richmond Tigers, Most of the European leagues have had their seasons decided in recent weeks. Following is a brief rundown of results for 2017.
The ALFA Lions started their 2017/18 premiership defence in fine style in Paris last weekend at the Coupe de France. Whilst having admitted before the tournament that the main aim of the event was friendship and the creation of an enjoyable atmosphere to start the new season, it will not be lost on them – or any other team – that the Lions are back again.
Going into the pool matches the Lions started with a 32 to 16 win over the Toulouse Hawks followed by a second pool win against the Bordeaux Bombers 43 to 20.
In their semi-final against the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes, the Lions put the foot down and ran off with a strong 40-14 victory. This set up their final against the Paris Cockerels. After a strong game of defences, it was the Lyon based team that took the honours, running out winners over the Cockerels 28 to 11.
Just over a week remains before competing teams run out onto the playing fields of Stadium Robert Monseau, Saint Médard en Jalles in Bordeax. Teams are now in final preparations for journeying to the French city ready for the start of the 9-per side championship.
Bordeaux knows very well how to stage the event, having hosted the event back in 2013. On that occasion, the French teams in both the men’s and women’s were unlucky runners-up. This time around, the buzz around France is to turn that result around and take one, or both, of those titles.
But there is a class field assembled once again. Last year’s winner of the men’s draw, the Croatian Knights, are ready to go again after having performed well in the International Cup in Melbourne just a few weeks ago. The team they vanquished last year, the Irish warriors, will be determined to reverse that result. In the women’s draw, last year’s finalists – the Irish Banshees and the England Vixens are back.
The 2017 AFL Grand Final kicks off at the MCG on Saturday afternoon in Melbourne. Richmond will play Adelaide in the Premiership decider. The full international broadcast schedule can be seen below.
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