AFL Fiji continues to make great strides, with AusAID development officer Glen Butler reporting a growing 9-a-side competition in Fiji which will be used as a basis for their International Cup side if they do indeed make the final commitment to attend in 2011.
At last count the 9s competition had four teams playing each week on fields such as the Saint Marcellin Primary School grounds in Vatuwaqa. Butler is hoping to expand to more teams to grow their player base. A lot of players have a Rugby background. As Butler explains, "The players' knowledge of the game (is improving). The boys (and girls) are picking up the skills very quickly. It will just be a matter of more match practice to better understand rules and intricacies of AFL, and of course getting away from the rugby-passes, encouraging knock-on's and off-sides".
"The average age is 17-20, the core group of players are from the Fiji Power Team that competed in Tonga last year for the Oceania Cup. Due to the school clinics and through word-of-mouth, many of the new players now playing are from high schools around Suva. Planning to now target some of the Universities around Fiji as well to attract more players in the 20-25 age bracket".
After 2010 saw Croatia take out the gold at the Euro Cup and three clubs play out a 12-game season in the Zagreb area, 2011 will see the Croatian domestic season expand with an international flavour.
The HLAN (abbreviation for the Croatian title meaning "Croatian League of Australian Football") will kick off with three teams, as it did in 2010, but the only team to return from last season will be the Velika Gorica Bombers.
Croatia's two oldest teams, the Zagreb Hawks and Agram Power, will spend 2011 on hiatus, due to a combination of injuries, players with other commitments, and lack of sponsors. Players from the Hawks and Power will compete with either the Bombers, or new fourth Croatian side the Zaprešić Eagles.
It is hoped that the Hawks and Power will re-emerge in 2012 to give Croatia four functioning clubs, but in the meantime the Styrian DownUnderDogs from the Austrian city of Graz will be competing as the third team in the HLAN.
The HLAN 2011 kicks off this weekend, with the Velika Gorica Bombers taking on the Zaprešić Eagles on Sunday, April 10.
The Haggis Cup is Scotland's premier annual footy tournament. The SARFL event is hosted by the Glasgow Sharks and this year is set to be the biggest yet. The event will be held at Scotstoun Stadium on Saturday the 9th of April from 10:30am, and will see teams from across Europe compete for the prized trophy.
These teams include Scotland's Glasgow Sharks, Aberdeen Dingoes and Edinburgh Bloods, English clubs Huddersfield Rams and Wimbledon Hawks, Irish powerhouse Dublin Demons, the Solna Axmen from the Swedish capital Stockholm and AFL Italia foundation club Milano.
The Haggis Cup is always a high intensity event full of passion and usually attracts an impressive crowd. The tournament's growth was highlighted when 6 teams had to be declined entry into the tournament, either through not being able to confirm their intentions or the team not being able to make the date.
With Grandstand seating, onsite eating facilities and kids' entertainment, the Haggis Cup is a perfect day out to watch some footy. After match celebrations will take place in the Walkabout Bar from 7:30pm so make sure you are there too.
As part of the growing relationship between AFL club Hawthorn and AFL New Zealand in 2010 the Kiwis adopted the Hawk emblem (replacing the Falcon) and a Hawthorn inspired jumper. Recall that story in Hawks Loom Huge in New Zealand.
It's interesting now to see that Hawthorn are selling that jumper. Although there's an obvious financial benefit to Hawthorn it should also help raise awareness in Australia of NZ footy. Perhaps one day we'll see a Hawthorn match for premiership points "across the ditch", with the Hawks gathering local support wearing this jumper.
You can see the Hawthorn / NZ jumper at the Hawks' online shop (click on PUMA Apparel).
WFN has updated its unofficial World Rankings after the recent international matches in Europe. Favourites Ireland (ranked 4th) defeated Great Britain (10th) in a thriller in Dublin, whilst in Copenhagen home side Denmark (8th) won comfortably over Sweden (11th). The home town wins to the higher ranked sides saw only one change to the rankings, with Denmark stepping above South Africa into 7th.
Irish Warriors 8.11 (57)
British Bulldogs 8.6 (52)
As football continues to expand its presence outside of Australia, greater news coverage is also required. Being a volunteer organisation our writers are limited by how much time they can commit to the site and occassionally we need to put out a request for assistance.
Our current areas of need are SE Asia, Africa and Canada, however we can always do with more assistance in other areas, such as covering the long list of European countries or keeping an eye on the lower tiers within Australia. You don't need to be based in any particular country (most of our writers are in fact in Australia, although many have had overseas experience) nor do you need to have been involved with international football before. And with the 2011 Australian Football International Cup coming up in August the more writers the better based out of Melbourne and Sydney. In general to write for us all you need is a spare hour or so a week, adequate writing skills and a love of the game.
We will give you support, provide plenty of contacts, and no particular computer skills are required - we'll show you how to upload your stories through a relatively simple web page. So if you have an interest in supporting international footy and getting a behind-the-scenes view on the game's growth, then consider volunteering to write for WFN. Contact Brett Northey for more information through our About Us - Contact Us page (or click on my name above and follow the links).
In two recent interviews either side of the Tasman Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett has urged that future AFL expansion should include a team in New Zealand. Kennett is a former premier of Victoria. With the great things that are happening for International footy with players being listed to AFL Clubs, the juniors getting their chances through either State Championships or Australian Championships, funding of International footy through various means and events such as the International Cup, who is to say it is not a realistic dream?
Perhaps when the AFL next looks to expand the competition, say from 18 to 20 teams, it could be a team from NZ generating the same interest that the Gold Coast has this season and GWS will in 2012. For more see the articles in full here:-
As discussed in Oceania - NSW to mimic PNG - Queensland success, AFL PNG has set up pathways through the QLD State Football Championships to develop their players. This has been successful with a significant number of players being AFL listed already, and NZ and other Pacific nations will now have their chance through the NSW State (Zone) Championships.
From a New Zealand point of view it is a brilliant opportunity for NZ footy, and the boys themselves, five of the New Zealand Hawks Under 16 players have been selected to participate for Oceania in the New South Wales Zone Championships. These will be held in Sydney from April 16th to April 22nd 2011.
The players selected also have the opportunity to represent NSW in the Australian Under 16 Championships in Sydney in July 2011. Those who progress through to the NSW team are likely to come up against a selection of New Zealand players who will play for the South Pacific Under 18 team, also competing in the Australian Champs. This doubles the chance for Hawthorn listed player Kurt Heatherly of being at this event.
Australian rules football is coming to South-Western England, with the formation of a new club in the port city of Plymouth. The CSSA Plymouth Seagulls have been holding training sessions and hope to soon kick off a year of friendly fixtures before joining the AFLB Southern Division in 2011.
The Seagulls have been training for three months, with 19 players registered so far, and a core group of 11 every week. In addition to those, they have had several rugby players say they will be down once their season is over. A committee has been voted in, and a major sponsor located in the Civil Service Sporting Association (CSSA).
Coordinating the Seagulls is Will Sykes, an Australian who moved to England to play cricket in 2004, and settled in Plymouth. Sykes previously played for Swan View FC in Perth, as well as a stint with the Swan Districts FC colts in the WAFL.
This weekend will see the continuation of one of European footy's oldest rivalries, when the Denmark Vikings take on the Sweden Elks in Copenhagen. The Vikings and Elks finished 2nd and 3rd respectively at last year's inaugural European Championships, and both sides will be keen to get bragging rights as Scandinavia's best nation going into the 2011 International Cup in Australia this August.
Before the Sweden-Denmark match kicks off at 2.15pm, British power club the West London Wildcats will be taking on a DAFL All-Stars selection from 12pm. The Wildcats have a strong Australian contingent, and are always very hard to beat on their annual European challenge matches.
Australian ambassador to Denmark, Mr James Choi, will be on hand to toss the coin.
The DAFL and AFL Sweden are both hoping for expansion in 2011, with the East Coast Bulldogs and a new club in Odense potentially starting in Denmark, and the Karlskrona Magpies to become the first Australian rules football club to be based in Sweden's south east.
Three players from the Huddersfield Rams have been included in the European Legion under 23 squad to face the AFL / AIS under 23 representative team.
Sixteen year old schoolboy Sam Gill, who has impressed selectors with some outstanding performances for the Rams, was one of the first named in the squad. The centre will be joined by twenty-three year old Great Britain and England half forward Danny Armitage, who can now add this experience to his list of domestic and international honours.
Huddersfield Rams club founder and president, current England skipper Karl Haigh, has been drafted in as assistant events manager as part of the back room staff.
The trio head to London on Wednesday 20th April where they will have three days of intense, gruelling training before facing the AFL in Barn Elms, London, on the Saturday.
Thanks to Oliver Hughes from the Huddersfield Rams for this report.