The AFL website is reporting new details of activities in South Africa (a talent camp in Pretoria) plus apparently confirming what has been reported as on the cards previously - an exhibition match in February '08 and a return tour of an Australian indigenous youth team.
The AFL's story says that former "Essendon premiership player Adam Ramanauskas will be the guest coach at the inaugural Talent Camp in South Africa in December. Ramanauskas will join AFL South Africa head coach Mtutu Hlomela at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria for the camp from December 19-20". There will be 40 players aged 13 to 16, participants of FootyWild, the South African version of Auskick. Hlomela is pictured at left.
A new initiative, which has enlisted big name sports identities including olympic gold medallists Ian Thorpe and Alisa Camplin and Tour de France cycling star Cadel Evans, Sport 4 the Environment, is aimed at helping Australian sports clubs and organisations to implement their own environmental policy.
Among them are two AFL stars representing the sport of Australian Football. The Collingwood Magpies' Shane Wakelin and Sydney Swan Brett Kirk are both now officially environmental ambassadors for the AFL.
A common criticism of the AFL for many years now has been the constant changing of rules and interpretations. Some see the changes as part of a hidden agenda to change the nature of the game, whilst others see it as a necessary reaction to the rapid evolution of the sport as it entered the fully professional era. There's no doubt that coaches are always looking to exploit loopholes and where the game deteriorates as a result, the lawmakers do need to react.
But it's clear that fans and players and been increasingly frustrated by the pace of change so it will be some relief to read on the AFL website that there will be "No major changes in rules for 2008".
The article reports that "the AFL Commission on Friday approved a recommendation from the Laws of the Game Committee that 2008 would be a season of consolidation for the game's laws, with no major changes to be implemented".
This is of course relevant to international footy, as most changes ultimately filter out to leagues around the world, as well as down through the levels in Australia.
Perhaps the one criticism to come out of the decision is that the controversial hands in the back interpretation has been maintained. Unpopular almost universally, it is set to stay in 2008, with the AFL's analysis apparently showing it was generally applied appropriately and improved the spectacle of the sport.
With the IC 2008 now less than a year away, 18 international teams are in active discussion with the AFL about taking part, with a further 3 Melbourne-based migrant community teams under consideration.
One of the big changes in the IC 2008 will be the division of the competition into "Premier" and "Developmental" divisions, pitting the more established sides against each other, while giving the newer teams on the block a fairer playing field.
While nothing is yet finalised, discussion between the AFL and international leagues is slowly creating a likely picture of who'll end up in which division.
The West London Wildcats will be the first BARFL club to launch a regular-season juniors team next year, with the Wildcats planning to enter an under-16s team in a new London junior league organised by Aussie Rules UK.
As it stands, the Wildcats will be joined by five school teams from around the London area, with the league to be played under full-contact rules with boys in the age range of 14-16, first bounce to be April next year. The Wildcats' main source of junior talent is via Featherstone High School in Ealing, who are connected with another 30 primary and 16 secondary schools in the area who are interested in running pograms.
Although no other BARFL clubs have entered a team so far, Wildcats stalwart Matt Glynn explains that the plan for the first season may see some of the schools being aligned with other BARFL clubs, with a view to them entering their own teams in future.
The British Bulldogs have shown themselves to be greatly improved and are widely tipped to be a force at the upcoming International Cup, however most clubs still find recruiting of local players a challenge. With pathways for junior talent to develop, the next few years may see British footy take a sizeable leap forward.
Following on from our story on the AFL's press conference for the International Cup (see Warrnambool to co-host 2008 International Cup), in this story we present photos and audio from the day, and links to some of the local media coverage. The AFL's General Manager of Game Development David Matthews briefs journalists, the Mayor has a chat and Kevin Sheedy spruiks for the internationalising of footy. Many thanks to WFN reporter Troy Thompson for making the six hour return journey for the press conference.
Regular readers of World Footy News this year will have appreciated the great coverage given to footy in the USA by our US correspondent Chris Adams. Chris was recently interviewed in The Connection and the article can be seen here.
The interview reveals his deep knowledge and love of both the US and Australian versions of football and gives a nice plug to the Baltimore Washington Eagles footy club and Chris’s junior clinics.
Soccer superstar David Beckham's promotional visit to Australia for the LA Galaxy vs Sydney FC exhibition match featured a sampling of some of Australia's own football code.
During his first visit to Australia, Beckham met with young AFL and Collingwood Football Club star Dale Thomas in Sydney. Thomas gave the soccer star some tips on kicking a goal with the oval shaped Sherrin.
Suffice to say that while Beckham can certainly bend the round ball as shown in the match against Sydney FC, his effort with the oval variety was not as spectacular, though good on him for trying. You can see pictures of Beckham kicking a footy on the Herald Sun's photo gallery.
The AFL today announced that Warrnambool will join Melbourne as the host of the 2008 International Cup. The announcement was made by Kevin Sheedy (Ambassador for the sport's 150 year celebrations and ex-Essendon coach) and David Matthews (AFL Game Development) at Reid Oval, one of three venues that will be used for Warrnambool's matches (Walter and Mack ovals are the others). The decision to play some matches at a regional location is no doubt the result of a very successful trial at the 2005 tournament, where fellow Victorian country-town Wangaratta hosted one round of matches. Warrnambool is on the southwestern coast of Victoria (three hours from Melbourne) and has a population of a little over 30,000.
An updated fixture (including locations) was also revealed which we’ve included below. More news will follow in the next few days, including a current list of likely attendees, a proposed division breakdown and a review from World Footy News' representative at the launch, Troy Thompson.
The Lao Elephants, Asia's newest footy side, made their debut on November 17th in Hanoi, taking on the Thailand Tigers and hosts Vietnam Swans in a three-team tournament. Thirteen players made the trip from the Lao PDR to pull on the pink and grey jumper (pictured at right), augmented by eight curious Irishmen who had seen them carrying a Sherrin at the airport and decided to come along for a kick.
The Elephants went down to the Vietnam Swans 5.2.32 to 3.5.23 in their first-ever match, a gallant effort in extreme heat and humidity with a number of players (not least the Irish) having never played competitive footy before. In the following two games, the Thailand Tigers proved themselves a long way ahead of their Indochinese regional rivals, defeating the Swans 85-21 and the Elephants 63-28.
The tournament also included a ladies' netball tri-series, with the Lao Mahouts running out victors over the Thai and Vietnamese sides in their first international appearance.
In a side note for trivia buffs, international footy identity and former WFN Asia writer "the Big Rooster" both designed the jumper and took the field for the Elephants, meaning he has now played for teams from 19 countries. International footy connoisseurs may also recognise the Elephant on the Lao jumpers as once having been at home in Eastern Europe.
Just a quick reminder that there are now four 2005 Australian Football International Cup videos on our World Footy Channel, a link for which also appears in the top bar of the website. In addition to Opening Ceremony footage and the Japan victory over Spain in their first round match, we've now added South Africa's win over Japan, the New Zealand haka and Samoa's Siva Tau. See our 2005 Australian Football International Cup playlist.