The Finland Icebreakers are making their debut this year, as one of the newer sides in the International footy community.
Footy has been played in Helsinki for a few years, with eight players first appearing as the Finnish Lions at the Prague Cup in late 2005. Since then, the Finns have rebranded the national team the Icebreakers. They formed two local teams last year with the creation of the Helsinki Heatseekers and Salo Juggernauts, and this year have kicked off a three-team domestic league.
Finland has had a few successes, with some CEAFL champion trophies heading to Helsinki, and put in a good showing at the EU Cup last year. However, the IC will be the biggest test yet for a team that only recently played its first 18-a-side test match.
Any of us who've had a go at learning Chinese might have come across the very popular ChinesePod, a regular Podcast featuring lessons in spoken Mandarin with subscribers the world over.
ChinesePod featured a lesson this week on Aussie Rules (or more specifically on a conversation between two Chinese watching a Collingwood game on TV, one of whom likes the game more than the other), available here.
Although the lesson doesn't have a whole lot of specific footy-related vocab, it brings up a bit of a translation question regarding how to say "footy" in Chinese, the folks at CPod called it "Australian-style Olive Ball", whereas the Beijing Bombers and Shanghai Tigers use the translation "Australian-style Foot Ball".
That probably looks a bit bizarre to English-speaking readers, but the explanation is that in Chinese, the word "Olive Ball" refers to rugby, or by extension to anything else with an olive-shaped ball, including American football. Chinese tends to name sports this way, with Badminton called "Feather Ball", Tennis called "Net Ball" and Baseball called "Stick Ball" (which makes you wonder what they call the completely different sports "netball" or "stickball").
This question comes up time to time... In at least a couple of other places around the world there were long discussions on what to call the game in the local language that didn't sound like a league of Australians playing Soccer, not to mention the confusion created if you try to translate the word "rules" into the name.
The good folks of the BJ Bombers and Shanghai Tigers have both been on the CPod message board to set the record straight. Bring on IC08, and the Red Demons can decide for themselves what to call it!
As one of the debut nations at the third International Cup, Finland might not be expected to wrack up too many wins (we'll preview them shortly), but they will be sporting a winning jumper, coming in at number one in our recent poll.
Of 295 votes, the Finns received 51 votes (approximately 17%), to record a comfortable win over Canada with their maple leaf on 37 (13%), Ireland's Celtic dragon with 33 (11%) and Great Britain's Union Jack on 30 (10%). Surprisingly coming in last was Samoa on 4 votes (just over 1%). That seems harsh given the impressive Kangaroo design - maybe it just reflects a lack of either Samoan readers or North Melbourne fans.
Open up the story for a much closer look at Finland and Samoa's jumpers. And for those that follow AFL politics - the "big question" - will Samoa have to wear a clash jumper in the unlikely event they take on Finland? (Controversially North Melbourne are forced to change their jumper when they play Collingwood as it is deemed to clash, even if North are the home side).
The recent debate on the relationship between the international and the national in Australian Football has several scenarios which might encourage fear in Australia.
This 100 Year Plan (below) which I wrote first in the late 1990s and has appeared on various sites and is now slightly revised:
(1) shows those fears are groundless and more importantly
(2) shows how far internationalisation has come – most of the first 8 points have already been achieved (see also the World Footy News Timeline).
In August 2008, the US national team, the American Revolution or "Revos" as they are affectionately known, head to Australia to take on the best teams in the world to win the Australian Football International Cup. In 2005, the Revos finished a very respectable third after beating 2002 winners, Ireland twice. However, the Revos were disappointed to go down to PNG in their pool match and will be looking for an improved performance in 2008.
Ranga Ediriwickrama, Geelong's NSW Scholarship Program signing, has made headlines in Sri Lanka, the country his parents migrated from. Both the Daily Mirror and Daily News featured a story on Ediriwickrama, who was named in this year's Under 18 All-Australian Team. The New South Welshman is expected to be drafted this year, with the Cats given first preference.
The inaugural South African National Championships were staged in Potchefstroom from 5th to 8th of July, with the country's oldest footy area, North West Province, fittingly taking out the open age title. Western Cape gave a strong showing in the grand final, before ultimately losing by 32 points. Pictured at left are Mtutuzeli Hlomela, Steven Malinga, Andre Swanepool and Reginald Mokotedi.
Australian football first got its South African start in North West, and that was followed by Gauteng. So just 18 months into the game's push into the additional provinces of KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape it's quite startling to see such competitive results for the new regions. In the high school division the results were even more surprising and a sign of exciting times ahead for the game.
Unbelievably, when the International Cup rolls into Warrnambool in August there is one player who can claim home ground advantage. Kiwi Moss Doran, of the fledgling Waikato competition in NZ, has taken the game so seriously over the past 2 years that he has played for South Warrnambool in the very strong Hampden League. He has also continued to play in the Waikato’s capital of Hamilton for the past 2 seasons to fast track his development.
For more on Moss Doran from Kate Butler of Warrnambool’s “The Standard”, click here.
worldfootynews.com readers have often told us of their frustration with the quality of the Bigpond coverage of AFL matches, with connectivity a major issue for those living outside of Australia. We're pleased to promote Aussie Sport TV, a new service launched to provide coverage of "Australian Rules Football (AFL), National Rugby League (NRL) and V8 Supercars video content - including extended match highlights as well as feature content on a team by team basis, round by round analysis and specific news desk programmes for each sport. Fans living overseas can get a better view of the action than ever before". worldfootynews.com will be paid a commission for any subscriptions to Aussie Sport TV that occur via clicking on their advertising logo on our site.
Please note that Aussie Sport TV is NOT available in Australia. If you are living in Australia the official service is only available online through Bigpond and Bigpond AFL TV.
Proving that the so-called Irish experiment is just that, an experiment, young Carlton recruit Michael Shields has joined the growing list of Irishmen to return to his homeland without making a success of an AFL career. The transition to a full contact, professional sporting environment can be too much for many prospective players. Some Australian draftees find the demands on their minds and bodies too great, so it's no surprise the toll is even greater for recruits drawn from a different sport on the other side of the world.
Although the announcement of the loss of the rookie-listed player is not likely to slow the search for international talent, it does come at a time when Sydney's Tadhg Kennelly continues to warn that AFL clubs are not equipped to handle the needs of such recruits.
Kennelly himself, injury permitting, becomes the third Gaelic recruit to play 150 VFL/AFL games, following Jim Stynes and Sean Wight (Scottish born/Irish raised). It's a great achievement, particularly as he has struggled through injuries this season, in one match dislocating his shoulder and knee in separate incidents, and last week popping his shoulder twice. But like Stynes before him, Kennelly battles on without missing matches.
Meanwhile the somewhat far-fetched but seriously considered idea of Western Sydney having a Sydney Celtic theme has been firmly dismissed by the AFL. The new side will look to embrace the new migrant communities of the area, which are by no means heavily Irish.
New Zealand held their final training camp over the weekend of July 4th-7th under adverse weather conditions, which is nothing new in the Land of the Long White Cloud! A strong defence of their title is expected and they have named an even squad with players from across their four football regions.
Speaking with 2005 Cup winning coach and now NZ Media Liaison Officer Jim Lucy, he said “Personally I feel it is a good squad, very fit, with a good game plan and an even spread of experience and youth. Our average age (is) 24 which is the same as last campaign but probably has a few less ‘oldies’ and a lot more experienced players. Having 5 guys based in Australia honing their skills is a real bonus”.