It may seem a small step, but to have AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou mentioning South Africa and other international leagues as potential sources of extra player depth for the AFL is still something noteworthy for the army of volunteers outside of Australia who have often felt that trying to grow the game they love is a lonely task. Some will no doubt wonder that if international talent is truly sought, where is the support to back that up.
But there's no doubt that the idea of international expansion has slowly but surely been percolating up through the system. It won over the AFL Commissioners sufficiently to have them back a strong push into South Africa, while Papua New Guinea continue as very effective but quiet achievers. So now it's nice to hear Demetriou also talking up the prospect as the league launches into a full-blooded drive into the Gold Coast and Western Sydney, and looks forward to the next 150 years of our game.
The AFL today confirmed that India will send a team to this year's International Cup. Two AFL India board members, Ravinder Chadha and Pranab Bhattacharya were last week able to attend a coaching course at AFL House along with two Chinese delegates. This is a promising step, with India's previous attempts to send delegates to Australia hampered by visa difficulties.
Chadha predicted "rapid growth" for football in India in the next five years, and expressed his desire to see Australian football played in several of India's major population centres. He highlighted the possibility of matches against neighbouring China and nearby Japan (no mention of Pakistan was made) and even suggested that famous cricket stadiums such as Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium or Kolkata's Eden Gardens, with the capacity to hold tens of thousands of spectators, might be sought out to host an AFL exhibition match in a few years time. If successful this would be a big win, as in the past the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been unwilling to open their facilities for external use. Ironically, the Indian cricket team were given Australian football lessons during their recent tour of Australia.
Football's growth in India was initiated by ex-Melbourne footballer Brian Dixon on his 2006 World Tour.
The Convicts' Anthony Nanfra has contacted WFN to let our readers know that he's produced a short "virtual tour" of the grounds where round 1 and 2 of the 2008 International Cup will be played, in Melbourne's inner northern suburbs.
Anth looks at the four large ovals that make up the park - McAlister, Ransford, Ryder and Western Ovals. His video can be viewed on Youtube here: IC Cup Ground tour.
More information on the grounds is available in our earlier story: Royal Park North.
In 2006, Australian Traveller voted the Bathurst Island Footy Grand Final #88 on the Top 100 list of "Things to do in Australia before you die".
I am lucky enough to have done 10 of the things on this list, the Tiwi Grand Final being one of them and personally, this would be the top for me. The Tiwi footy grand final is a real insight into indigenous Australia and its culture. The friendly and welcoming people there have an unmatched enthusiasm for footy, the islands are rich in culture, the standard of skills is extremely high and the games are played at a blistering pace. Testament to the quality of the Tiwi Islands Football League is the expansion of the semi-professional NTAFL to include the Tiwi Bombers, and the growing number of Tiwis who are finding their way into the professional AFL. This article looks at some of the good news and bads news for indigenous footy in 2008.
Vancouver junior Scott Fleming has been true to his word and followed his Aussie Rules dream to Australia, arriving on the Gold Coast and scoring a try out with strong AFL Queensland side Broadbeach. We've followed Scott's plans for several years now so it's encouraging to see the talented product of the North Delta Junior AFL getting his chance Down Under.
For the first time since 2004 the Mid American Football League will have a new kid on the block as the Championship competition returns to a 6 team deal and a revised schedule. Minnesota Freeze after their Division II victory in USAFL Nationals last year have made their next step towards being the best team in the land by upping their commitment to playing in the top MAAFL schedule. This means they will square off against Chicago United, St Louis Blues, Milwaukee Bombers and Nashville Kangaroos.
The sixth team in the MAAFL draw this year is Cincinnati who in another first will team up with their friends the Louisville Kings to play road games in the MAAFL. This undoubtedly is uncharted territory for both teams and the MAAFL and sure to be worth keeping an eye on through 2008.
The MAAFL welcome in the new year with a remodelled website that has all the contact details of all clubs, latest news and will bring the latest scores and stats as games are played in 2008. Check it out at www.midfooty.com.
As the 2008 season is about to commence, here's a wrap of the 2007 premiers in all the major Australian Football leagues around the world. Hopefully this will stand as a good record for recalling the top teams at a glance. This is the second year we've compiled the list, following on from the article Club Premiers 2006.
We regret to inform readers that WFN will not be performing a World Footy Census for the 2007 season. Judging by the number of visits (over 7600) to our 2004 census it is a worthwhile exercise and one we had looked forward to doing. Unfortunately we just haven't had enough resources to do the three-year follow-up that we had intended, and we're too far into 2008 to expect leagues to provide accurate information. Perhaps come the end of this year we'll have a chance to track just how far international Aussie Rules has advanced.
The Putney Magpies are continuing the tradition of British clubs touring Europe for pre-season tour matches with a clash against the Flying Dutchmen in Amsterdam on April 13th.
The Magpies' first European tour will also be the first British club tour to the Netherlands. Joining the Dutchmen on the day will be players from the Brussels Saints, a club who have been quiet of late after a strong few seasons around 2005-06.
The Lions are heading to Berlin to take on the Crocodiles on the weekend of April 5-6th, with the Wildcats visiting Copenhagen on the same weekend to take on the Denmark Vikings, keen to start their IC preparations with a strong showing.
The Wildcats have visited Copenhagen, Stockholm, Barcelona and Croatia over the past four years, each time having a good hit out with the locals. The Lions have played in cities including Madrid, Strasbourg, Glasgow and Dublin.
The Catalan Australian Football League has rebounded this season, returning to four teams after 2007 saw the league go back to only Valls and Barcelona fighting it out for the title.
The founder club Belfry Valls will be joined by a second team from the town, dubbed the "Valls Fire". The Barcelona Stars have been renamed the Cornellà Bocs (Catalan for "Goats") and the fourth team will be based in the tiny nation of Andorra, situated high in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain.
The first round sees the Bocs take on the Fire on March 9th, followed by Belfry versus Andorra on March 16th.
In addition, interested parties are hoping to start teams in Pamplona and Valencia, two cities located not too far from the Catalan league.
The Catalan metropolis Barcelona is currently the likely host city for this year's EU Cup, to be held in October. Organisers are hoping for a delegation from the AFL to make an appearance, the event being just after the US Nationals where a few big names have been attendees in the past.
"I make no apologies that this list is of those who dominated in the VFL competition, and then the AFL, as I believe the Victorian competition always was a quasi-national competition. The game started in Victoria, and has been led from Victoria."
With that statement Melbourne-based journalist Mike Sheahan condemned many of the greatest footballers of all-time to distant memories and destroyed any chance the AFL-commissioned book "The Australian Game of Football" had of truly being an accurate reflection of the great Australian game.
The board of the Barassi International Youth Tournament, with the endorsement of the AFL has announced its intention to postpone the 2008 BYT which was to be played in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory this October.
The tournament in the past (formerly known as the Jim Stynes Cup) has seen teams from New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa, Denmark, USA and Nauru attend with other teams featuring local participants from smaller communities around Australia. Only two countries had confirmed their participation at the 2008 BYT. Others had expressed interest but were unable to commit the necessary funds.
While some junior development programs offshore are funded by the AFL, countries are required to themselves raise funds to send teams to tournaments in Australia. The organisation of the Barassi Tournament itself is made possible by private contributions and sponsorships.
With some countries expressing the desire to send U17 youth squads to the 2008 International Cup and with a growing list of nations participating in the senior tournament, it might make sense for the two tournaments to combine in future to make the most of travel packages by sending larger squads, perhaps even including a women's squad.
In the meantime, it seems that the BIAYT seeks to remain the primary youth tournament and is slated to go ahead in October 2009, however the board is initiating discussions with stakeholders concerning the future of the tournament.
While it is disappointing that this year's event is postponed, a potential 2009 tournament could help fill the international calendar between senior International Cups.