One of the teams present at this month's International Cup won't represent a country; making their return will be the (Peres) Peace Team. The team attracted attention both positive and sceptical in 2008, but with the AFL's approval of the team, the result with Israelis and Palestinians of Islamic, Jewish and Christian faiths pulling on a "Peace Team" jumper and representing unity in a region troubled with violence was seen as a positive one.
Including internationally recognised documentaries on the experience; and the flow on from the 2008 team still continues to resonate throughout corporate, communal, educational and political leaders throughout Australia and in parts of the world.
Game Day 1 - Watchlist: Tonga vs France, Japan vs Fiji, Canada vs USA
The 2011 AFL International Cup commences Saturday morning (August 13th) with the 18 men's teams playing off in 2x15 minute halves in their 6 pools, each side playing 2 matches. The top 2 sides from each group go through to Division 1 (12 teams), the bottom side Division 2 (6 teams).
Since the pools are seeded it's expected that the top seed in each pool will easily account for the bottom side - even with reduced game time expect to see some 100+ victories, e.g. PNG over France, NZ over India, Ireland over East Timor, Canada over Peace Team. A couple of results that might go a little closer could be SA over China (but still expect a blow out) and Nauru versus Fiji - the Chiefs should defeat the new boys pretty comfortably but it'll be a good guide as to what to expect from Fiji.
There'll be much more interest in the matches between the 1st and 2nd teams in each pool, and when 2nd and 3rd play each other.
Canada's Northwind are ranked 6th for IC11 and could be expected to rise given their previous Cup finishes of 9th (2002), 7th (2005) and 6th (2008). No doubt the coaching staff will be hoping they can crack open the top 4 and gain a semi-final birth, but the top nations won't give up their spots easily.
The Country and Australian Football
One of the world's largest countries by area, Canada in some ways shares a lot in common with Australia. Both are wide open lands but with much of them not particularly hospitable and relatively small populations, which are mostly of European descent as well as a significant indigenous population. Both have strong friendship with the USA and are heavily influenced by it, but also have a healthy scepticism towards that country in some respects and enjoy their differences.
It's now just a few days before the opening function for the fourth AFL International Cup and some of the teams have begun arriving. South Africa lead the way, touching down in Perth the Friday before last, whilst Sweden had their jumper presentation event in Melbourne last Monday.
The first official duties will be the Captains Launch in Sydney on Friday morning, followed by a Welcome Function at Luna Park beside Sydney's famous Harbour Bridge.
The next morning is Game Day 1 at Blacktown International Sportspark Sydney (BISS). The men's competition kicks off with all sides grouped into 6 pools of 3 teams (based on the AFL's seedings, mostly from IC08 finishing positions). They play a match against each of the other 2 teams in their pool. The games are shortened, 2 halves of 15 minutes, and at the conclusion the bottom side from each pool will form Division Two and the top two teams from each pool will form Division One.
Each Division will be seeded based on the results of this opening day and Division One re-grouped into 4 groups of 3, which will play off amongst themselves (2 matches over 3 game days). Division Two, with 6 teams, has a similar but slightly different pattern.
Meanwhile the Women's Division will get underway Monday 15th August (the second day of men's matches) and have a launch function that evening at BISS. It's a busy day with representatives from each nation starting the day with Morning Tea at the Prime Minister's Sydney residence, Kirribilli House.
But on to the important part - who wins? For a bit of fun the worldfootynews.com crew have come up with their predictions for the final ladder positions for both the men's and women's, and combined the results of all the writers to come up with a consolidated prediction of where the nations will finish. Read on to see who we predict to win the 2011 International Cup.
The Australian Football League today announced DraftStar as the Official High Performance Talent Partner of the AFL. DraftStar is a nationally run football development program which will provide high performance coaching for young athletes aged 11 years and up.
“The Partnership arrangement will allow DraftStar to conduct AFL approved training camps, Combine testing and personal coaching around Australia,” said AFL General Manager of National and International Development David Matthews. “The DraftStar program will complement work already occurring within our State Leagues, by helping to grow the game with more specialist coaching and opportunities for players of all ages,” said Mr Matthews.
The Australian Multicultural / Indigenous team is made up of players from Indigenous and Multicultural backgrounds from all states and territories in Australia. The players have varying experience in football, from VWFL regulars, to the girls from Galiwin’ku in Northern Territory who play on sand ovals without football boots! Though most of the girls play in senior women’s teams in leagues across Australia, state representatives who were selected for the Women’s National Championships were not allowed to try out for the AMI team.
Head Coach: Nova Peris
Nova Peris does not have experience coaching Australian Football but is a famous Indigenous Olympic athlete who has represented Australia at both field hockey and athletics. She won a gold medal with the women’s hockey team at the 1996 Summer Olympics, then in 1997 she switched to athletics and became a double gold medallist at the 1998 Commonwealth games, winning the 200m sprint and as part of the winning Australian 4x100m relay team. She has also represented Australia in athletics at the 199 World Athletics Championships and at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The Indian Tigers return to Australia this month for their second International Cup campaign.
The team's participation in 2008 was supposed to be the launching-pad for football in India. This wasn't to eventuate, with the administration giving the game away upon their return to India. Fortunately two of the players, Sudip Chakraborty and Darren Ross stepped up and took charge of the organisation, assisted at the Australian-end by our own Ash Nugent. The team's participation in 2011 is the product of these two players' passion for football.
IC11 action starts this Saturday 13th August at Blacktown International Sportspark Sydney.
The best place to find out the weather in Australia is the Bureau of Meteorology and in particular for the Blacktown area the closest forecast will be that for Paramatta. At time of writing the prediction for this Saturday is "7C overnight and 18C maximum during the day, a shower or two. Partly cloudy. Isolated showers. Light winds".
The Sweden Elks this year return for their second IC, after finishing 12th on debut in 2008. Captained by Johan Lantz and coached by Daniel McClaer, at the IC11 the Elks will be hoping to break out of the "middle field" of nations who are well ahead of the minnows, but yet to prove they are able to challenge the powerhouse nations at the front of the field.
The Country and Australian Football
Swedish footy had its roots with the Helsinborg Saints, who were formed in 1996 to compete in the Danish Australian Football League, just over the water in Denmark. The southern region clubs continue to compete in the DAFL, with the Saints today joined by the Port Malmö Maulers, both clubs supported by a Scanian Local League.
With just a few days to go before IC11 we thought we'd flashback to the most controversial moment in International Cup history.
South Africa, regarded by some as the AFL's favoured nation, trailed Ireland by 5 points in the playoff for 3rd, with just seconds to go in the match. A controversial free kick was paid but the South African was almost certainly too far out to score the needed goal. The siren sounded and he was forced to kick to win the match... as he ran in... well there are 2 versions. The Irish say he ran around the mark, thus play on, game over. The umpire said the Irishman on the mark moved over the mark first, thus a 25 metre penalty. The result was a shot at goal from much closer in, a straight kick and joy for the Africans and bitter anger for Ireland.
The AFL released video of the incident which they said supported the umpires decision. This author saw it live at the ground and first instinct was umpire error. Watching the video many times I felt it was just too difficult to really know one way or the other.
Is this now the greatest rivalry in international footy? Will the two nations cross paths again in 2011?
AFL Players have come together to send a strong message to fans and the broader community that racism – on or off the field – is unacceptable.
With the message, Our team is made up of many colours. Wear them with pride, not prejudice, the campaign encourages footy fans to celebrate and respect the diversity of people playing football at all levels.
The campaign features players from a diverse range of backgrounds, including Matthew Stokes, James Frawley, Aaron Davey, Setanta O’hAilpin, Nathan Grima, Raphael Clarke and Shaun Burgoyne.
Sadly the Papua New Guinea team has been struck by tragedy on the eve of their International Cup defence.
Scott Reid, the Chairman of AFL PNG Ltd has informed us that Peter Meli, the Team Manager and a member of the 2002 International Cup side and father of current player David Meli, was killed in Port Moresby after a send off function for the Mosquitoes squad on Saturday night.
The incident occurred where he and several PNG players and staff were held up and Peter was stabbed and died in hospital later that night.
Walter Yangomina, the National Manager Development was with Peter at the hospital. Peter was dropping off PNG players after a send off BBQ for IC2011.
His son David Meli is a scholarship list player with Essendon and was expected to star for PNG at the upcoming Cup.
It's a shocking thing for the PNG footy community. It's early days but the thought is to award the Peter Meli medal to the best PNG Mosquito of the Cup, and that the medal will commemorate Peter by being awarded at every International Cup in future.
I'm sure the entire international footy community join with us in passing on their sincere condolences to the PNG camp and especially the Meli family.