As strange as it first sounds, the New Zealand Australian Football League (NZAFL) wants to play in the Charles Perkins National Aboriginal Football Championships in Australia!
NZ attended the Australian Country Football Championships on the Gold Coast during 2006 and played the Aboriginal All-Stars there. The result was a pasting, as the ex-Brisbane Lion Darryl White lead his team to a resounding thumping. However NZAFL CEO Robert Vanstam has revealed that he wants to send a team to play at the carnival and will explore that possibility with the organisers of the next event.
The Wellington AFL season is due to commence on Sunday 4th November. The recent NZ National Provincial Championship tournament, held in the capital, saw the Wellington team win matches against Canterbury and Waikato and lose to the Auckland outfit by 7 points.
The NPC has proven to be an excellent springboard into the forthcoming season. The competition has struggled a little in recent times to have four committed and competitive teams, along with a central committee who have perhaps not always offered the inclusive and respected leadership required. Now read on and look at the positive outlook for each Club as provided to WFN.
In some exciting news for raising the profile of International Footy at a 'grass roots' level in Melbourne, the AFL has invited VAFA clubs to 'host' International Cup teams during the period of the 2008 International Cup. The VAFA has forwarded to club secretaries an invitation to become involved. The 'hosting' is envisaged to include sharing ideas, perhaps running a training session and a social function.
The 2007 AFL PNG Junior National Championships were held at Igam Barracks, Lae over the period 24 September - 28 September 2007. The Championships were a huge success with over 400 children attending from across PNG. They came from the Islands by Boat, the highlands by PMV and Port Moresby by plane. The accommodation, catering and playing facilities were all given the thumbs up by the children. Even the rain and slippery ovals could not dampen their enthusiasm.
Igam Barracks was viewed as a wonderful place to hold such a prestigious event and during the Championships the participants had a visit from the Commander PNGDF Commodore P. Ilau. The Commodore expressed his support for the Championships at Igam and was suitably impressed by the organisation and discipline of such a large number of well-behaved young Papua New Guineans.
2007 has been a year of anniversaries in international footy. The sport has unquestionably put down some solid roots in a number of countries, whereas a decade or two past, plenty of leagues were only the loss of one or two key people away from disappearing.
The USAFL has celebrated its 10th anniversary, including a celebration at the Nationals in Kentucky which saw the naming of their team of the first decade. Their Ten Year Commemorative Book is available here.
The Japan AFL has brought up their 20th year in the game.
In September AFL South Africa (formerly Footy South Africa) joined the milestone group, also bringing up 10 years since development began in the North West Province. According to AFL South Africa North West Provincial Manager July Machethe, "It was at this month back in 1997 that AFL was introduced to the North West community and since then the game has developed and produced immeasurable results. We’ve experienced AFL South Africa and AFL North West teams participating in the two editions of the International Cup in 2002 and 2005, The Jim Stynes Cup (now Ron Barassi Youth Tournament) in 1997 and 2006 with the under 16 kids participating. We also have experienced a great cultural exchange, skills and love of “Our Game” between Australians and South Africans since the introduction of the game back in 1997".
"A lot has happened and more big things to come… I should mention the great support and courage to take the game to the next level by the AFL body (in Australia) without them it will have been impossible for us to reach this stage. Them bringing in the Fremantle Football Club to the North West is a great boost and we are going to do well together with the Dockers! Words of Appreciation also goes to the North West Department of Sports Arts & Culture!!!".
Back in 2004, a group of Solomon Islanders and Australian defence personnel formed the Solomon Islands Australian Football Association with the hope of forming a stable, organised league in the country. However, after some promising initial clinics and scratch matches, the organisation went into hiatus.
Three years later and the game is back on with a memorial match held in Honiara last Saturday. Two sides, mainly formed of local Islanders with a few Australian army personnel thrown in, took the field decked out in Eagles and Bombers gear, with the Bombers holding on to win the Clark-Dunning trophy in a very tight tussle.
With the Geckos proving too good for a depleted Wombats team, the Cats decided to get into the action with an exhibition of their skills during half-time and after the game. Lifelong Geelong supporter and Geckos' veteran Dave 'Buffet' Eagles said that it was a once in a lifetime chance to have a kick with his heroes. "It was fantastic, something like the equivalent of having a hit of tennis with Roger Federer. It was great to have a kick with the current best Aussie rule team in the world".
Geckos' President Dan Brooks said that having an AFL team tour Bali as their end of season trip, something not seen since before the 2002 bombing, was a great thing for the Geckos and for Bali in general.
The Geckos are now preparing to host the 2008 Bali 9s Masters, to be held June 7. For more information on the event, visit www.BaliNines.com, while more information on the club can be found at www.BaliGeckos.com.
The Kokoda Track in PNG is certainly getting a work-over from many with AFL connections. Following on from many recent forays, including a trip just lately from ex Fremantle Dockers and Adelaide Crows high flyer Tony Modra (as part of a McGuiness-McDermott Foundation trip), the Hawthorn Football Club will once again tackle the track. They will take their latest batch of recruits, and those unavailable when the Hawthorn last walked the track at the end of 2004, on the trip.
The Melbourne Football Club's tour of China is revealing that initial investment in Australian Football in Asia's giant is already bearing fruit. In the past there have been occasional visits by AFL clubs to international destinations with one-off clinics they may not leave a lasting legacy. So it must have been a delight for the Demons to find school children in Suzhou already well-versed in the skills of Aussie Rules. Details of the club's trip are being regularly updated on their website as the Melbourne dalliance with new markets begins in earnest.
Mustafa İlhan, known as John Ilhan, the founder of mobile phone retailer "Crazy John's", died this week in Melbourne. The flamboyant Ilhan was a very popular figure with migrants and footy fans alike and respected by many around Australia.
John was an Australian "rags to riches" story, a Muslim who migrated from Turkey to Australia. From working class Broadmeadows, he opened his first store in 1991 and in just 10 years he had built up one of Australia's biggest retail chains. In 2003, he topped the Australian Young Rich list, becoming Australia's richest man 40 years or younger. His personal fortune was estimated to be worth over AUD$300 million. His success came largely from his business innovation, his larger than life personality and his hands on approach to business. John became a role model for many Australian muslims and migrants.
Eccentric expat Australian Myk Aussie is a regular at Aussie Rules events across Canada and the United States. He recently caught up with football legend Kevin Sheedy at the 2007 US Nationals in Louisville. Myk's excellent interview ranged from the way the game has changed, Aussie Rules in North America, learning from other sports, Aboriginal players, the great Essendon premiership sides of the past and even horse racing.
Myk's site is MYKwebTV and also contains other footy footage from Canada and the US. The Sheedy interview is here.