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.
The Japan AFL's Top League expanded to outside the Tokyo area this year with the arrival of the Osaka Dingoes bringing the numer of clubs to six.
The 2006 season saw the number of JAFL clubs grow to five, with the "Samurai" club of University students splitting into the Senshu Uni Powers, Komazawa Magpies and Tokyo Leopards and joining the expat-based Tokyo Goannas and Uni Graduate Eastern Hawks.
The Osaka Dingoes formed a few years ago, but didn't join with the Tokyo clubs until 2007, having a big first season and only narrowly missing the premiership.
The heartland for Australian Football in South Africa has been North West Province, with Gauteng also growing. The increased push into the Rainbow Nation has also seen development in Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal, and although the focus will be on juniors, open age footy has begun there, adding to the possibility that the 2008 version of the national side, the Buffaloes, could have representatives from all four footy provinces.
The Tianjin Normal University (TJNU) footy club has recently branched out to form a club at its Yangcun campus, the newbies debuting last Saturday in an all-Chinese three-team tournament in Tianjin.
The TJNU City and TJNU Yangcun teams were joined by the SiShen Bombers, the local development squad of the Beijing Bombers, with around 50 Chinese students aged 18-22 taking part. The TJNU City side came out on top on the day, defeating Yangcun 36-25 and the SiShen Bombers 43-13, in a tournament enjoyed by all despite the wind and cold weather.
In other Chinese footy news, the two Aussie expat-based mainland clubs clashed in Shanghai on the weekend of November 10th, with the Beijing Bombers having their first-ever away win over the Shanghai Tigers.
On Veterans Day (Rememberance Day) Weekend, Broward County Florida conducted the opening ceremony for Central Broward Regional Park. A pretty boring name for a very exciting park. The CBRP includes an International cricket stadium that has covered seating for 5,000 and the ability to accommodate over 20,000 for day and night matches. The stadium could also handle AFL games on a field slightly shorter than the G, but more rounded. The CBRP also has the ability to run three full-size footy games simultaneously during the day and night. It includes netball courts, super boxes, professional changing rooms, picnic areas, water access and a kid’s water park. That’s over a 100 acres of footy heaven.
AFL clubs have now lodged their final player lists prior to the main National Draft on Saturday November 24. As expected, several of the recent Gaelic football recruits from Ireland have been added to official Rookie Lists, which locks the players in with their respective clubs for up to two years and allows them to be elevated to the senior list should there be a long term injury.
Rookie listed were County Mayo's Pearce Hanley (Brisbane Lions), County Armagh's Kevin Dyas (Collingwood) and County Carlow's Brendan Murphy (Sydney).
As reported earlier, Aisake O'hAilpin joins his brother Setanta on Carlton's senior list, and Martin Clarke stays on Collingwood's books having been temporarily promoted last season when a fellow Pie went down with injury.
Remaining on St Kilda's Rookie List for a second year is South African born Luke van Rheenen.
In 2004, the creation of the Solomon Islands Australian Football Association (SIAFA) was creating a positive outlook for a new Pacific stronghold for footy, although it disappeared almost as quickly as it came.
In the meantime however, footy has still been continuing in and around the Solomons capital Honiara, assisted largely by Australian Defence Force and Police personnel stationed in the islands as part of the Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
One of the main drivers behind footy in Honiara is Captain Daniel Strack. WFN caught up with Captain Strack to talk about the current state of play regarding footy in the Solomons.
The following article is courtesy of ARFLI's Public Relations Officer, Danny Persse:
On a clear Autumn Saturday the 20th of October 2007 the Dublin Saints unveiled their new residence An Cumaan Parnell by Dublin Airport with an off season scratch fixture against 2007 ARFLI premiership runners-up the South Dublin Swans.
Both teams lined out numbering many of Ireland’s international players recently returned from triumph in Denmark with Roger Clarke the Irish international coach donning a Saints guernsey.
The Auckland AFL Premiership is soon to be decided with the race down to four - University Blues, Mt Roskill Saints, Waitakere Magpies and North Shore Tigers. The AAFL Season has been one dominated percentage-wise by the University Club, winning 8 games from 10, who surprisingly only finished a game clear of Mt Roskill and Waitakere. North Shore Tigers scraped in with a 50% win/loss ratio, but with NZ Coach and NZAFL CEO Rob Vanstam as their coach their chances cannot be dismissed. Certainly Uni are going in in top form with key forwards Todd Taverna and Thomas Taungakiavia kicking 36 goals between them in their last two wins.
BBC Sport have a tremendous 30 minute documentary on the rise of Collingwood's Irish recruit Martin Clarke. The story looks at his junior days of Gaelic football through to his first successful season at the Pies (with coach Mick Malthouse hailing Marty's amazing achievements), and his end of year return home where he again donned his local colours as well as bringing some footy to his former school.
The video gives great insight into how much Clarke is already missed back home and what a talent he has for both sports. It also demonstrates the incredible array of resources Collingwood have to develop a young player - from top quality gym facilities to an altitude training room and video analysis of player body mechanics. Some Irish officials assure themselves that many "Irish experiments" will fail in Australia and return after a year or two. But the modern era of recruitment is very much different to when Jim Stynes was in the minority in making the transition back in the 1980s. The professional scouting and extra resources could well see the success rate become very high, and early indications are that it has happened already.
Unfortunately at time of writing there appears to be an audio synchronisation issue, but the documentary can be viewed here: Clarke Rules, OK!. Thanks to Aussie Rules Wales' Bryce Stone for the tip off.