Widely adored Sesame Street character Elmo recently met his match - the one AFL player who seems to be happier than the energetic little red... whatever Elmo is.
It's not often the AFL crosses paths with such a truly global megastar - check out Elmo and the ever-smiling Western Bulldogs' Brad Johnson on the AFL Bigpond site (for those that don't struggle with Bigpond; certainly Internet Explorer is recommended for the site).
The Samoan Kangaroos are one of nine teams that will contest their third International Cup in 2008, although at the past two cups they were known as the Bulldogs. Adopting the Kangaroo was deemed to fit nicely with North Melbourne supporting them at the tournament, and going forward as something distinctly marketable as Australian within Samoa. Previously the Samoans have finished seventh (2002) and fifth (2005). With no senior competition currently in place the Samoans enter the IC08 as somewhat of a wildcard. At the 2005 tournament for example, they initially easily accounted for the eighth-finishing British side (70 point victory) and yet nearly dropped a match against the ninth-place Canada (4 point victory).
The final list of nations competing for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup has been finalised. Here they are:
Papua New Guinea
Israel/Palestine Peace Team (debut)
Tonga was unable to make the final commitment due to issues such as player availability for the full duration of the tournament; we hope to have a chat to TAFA staff later. They are however expected to make an appearance outside the main draw as well as there being some practice matches for a few of the main combatants and teams representing some of Melbourne's ethnic communities.
The West London Wildcats have taken out the 2008 Brit Cup, Britain's annual locals-only tournament. The Cats have won their share of Brit Cups before, taking five of the past six, but the real talking point of the day was the dominant debut of the ARUK Southern Redbacks, drawn from players across the ARUK's 9-a-side southern league.
After a close 5 point loss to the Wildcats in their first match, the Redbacks lifted with strong wins against Wandsworth, the Swans and Putney to make the final.
Led by best on ground Donny Mullen, the Wildcats were too strong in the final, with 16-year-old George Merrick doing a superb job in the ruck. Merrick is part of the junior Great Britain Bulldogs squad that will play 3 matches in Australia during the AFL International Cup. Joining Merrick with the Wildcats in the final were Ollie Ash (also a junior Bulldog) and Paul Avery (coach of the junior Bulldogs).
The Cup featured eight sides, with four from London (West London, Wandsworth, the Swans and Putney), three from regional England, (Reading, the Southern Redbacks and Nottingham) and the Wales Red Devils.
Next Sunday July 20th will see the grand final of the inaugural London under-16s league, with the game being held at Clapham Common. This year will also see the first appearance of the junior Bulldogs down under, with games planned against school sides from Geelong and Warrnambool so far. The Junior Bulldogs squad was named recently, available at AFLBritain.com.
There has been an unprecedented amount of activity by AFL clubs in regards to Ireland and young Irish players in recent weeks. While Ricky Nixon has been in Ireland, meeting with the GAA and setting up his recruiting program, Gerard Sholly has been upsetting many in the GAA for using their facility at Kingspan Breffni Park to try out a few young potential recruits for the Carlton Blues and the Brisbane Lions are looking to add to their Irish stable. Also making moves are the Adelaide Crows, with two youngsters heading down for a trial in August.
Much noise has been made about the AFL's plans to launch new clubs on the Gold Coast and Western Sydney, with it looking increasingly likely that the two new teams will be playing within just three or four years.
The new clubs will see significant concessions regarding creating their player lists, particularly regarding local NSW and Queensland talent, but a new concept has surfaced recently - connected to building a club around the increasing number of young Irishmen coming down under.
Melbourne's The Age newspaper reported today that the AFL is considering launching an Irish-dominated West Sydney side, based on a proposal first put to Andrew Demetriou in 2006 by Gaelic Players Association executive Donal O'Neill.
Demetriou yesterday confirmed the meeting with O'Neill, who reportedly put forward a detailed business plan involving millions of dollars in funding emanating from the US and Britain as well as Ireland, and increased television coverage in Britain and Ireland. The "Sydney Celtics" could also potentially tie into the international brand power of the NBA's Boston Celtics and the Scottish soccer club Glasgow Celtics.
The AFL chief was however somewhat reserved in his public response, saying "To call this embryonic is an understatement. We are looking at several proposals and we have been forwarded all sorts of ideas."
The AFL Northern Territory and AFL Queensland have reached agreement on the Territorians entering a representative side in the top Queensland league in 2009. The Territorians had targeted the WAFL and SANFL, with the latter preferred. South Australia seemed the perfect choice as arguably the best state league and the lure of a tenth side removing their bye (created when two clubs needed to merge during the early 1990s), along with the fact that the SANFL is telecast into the Top End each week and many of the indigenous AFL stars have made the big time via moving from the Territory to the SANFL first.
The strong connection is in part due to the state's historical links. The then SA colony explored, settled and administered the Territory before handing it over to the Federal government upon Australia's federation in 1901 (you'll often hear of the tragic failed Burke and Wills trek, but less on the multiple and ultimately successful Stuart expeditions). Despite all the synergies, the SANFL rejected the proposal for at least another 12 months, but that assumes the Territorians will wait.
The draw has now been provisionally released to the participating countries, and will be officially released on Tuesday or Wednesday. We'll respect those wishes as the AFL want to promote the Cup as best as possible through various media, so any early release can affect this and so is presumably against the best interests of the tournament.
We'll have the full details here as soon as the embargo is lifted (standard media practice). There will be plenty of debate, but it does look balanced and should ensure the best teams rise to the top.
Nauru is well known amongst Australian football fans as the one other country, besides Australia, to fully embrace the Aussie code of football. An attendee at the Arafura Games in 1995 and one of eleven nations at the inaugural International Cup in 2002, the tiny island nation was absent in 2005, a late withdrawal, and has suffered a ban on the game at home. Footy fans will be happy to see the team return in 2008 as the Our Airline Nauru Chiefs and plans to re-launch the sport. With 17 players currently guest participants in the VCFL (most of them pictured below in their club jumpers), could they be a dark-horse when the Cup gets under-way next month? We talk to coach Wes Illig on the nation's expectations.
Todd Goldstein is set to become the ninth known Jewish player to play senior VFL/AFL football. The North Melbourne ruckman, taken with pick 37 in the 2006 draft has spent the last 18 months with the Kangaroos' VFL feeder teams Tasmania and Werribee. He has been selected to line up for the club in their away game against Port Adelaide on Saturday night. Goldstein is yet another example of tall kids with basketball backgrounds who have made the late transition to Australian football. He is described as an “athletic tap ruckman.”
The Jewish connection to football has been strong in Victoria particularly with AJAX Amateur Football Club in the VAFA (since 1957) and former AFL club Presidents Richard Pratt and Joe Gutnick.
Perhaps Goldstein may be an inspiration to some of the Israeli contingent of the Peres Peace Team that will compete at this year’s International Cup. Ian Synman (St Kilda), Keith Baskin (South Melbourne), Henry Ritterman (Melbourne), Michael Zemski (Hawthorn), Mordy Bromberg (St Kilda), Trevor Korn (Melbourne), Julian Kirzner (Essendon/North Melbourne) and Ezra Poyas (Richmond) are others of the Jewish faith known to have preceded Goldstein at this level.
TORONTO, Ont. - On one of the biggest days of Australian Football in Ontario, Canada’s national team, The Northwind, were no match for the OAFL Australian All-Stars, in front of a good crowd of 500 people at Humber College South. Under perfect skies the Aussie All-Stars, led brilliantly by their big full forward Danny Walker who kicked 5 goals, outclassed Northwind by 52 points.
Australians are being urged to "pick up a football and Kick Around Australia" on Thursday August 7, to mark the day 150 years ago, when the first recorded Australian football match took place. Many Primary and Secondary schools will hold "footy-themed" days, whilst organisations are being encouraged to allow staff to wear their team's colours to work.
It is one of many events that mark the 150th anniversary of Australian football, although disappointingly the official event has been downgraded from "Kick Around The World" to "Kick Around Australia". WFN is still encouraging footy fans around the world to celebrate - Grab a footy and take a photo (preferably in front of a recognisable landmark) and send it through to us. We will display them in a later article.
To avoid spam, our "About Us - Contact Us" section only allows you to send text emails to WFN staff. Either include a link to the photo in the email or notify us that you have a photo to share, and we will reply to your email address requesting the photo.