Under cloudy skies and a little late, the International Cup got underway with the first of the Multicultural Challenge Matches yesterday. After some morning drizzle, the rain held off and did not have a great influence on the match.
Gosch's Paddock, the training home of Collingwood Football Club, was in great condition. A small crowd made up of regular international watchers, families of Team Africa, the South African squad and entourage and a few forward scouts from opposition teams saw the game stall slightly.
There was no siren to sound, but shortly after some consultation the umpire tossed the ball up and it was on. The South Africans dominated from the start. With quick handball and plenty of numbers getting around the ball the South Africans put an early goal. It was Jayce Zidel who finished well after quick handball from a pack saw him kick truly from 35m out.
In parallel to the 2008 Australian Football International Cup, there are four matches being played as part of the Multicultural Challenge. According to the AFL Record, AFL Multicultural Project Coordinator Nick Hatzoglou explained that it "was initiated to give the chance of participation to several communities here in Melbourne. These communities may have otherwise been unable to be involved due to lack of support in their countries of origin, limited Australian Football experience, and in some cases, conflict in their country of origin. Many of the players representing Team Africa, Team Asia and Kingdom of Tonga reside in Australia, however not many of the participants play Australian Football at grassroots football clubs. The International Cup presents an excellent opportunity to engage these communities as part of this gala event".
See our main IC08 draw for the schedule of matches.
You can read more about the Multicultural Challenge in the official IC08 Record here.
Scott Clayton, widely regarded as one of the top talent scouts and list builders in the AFL has been recruited to the GC17 team aiming to secure the 17th AFL licence for the Gold Coast. The team also recently signed former West Coast premiership player and current Collingwood assistant coach Guy McKenna to a two year deal to coach the initial squad, most likely in the Victorian TAC Cup Under 18s in 2009 and VFL in 2010 (yes, the Gold Coast is in Queensland, not Victoria, but the players will have to get used to travelling anyway). It seems like a smart move by McKenna, as if he is deemed to be doing a good job it probably puts him in pole position to land a contract to be the Coast's inaugural senior coach, without particularly damaging his credentials if they look elsewhere. Colours and mascot are likely to be named in the next few week, and GC17 has already achieved its target of signing up 20,000 non-paying "members".
Of interest to international footy fans is that Clayton, currently at the Western Bulldogs and formerly with Brisbane, has recently been scouting talent in Fiji for the Doggies (see Cloak and dagger but international recruiment on the burst), so we know he's prepared to think internationally, which will hopefully increase the chances of some international players getting on the GC17 list. A press release from GC17 follows.
The South Africa Lions are having a warm-up match against a selection of players with African backgrounds as a lead up to the International Cup. The game is being staged at Gosch's Paddock (Collingwood's training ground), corner Punt Road and Swan St Richmond, Melbourne.
Being held from 10:30am this Saturday 23rd August, it's a great opportunity for those international footy fans who might not be able to get to the many weekday matches of the main tournament.
The Brisbane Lions were able to fast track Colm Begley to AFL football in what seemed like an impossibly short amount of time. Now it looks like they have done it again with Pearce Hanley. And the word from those that have watched his form with the Suncoast Lions this season is that he is better by both foot and hand than Begley.
The Lions would be keen to give the homesick Irishman a taste of the big time to focus on his career in his adopted sport, but selection would not be a token effort. The Lions are pushing to make the finals and have applied to elevate the international rookie to the senior list, possibly to play as soon as this Saturday against Carlton.
This article summarises some of the match day and tournament conditions in place for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup, according to the AFL's official Rules and Regulations guide. It includes the length of games, how pool placing are determined and the send off rule.
Setanta O’hAilpin will travel to Germany next week for further medical treatment on his injured calf. O’hAilpin has not played since injuring his calf in round 15 and the decision to seek further medical treatment in Germany by Dr Muller-Wohlfahrt was made today.
“Setanta and his manager met with myself and Brett Ratten this morning to discuss the options available to assist his treatment and recovery. We believe this is the best option available to ensure Setanta is able to fully recover from this injury,” said Carlton General Manager Football Operations, Steven Icke.
India is a diverse country in southern Asia with a population of over 1.1 billion. Along with Sweden, Finland, China and the Peace Team, this will be the country's first International Cup. In many ways, the Indian team will resemble the South African side of 2002. They won't be able to match it with the top sides, but with the possibility of two NAB Cup matches in the country in 2009, and India clearly on the AFL's radar, this is only the beginning of an exciting football journey.
The Japanese have a solid university based footy system and have used this to bring new players to the game as well as maintain a good number for longer careers in the sport. They also have some solid Australian expats in the country to learn from and play against.
They have shown improvement from their 2002 visit when they went without a win, to two wins and solid showings in 2005. Following the 2005 cup Michito and Kase had their well publicised time in Australia with Essendon and then seperately with Wodonga Raiders and St Bernards, and have shown the potential for Japanese players to play the game in it's home country.
Coach Richard Laidler's goals for his charges are for them to "Win as many games as possible. Be competitive and never give in." And for those that saw them in 2005 that would not surprise anyone. And keeping with the trend of the current AFL style of "play on as often as possible" Laidler says his team's style will be "Fast and running football. Kick to a target or open space, play on."
The Indian side for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup has been named, and at time of writing just 16 players are listed. With matches of 18 on-field plus 6 interchange, you do the maths. Getting footy started in India has been an elusive goal for many years now, and the numbers don't bode well. Behind the scenes worldfootynews.com has been working to help secure some more recruits to the India cause. We'll update this table as new data arrives, and we're fairly confident that players have already been found since this squad was released. Lets hope India can spare a few more of their billion-plus population.
Update: The AFL has informed us that India now has 26 players. "The last ten were part of a selection process in Australia. They are all Indian nationals who have moved to Australia and fit the eligibility criteria". They have been added below (distinguished by surnames in capitals).
The Nauru Chiefs return to international competition after missing the International Cup in 2005. A small squad of just 26 players has been named, peppered with young men looking to lead the sport to a fresh start back home. It would be easy to write the Chiefs off, but with 17 players getting valuable experience in local Victorian footy this season, they may well surprise.