The South African Lions have named their squad for the Cup, with 27 players heading to Australia. In a sign of exciting times to come, the average age is just 22 years. All four development provinces are represented, with 11 players from the original footy regions of North West and 6 from neighbouring Gauteng. There's one from Kwa-Zulu Natal but the big surprise is 9 from Western Cape, a great reward for their second placing at the South African national championships last month, and an amazing achievement given the region has really only been in full swing for 12 months.
Former high profile AFL player Jason McCartney takes the coaching role, with Mtutu Hlomela returning as captain and the oldest player at 27. There are five teenagers in the side. Three vice captains have been named in Steven Malinga, McDonald Mashigo and Benji Motuba (pictured), who was named overall best player at the nationals. The full squad is listed below, and we'll have a full preview of the Lions next week.
At last our great game seems to be getting some coverage from mainstream media sources. The Lao Elephants game v Jakarta Bintangs game earlier this year got good coverage in the Vientiane Times, and it was excellent to see a very nice write-up of the recent Thailand Tigers clash with the Hong Kong Dragons in the major English daily The Bangkok Post.
The following is an excerpt of the original article available here.
AUSSIE RULES - Thailand Tigers beat Hong Kong in Pattaya thriller
by DAVID PATERSON
Thailand's Australian Rules Football club, the Thailand Tigers hosted reigning Asian Champions the Hong Kong Dragons recently at Horseshoe Point in Pattaya and handed the champions their first defeat in more than a year.
It was a significant victory by the Thailand Tigers as the best Australian football sides have not been able to get close to the Hong Kong team in recent times.
The last time the Dragons came to Thailand, they were undefeated in their run through the 2007 Asia championships, eventually taking home the trophy after a thrilling extra-time final against the Bali Geckos. However this time a rejuvenated Tigers team took it to the champs to come away with victory.
Final score: Thailand Tigers - 8.7.55 defeated the Hong Kong Dragons - 6.6.42
It is great to see the increased coverage the game is getting. With the Singapore Asian Championships promising to be a massive event, Asian Football is really moving ahead in leaps and bounds.
Zac Tuohy today confirmed that he will be heading to Melbourne for a trial with the Carlton Football Club. The Irish Independent reports that the Portlaoise clubman has slightly delayed his departure so that he can play with his Gaelic football club against Stradbally in the opening round of the Laois senior football championship.
"I'm going out there to Carlton on a trial basis," said Tuohy. "I was supposed to be going over on Saturday but I have delayed it because of the Stradbally game. I think I will be going over after that," he concluded. This comes just weeks after Michael Shields departed the Blues to return to Ireland.
Staging the International Cup during the Olympics probably has the potential to reduce the exposure the tournament gets, as papers in Australia and around the world squeeze in sport and human interest stories related to the Summer Games. But a benefit that might not have been immediately obvious is that with the Australian media in Beijing en masse they've been happy to report back to Australia on the progress of Aussie Rules in the host nation. Several media pieces have been done, hopefully all adding to the growing realisation in the Australian public consciousness that the Aussie indigenous sport has gained a foothold in many countres around the world.
Here's David Koch from the popular Channel 7 Sunrise program having a kick with the Beijng Bombers against the Chinese national side: Sunrise on footy in China. Looks like "Plugger" could be a cult figure at the Cup, and the Sunrise team has promised to follow the Chinese team's progress at the Cup.
And here is footage featured on the Canberra Times website, including China Red Demons' coach Darryl Hoffman: Canberra Times footage (perhaps more easily viewed if downloaded first)
Today marks 150 years since the first recorded match of Australian Football was played and to celebrate, the AFL has declared it ‘Kick Around Australia’ day. All Australians have been encouraged to join in the celebrations by wearing their football colours to work or school and having a kick of the footy.
It initially seemed there would be no official international aspect to the day, but the AFL has teamed up with the Australian Defence Force to ensure that our servicemen and women overseas will be able to join in today’s celebrations. Kits containing all the essential tools for a football match have been sent to defence bases around the world, so that defence personnel will be able to have a kick of the footy with the rest of Australia.
Still imagery of Defence Force personnel playing football at various bases around the world will be available the ADF site. Vision will be fed to the television networks at Parliament House.
The writers at worldfootynews.com have worked their way through the draw for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup (we'd better also call it the AFL International Cup to make sure we get search hits - people seem to be regularly punching that in to search engines).
Putting together the final rankings of the seven writers who contributed, we've come up with the average placings and thus our consolidated tip as to the ranks come the end of the tournament.
Probably no major surprises, but read on to see how we ranked the sides.
With Finland entering the International Cup for the first time in 2008, the push for new recruits has been in top gear since the first tufts of grass appeared through the melting snow. It is a big ask for one of the newest footy nations on the world to embark on such a mammoth task, and so the net has been cast far and wide to secure Finland's best athletes.
Julian "The Big Rooster" Clark, Finland Footy's Founding Father, recently journeyed out to the British International School in Jakarta, Indonesia where 16-year old Finn Tuomas "Timebomb" Antilla has been developing well with the Jakarta Bulldogs AFC.
The Jakarta Bulldogs are an under 18 team that often play in conjunction with (and sometimes even against) the Jakarta Bintangs AFC, as well as some of the Java AFL's localised senior sides.
The NZ Falcons played their yearly game against the touring Maffra Eagles last Saturday, going down to the champion Victorian country club by 71 points. As a spectacle it did not attain great heights due to 50% greater than average July rainfall for Auckland, most of it in the 2 weeks prior to the match. The organisers also dodged a bullet when they managed to convince local authorities not to cancel the game due to the ground condition - an issue familiar to many sports these days.
With coach Rob Vanstam trying a variety of combinations from his entire 29 man squad it would be also fair to say that the result would not be a true reflection of the Kiwis' talents. Much will have been learnt by the coach as he now fine tunes the squad for the IC 2008.
Maffra 13.13 (91) defeated New Zealand 3.1 (19).
A full report is available here from the NZAFL website.
The 2008 Australian Football International Cup is set to go, with 16 teams attending, and over 16 nations represented. The Peres Peace Team unofficially "represents" both Palestine and Israel and Great Britain effectively represents three nations, in England, Scotland and Wales. Although the bulk of the British players come from England, and unfortunately none from the Scottish league, at least Wales now has its first Bulldogs representatives in Ed Doe and David James.
worldfootynews.com spoke to Ed, a 17 year old who is still at school yet about to represent his country at senior level on the other side of the world.
The AFL’s recently appointed Oceania Development manager Andrew Cadzow last month undertook a “whirlwind” tour or Samoa, American Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand (meeting only), to help him better understand the region’s football needs.
WFN spoke to Cadzow about his time in Samoa. The island nation has shown football potential in the past, which even attracted a Richmond delegate, Craig Cameron to investigate the possibility of awarding a scholarship to a local player, through the AFL's International Rookie program. On the downside, the country has only managed irregular senior football matches and has at times struggled to break down negative perceptions that the game lacks “physicality” (compared with the more established Rugby).
Final preparations are underway for the region's biggest Australian football event, the Asian Championships, to be held in Singapore at the Singapore Polo Club on September 6th.
The first Championships were held in Bangkok in the year 2000 and the event has grown in stature each year.
It is expected that this year at least 10 sides will compete for the coveted trophy. Confirmed participants include the current title holders Hong Kong Dragons, 3-time runner-up Bali Geckos, 2-time winner Jakarta Bintangs, Malaysian Warriors, Vietnam Swans, Thailand Tigers, debutante Laos Elephants, UAE Heat, China Reds, and hosts and 2-time winners Singapore.
Beverly Knight, Director of the Essendon Football Club, shares her experiences and observations of the game of Australian Rules football in a free public lecture, celebrating cultural difference in sport. In her 15 years as an official of the Essendon club, Beverly Knight has seen massive change in the game’s treatment of racial vilification, sexism, and the masculine culture that dominated the AFL and VFL. She will discuss her involvement with AFL and Indigenous Australians, as well as her views on the game’s origins in this, the game’s 150th year.
Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre, University of Melbourne - Wednesday 6th August 2008 6:30pm.