One of the IC08 favourites, Papua New Guinea, has named their final squad, with all the vital statistics (listed below). Their tallest two players are 184cm, a fraction over 6 foot and clearly an issue that other teams will seek to exploit - if they can get the ball off the fleet footed runners.
PNG communications company Telikom have gotten behind the Mozzies' bid to win the AFL Australian Football International Cup for the first time. It's not often we see images of footy from PNG - pictured below are some of the players in action at Colts Oval in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Getting a squad of 33 players, as well as officials, down to Australia is no small task for any of the countries heading to the 2008 Australian Football International Cup, and generous sponsors play a huge role. China was no exception, and although they committed to the process and will be a very exciting addition to international footy, up until quite recently there were still some doubts about getting the team to Australia - what a great opportunity lost if they had not made it. Fortunately a major sponsor in Mitchells and their Australian partner company, Oomiak, backed the Red Demons to the point that they will indeed be appearing at the IC08. Mitchells design, manufacture and install conveying and materials handling systems worldwide. Oomiak's expertise includes industrial refrigeration. The Mitchells website also features a great history of footy in China and their plans for the IC08.
The Allansford Football Club of the Warrnambool & District Football League are teaming up with Canada’s Northwind team when they travel to Warrnambool for the International Cup.
Allansford are providing their training facilities for Canada’s National team while they are in Warrnambool for their match against Ireland, as well as including the team in the club’s social activities to make the Canadian squad feel right at home in country Victoria.
The Northwind squad would like to offer thanks beforehand to everyone involved with Allansford Football Club for their generosity they are showing, and everyone from the Canadian team looks forward to a great experience when they arrive in Warrnambool.
Timor-Leste, better known to Australians as East Timor, is one of the newer sovereign nations in the world, becoming independent from Indonesia in 2002.
It also has one of the world's newest Australian football sides, with the Timor-Leste Crocs taking their name from a local legend about a crocodile who rescued a boy stranded in the ocean. When the crocodile stopped swimming, its body became the island of Timor, and the boy the first of the Timorese people.
While footy has had an on-and-off-again presence in the country since around 1999, the new-look Crocs look like being here to stay, with plans for a development officer and recruiting underway to send a team of Timorese nationals to the Northern Territory FL's indigenous footy carnival in Darwin in October.
The USAFL today announced that the 2009 National Championships will be held in Mason, Ohio at Heritage Oak Park, 24 miles north of downtown Cincinnati and South of Dayton Ohio.
The City of Mason covers over 11,200 acres and is home to nearly 25,000 people and approximately 500 businesses. Cintas Corporation, Mitsubishi, Procter & Gamble's Health Care Research Center, and Luxottica Retail are among the companies located in Mason. Mason is known as the resort area of southwest Ohio. Kings Island Amusement Park, The Beach Waterpark, Great Wolf Lodge and Conference Center, and The Golf Center at Kings Island are among the prominent recreation destinations in Mason. Mason is home to the world-recognized Tennis Masters Series-Cincinnati. The main host hotel is the Kings Island Resort, located nearby to the championship grounds.
Canada’s Northwind likes its chances as it enters into its final preparation for the 2008 International Cup. Speaking from Toronto, Northwind’s General Manager Martin Walter commented that the team’s management is very comfortable with where the team has been drawn. In a recent interview he commented "We have Finland up first on August 27th and we are now totally focused on that game, but at the end of the day, you have to beat them all and we believe we are capable of doing just that."
This is Northwind’s 3rd International Cup tournament and, while they have not been that successful in the past, this year’s team has a new look to it. "We have a new Coach plus we have managed to get a number of strong corporate sponsorships for this year’s cup, especially from the mining industry such as companies like Foraco Drilling, Quantec Geoscience and Laramide Resources Inc, all of which have business on both sides of the Pacific" Walter said. "This has put the team into a strong financial position, and that allows us to bring the best football talent that the Ontario Australian Rules Football League and other Canadian leagues have to offer."
In another step forward for international football development, five members of the South African Lions have donned the Swan Districts guernsey and played in the WAFL, one of Australia's top state leagues, under the watchful eye of the Fremantle Dockers. Furthermore, their trip was given excellent coverage in The West Australian newspaper. Pictured at left is Fremantle's Des Headland with 17 year old North West Province player Tshepiso Mogapi. There's also news that Collingwood and West Coast are increasingly likely to play in Cape Town next year.
The eligibility of players to represent their country at the International Cup has been the subject of some controversy in the past. The Australian Football League and the international football community, in general, have been keen to keep the spirit of the competition to be that players should truly represent the most appropriate country, such as where they were born and raised. The competition is not about expatriate Australians. However with such a fluid world in which people move and settle far and wide, a set of rules to satisfy the intended spirit is difficult.
For complete transparency, we've listed the AFL's official rules below. One thing is for certain, they are far more stringent than those of another sport seeking to grow internationally, Rugby League, in which players can compete for a country at their World Cup if they were born there, or their parents were, or even if only their grandparents were. It's tempting to describe that as farcical, but perhaps in the context of what they are trying to achieve, perhaps they have good reason. Each to their own.
Football in Asia has enjoyed remarkable growth over the past 10 years. More teams, greater competitiveness, real Club spirit and now the introduction of Auskick and other development programmes. As the 9th Asian Championships approach, with each year becoming bigger and better, perhaps it is time the respective Clubs got together and created a unified body to move the game to the next level.
The first championships held in Bangkok in 2000 attracted 4 teams, no sponsorship, and offered very basic facilities. This year’s Asian Championships takes place in Singapore on 6th September and will feature at least 10 teams with current holders Hong Kong, hosts and likely favourites, Singapore, to be joined by an expected very strong team from the UAE along with perennial challengers Bali, Jakarta, Malaysia, Thailand, China (not the Red Demons who will be in Melbourne for the IC08) and Vietnam with first-timers Laos. With each team bringing an average of 25 players plus support staff, the Championships will host a gathering of some 300 plus participants, a very healthy turnout indeed.
The challenge in Asia is now to take the next step, where more clubs begin to undertake the challenge of getting the indigenous communities involved and participating in football, and look towards the creation of a regional body.