When the AFL released the current list of IC11 hopefuls last week, the Finnish Icebreakers were one of the sides that had pulled out. Like with many other teams, the decision was mainly due to financial constraints, with Craig Primmer from the FAFL saying that "We don't have any sponsorship deals and the lack of information from the AFL regarding possible financial support or airline deals meant that flight prices were getting too high for it to be feasible."
"We had about 20 guys interested, but this included 5-6 guys of Finnish origin in Australia that had never played the game before, so we decided it was better to hold back and focus on the domestic front as well as the Euro Cup in Belfast this year."
On the domestic front, the Finnish National League will start the season with 5 teams, up from 3 last year. The two new sides are the Waasa Wombats, based in the northern city of Vaasa, and a second team from the Turku Dockers. Turku will field A and B teams, with the A team not including any Aussies.
Craig Primmer says "The aim with this is to make sure that all players get as much game time as possible, and to increase the on-field responsibility of the non-Aussies with a few years experience."
"It is also promising that numbers in Helsinki are looking good and there is again talk that maybe the Espoo team could be re-started at some stage."
The FAFL season kicks off on May 21, and then from May 26-30 Brett Kirk will be visiting for a couple of FAFL matches as well as some training sessions. Shortly after that, a double-header will be held in Turku on June 2nd, with AFL Europe General Manager Gerard Murphy in attendance.
The Perpignan Tigers are hosting the French National League's grand final tournament this Saturday May 14th, with all six teams from the regular season in attendance at the Stade Roger Ramis.
The French sides played in two pools this year, with Aix-Marseille, Perpignan and Toulouse in the southern division, and Paris, Strasbourg and Bordeaux in the north. Unlike most Australian rules football leagues in Europe, the French played their season over the northern winter, beginning late 2010.
The first match kicks off at 10.30am, with the Perpignan Tigers taking on the Strasbourg Kangaroos for 5th place. The Aix-Marseille Dockers clash with the Paris Cockerels for 3rd at 2pm, and in the main game, the Bordeaux Bombers and Toulouse Hawks will clash for the national premiership at 4pm.
The premiership cup will be presented by Damien Blanch, professional Rugby League player from the Perpignan-based super league club Dragons Catalans, with cheerleaders and the Dragons' official mascot also adding some colour to the event.
Zillmere Eagles Youth Girls Under 15’s players Eh Ka Dot Ray, Selee Po and Lar Htoo May lined up alongside their team mates against Calamvale last weekend. Despite their age, the three girls have great handballing and kicking skills, and aren’t afraid to go in hard after the ball- easily on par with their team mates, brought up with Auskick and the AFL.
But although the girls play like Australians, they are actually refugees, survivors of the ongoing conflict in Myanmar between government groups and Karen rebels.
Brian Clarke, General Manager of Aussie Rules International, has announced that a proposal for ARI to stage an exhibition match between a South African side and an Australian Indigenous side at the 2011 All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique has been accepted by the Games organisers.
The match is planned to take place in the first week of the All-Africa Games (also referred to as the African Games), which will start on the 3rd of September, and would be played in the National Stadium in the Mozambican capital, which has a spectator capacity of 42,000.
When contacted for comment by WFN, Mr Clarke said that ARI is currently seeking sponsors for the project, but he is confident that the required funds will be secured.
Mr Clarke declined to give details on who would be playing, managing or coaching the sides in the match, although he stated that he is currently in contact with a number of different organisations in Australia to select an Australian Indigenous team, and that the South African side would be selected next month.
When contacted by WFN, AFL South Africa operations manager Joel Kelly indicated that the AFLSA is not in any way connected with the All-Africa Games project.
The match has received some coverage in the mainstream Australian media, including this article in Melbourne's The Age newspaper, and this article on Fox Sports.
In partnership with AFL clubs Port Adelaide and Fremantle Dockers, AFL Femminile Italia is proud to present their first of a number of fundraising projects, aimed at helping the AFL Italia women’s team take part in the AFL International Cup, being held this year in Sydney and Melbourne in August.
The Fremantle Dockers have supported AFL Italia for the past 18 months through their partnership with AFL Italia club Genoa Dockers. Port Adelaide also have connections with the Italian community in Adelaide and last year included AFL Italia representatives in their Famiglia di Port dinner and fundraiser.
The AFL Round 9 clash between Port Adelaide and Fremantle Dockers is being tagged as the “Indigenous Round” and Port Adelaide and the Fremantle Dockers boast the highest number of indigenous players on their lists.
Both clubs see this as a great opportunity to promote Indigenous Art, but also as a way to show support for the growth and development of Australian Football internationally.
The NZ Hawks will soon finalise their travelling squad of 26 players for the 2011 International Cup. Pleasingly the average age has continued to decrease from 25 in 2002, to 23 in 2008 to around 21 for 2011. What any youth-focused programme would wish to see is that players will ‘buy in’ to the sport and continue through to the seniors. With 18 players graduating from previous NZ Hawks Under 16 and Under 20 NZ teams can be happy that this is being achieved, as that represents 46% of the squad.
There is only one player of the 2002 squad looking to return nine years later and that is key forward Richard Bradley who was one of five teenagers in that team. He again returned in the 2005 Champion team and his team mates from then David Cory-Toussaint and Andrew Marsden are part of the extended squad. Eight players in total from the 2008 squad are hoping to return, which is just under a third. I would expect that that is fairly standard across the board for all the nations.
The squad currently comprises 21 from Auckland, 11 from Canterbury, 4 from Waikato and 3 from Wellington - giving a wide geographical spread across the nation.
The final squad will be decided after a camp this weekend, with other training camps to follow in Mid June and Mid July.
Poland's first Australian rules football club is under formation in the city of Poznań, dubbed the Polish Bisons.
Maciej Makarewicz says the team is hopeful of making their international debut at the 2011 Euro Cup in Belfast, and are also hoping to be able to schedule some friendly matches with the clubs in Berlin and Prague, both of which are within a few hours' drive. The team currently has 13 players, none of whom are Australians, although there is some playing experience through squad member Wlodek Przygorzewski, who took part in the European Crusaders side at the EU Cup a few years back.
Closer to home, the Bisons intend to encourage the creation of teams in other Polish cities and kick off a domestic competition.
The Bison is a popular symbol for Poland, with Białowieża Forest in the east of the country famous for having been the last wild home of the European Bison, also known as the Wisent, whose population had almost been hunted to extinction by the 1920s, but is now slowly recovering around Europe thanks to breeding from the wild Polish herds.
Whilst the new club is yet to create a web presence, anyone interested in contacting them can try their "Official" Fan Page.
New Zealand Rugby League has selected Melbourne Storm winger Matt Duffie into their national team, the Kiwis. The 20-year-old scored two tries on debut for the Storm last year against the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL. He is hoping to make a similar impact in the Test arena as he makes his Test debut against the Kangaroos on the Gold Coast on Friday night.
The St Kentigern's, Auckland old boy, who was once selected for the New Zealand Aussie Rules team, has been in great form this season, scoring five tries in the five matches and has proven to be a master under the high-ball.
Duffie admits his AFL background has helped him in the rival code. "I just got into AFL just for a kick-around and something to do on a Sunday, but the skills that I learned there have helped me a lot in my career so far and hopefully they'll continue to help me."
Duffie was selected in the original squad for the 2008 International Cup but withdrew when signed to the NRL’s Storm. The withdrawal of the high flying 18 year old at that stage was a tremendous loss to the squad.
Given the changes that have occurred since then with International recruitment, and particularly with Hawthorn’s efforts in NZ, it could have been that Duffie laid the groundwork as an AFL player for others such as Kurt Heatherley to follow.
Brett Kirk, retired former Sydney Swans captain, and now International Ambassador of the AFL, stopped in India as part of his World Tour.
Kirk's base in India was Mumbai, and this is where he kicked off his tour with a clinic in the city at the Oval Maidan, Churchgate. It was followed by a meeting with Austrade officials in Mumbai to join hands and help develop the game in India.
Missed out on selection for your country’s IC11 squad? Is your country not even sending a team to IC11? There’s still a chance to get involved - the AFL is looking for volunteers to help out in both the men’s and women’s competitions. The competition will be held this year in Sydney and Melbourne from 15-27 August and needs volunteers for a range of roles.
If you are interested, please fill out the information in the attachment below and return to Jan Cooper, email@example.com as soon as possible.
The Iceland Ravens today officially announced that they will not be attending the 2011 International Cup, with Icelandic AFL president Friðgeir "Fritz" Ásgeirsson making the following statement:
"It is with a heavy heart and great regret that I have to announce to you that the Icelandic National Team will not be participating in the IC11. We left it late to make the final decision, hoping that by some grace of god we would be able to participate, but to no avail. After weeks of deliberation we have concluded that we simply cannot risk overstraining the group. Most of our players are new to the game and such a big effort, as the IC11 trip and participation is, would put great strain on the guys, physically, mentally and not least financially.
We have therefore decided to concentrate on European competitions for the time being, hoping that we can build on our resent success here and bring an even stronger team to the IC14. Who knows, maybe we'll be able to generate some revenue during the meantime and subsidize the journey for the National Team to the IC14."
The IceAFL kicked off their 3-team domestic league in 2010, as well as making their full-field debut at the inaugural European Championship in Australian Football, held in Denmark and Sweden during last August. We wish the IceAFL all the best - they've achieved some impressive growth as a league in only a short period of time.
The Denmark Vikings have announced a preliminary squad list of 26 players for the 2011 International Cup, with a number of familiar names set to make the trip to Australia in August.
All Danish domestic clubs except for Århus have at least one member in the side, with power club Farum is again the most represented with 15 players - a reflection of the Cats having Denmark's largest and longest-running juniors program.
Five members of the European Legion are in the squad, including Mathias Biron who also travelled to Australia as part of the World 18 last year. Chris Campion and Nicholai Secher will also bring some Australian club experience to the team, having stayed on in Australia after the IC08 to play a season with Thomson in the Geelong & District FL.
National team coach Jim Campion notes that the squad is not 100% finalised, with some members still to confirm their availability, but the Vikings list as it currently stands is given below.