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.
Round 2 of the this year's Changi Cup takes place at Alice Smith International School in Kuala Lumpur on 23rd August, 2008.
The Changi Cup is a best-of-three matches competition between Malaysia and Singapore and is one Asia's older football competitions having been played every year since 1997.
Historically Singapore have been dominant, winning every year until 2007 when the Malaysian Warriors triumphed over the Wombats on November 3rd, 10-7-67 to 6-4-40 to win the rubber 2-1 and take the Cup for the first time.
Round 1 2008 saw Singapore under new coach Ash Martin score a comfortable 10 goal win on home territory at Turf City on 26th April, 2008.
With the Changi Cup on the line and the Asian Championships looming on September 6th, no quarter will be asked or given in this upcoming encounter between traditional rivals.
The Warriors have been very hard to beat at home in recent years and coach Matty Black is sure to have his charges fired up for what promises to be a cracker of a game and we will bring you a full write up on worldfootynews.com
The China Red Demons squad has been named, with 33 players headed for Australia. Although we knew we should expect a few taller players, with the Chinese not suffering lack of height like countries such as PNG and Japan, it's surprising to find 14 players standing at least 6 foot (183 cm). In fact Ren Xiaoyu (任晓宇) stands 197 cm (nearly 6'6") and Gao Rundong (高润东) is 195 cm (6'5"). In dry conditions and with enough supply, some of these big blokes could provide headaches for the defence of any of their more fancied opponents. With an average age of just over 22 and sporting backgrounds, these guys will also run all day.
With the university sides under development in Tianjin, Suzhou and Beijing and the large juniors program in Suzhou, the overwhelming majority of players to kick a sherrin in China this year will be local Chinese.
The full squad is listed below. Note: may not fully render on all browsers if Chinese character set not available.
The Canadian Northwind has named their squad for the 2008 International Cup, with a strong and experienced group of players heading to Australia.
AFL Canada this time around has appointed local OAFL legend Mark “Flash” Block as Northwind’s new coach and Emile Studham as his assistant skills coach. Mark is Canada’s most successful coach and has taken his local team, the Toronto Eagles to the past two OAFL Premierships. He is also no newcomer to the international arena as he captained the Northwind side in the 2002 International Cup.
The Bali 9s last June saw the debut of two new teams in South-East Asia - the Timor Leste Crocs and the Borneo Bears. Both teams were created this year, with the Bears based in Balikpapan, a city situated on the island of Borneo, in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan.
A few months on, the club was on the training track, with a squad of Australians, Kiwis, Europeans and locals. In honour of the Kalimantan Sun Bear found in the surrounding jungle, the team took on the name "Bears", starting a relationship between the club and a local Bear sanctuary which the club is helping both through donations and volunteer assistance.
In addition to another tournament in Bali in October, the Bears starting an Auskick program in two weeks' time and plans for a mini-league in local schools.
Thanks to the generosity of the North Old Boys St. Patrick's College Amateur Football Club, while the Canada Northwind are in Melbourne for the International Cup, they will have a training base to call home.
NOBS, as they are known, are providing the Northwind team with their training facilities and club rooms, and will be holding social gatherings throughout the International Cup. The two teams will also practice together, something that will be invaluable to the Canadian players, giving them important knowledge of how teams in Australia play and operate.
Everyone associated with the Northwind squad wish to thank the Old Boys in advance for their hospitality, and look forward to an exciting and rewarding visit to Australia this August.
Visit www.nobspc.org.au for more information on the North Old Boys St Patrick's College Amateur Football Club, or www.aflcanada.com for more information on the Northwind and football in Canada.
One of the teams present at this month's International Cup won't represent a country. Yet the AFL's approval of the team, which attracted some scepticism from facets of the international football community, will result in Israelis and Palestinians of Islamic, Jewish and Christian faiths pulling on a "Peace Team" jumper and representing unity in a region troubled with violence.
WFN spoke with Roni Kresner, Director of Information & Project Development at The Peres Center for Peace who put things in perspective. "There is no AFL field in Israel or the Palestinian Authority; AFL equipment can not be purchased in this region, and had to be flown in from Australia; there are no professional AFL coaches; and the players speak different languages – Hebrew and Arabic – and accordingly all instruction must be translated into both languages."
And if trying to train a group of players that don't share a common language wasn't difficult enough, "Israelis cannot enter the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinians cannot enter Israel without permits, and so, in order to hold joint training sessions, the Peres Center organised permits for the Palestinian players, allowing them to attend training sessions in Israel."
Positively these hurdles have been overcome and the team will partake in the 2008 Australian Football International Cup.
Last Saturday former Brit Brad Moran put in a star peformance in the AFL, booting Adelaide to victory against a gallant young Carlton side at AAMI Stadium. Moran's family is from England and only moved to Australia's Gold Coast region when he was a teenager. As a late-comer to Australian football, he was given surprisingly little time to develop at North Melbourne despite a great start to his career. Traded to the Crows, he has struggled with injury for West Adelaide in the local state league (the SANFL), and we mentioned his likely eligibility for Great Britain at the approaching International Cup. However the Bulldogs hierarchy were keen to focus on locally developed talent (Brits stick to home grown talent), an admirable pursuit, and as it turns out Moran now appears to be very much required by Adelaide at the business end of the season. We weren't going to follow this up, but a reader from Britain suggested the big fella deserved a write-up, and fair enough too.
WorldFootyNews.com and USFootyNews.com have teamed up to present the USFooty Top Ten Poll for 2008. This is the 5th edition of the poll and the penultimate before the USFooty National Championship Tourney.
The 8.12.60 to 3.9.27 win was spearheaded by Lasse Punttilla, whose best on ground performance was remarkable for the fact it was his first time ever playing a game of Australian Rules football.
"Lassie", who has previously played American Football, troubled the Swedish defenders in the first half, before stamping his mark on the midfield when he was moved to the centre at the start of the third term.
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.