Two of the more established Australian football regions are New Zealand and Japan. Sadly both have been hit hard by recent earthquakes. If the devastation of Christchuch was not enough, the quake that hit northern Japan unleashed a massive tsunami, followed by the radiation leaks coming from the nuclear emergency at the Fukushima powerplants. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to the people of both countries.
WFN spoke to the President of AFL Japan, Hideki Miyasaka, who explained that "All of our players, families are basically safe at the moment although we have a serious electricity problem in the Tokyo area as some of the plants has been destroyed", before stoically or perhaps ironically adding "Besides that it is pretty much normal.." A remarkable aspect of the disaster has been the resilience of the Japanese people, the bravery of the rescue workers and especially those at the nuclear plants, and the way society has maintained such stability and civility.
In Australia we were proud of the efforts in Queensland to help each other but other disasters remind us that it is not a uniquely Australian spirit. It should also be noted that Japan is one of the biggest donators of aid in the world. AFL Japan is hoping to raise some funds to support the recovery effort, and Hideki has called for help "from all Footy Players around the World!!". All donations will be distributed through the Japanese Red Cross Society (or other relevant charities) to provide relief for the victims.
Westmeath teenage star John Heslin looks set to sign with an AFL club. While it is yet to be confirmed which club, he has just returned to Ireland after a week long trial with a club and will not say which club it is until it is made official. Irish website Hoganstand is reporting that the club is the Gold Coast Suns while elsewhere it was speculated that a Melbourne based club was involved.
Heslin, is just 18 and possibly one of Ireland’s most promising young footballers and will be a blow to the Gaelic system that may have been breathing a sigh of relief on St Patrick’s Day last week when high profile Australian Ricky Nixon was suspended as a player agent.
Myk Aussie attends training in Ottawa surrounded by snow and in this second part of coverage he gets a great indepth interview with Northwind coach (and AFL Canada nomad) Jaye Macumber about the Northwind team heading for the International Cup and other footy around Canada.
Look out for Myk's plea to Charlie Sheen to get behind the Northwind financially. More great Aussie rules content as well as NFL, CFL and other great moments can be seen on Myk's site mykaussie.com
The US Womens team the Freedom, in prepartion for the International Cup were recently put through their paces, training in Austin TX. The Youtube video below is a photo montage of the sessions. Women's footy in the US might not have the same depth as the men's but they are nevertheless experienced in tournament footy and international travel and be looking to make an impact on their second tour to Australia.
Lotus Renault F1 drivers Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov today had a crash course in Aussie Rules Football from Hawthorn's Buddy Franklin and Josh Gibson at the home of AFL, the MCG. As one of the smallest drivers on the grid at 163cm tall, Nick Heidfeld had his work cut out for him matched against the 196cm frame of Buddy Franklin.
The Hawthorn footballers taught the internationals some basic AFL techniques before they took off to Adelaide for their round 1 clash against the Crows on Saturday night while the F1 drivers tack to the Albert Park circuit for their own season opener.
Myk Aussie attends training in Ottawa surrounded by snow. But dont worry the potential Northwind boys are warm and dry under the covered sports field as they prepare for the 2011 International Cup. Given Melbourne's weather in the past year they might be better preparing outside in the snow
In this first part of a two part special Myk as always, enthusiastically covers the training under the dome.
Strange for me to be now writing on this subject with a less involved role, after 7 years in China and the last 4 years as an AFL China Development Officer, I am now based in Victoria. While I will always stay interested and assist where possible with the Chinese footy scene, I have handed the baton on and look forward to seeing a bright future for Australian Football in China continue.
In my time in the role, my personal highlight was the China Red Demons’ debut in the 2008 AFL International Cup. Witnessing the journey, from a group of boys drawn from various regions and ethnic groups across China, 70% of who had months prior never heard of the game, to seeing them on a suburban field in Melbourne, wearing their national colours and celebrating with tears and gusto when they finally got a win, was a very special moment.
LEFT: Some of the local recruits at Beijing ARFC training.
The inaugural European Legion squad has been named to take on Australia's youth when the AFL/AIS Academy tours Europe in April. The day will also see Ireland's Warriors take on the British Bulldogs, in what will no doubt be a crucial match for players heading to IC11 in August.
As reported on the AFL Europe website, the European Legion Squad to face the AFL/AIS Academy in London on April 23rd contains representatives from Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden and Wales. The team will be coached by AFL Europe Commissioner and former Melbourne Demons Player, Glenn Lovett. Glenn will be assisted by visiting coach Brett Kirk and Daniel Maclaer from Sweden. 24 players were invited to participate, with one player Sylvain Maylie having to decline his invitation. His place in the squad has been taken by Sam Brunton from England. The Squad is as follows.
The third instalment of the AFL’s International Cup featured a bit of a ‘left field’ inclusion - the Peres Peace Team, a combined Israeli-Palestinian side comprising 13 players from each background. Anyone who watched the ‘Tackling Peace’* documentary on Channel 10 back in 2009, was perhaps left pondering the chances of a revisit of the team. Without much fanfare then – it was a pleasant surprise when the AFL released its list of country’s considering and likely to attend IC2011, and there in the list was the Peace Team.
The original idea for the team owed much to Tanya Oziel**, who is the Executive Director of the Peres Centre for Peace in Australia, and also a Sydney mum whose son Chaim took up footy with the Maroubra Saints. The Peres Centre for Peace had and has been involved in Sports as a tool for ‘peace-building’. In Jan 2008, around 100 potential players were introduced to the game via DVD’s and the white board, by Feb a squad of 40 embarked on about 7 months of intensive training prior to heading to Australia for the late August start to the IC. The Peace Team would be the result of the combined efforts of the Peres Center of Peace and the Al Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue. Training in itself was a major challenge, including that a team of players unfamiliar with the game had to be training in 2 languages, and without goal posts.
The Dockers are one of England's oldest clubs outside London, starting as the Bristol Bears in the old BARFL back in 1991. For the past few seasons, they have competed in the AFL London Social Division, but after the 2010 season were keen to move to the 9-a-side format and play locally.
Jason Bryant from the Dockers says that "there were a few reasons we moved away from the London Social league, firstly the London league didn't inform us in any discussions about the 2011 season so when we contacted them, everything had already been decided and unable to join. This was the same case for the Southern League. We were told by AFL GB heads that the only option left to play in 2011 was the Welsh league as they hadn't decided their competition schedule."
The West Midlands of England will again be home to 3 clubs in 2011, with the reformation of the Birmingham Bears for play in the AFL Britain Central & North West Division. The Bears went into recess just before the 2010 season, with the league asking the newly-formed Wolverhampton Wolverines to take over most the Bears' fixtures for the year.
Wolverhampton president Ian Mitchell says 2010 was a challenge for the Wolverines, with most of the players still learning the game. "Last season we played in a social capacity in the C&NW Division of AFL Britain, taking many of Birmingham Bears fixtures that they couldn't fulfil. We lost the majority of our games that we played, it was a steep learning curve as all of the players were new to the game, apart from myself and one or two Australians that we managed to collect on the way. We finally won our last game of last season against the other new club in the area, the Hull Mariners."
This weekend will see the Wolverines take on the Bears in a pre-season friendly, with the following weekend seeing them joined by the Birmingham Uni Sharks for the inaugural 3-team West Midlands Charity Cup, which will raise funds for the Queensland Floods Appeal.
The Australian Football League have unveiled the logo for the 2011 International Cup. After the three previous Cups had all used variations of the same design it's nice to see a fresh look. It's hoped IC11 will feature 6 women's sides and 20 to 24 men's sides.