Of the potential new sides at the 2011 International Cup, the newest to footy in general are the Swiss, with the newly-formed AFL Switzerland working hard to find enough sponsorship to make it to the tournament.
A few previous unsuccessful attempts to start teams in Lucerne and Geneva aside, footy has only been played in Switzerland since 2010, when the club in Lugano was created to compete in the inaugural AFL Italia premiership season. Team Switzerland, drawn from the Lugano squad, made its debut at the 2010 Euro Cup.
Switzerland's second club, to be based in the country's largest city Zurich, will hold its first training session at the end of February under the leadership of Jono Newman. Newman spoke to WFN about the national team's chances Down Under in August.
LEFT: Switzerland at the 2010 Euro Cup in Parabiago, Italy. Photo courtesy of Daniela Scalia.
The AFL Europe this week announced that the 2011 9-a-side Euro Cup has been awarded to the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
This will be the first time the cup has been held in Ireland, and the Australian Rules Football League of Ireland believe it will serve as something of a preview to the next full-field European Championships, to be held in Dublin in 2013.
The ARFLI, although a powerhouse of European footy, are relative newcomers to the Euro Cup, not sending an official side until 2010. Prior to this, the Irish Exiles, drawn from Irishmen playing in other leagues around Europe, competed at the 2009 tournament.
Formerly known as the EU Cup, the Euro Cup is the biggest annual event on the European footy calendar, and is the main opportunity to get a large section of the community together.
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33 men's and women's teams have been nominated for the 2011 Australian Football International Cup, to be staged in Sydney and Melbourne in August.
The long list of possible newcomers in the men's competition is Indonesia, Italy, France, Vanuatu, Iceland, Fiji, East Timor, Croatia, Switzerland and depending on definition, Tonga, which competed in the multi-cultural section in 2008. At this stage all previous competing nations have nominated, except Spain (2005).
For the first time there will be a women's tournament, possibly featuring Ireland, PNG, USA, Italy, Canada and a combined Multicultural & Indigenous team.
The European Legion will be composed mainly of U-21 Players from the various European Leagues with a limited number of U-23 players to add senior experience. The team will be coached by former Melbourne Player and AFL Europe Commissioner Glenn Lovett. For those interested in having players considered for selection or for players interested in finding out the selection criteria you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the last 25 years former AFL Commissioner Colin Carter has been one of the influential people at AFL HQ pushing for game development and an international presence (see Carter returns to Geelong). After leaving the Commission he returned to Geelong's board in 2008 and has now taken over from Frank Costa as the Cats' President.
It will be interesting to see if Carter will combine his position and his enthusiasm for international footy to ensure Geelong gets behind the game's spread. International Australian football is already known at Geelong, such as through the goodwill of player James Bartel and the company of outgoing President Frank Costa has been a great supporter of football in South Africa through sponsorship of FootyWILD.
This year, there will be some young Canadian talent joining the Hampton Rovers in Melbourne's VAFA. Four recent recruits to the Ontario Australian Football League will be heading down under to play the 2011 season in suburban footy.
The journey started back in October 2009, when Jaye Macumber, coach of the Central Blues AFC in Canada and current coach of Team Canada, was looking to recruit some new, young talent for his football club. After contacting Canadian company The Aussie X, he was able to arrange for his club to participate in a week long program at a local high school in Toronto, Neil McNeil HS.
With PNG the AFL Oceania Youth Cup holders AFLPNG are certainly not sitting back and resting on their laurels. With the appointment of the new Director of the AFLPNG Academy Moses Kar, a expanded intake of students awarded scholarships to the De La Salle Football Academy and two of their stars at the Youth Cup spending a week training with AFL Club Richmond football remains very much to the forefront.
The relationship between AFLPNG and De La Salle Secondary School has strengthened with AFLPNG awarding scholarships to 27 students for 2011. Building on 2010 whereby 17 boys attended De La Salle on AFLPNG scholarships, De La Salle has supported the development of the game by allowing AFL to be an integral part of the boys' curriculum.
The Academy scholarship recipients come from throughout PNG and have made incredible improvements within their first year. The Academy has achieved great success in both the Oceania Cup held in Tonga and the Australian U/16 Championships representing South Pacific. They also performed admirably against the indigenous Flying Boomerangs in December last year.