In recent years the AFL has begun to focus its international attention on South Africa, moving from a fairly passive international footy role, supporting a few countries, to actively pursuing growth. A complete review of the AFL's approach to international development is underway, following a restructure of the influential Game Development section headed by David Matthews. We previously reported that the West Australian Football Commission was keen to take on a lead international role in their region (see Western Australia to target development for Indian Ocean region?)
and this has taken a step forward with a submission to the WAFC and discussions between the Fremantle Dockers and the AFL in the last few days. Also read on for Andrew Demetriou's thoughts on an AFL match for premiership points being staged internationally.
The Strasbourg Black Devils played their first two matches in their new colours, hosting the North London Lions then making the long road trip to Berlin to meet the Crocs in their first-ever AFLG appearance. While the Black Devils went down in both matches, they were far from disgraced - the all-Australian Lions team beating them 124-55 and the Crocs actually trailing at quarter time before their experience allowed them to pull away.
As we reported in Footy in the Cayman Islands, Australian Football is now periodically played on the island, and in 2006 the compromise rules game combing Gaelic and Australian Football was successfully introduced. The following is a match report of the St Patrick’s Day International Rules clash between the Australians and the Irish at the rugby club at South Sound, supplied by Matthew Borthwick.
The Glasgow Sharks are the proud inhabitants of a brand new permanent footy ground in the city, one of the few in Europe. To celebrate, the ground's inaugral gameday saw the second annual Scottish Cup on March 25th, a three way tournament between the Sharks, fellow Scots the Edinburgh Bloods and the Dublin Demons - the Irish visitors proving the strongest outfit on the day.
WFN updates a couple of recent US stories on the 2006 USAFL Nationals and the 2006 US television coverage of the AFL season - including confirmation of Las Vegas as location for this year's national club championships and two broadcasters (Setanta broadcasting live, MHz carrying match of the week) bringing footy to US television.
The recent Indigenous tour to South Africa was reportedly a great success and we mentioned that a key was for the AFL to continue that commitment. It was very pleasing that tour leader Michael Long recently announced that the Africans will reciprocate the tour with matches against an Aboriginal squad in Australia in 2007. The following report is from the AFL website and can also be found at the Northern Territory AFL's site under AFL Trifecta for Northern Territory.
The Caribbean nation that is the Cayman Islands has it all, sun, surf, sand and….footy. Though not quite a staple of sporting life on the island it is a regular feature on the calendar each year for the past few years. The Gaelic Football Club started there in 1990 and as it progressed with a number of expatriate Australians playing the game there, they brought two regular Aussie Rules games each year into their schedule on St Patrick’s Day and Anzac Day.
The 2006 AFL season starts in earnest on Thursday night with a
blockbuster clash in Perth between last year's runners-up West Coast against
premiership favourite St Kilda. Both sides are tipped to give the
premiership a shake, with both featuring highly in our reader
poll (first and second) and ranked first and fourth with most
bookmakers. Also favoured by the bookies are 2005 minor premiers Adelaide
(second with the bookies) and Geelong (ranked third). Reigning premiers
Sydney have drifted out to fifth. WFN's focus is on the international
aspect of Australia's indigenous game, but here we give a quick preview
of the season ahead in the sport's premier league, as well as note the
AFL players with a distinctly international flavour.
Tanzanian marathon runner Samson Ramadhani took gold at this year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, but will be bringing a footy back home along with his medal. Ramadhani was sighted practicing his kicking with other members of the Tanzanian team at the games village after the team were donated two balls by Aussie Rules travel group the Convicts.
The Jakarta Bintangs proved too strong for hosts the Bali Geckos in an all Indonesian final in the 2006 Santa Fe Bali Nines Masters Australian Rules Football Championships on Saturday March 13th. After a dominant first half, the Bintangs came out convincing winners in front of hundreds of spectators at the Canggu Club, Bali’s first private member’s sporting and recreational club.
In another impressive performance by AFLPNG's junior pathways program five young players were in the mix for selection to represent Country Queensland in the Kookaburras under 18's squad that played at the Queensland state championships, with Emmaus Wartovo leading the way on the scoreboard. The country squad struggled against the rapidly improving city teams at the championships through March 2006, but the next step for AFLPNG will be to get some of their lads into the state U18s team picked from the tournament.
Japan Samurai player Michito Sakaki has been recruited by the Wodonga Raiders from the Ovens and Murray Football League, around three hours north of Melbourne and generally regarded to be the strongest footy league outside Australia's capital cities. Sakaki has signed a contract with the Raiders that nets him a few hundred dollars a week, plus free accomodation, car and petrol. He is also teaching Japanese at a local high school and has helped create one of the biggest pre-footy-season buzzes the area has seen in recent times.