The much talked about Collingwood versus Adelaide match proposed for Dubai (one of the seven emirates constituting the United Arab Emirates) moved a step closer this week with the likely venue getting a big tick from AFL ground operations manager Jill Lindsay. The US has found polo fields a good option for staging major Australian Football events such as their Nationals and it seems this trend will spread to the UAE, as the Dubai Polo Club has been ear-marked to host the likely match, probably as an exhibition game immediately before the usual NAB Cup tournament that precedes the regular season.
Early February 2008 is the likely time frame and Mark Stevens reports in the Herald Sun (see Dubai pre-season gets OK that the AFL believes it could attract a crowd of up to 10,000 people, thanks largely to the big Aussie expat community, so temporary stands would need to be erected. If the game goes ahead the AFL sees it as a "great opportunity to broaden the brand". A possible failing of past overseas forays has been to not link in with local communities to seed the game, so let's hope some ground work is done, including with local side the Dubai Dingoes, to make a lasting impact. This will be a challenge in the Muslim nation that has around 1.5 million residents but of which less than 20% are regarded as UAE nationals, with foreign workers making up the bulk of the population, mostly coming from India and surrounding countries.
As football begins to establish itself outside of Australia, more and more clubs and leagues are implementing junior programs. This benefits football through improved exposure and offers the entities a future talent pool to draw from. Japan is home to two football leagues, the Japan AFL and the Nippon AFL both of whom have tried to get youth involved with footy. The latter has launched the ‘Japan Joeys’ and have held clinics at elementary schools throughout Osaka whilst several clubs in the JAFL have held similar clinics or formed a junior arm – such as what the Osaka Dingoes have done with 'the Russells'. Now, independent of both bodies, Wayne Garth has held football clinics at the Tokyo International School.
GAA Director of Games, Pat Daly, was quoted in the Melbourne Herald Sun as saying the GAA wanted a meeting by late July to discuss ways to resume the International Rules Series. He spoke of the majority of elite level Gaelic footballers wanting the chance to represent Ireland: "The players are very much in favour of it and want it to continue". The AFL's media relations manager, Patrick Keane, reiterated the AFL's desire to see the series resume, but said no meeting date had been set at this stage and they were awaiting the GAA on a meeting date.
This summer, my seven year old son and myself are introducing a new concept in
junior sport to Arlington, VA and the Washington DC area. We call it
Saturday Morning Footy. In many ways there is nothing new at all about
Saturday Morning Footy. I myself started playing Footy (aka Australian
football) on Saturday mornings in 1977, thirty years ago! Of course, in
1977 I lived in Ringwood East, an outer suburb of Melbourne Australia and the
program was run by my best friend's dad. The name itself comes from
Arlington's very successful junior basketball program called Saturday Morning
Basketball. Like Saturday Morning Basketball, Saturday Morning Footy will
begin with three weeks of "clinics" to teach the skills and rules (although
there will be a lot of fun games along the way), and the last two weeks will
consist of "matches" between the designated teams.
In the lead-up to this year's Asian Australian Football Championships in Bangkok there has been some talk about the formalisation of an official Asian AFL to complement the championships and create a structure for scheduling international matches and funding junior development. A proposal floated on the Hanoi Swans' blog suggests two divisions of five clubs each could play a home-and-away series each year, the divisions being north - Tokyo Goannas, Hong Kong, China (Shanghai), Vietnam (Hanoi) and the Philippines - and south - Bali, Jakarta, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. Each team would play the other four sides in their division once each year, with two matches at home and two away.
While WFN doesn't know how much this has been discussed by clubs so far, it looks like an interesting idea, particularly as there is mention in the plan of coordinating funding and sponsorship for clubs undertaking local and junior development. We'll post further news as it becomes available.
WFN recently featured a story on junior development in Scotland, and it is this that has earned the praise of Scotland's peak sporting administrative body, in particular the work the SARFL is doing with youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.
But rather than read more here, go to the Winning Zone for one of the best write-ups of Australian footy you are likely to see in international media, and find out more on the excellent work of the SARFL in not only growing the game, but in achieving real progress for some of Scotland's youth.
We note that the recent story regarding the start of the 2007 Papua New Guinean footy season is the 1000th story by WFN since we began back in mid-2004. Many thanks to all our volunteer writers, contributors and regular readers who keep the passion for international footy alive. Let's hope there's 1000 more stories on their way as our great game continues its steady growth around the world.
AFL PNG’s Port Moresby competition has just kicked off and to help with the commencement of the season AFL legendary coach David Parkin, along with former Carlton coach Wayne Brittain, current AFL National Coaching and Volunteers Manager Lawrie Woodman and former AFL Runner for Essendon and Carlton Peter Schokman are in PNG. This Saturday they feature as the major guests of AFLPNG at a fundraising dinner for AFLPNG Junior AFL, which oversees what we believe to be the biggest number of junior footy players outside of Australia.
The 2006 USAFL National Champions, the San Diego Lions play their first official US Footy match for 2007 this Saturday, June 16th at Doyle Park, La Jolla, California. They will be taking on a combined Arizona Hawks/Las Vegas Gamblers side. We also wonder if it's time for USFooty to introduce a new tradition.
Canada's national Australian Football team, the Northwind, are in full swing with training sessions and trial games against Canadian club and combined sides. First up this Saturday 16th June is strong Ontario AFL team the Toronto Dingos. A highlight will be when they blow across to the west for an international invitational series in Vancouver against the US Revolution and the Japan Tsunami. They'll also play the touring Australian Convicts in October in what will be a very busy year for the Canadian squad, which started early with a match against the US in Texas in January.
Northwind's 2007 schedule can be viewed on the AFL Canada website here.
Finland won back-to-back CEAFL Championships last weekend with a victory in the grand final over Austria, avenging an earlier defeat in the round-robin qualifying rounds. The four-team competition was hosted by Vienna and saw Finland, Austria and Croatia all win two matches in the qualifying rounds, Finland and Austria going through to the final on percentage. The event was staged in Austria and received some great exposure with a piece on local television, though footage from the 1991 SANFL Grand Final, a bloodbath between West Adelaide and North Adelaide remembered as possibly the most violent in the league's 130 year history may not have been the best advertisement for the sport. Let's hope the presenter (speaking in German) noted the game isn't usually like that. The report can be seen on Youtube here.
The tournament matches also counted towards the first round of the Eastern European Tri-nations, with Croatia winning the Schnitzel Cup (as the Vienna round of the tri-series is known).
As we hinted back in January, the Australian Football League seems likely to bring State of Origin football back in 2008 as part of the 150th celebrations for the early foundations of Australian Football. The series was once the pinnacle of Aussie Rules, with exciting, high standard matches surpassing the quality of any state league and with no international opposition it represented the best the sport could offer (though premiership success was still every player's ultimate goal). For various reasons it withered away and was finally ended. However support is on the rise. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou has publicly stated his enthusiasm for the concept, and a pre-season survey of AFL captains was also very positive, adding to growing media and public calls for a return. Not everyone is in favour of it, but momentum for the series is gathering quickly and unlikely to be stopped. Here we'll look at the various recent opinions on bringing back Origin. Later we'll examine the history of interstate competition, why Origin died and why the push for it again.