Sports Without Borders is a new non-profit organisation supporting young people from migrant or refugee communities in Melbourne to get involved in sporting clubs. Backed by groups including the Victorian Institute of Sport, Swinburne University and the Victorian Multicultural Commission, SWB has been part of a wider push for Australian rules football among young Victorians from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Sudanese cousins Ring and Akon Mawlen recently received a cheque to help them continue their footy careers at the Albion Football Club in Melbourne's western suburbs, Akon having played in an under 12s premiership side this year for the club. The presentation marked the start of a partnership between SWB and AFL Foundation, the full story can be found on the AFL website.
The British Bulldogs defeated the Irish Warriors by ten goals in Dublin last weekend, the first Aussie Rules test match ever held in Ireland showing both a markedly improving Bulldogs squad and a Green Machine slipping from its heyday of International Cup glory in 2002.
With both sides looking towards next year's International Cup, the balance of power in the British Isles could be moving eastwards. The Bulldogs destroyed all comers in the Manchester tournament held a few weeks ago, and still have a match to come this year against the ARUK England Dragonslayers. Ireland conversely hasn't put a national team on the pitch since last year, although they'll be straight back into it this weekend with a match against Denmark in Århus.
In danger of being lost amongst the many firsts in the BC Footy weekend back in August in which Canada and the United States went head-to-head in men's, women's and under 17's boys Australian Football, was the annual BC Footy Cup. The club competition saw a combined Seattle/Portland side travel up from the US to take on the local Vancouver Cougars and Burnaby Eagles and Alberta's Kangaroos. But the individual journeys across North America were surpassed by the Nippon AFL side that took part in the Cup, with members of the Tsunami squad making the long trip from Japan.
The Internet has been a huge boon for getting the Aussie Footy message to the world (this site is testament to that), but recent social networking enhancements may be about to change the footy world. Despite advancements to web technologies, it has still traditionally costs a lot for clubs to get their own websites going, to get people to find it (search engines) and also to get an online forum to get people involved. Fans have been trying to find ways to keep in touch and sites like Yahoo groups once helped with Grand Final gettogethers and particularly with formation clubs. But there was never a central place where you could find and login to these groups as a result, they often fizzed out.
The USAFL has released the draw for this year's nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, with the competition expanding to four divisions for the first time.
There will also be a women's tournament with around four teams, one team from Canada heading down (the Calgary Kangaroos), a tour match between The Convicts and the US Revolution, and ex-AFL mega coach Kevin Sheedy in attendance.
The 10th year of the competition looks set to be the biggest weekend of US Nationals yet.
Perhaps after a 44 year premiership drought it was good karma that finally brought success to the Cats. At least that could be the view from an international perspective, with people involved with the club doing the right thing by international footy recently.
As we reported, Brownlow medallist Jimmy Bartel has been a regular visitor to Denmark and is off again soon, where he'll give some assistance to Australian Football development there.
Costa joined Geelong when the club was millions of dollars in debt and has been a big part of their turn-around. His company is now investing in South Africa, such as in the Alexandra region of Johannesburg, and as part of that they are also putting over half a million dollars over three years into AFL South Africa's program. As a sign of that commitment, a special guest was brought to the MCG. On AFL Grand Final day nine year old Tsepho Daniel Raphiri, a FootyWild participant in Alexandra, was involved with the half-time Auskick program. Let's hope the young lad was able to appreciate the atmosphere of the day.
In the past couple of weeks some big names from the US threw their weight behind AFL clubs.
Al Gore, former US presidential candidate best known in Australia for his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" on global warming, nominated Collingwood as his AFL club of choice, as reported in the Herald Sun's article Crusader warms to Magpies.
Also former American Idol and pop superstar Kelly Clarkson became a Geelong supporter during her recent tour, as reported in the Herald Sun article Kelly Backs Geelong.
While it makes a good publicity stunt to nominate an AFL team, international celebrities discovering our unique Australian game helps raise awareness - this is especially so in the United States, where awareness of the game is growing but it is still very often confused with rugby.
The No. 1 San Diego Lions have cemented themselves as favorites going into the
USFooty National Championship Tournament in Louisville KY on October 13 and
14. The Lions also finished top of the
USFooty ladder with 6 wins, no losses, 24 points and a percentage of
301. The Lions impressive regular season included going 2-0 in their home
and home series with the Orange County Bombers, a convincing win over Golden
Gate in San Diego and taking out the 2007 Western Regional Tournament by beating
No. 2 Denver Bulldogs by 9 in Denver. The Lions have been led all year by
former president and 2006 joint Best and Fairest, Brendan McDonald who finished
top of the
goal kicking list with 17 goals, an average of just under 3 goals a
game. Also contributing to the cause is current President Adam Cannane, J
Cameron, S Shenk and last year's joint Best and Fairest Justin Valley.
Nipping the Lions' heels all season has been the Denver Bulldogs. Denver
also had a very impressive season finishing with 5 wins and just one close loss
to the Lions. Denver finished 3rd behind the unranked Nashville Kangaroos
on the Unofficial USFooty ladder with 20 points and a percentage of 485.
Denver have been led all year by former USFooty President and 2007 East vs West
stand out Rich Mann.
The 2007 Australian Football League Grand Final played out just as Geelong would have hoped and Port Adelaide supporters would have had nightmares about. The Cats had been the dominant team all year and there was always a risk throughout the finals series that the other clubs were simply playing off for the right to be belted in the big one.
In hindsight Port fans may well wish they hadn't made it through to the Grand Final. Although their second placing at the end of the minor round meant they had earned a crack at the Cats, there were always question marks over their younger players' ability to handle big game pressure, as evidenced by some of their losses during the year to Adelaide (both times) and Sydney (one from one), teams know for their crushing defensive pressure. Ironically the top placed Geelong ended up with a tougher finals draw, facing the tenacious Collingwood before nearly 100,000 fans the week before, and having squeezed through that they would've been better prepared for a tight final. As opposed to recent thrillers, the AFL's showcase event got two high scoring teams but did they get the two that would put on the best display?
There's been plenty of talk to suggest Australia will take on other countries in a full-scale footy test match in the women's game long before the men catch up overseas - and a group of US students at Fremantle's Notre Dame University have set the standard for international women's footy sides by taking out a three-team tournament last weekend.
In addition to the previous post from a few days ago, here's a list of 2007 parties on in continental Europe for anyone who happens to be in need of somewhere to watch the grand final in the early hours of Saturday morning...
Also, for anyone needing to find footy on TV outside of Australia, prominent international Australian Football journeyman Julian "Rooster" Clarke has just unveiled his latest project, AFLonTV.com, a guide to when and where you can catch footy on the box.