Staff from the Australian Football League's Game Development Department recently met with the editorial staff of worldfootynews.com at AFL House in Melbourne. Over several hours it was a good opportunity for the AFL to explain their approach to a variety of international initiatives. It was also a chance for WFN to give our perspective on numerous issues facing leagues around the world, based on our experiences dealing with hundred of officials, players and fans - hopefully we represented some of your concerns and ideas well. The dialogue between the AFL and WFN first began back in 2005 and has expanded as the AFL ramp up their efforts in international game development. Both organisations found the meeting useful and are enthusiastic about continuing to do their part to assist with the spread of the sport.
In the coming weeks WFN should be able to reveal more details of the 2008 International Cup and over time there are several other ideas in the system we hope to be able to shed more light on.
Geelong Football Club President Frank Costa has won wide praise for his efforts to rejuvenate the Cats since taking over at the end of 1998. The recovery of Geelong is still a story being told, with the team sitting atop the AFL ladder and looking to complete their rise with their first premiership since 1963. Costa's efforts extend beyond the football arena. The family company has become a major force and in addition Frank was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1997 for his services to youth and the community. Now Costa Logistics is combining its business, community and football passions to give young South African's the chance to play footy whilst investing resources in local communities there. Their South African arm have now committed to putting into Australian Football resources worth around AUD$200,000 per year for the next three years, a massive boost to the sport in the country that has become the focus and in many ways the litmus test for internationalising Aussie Rules.
Reporting on the footy news in western Canada, MyK Aussie brings us the following.
In the 2nd game of the year between the two Calgary-based teams the Bears won convincingly by approximately 30 points. After Marlborough Park, a full size Aussie Rules Footy playing field, was flooded a week ago and could not be mowed the Calgary footy crews had to again revert to the Rugby fields on Sheppard Rd in the South East of Calgary.
In game 3 of the 07 season the Vancouver Cougars 18.26.134 hammered the Burnaby Eagles 4.2.26 despite some inaccurate kicking. The scoreline is even more remarkable considering the Eagles had won the first two games played this year.
Switzerland's first Australian Football club may soon be founded in Geneva, with Kevin Meynard on the lookout for players. Kevin first saw footy while on holidays in Australia three years ago, and quickly became infected with the footy-virus.
So far he's collected about 7 or 8 players who are interested, although ideally he'd like to find at least 18. "To start with I'd like to find 18 so that we can play 9 vs 9 against ourselves, then we can look at playing against some of the French or German teams."
He's also searched if there might be a Gaelic club in Geneva with players who might be interested, although he hasn't found one as yet. "Apparently there's an Irishman currently living in Bahrain who wants to start a Gaelic or Australian Football club in Geneva, but for juniors."
"The Swiss are a bit scared - when they see footy they imagine "catch" mixed with rugby. So I created a blog to inform people." The blog, mainly dedicated to explaining footy to beginners, is located at australianfootball.skyrock.com.
Anyone in the vicinity of Geneva who wants to make contact with Kevin can email him via email@example.com or through his blog.
Mt Roskill, one of six clubs in the Auckland Australian Football League has had a huge off season as they gear up for their local season, commencing in late August. They have signed a former coach of the NZ Falcons who happens to be a former Port Adelaide Magpies player (SANFL) in Ian Francis to coach the club, whilst one of their key players, Matt Callaghan, will return from playing for the Thornlie Lions after a season in Western Australia.
After a superb debut that had much of the AFL media buzzing, Irishman Martin Clarke has backed up with three goals and making Collingwood's best player list in just his second match. Although the Pies lost the blockbuster against Hawthorn by 8 points, it wasn't through lack of ability by Clarke who was his team's leading goalkicker and finished with 13 kicks, 6 handballs and 3 goals 1. WFN has previously suggested that clubs that aren't actively seeking international recruits are probably doing themselves a disservice. In many ways it will be sad if the ranks of Gaelic football in Ireland are pillaged for young talent by AFL clubs, as their sport is major part of their culture and at least by appearances a very close cousin to Australian Football. But regardless, it seems likely that more than any Irish recruit before him, the almost instant success of Clarke will have club recruiters clamouring for tickets to the Emerald Isle. One suspects the GAA may go rushing back to the negotiating table for a restart of International Rules so they have some leverage with the AFL to try to prevent a surge in player losses. Given his auspicious start, Martin Clarke must be a good chance to receive a NAB Rising Star nomination. If his form keeps up, he could just be one of the top AFL stories of 2007.
With Fijian-Irishmen Setanta and Aisake O'hAilpin in Melbourne playing for Carlton and its VFL affiliate Northern Bullants, their older brother Teu has also taken up the game, joining the Leeside Lions in Ireland's local Aussie Rules league. At 29 Teu is several years older than Carlton's recruits and has played both Gaelic Football and Hurling to a very high level. He has represented Cork at U-18 and U-21, and then played seniors for Clare having moved there in 2001. He later lived for a while in London where he played both Hurling and Gaelic football. He has spent time in Melbourne with his two brothers and his debut appearance for Leeside helped push them over the line in a very tight match against the Dublin Swans a few weeks ago. The three athletes also have an older brother, Sean Og, who has had a stellar career in Gaelic football and impressed Australian footy fans with his strong performances in International Rules. So it seems talent runs right through the family - maybe one day Carlton will be recruiting Irishmen under the father-son rule.
The British Australian Rules Football League have held an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss the upcoming Brit Cup, the 2007 finals and their proposed strategy for the way forward for the sport in Britain. The rival UK Footy plan was also put up for discussion as an alternative structure for the organisation of Aussie Rules in the United Kingdom. The UK Footy plan would see the existing BARFL set aside and a new body put over the top (see UK Footy unity plan being debated for more details). It's fair to say that although the new concept has been launched as a way of unifying the game, it can only do so if it gets widespread support. If it is seen as simply one side trying to roll the other then it will be politics as usual. Given that the BARFL recently discussed the proposal at the EGM, we spoke with BARFL Secretary Donald Eastwood to gauge the response of the Committee and clubs to both the new BARFL strategy and the opposing model. It seems they too would like to see some changes, but don't believe the radical step of dissolving the BARFL is necessary.
Geelong College are the first Aussie school to embrace Australian Football's journey into Africa. The school currently has a large party of high school students on tour in South Africa, playing football and netball against local sides and assisting with coaching clinics. This could be the start of an exciting new phase for international footy, since many schools conduct overseas trips to places like South Africa that provide tremendous cultural experiences, but now the schools can include the great Australian game as well.
On an absolutely beautiful day for footy, the
Washington Eagles (8)
racked up their third win of the year defeating Eastern Australian Football
League powerhouse the
Demons (6). It was
a big day out for footy in Washington DC. The game was played at Carter
Barron Park in bright sunshine and low humidity and a light breeze. Things
kicked off with a free
Kids clinic which was
followed by a little league game and an Ausball game allowing both parents and
kids to get a kick at the same time. After the preliminaries, the Eagles
and the Bombers headed out for the ball up, while kids, parents, and supporters
headed back to their fold up chairs and hamburgers from the grill.
Although our focus is mainly on international development, WFN likes to take some time to occasionally reflect on the world's elite Aussie Rules competition - the AFL. Traditionally the split round is regarded as a good time to review the season so far, with time to pause after 12 rounds gone with 10 to go before finals action. Two on field stories stand out this year, and they're very much related. One has been the return of attacking footy and the other is the return to strength of many Victorian clubs. There was early season doom and gloom that Victoria's AFL clubs were mostly a long way from winning a premiership and that other teams such as West Coast, Sydney, Adelaide and Fremantle were likely to continue their domination of the top four spots. Everyone had their view on "what was wrong with Victorian footy" and an official investigation was even launched. Here we are just a few months later and the top of the ladder is dominated by Victorian clubs - why the turn around and are they the real deal?
This recent article in the Age features Ireland among several Australian states in a map as one of the breeding grounds for AFL footballers.
While WFN hopes that other countries such as Papua New Guinea and South Africa may join this list in the near future, it does help to bring home the potential for outside of Australia into the mainstream. According to Kevin Sheehan in a recent Herald Sun article at least, South Africa will be next to deliver AFL talent, while AFL footballer Mal Michael is convinced that it will be PNG.