A decade after the Australian Football League's seemingly one-off experiment in Africa, with the 1998 Brisbane versus Fremantle match in Cape Town, AFL footy is set to return to South Africa with Carlton taking on Fremantle in Pretoria in a February pre-season, pre-NAB Cup match.
As previously reported (Carlton v Fremantle in South Africa) and although not confirmed, The West Australian reports that the match is tentatively booked into SuperSport Park (Google image) on February 2nd 2008. The heart of Australian Football is in North West Province and the likely venue would have been Potchefstroom's Sedgars Park, which hosted the Australian Under 17's against a South African selection earlier this year (see Aussie talent all class on African footy's big day). Unfortunately cricket commitments are reported to have ruled that out. Nearby Pretoria lies in the province of Gauteng, and North West's loss will be their gain. Rather than reward the region where footy has its roots, perhaps this will introduce the game to a relatively untouched audience. Let's hope that it goes ahead and it would be tremendous to see AFL South Africa and the AFL arrange to bus in some of the players and volunteer officials from North West to see what for many would be their first live game of AFL.
Also headed across the Indian Ocean, in December this year, will be West Coast. In the PerthNow story West Coast trip to South Africa a good life lesson it's reported that the Eagles will spend ten days in KwaZulu-Natal, their development province under a four team agreement with the AFL. The players will also be conducting coaching clinics in what is AFL South Africa's newest football region. The other AFL clubs involved are Fremantle, who work with North West, Carlton with Gauteng and Collingwood with Western Cape.
The following article is from Jeff Wortman, well known to many of our readers as one half of the comedy duo that deliver the weekly Footy Wrap posted on YouTube. Here Jeff recounts his memories of watching "the grannie" far from home and sympathises with the many people around the world in search of their footy fix on the big day.
On the last Saturday in September two years ago, I was negotiating the Tokyo subway with two mates, looking for the Clubhouse. I’m not usually an advocate of wearing your footy jumper to a game your team isn’t playing in but I felt desperate to find a way to be parochial in a city full of people who were blissfully unaware of the significance of the AFL Grand Final.
Updated 23 Sep 2007 - just a quick reminder to those hosting or looking for AFL Grand Final parties that you can make use of this post or visit AFANA's site, details below.
Originally posted 11 Sep 2007:
The 2007 Australian Football League Grand Final is fast approaching and the tradition of hosting parties to watch the game is continuing to grow around the world. Whereas it used to be mostly expatriate Aussies scrambling for a venue that would show the match, now they are increasingly joined by local fans.
Rather than replicate the work of the Australian Football Association of North America (AFANA), who each year list Grand Final parties from all around the world, we once again advise readers looking for a venue to check out www.afana.com and in particular their party page. Note that they do take details from venues all over the world, not just North America.
To increase their chances of getting a search engine hit, party organisers are also welcome to log in to WFN and leave a comment on this story, detailing where fans can watch the game.
Desperate fans who find the above methods unsuccessful could also consider contacting their nearest footy club, league or Australian embassy (don't tell them we sent you!). Visit our Links section to find the closest one.
Chicago United (ranked 6th in the US in our regular poll) will host the Milwaukee Bombers on Saturday in the last game of the USFooty regular season. This game will decide the Mid-American Australian Football League Premiership as Chicago has a one-game lead over Milwaukee with a lower percentage. The winner, and MAAFL Premier, will also get an invitation to Division 1 of the USFooty National Championship in Louisville KY.
The Beijing Bombers were formed a few years ago by Aussies living in the Chinese capital, but until recently have not been as successful on- or off-field as their counterparts in the Shanghai Tigers. This is set to change however, with the Beijing Bombers defeating the Shanghai club earlier this month - the first home game for the Bombers and their first win against outside opposition - thumping the Tigers to the tune of 39 points.
The Bombers will return to Shanghai on October 27th for the second leg of the China Cup, but in the meantime there's plenty to do with development among Chinese nationals in Tianjin and Beijing. The following report courtesy of the Beijing ARFC's captain-coach Darryl Hoffman.
The National Provincial Championship (NPC) is set for AFL Grand Final weekend and will be played in the capital city of Wellington. Four provinces will contest the Championships this year with Auckland, Canterbury, Waikato and Wellington the contenders.
Previous results (available here) have shown the well-established six club competition in Auckland to be the country’s strongest. Last year’s NPC saw the Auckland team clearly superior, with an improved Canterbury team runners-up. A disappointing Wellington team, who have slipped from their high standards earlier this decade, and the Waikato team, involved in their second campaign after forming as a competition in 2004, made up the numbers.
Channel 7 Melbourne has scheduled a documentary prepared by their news team, called "Footy's Wild Frontier - AFL in South Africa". The stations blurb explains:
"Watch as reporter Nick McCallum travels to the shanty towns of Johannesburg and other regions of South Africa , discovering passionate AFL communities along the way. This program provides a rare insight to how the AFL views South Africa as football's final frontier and a viable market for players and television, having already expanded its presence into countries all around the world. In the documentary, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou outlines his confidence over the sport's push into the far-off region".
The Age newspaper also quotes Demetriou as saying in the program "There's no doubt in 10 years, there will be a player drafted out of South Africa".
Sadly the show appears to only be scheduled for Melbourne, 5pm - 5:30pm, Sunday 23rd September. Channel 7 Melbourne have advised that there are no plans to air the documentary to the wider Australian audience, and Channel 7 Adelaide have no immediate plans to show it but have put a request into the system (fans shouldn't hold their breath).
Tonga is a small country in the South Pacific hopeful of attending their first International Cup in Melbourne next year. To help finance the trip, the Tonga Australian Football Association is raffling two AFL Grand Final tickets.
Raffle tickets are AUD$10 each and the draw will take place on the 28 September, Grand Final eve. This realistically restricts entry to those in Australia only, and means that if the winner lives outside Victoria, they will need to organise a flight for Saturday morning. More information is available from the TAFA website. General donations or sponsorship to support the national side are also welcome, as without significant fundraising the team will struggle to make the journey.
In related news, TAFA is still accepting Development Officer applications. The twelve-month position will begin in March 2008. Further details available here.
As far as we've been able to tell from searching the internet, despite great gains by AFL South Africa in the past few years, there hasn't been a lot of media coverage within South Africa itself. This of course will slowly change with time, and no doubt they're up against entrenched sports that guard their coverage closely. So it's pleasing to see an article in called Now kids are to play new game by Tandie Ntsepe on the City-Vision Western Cape website. They spoke with Development Officer Allison Simons about the FootyWild program being presented to local schools in Khayelitsha and Nyanga. Let's hope interest continues to grow.
Also of interest is an article that reviews some of AFL South Africa's progress in part from the point of view of Australian Volunteers International, an important partner early in their program. See A game for all seasons.
Timor-Leste (East Timor) is a country in Southeast Asia made up of the eastern part of the island Timor, the Oecussi-Ambeno region in Northwest Timor and the smaller islands of Pulau Atauro and Pulau Jaco. It has a population of a little over one million. It made headlines in 1999 when incited anti-independence violence followed a successful referendum by Timor-Leste to be recognised as their own state.
An Australian-led peacekeeping force was deployed to the region to support the new state, and they remain in the country (along with peacekeepers and police from 20 other countries) following more recent violence. Under the banner of “Operation Astute”, the Australian Defence Force are aiming to bring “stability, security and confidence to the Timorese to allow them to resolve their differences democratically and peacefully.” Sport has been identified as one avenue to achieve these goals, and consequently Australian football has been in the limelight.
It may currently surprise some in the international footy scene that an internationally developed Australian Football player is participating in the Rugby World Cup in France right now! And he credits Aussie Rules for helping develop the skills that got him there. Also helping the Kiwis with their line-outs (throw ins from the sideline where players boost each other into the air to try to gain possession) is a former VFL/AFL ruckman who experienced both codes, and Rugby League, in the diverse Sydney sporting scene.