The much anticipated Aussie Rules debut of Sedgars Park, Potchefstroom, is almost here, as the Australian under 17s head to South Africa for the historic match on April 14th. The international, along with the warm-up trial for the touring squad, will be the first games at the cricket ground and hopefully the oval will come through the matches in good condition. AFL South Africa are also planning to use the day to officially launch "FootyWild", billed as "The New Game That Roars".
Here are a few snippets of footy info from around the web over the past few weeks, with signs of increasing professionalism in South Africa, Jason Akermanis again pushing the AFL to embrace Japan, and Essendon translating part of their website into Japanese.
US Footy’s Australian Advisory Board Executive Director, Tony Fairhead, recently managed to have students from Saint John’s University, Minnesota, who are studying at the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle taught a little bit about Aussie Rules, including playing games.
Ireland's GAA is talking tough in the lead up to negotiations to restart the International Rules series between Australia and Ireland. All the indications are that the Irish want major rule changes and won't proceed without them.
As reported in the Irish Independent:
GAA President Nicky Brennan has revealed that efforts are underway to revive the International Rules series with Australia, just months after it was shelved. The Irish management team, led by Seán Boylan, met recently to draw up a number of issues which they feel need to be addressed if the series is to have a future. And Brennan said that further feedback had been received from the players involved in the controversial Autumn series with the Australians.
World Footy News proudly announces the inaugural USFooty Top 10 Poll. WFN
has recruited ten of the brightest minds in USFooty to vote on their Top 10
USFooty teams and then has aggregated the votes. We plan to have six more
polls during the season concluding after USFooty Nationals on October
13-14. WFN will announce the winner of the USFooty Poll Premiership on
October 1. The honor will go to the team voted Number 1 based on its 2007
regular season games.
The Dubai Heat have overcome tournament hosts, the Dubai Dingoes to claim the title in the first ever Dubai 9s competition. The Heat went through the day undefeated and took out the final in convincing style. Below are the results and a report on the event, courtesy of the Dingoes.
After months of planning, the French footy scene has finally officially affiliated with the Léo Lagrange National Sports Union, creating the Commission National de Football Australien. Léo Lagrange is an organisation representing over 100 different sports in France, with over 400 member clubs, 50,000 individual members and an emphasis on youth involvement.
This year, the juggernaut that is the Asian Australian Football Championships rolls into Bangkok, home of the Thailand Tigers - hosts for 2007. The tournament has been scheduled a little earlier than usual this year for the weekend of July 14th, a fact that has seen many of the Aussie Rules teams of Asia, including four of the region's powerhouse teams, dust their boots off and blow the preseason cobwebs out with early match practise to get season 2007 underway.
One of the ongoing complaints of Aussie Rules fans outside of Australia is the lack of access to watching AFL matches. Although the AFL website offers video streaming of games there have been plenty of people unhappy with its reliability and image quality. The dream for many supporters has been to get coverage on readily accessible cable/satellite television in their country. AFANA has long been at the forefront of pushing for this in North America and in 2006 the efforts of the Setanta network were generally well received. Now 2007 looks like a great advance, with Setanta locked in to AFL coverage through to 2011, adding unprecedented certainty. The network are also offering more live games and extending the service to Ireland and the United Kingdom in a move that can only assist the profile of the game.
USFooty has announced that Hawthorn Premiership player and former Head Coach, Peter Schwab, will join their Australian Advisory Board. Schwab is currently the Chief Executive of Football Victoria and the Chairman of the AFL Match Review Committee. Schwab brings USFooty a lot of football knowledge, as well as respect and clout within AFL circles. USFooty recently formed the Australian Advisory Board with the objective of eventually having seven members with high profiles in footy and business in Australia.
The 2007 AFL season has opened with the second best minor round attendance in the history of the VFL/AFL. With 364,544 people attending the eight games in round one, the average was 45,568 per match, a great turnout across the nation. The biggest show was the re-match of last year's Grand Final blockbuster between West Coast and Sydney. Such matches are often described as "replays" of the Grand Final, and this one certainly turned out that way with the Eagles again home by just one point - the third successive one point result between the two clubs. With 62,586 fans in to watch the match, it was the highest minor round attendance between two non-Victorian sides. Obviously such a record is made possible by Sydney's Telstra Stadium having a greater capacity than any other footy stadium outside of Melbourne, but it still stands as a great sign for Australian Football's continued growth in New South Wales, the country's most populous state.
For our international readers, Australia is currently struggling with a severe drought which while it has had devasting economic consequences for the whole nation, areas outside the major cities have been particularly hard-hit by the loss of both income from agriculture and young people who migrate to the state capitals for work.
Another outcome of the drought is the slow collapse of water supply, both in the major cities and the country, where water restrictions have meant that many sports grounds are turning to dustbowls over summer.
With an ever-increasing number of sports grounds off-limits due to a lack of any grass cover, a new website has recently been launched under the title SaveFooty.com - where money is being raised to install rainwater tanks and encourage the use of recycled water on sports field. While the site is currently based around Aussie Rules clubs, rugby league, rugby union and soccer clubs are also intended to benefit from the charitable actions to save grass-roots footy from the drought.