In the interesting opinion article, Ryan, who apparently has umpired last year's AFL Germany grand final between the Munich Kangaroos and the Rhineland Lions and a friendly between Munich and Madrid, is critical of the annual AFL exhibition match at the Brit Oval and the International Rules series and calls for some lateral thinking from the AFL in marketing the game in Europe - particularly in Denmark, Germany, Austria and Hungary, areas where fledgeling competitions exist.
Ed - an insider tip is that there's actually been some talk about this "behind the scenes" as well. Whether the Age writer was acting on a tip-off about an announcement which might come up this year is unknown - but news regarding more AFL attention to Europe might (note - we said might) make the headlines later this year.
The Scottish Australian Rules Football League (SARFL), in partnership with Culture and Sport
Glasgow, Community Club Programme is to launch Scotland's first junior Aussie Rules football
program in Glasgow in June 2007 and to be run throughout the summer. The program will introduce
the game through free-to-attend Glasgow youth clinics held at Bellahouston Park on a weekly basis,
with the SARFL providing free coaching and tuition.
This big edition of Footy Shorts looks at Houli's debut, the exposure footy's global side is gaining on the AFL website and Pakistan's plan to send representatives to the EU Cup. It also takes a glance at the struggle football faces in Nauru, following the nation's withdrawal from the 2005 International Cup, and reveals that two AFL players are headed for the New York marathon.
Just a quick note to explain that Ash is checking through the WFN Links section, and any modified addresses or descriptions will result in old links appearing in the "LINKS last 2 weeks" section in the right hand column, along with any new links added.
The prospects of Aussie Rules putting down some permanent roots amongst the locals in China are looking more and more positive, with the Melbourne Football Club continuing its exploration of commercial interests and confirming that footy has been accepted into several educational institutions. Getting government sanctioning is important in all countries, but none more so than in (partially) Communist China.
Key outcomes from a 10 day visit by Demons officials, the Melbourne City Council and the AFL included:
- visits to Beijing, Shanghai and Melbourne's sister city Tianjin
- commitments from several Chinese education, health and sports authorities were secured to allow the introduction of the Australian game over the next 12 months
- interest from large television broadcasters in adding AFL coverage to their schedules
- up to 15 players will be heading to China in October to run clinics and training seminars for expatriate and local players
- continuing to examine possibility of playing an exhibition match next year in Tianjin
- plans to bring one or two players back to Melbourne to train with the club and learn to deliver training programs
- again affirming the hope to have China represented at the 2008 International Cup, with perhaps 16 countries expected
In recent years soccer has dramatically changed its media profile Down Under, with the game no longer a poor relation to sports such as Australian Football and the Rugby codes. But something which has angered many sports fans in Australia is the sudden insistence by soccer authorities that the round-ball game be referred to as Football and suggestions that it's the real football at the expense of all others, something which ignores both local football history and in fact the origins of all the football codes (something most soccer fans are probably unaware of). With this in mind it's somewhat offensive to read the coach of Sydney F.C., the Harbour city's premier soccer club, declaring Australians "who chose not to embrace the growing nature of football Down Under were un-Australian and insecure in their code". Branko Culina was also quoted on the Fox Sports website by AAP as saying that "All Australians are sports minded people and if you're not going to accept football you're un-Australian".
The term "un-Australian" seems to be bandied around these days to mean "if you don't agree with me then you're not a real Australian", even though multi-culturalism, democracy and diversity of opinion has long been a cornerstone of Australian society. A great irony is that although there were indeed those that weren't inclined to support soccer, it was through the open-minded majority who preferred other codes but didn't try to hold soccer down that the game was allowed to grow to its present size. Let's hope Culina was "quoted out of context" or was simply referring to people who may actively seek to hold the game down, as opposed to the many who may quite reasonably simply prefer other sports, such as the football codes that are contact sports and higher scoring. As other writers have noted before - the fact that McDonalds is a dominant world-wide food chain doesn't mean individuals should abandon their own local favourites to embrace it simply "because lots of other people eat it".
Five PNG players currently playing in the AFL Queensland with the Coolangatta Blues got a mention in the Sunshine Coast Daily newspaper this weekend after a match as some of the best on ground in a losing side. Coolangatta went down to the Maroochy-Northshore Roos by 39 points, but the Roos' coach noted that without the PNG contingent the Blues would be a lot worse off, also commenting on the immense untapped potential of players in PNG who might be appearing in AFL ranks in future.
San Diego hold on to their #1 ranking in the first regular season Top 10
Poll. The only change between this poll and the
USFooty Top 10 is that young NC Tigers dropped from 9th down to 10th, while
Chicago took over the 9th ranking.
There are no official rankings for international Australian Football, and putting together such a list is fraught with difficulties such as the lack of regular international matches, questions of whether teams fielded their best sides, and the thorny issue of whether to only consider matches played under International Cup rules, not to mention the risk of upsetting people who have a strong attachment to their side. Nevertheless, WFN has thrown caution to the wind and had a go at ranking nations based on their form in recent years, up to the end of 2006 - read on to see where your favourite team was listed.
The Italian team of the century will be announced soon. The initiative sees the great players of the VFL/AFL of recent Italian heritage being selected from to produce the best Italian footy side. The team will be announced at a dinner at Crown Casino on Thursday 31 May 2007. Proceeds from the dinner go to the Victorian Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. More details follow.
To be eligible for the team, a player had to have played at least one VFL/AFL senior game and been either born in Italy or had at least one parent or grandparent born there. From the wider Australian point of view the VFL/AFL criteria is a little disappointing, as before the AFL era there would have been many great players with Italian background playing in the other major leagues around Australia, so it's a little Melbourne-centric. Other than that, it's a fun initiative and it would be great to see some of the influential people involved turn their attention afterwards to seeding the great Australian game back in their ancestral home, where Italy appears to be a notable absentee amongst the ever growing number of European nations with grass-roots Aussie Rules sides (there was some development in Italy but this appears to have lapsed - let's hope not).
Italian Team of Century nominees: Steve Alessio, Mark Arceri, Ron Barassi snr (deceased), Adrian Battiston, John Benetti, Mario Bortolotto, Scott Camporeale, Domenic Cassisi, Vin Catoggio, Frank Curcio (deceased), Nick Dal Santo, Ron De Iulio, Paul DiMattina, Robert DiPierdomenico, Alec Epis, Brendan Fevola, Silvio Foschini, Cyril Gambetta (deceased), Daniel Giansiracusa, Len Incigneri (deceased), Alan Johnson, John Kennedy jnr, Anthony Koutoufides, Andrew Leoncelli, Tony Liberatore, Paul Licuria, Stan Magro, Gary Malarkey, Albert Mantello, Gerald Marchesi (deceased), Alan Martello, Peter Matera, Phillip Matera, Mark Mercuri, Joe Misiti, Tony Ongarello, Peter Pianto, Tony Polinelli, Simon Prestigiacomo, Adam Ramanauskas, Peter Riccardi, Mark Ricciuto, Guy Rigoni, Anthony Rocca, Saverio Rocca, Peter Russo, Laurie Serafini, Sergio Silvagni, Stephen Silvagni, Ian Stewart.
The Arafura Games were once a huge part of footy's international takeoff, with the competition the first tournament to feature international representative matches between national teams such as PNG, New Zealand, Nauru and Japan, as well as some of the expat sides from Asia and Aboriginal squads from the Australian outback.
Although the International Cup largely filled the market for a major international tournament, the Arafura Games still has Aussie Rules, albeit as a demonstration sport, and a developmental team from the Japan AFL is currently in town for the event. The Japanese have played three matches so far, defeating the NT Buffalos twice and the NT Crocs once, with another game against the Crocs to come tonight.
The AFL's Melbourne Demons have increased their push into the Chinese market, now announcing a focus on Chinese students studying in Australia and a new club website, melbournefc.com.au/china, published in Mandarin. Melbourne's The Age newspaper reported today that Demons officials have spent the past 10 days in China furthering plans for Australian Rules to be played at over 20 schools and universities in Tianjin.