The selection of Kieran Jack to debut for the Sydney Swans this weekend in the AFL is a true example of the value of footy development. Kieran is the son of rugby league legend Gary Jack who represented Balmain, NSW and Australia - showing that in a city dominated by rugby league, and where it had long been said that Aussie rules would not get local kids to play the game, the attractions of the game can overcome.
The Karlstad Dragons made their first appearance on the weekend, taking on the Gothenburg Beserkers in a friendly in Gothenburg. Although the Dragons went down 134-61, the Beserkers are reportedly a much stronger side than previous seasons, making the game a fairly promising start for Karlstad. The South Sweden Saints and Port Malmo Maulers have both kicked off their DAFL Premier League seasons, although they are both still seeking their first win. In the Swedish capital, the three-team city league coordinated by the Stockholm Dynamite has also begun its season.
The Finnish AFL may soon have its second club take the field, with the formation of the Tampere Kestrels. Around 170km from Helsinki, Tampere is Finland's third-largest city overall and the largest outside the Helsinki metropolitan area.
In the biggest employment recruitment operation of international Aussie Rules history, the AFL South Africa are currently seeking community development officers, four to be stationed in the North West Province and two each in the provinces of Kwa Zulu Natal, Gauteng and Western Cape. The positions are advertised as having a minimum monthly salary of 2000 Rand, with applications closing on May 9.
According to a recent edition of a Melbourne newspaper, following the 2007 AFL season, as many as four clubs will run community camps overseas, with South Africa the AFL’s recommended destination. Other countries that may figure in calculations are the US, England, Japan, China and Dubai.
Two overseas-born players from Pacific islands are resurrecting their AFL careers at new clubs. Samoan-born Aaron Edwards is blazing a trail with the Kangaroos at AFL level, while Fijian-born David Rodan is returning to form for Port Adelaide.
Zimbabwean-born Tinashe Nyatsanga took up upiring footy while at university in Geelong. After umpiring local Geelong and Bellarine Football League matches, he was one of the umpires able to officiate at the match between South Africa and the Clontarf Academy in Perth recently. An account of his trip is featured on the AFL website here, let's hope he's a sign of things to come in the increasing multiculturalism of Australian rules.
With a controversial summer behind it, the British footy season is about to begin in earnest with the new Aussie Rules UK seniors competition opening up with the Southern and Wales leagues on April 28th and the Northern league on May 5th, with the BARFL's first 2007 match also on April 28th (not confirmed) but the rest starting on May 5th. After a frenzy of meetings, emails and phone calls, the two separate leagues appear to have settled into their final configurations for 2007. We untangle the complicated web of which clubs ended up where and how the year is scheduled to unfold, and reveal that there is a glimmer of hope of the two sides working together in future.
After the PNG national under 16s side, the Binatangs, won the last two Queensland Country championships tournaments, the AFL Queensland has now invited them to the all-Queensland state championships. The following article appeared in the PNG Post-Courier newspaper:
THE Papua New Guinea Binatangs will for the first time participate in the Queensland State championships.
AFLPNG operations manager Peter Cates said this was because the Bintangs had been the Champions of the Queensland AFL Country Championships for the last two years.
“Due to this outstanding performance they have been rewarded by the Queensland AFL, and from 2007 they will participate as part of the Queensland State Championship. They will also come under the close scrutiny of AFL talent scouts.”
The Under 16 Binatang team is : Joseph Yara (Highlands), Greg Aki (Highlands), Daniel Rufus (Highlands), Raphael Malau (Highlands), Nelson Kerowa (Highlands) Kenneth Buka (Kimbe) , Jalal Gori (Kimbe), Neville Kaiwa (Kimbe) Charles Nalong and Peter Labi; (Lae) David Meli, Amua Pirika, Willie Hayufa, Vagi Vaina, Gagu Kaiyage, Eddie Tilik, Willie Dasi, Garry Kele, Simon Meakord, Wingti Pena, Jolam Tonga, Ferdinand Musi, Garrett Masab (Port Moresby), Nathan Baramun (Buka) and Junior Kauri (Gulf).
In the latest round of Footy Shorts we report on the good form of Colm Begley leading to controversy in Ireland, with the young gun showing impressive form just 18 months since starting out in Australian Football. And there's the strange but apparently true story of thieves stealing water from a football club in Brisbane - perhaps not surprising given the degree to which drought is now hurting much of Australia, perhaps even to the point of threatening footy.
It appears the Australian Football League and the nations likely to
attend the 2008 International Cup are considering whether to loosen the
criteria that controls which players are eligible to represent a nation
at the tournament. In the first two Cups the definition was very
strict, though not always enforced as rigorously as intended. Options
are now being considered which could widen the net considerably, to
allow players who are simply passport holders for a given country. This
has the potential to be a major issue with some countries likely to
favour a free-for-all and others keen to maintain the status quo. Changes to the overall structure of the event are also on the cards.
AFL Samoa development officer Michael Roberts sees big potential for Aussie Rules in Samoa, so much so that he believes it could easily become the second biggest sport on the islands. At the moment, there are school tournaments with around 3000 primary school students and 250 high school students to be held this year, a ten-team senior league and test matches against Tonga planned at both schoolboys' and senior level.
In fact, Roberts believes the game is growing too fast for their limited resources, saying "we could easily have another 15 highs schools and 20 primary schools on our books if we could only man such programs". With 6 AFL matches televised on Samoan TV each week he estimates around 60,000 of the national population of 200,000 people will have been exposed to Aussie Rules by the end of 2007, with the only thing holding back increased expansion being a lack of funds.
James (pictured left) and Jared Brunmeier (pictured at end of story) hail from Wisconsin, but since December they have been
in Perth trying to make the grade in the Western Australian Football League (the
WAFL is a AAA league for footy). The Brunmeier boys are completing the
second stage of the first year exchange program between the
Falcons and the
Bombers. The first stage saw
Cousins spending six months in Milwaukee helping the Bombers to their first
American Australian Football League (MAAFL) title. This is the second
time in Australia for both boys. In 2005 Jared spent a few weeks with
Kevin Sheedy as part of the Essendon/USFooty exchange program and played
reserves for the Hampton Rovers in suburban Melbourne, while James played in Sydney's amateur
league. Both boys represented the USA at the 2005 International Cup with
James being named to the All-International team.
Update: both the brothers played for West Perth reserves this weekend (Saturday 21st April) with Jared named best on ground in the Falcons' loss to East Fremantle.