A recent article in the Auckland press sheds light on one of New Zealand's young up-and-coming players and exposes some of the key difficulties involved in growing junior football participation in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
As the AFL continues its push into South Africa, role models for budding young players can be an important factor. Obviously it will be much more significant when a player groomed in a local competition is drafted into the Australian Football League, but in the meantime AFL South Africa may be able to leverage the recent rookie listing of a young player born in their country.
The figure of a superstar celebrating in Brisbane Lions colours while being worshipped in front of a sell out crowd of 52,000 Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane is not your everyday occurence. The Brisbane Lions last week received a welcome promotional boost from rock's bad boy, when Robbie Williams wore a Brisbane Lions jumper for most of the concert as part of his Close Encounters tour. Williams confessed that he is a fan of the club, reportedly staying up late to watch the match of the day from London. During the performance he is reported to have made references to Lions stars Jonathan Brown and other members of the side.
West Perth Falcons Senior player Brett Cousins has returned to Australia after six months with the Milwaukee Bombers. Cousins, a 100-gamer and premiership player for the storied West Perth Falcons helped Milwaukee to their first ever Mid-American Australian Football League (MAAFL) Championship. Brett's stint at Milwaukee is the first stage of a two-way exchange program between the two football clubs. Recently, James and Jared Brunmeier joined West Perth from Wisconsin to play the 2007 season. So far the exchange program has been a great success. According to USFooty and Milwaukee Bombers Founder, Paul "Plugger" O'Keeffe, "I hope to see 30 Brett Cousins playing in the US and 30 Brunmeier brothers playing in Australia each year."
The AFL has released details of changes to its Executive structure and a reallocation of duties as a result of a review following the move of key member Ben Buckley to the top position in Australian soccer. Although the changes may have little affect on the day-to-day outward appearance of the AFL, there was a small snippet of promising information in the re-shuffle.
Two players with an international flavour were added to AFL player lists at the Pre-season and Rookie List drafts conducted this week. PNG born Mal Michael ended his retirement of just a few weeks to be picked up by Essendon, while Irish youngster Martin Clarke (pictured) was added to Collingwood's international rookie list via the rookie draft.
As previously reported on WFN, a 'future leadership' group of Essendon footballers conducted coaching clinics in Tokyo and Osaka earlier this month as part of a Development Trip to Japan. JAFL President Hideki Miyasaka hailed the visit a success, with the Tokyo clinic being well supported by players from the Tokyo based clubs, and the Osaka clinic also incorporating a session for women's and junior footy. Hideki also reports that Essendon showed an interest in two young Japanese Footballers, but, at this stage, have still not decided whether they will invite them to pre-season training or not.
The following rundown of both clinics is provided courtesy of Hideki and the JAFL.
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The Gaelic Athletics Association yesterday voted to officially suspend the International Rules series at a meeting held at Croke Park yesterday. While there is still a possibility that the tours may resume in future, many are tipping that 2006 will be the last for some time, possibly forever.
As part of the decision, it was reported that the junior (under 17s) series will also be put on ice - possibly a blessing for international Aussie Rules if it means the planned tour to South Africa takes its place.
The Australian Convicts, a side of amateur players from around Australia, will tour South Africa again for two weeks next February and March playing three games, one against the South African national team. The players will also hold juniors clinics with local children. "Mr Football" Ron Barassi has also recently come on board as patron of the Convicts, featuring in Melbourne daily newspaper the Herald Sun.
As reported in The Age, Melbourne, on 8 December, the AFL has contingency plans for the under-17 Australian team, if the GAA pulls the plug on International Rules for both senior and under-17 competition between Ireland and Australia - contingency plans being a tour instead to South Africa.
This may happen as early as this weekend with the GAA Central Council meeting at Croke Park, however the Belfast Telegraph suggests the GAA will delay a final decision until after meeting with the AFL in Dubai in January.