2007 marks the 10th anniversary of USFooty. Originally construed as the United States Australian Football Association it was later renamed the United States Australian Football League and given the appellation USFooty. This article looks at some of the people who have made footy in the US what it is today.
With the steady growth of Aussie Rules it was difficult, over the course of a year, to keep track of all the international level matches that were played across the world. There were a surprisingly good number played in 2006 given the understandable drop off after 2005, an International Cup year. Here we'll make a list of all the internationals we could find, which should help towards considering how the various nations faired in 2006.
Late last year we reported on a proposed new league by Aussie Rules UK to be run in British population centres away from London. The ARUK league was designed to use smaller player numbers and groupings in smaller regions. This aimed to address some of the complaints levelled at the British Australian Rules Football League, but it appeared it would also be run partially in competition with the BARFL's Regional League. Some of the teams listed by ARUK were indeed BARFL sides so the UK Australian Football scene was clearly in for an interesting off-season as clubs faced a big decision. It has been two months since we last looked at this issue so WFN contacted the existing and proposed new clubs to ask them how their preparations for 2007 have been going and which league they intend playing in. We've also discussed some of the problems faced by regional clubs in the past, how the BARFL has or hasn't dealt with such issues, and how planning for the inaugural ARUK season is progressing.
Matt McBriar started out in Melbourne playing Aussie Rules footy. His long kicking ability was spotted in a long kicking competition in Melbourne and through contacts including former Melbourne and West Coast AFL footballer Darren Bennett he made his way from Old Brighton in the VAFA to college gridiron football in Hawaii. He's now reached the very top - punting in the Pro Bowl.
The South African development squad again put in a solid showing against the QANTAS Kickstart Indigenous Youth Team last night at TIO Stadium in Darwin in front of a growing crowd heading in for the Essendon versus Indigenous All-Stars main event. The late game was telecast across Australia on ABC2, the second station of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation via its digital broadcasting. During the telecast South African coach Mtutu Hlomela was interviewed and the AFL's General Manager of National and International Development, David Matthews, also gave his thoughts on increasing assistance and the potential for one of Aussie Rules' most exciting development zones. Matthews also talks about the possible International Cup 2008 sides and the balance between International Rules and Australian Football.
The South African developmental footy squad touring Australia touched down in Darwin, Northern Territory last Sunday 4th February. After a busy Monday it was off to Jabiru to play their first game game of the tour, against the Indigenous Youth Squad. The visitors proved competitive in losing by 30 points and would be reasonably satisfied with their first hit-out. Two more matches are scheduled, one in Darwin and the other in Perth - full details follow.
The first match of the newly overhauled AZAFL for 2007 was played on Saturday Feb 3rd between the Devils and Dingos. The league will consist of three teams vying for the title this year, with two teams competing and the third team handling field setup and officiating each round. This report supplied to us by John ‘Pops’ Meier
Late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLI, the Indianapolis Colts' American punter Hunter Smith kicked a 32 yard drop punt to hold the Chicago Bears deep in their own end of the field. Commentator Phil Simms described Smith as holding the ball perfectly straight up and down and kicking so that it looked like a "kick off" (that is, the ball span end over end). "Aussie Rules" also got a mention when commentator Jim Nanz described the Bears' quarterback Rex Grossman's difficulty taking the snap in the wet conditions as being like an Aussie Rules game. With three Australians punting in the NFL including All-Pro Matt McBriar and possibly Sav Rocca following soon, NFL games are likely to see more drop punts. One has to wonder if the "banana" will make an appearance.
Football in the US is now over ten years old. The game is still currently evolving and trying to settle on workable formats. Clubs seem to ebb and flow in terms of their player and financial strengths and their ultimate strategies can change as they gain more experience of football life. Over the last two years the MAAFL looked like it was settling down with a pretty solid group of clubs competing for their Championship, but after rumours of changes over the offseason, more details of a new structure have been revealed, including greater flexibility and a possible new club.
We've also got further information from Atlanta's Wayne Kraska about the reasons for the change to the structure (an update since article first published).
United Arab Emirates newspaper the Gulf News reported on January 28th this year that the AFL are currently planning a match between AFL clubs Collingwood and Adelaide in the second week of February 2008 in the UAE city of Dubai, home to Collingwood's major sponsor Emirates Airlines, around 15,000 expatriate Australians and the newly-formed Dubai Dingoes footy club. An AFL match in Dubai has been mooted on a number of occasions, but this appears to be the closest it's come to happening to date.
Like Canada’s population, its Australian Football sides (past and present) are spread out in three areas, Southwestern British Columbia, the Edmonton-Calgary corridor and between Windsor and Quebec, where the majority of Canadians reside. The new Ottawa Swans side is trying to expand on the latter and so far are having a great deal of success. Ottawa is Canada’s capital and combined with outlying areas in both Ontario and Quebec, the National Capital Region is home to 1.1 million people.
Canada's new coach, Mark Block, has posted on the AFL Canada website his summary of the Northwind's trip down to Texas to take on the USA. Although his team went down by 26 points, a fairly large margin in a low scoring game, Block's report remains positive about the players' efforts and is obviously seen as just one step on the longer journey.
Photos from 2007's first major international are also available at Phototainable, the website of semi-professional photographer Edward Habgood, who captured some of the action at the match, including those pictured in this story.