The AFL has effectively launched the count down to the start of the celebration of 150 years of Australian Football. Although a range of versions of football had existed for a long time prior, the match between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College, 149 years ago this week, is widely regarded as the first recorded game of the sport. The 150 will therefore come up in 2008 and AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou has revealed a sample of the celebratory events that will unfold across the year. He has also announced Kevin Sheedy as the AFL's official ambassador for the concept, regardless of whether he takes up a coaching position next year. But were a couple of things missing?
In an historic day for Canadian and International football, the Canadian Northwind
beat the US Revolution 45 to 32 on Saturday August 4. The 49th Parallel
Cup game was played on the spectacular Thunderbird Stadium on the UBC Campus in
Vancouver BC, in perfect conditions for footy. This was the Northwind's
first ever victory in International football over the Revolution and the
Canadian leadership was excited to have the win during a football carnival that
saw around 2500 people come through the Thunderbird Stadium gates to watch
non-stop footy over the two days.
The weekend saw two internationals
between the Northwind and the Revolution as well as the first two Women's Footy
Internationals between the Canadian National Team and the US Freedom, U17
Northwind against the U17 Revolution, and local teams competing in the BC Footy
The Finland Ice Breakers played a 9-a-side friendly against Sweden last weekend, and although the Finns went down 151-55, the game created a fair amount of interest in the western town of Halikko (population 9,491) and drew a crowd of around 150 enthusiastic locals. The game also featured the first time a 100% Finnish team has taken the pitch in the Ice Breakers jumper, albeit only for the first quarter, with over 30 Finnish players now on the lists of the two Finnish footy clubs so far.
World Footy News spoke with Finland AFL president Izzy Barker about the game and plans for Finnish footy, including next year's Finnish domestic league and the International Cup.
In the second match of the 2007 Northern European tri-nations, Denmark has thumped Germany by 174 points at Farum, 27.14.176 to 0.2.2, with the Germans unable to register a goal against their northern neighbours for the second year running. Nevertheless it was a much improved effort by Germany, who refused a Danish request that they play some Australians in order to make the game more competitive. The German team, although missing 10 of the 24 players who made up the squad that defeated Sweden in Berlin, is rated as having improved greatly this year under coach David Mudge, and should continue to make steps forward in the future.
The Paul Kelly Cup is a football tournament open to Primary Schools in New South Wales and the ACT. It is recognised as one of the landmark school sports competitions in Australia, therefore it is no surprise that many AFL players drafted from Sydney, such as the Swans’ Kieran Jack, can trace their interest in the game back to the Cup. For those unfamiliar with Jack, he is the son of Rugby League legend Garry, who represented New South Wales in 17 State of Origin matches and two years ago was named amongst the best 25 players to ever pull on a Blues guernsey.
The 2007 Cup was recently completed with the very multicultural Belmore North Primary School beating Holbrook and St. Patrick's Primary Schools in the final. By being declared champions, the small school (around 300 students) had effectively outperformed 880 other schools. Belmore North is based in Sydney’s southwest and formerly played Rugby League. They took up football “because the concept of the Paul Kelly Cup was so good”. Their team was made up of children who can trace their roots to countries like Lebanon, Samoa, America and Sierra Leone (there were actually no Anglo-Australians in the team), all were relatively new to the sport, and everyone had played their first football match in the past eighteen months. The team even included a student who is recovering from cancer. Such a competition can only be a positive for footy's push into NSW.
The AFL has confirmed that next year's exhibition match in Dubai will go ahead, with February 8 penciled in as the likely date. Victorian powerhouse Collingwood will face off against the Adelaide Crows. Of all 16 AFL clubs, Adelaide has the most members, which this year topped the 50,000 mark for the second time. Both clubs have business interests in the Middle East, through Emirates and Toyota. The news comes soon after the announcement that Carlton will play Fremantle in South Africa, also set for early 2008. The games are part of an increased commitment by the AFL to develop football outside of Australia, with Tokyo and Los Angeles suggested as locations for future games. Unfortunately, poor timing looks to have ended the annual London match.
The Malaysian Warriors will kick off an Auskick program for kids aged 5-12 in Kuala Lumpur this weekend, with a clinic organised for every Saturday from now until the end of October. The clinics will be held at different locations, including the Australian International School Malaysia (AISM), Warriors' home ground Alice Smith School Equine Park and Warriors' training ground Kelab Alam.
The clinics on August 25th and September 8th will be held before Malaysian Warriors matches, giving kids an opportunity to see some real-life senior footy action. The program, which is receiving materials through the AFL's Auskick department, has 20 kids registered as interested so far, with the cost for the program at 50 Ringgit for the season.
In recent articles on the relationship between the AFL (Australia) and GAA (Ireland) regarding International Rules and the so-called "poaching" of young Gaelic football players from Ireland, we've suggested that the one piece of leverage the GAA has to restrict the flow of players has been the International Rules series. As the AFL is keen to maintain it, they've been prepared to at least put an age limit on the recruitment of young Irishmen to AFL clubs via the draft or international rookie list. Whereas young potential recruits from outside of Australia can be added to a club's international rookie list from 15 years old, for Ireland the minimum is 18, and full entry to the AFL at 19.
The AFL and GAA are set to meet in Melbourne in October, and if the International Rules ban is extended there are suggestions that the age restrictions put in place to satisfy the GAA could be removed - this would most likely result in an even greater level of poaching and reduce AFL-GAA relations to a new low. It seems the relationship between the two sporting bodies is more finely balanced than ever before - will the GAA be conciliatory to restore the IR series and maintain its leverage with the AFL, or will they maintain a hardline stance and risk an escalation of the player drain?
Melbourne newspaper the Sunday Herald Sun today reported that AFL clubs Carlton and Fremantle are currently set to play a match in South Africa next February, possibly as a NAB Cup fixture. The proposed venue for the match wasn't mentioned, although the article did mention that the clubs will take community camps in their affiliated South African development regions.
The under 17s match between Canada and the USA is yet another historic first for the Ironbank International Challenge weekend of footy in Vancouver. It will be the first junior representative team that Canada has put on the park, and probably for the US too (with the possible exception of the Barassi Youth Tournament several years ago). The young men will line up for a full contact international game of Aussie Rules. We have a look at where the players come from and how the organisers see the game in the greater scheme of developing footy in North America. Of course being the first such match there will be issues to be sorted - the US are a bit short on numbers so some of the Canadian kids face the prospect of lining up for the "enemy" - not an easy thing for a coach to explain. Still, it will be a great step forward for the game in North America and will hopefully demonstrate the value of investing in junior development. Just the very occurrence of the match on the same card as the men's and women's matches should be food for thought for the wider AFL Canada and USAFL communities.
This weekend sees an incredible list of firsts as Australian Football in North American shows further signs of maturity. Besides Canada and the United States men's squads again doing battle for the 49th Parallel Cup (and playing a further exhibition match the following day), the two day event will feature the debut of the two countries' national womens and juniors squads. The tournament is being staged as part of the annual BC Footy Cup in Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada), and will include a visit from Japan's Tsunami squad joining in with the Victoria Lions (Can) in the club competition featuring Seattle (US) combined with Portland (US), Vancouver (Can), Burnaby (Can) and Alberta (Can). We talk to the Northwind coach and review their team's matches leading up to the event, as well as speak with the Nippon AFL's Andy Carne. The tournament will take place at UBC's 3,500 seat Thunderbird Stadium, perhaps the premier venue for Aussie Rules in North America. Article by Chris Adams and Brett Northey, and updated with US Revolution (men's) squad
The second edition of the EU Cup is just under seven weeks away, with eleven teams currently on the schedule to take part. The tournament will be held at the Hamburg Stadtpark on Saturday September 15th, with a conference of competing to be held the following day. The Czech Lions, Spain Bulls and Finland Ice Breakers will be making their EU Cup debut, with eight of the ten teams from the 2005 cup returning - Catalonia, Austria, Belgium, the England Dragonslayers, Germany, France, Sweden and the Flying Dutchmen.
The EU Cup is the largest event for the newer teams around Europe, some of whom are hping to be at a level of development where they can mount an IC side as early as next year. The EU Cup 2007 Organising Committee is currently working hard to ensure the tournament will be a fun, enjoyable experience and a great weekend of footy for all who attend. The Welsh Red Dragons were originally slated to take part as the twelfth side, but have been forced to withdraw, leaving one more spot available for any interested country.