Football on the Tiwi Islands is one of the biggest success stories for the sport of Aussie Rules. The history of the sport on the island also tells the story of how difficult, yet eventually rewarding it can be to find pathways to the elite level, a path that countries like South Africa and Papua New Guinea may one day follow. The Tiwi Islands may be officially part of Australia's Northern Territory, but the 2,600 indigenous inhabitants of Bathurst and Melville Islands 80 kilometres north of Darwin consider themselves simply "Tiwis", distinct from Indigenous Australians. With the isolation from the mainland, Tiwis developed a unique culture, they speak Tiwi, have their own government and proudly wave their own flag. But since 1942, an important part of their culture has also been the sport of Australian rules football.
Earlier this year, WFN ran a story on a a young Muslim, Bachar Houli and his aspirations to become the AFL's first high-profile Muslim footballer. For those that aren't aware, the draft took place last Saturday and Houli was fortunate enough to have been selected by Essendon with pick 42.
Just a quick note to let readers know that we have recently added "ClustrMaps" to our site, in the right hand column, under Geo Stats. This third-party software produces a nice snapshot of where across the world people are viewing worldfootynews.com
In the West, the Middle East is never far from front page news. Unfortunately, in the world of Aussie Rules, it has been quite the contrary. There have been attempts to set up competitions in Lebanon, Israel and Turkey, but ultimately, they either haven't yet come to fruition, or they are on hiatus. Furthermore, the recent tension in the area is unlikely to have done a great deal to help proceedings. Yet almost unnoticed, the United Arab Emirates, renowned for its rapid city construction levels and more tolerant way of life (at least from a Western perspective), has produced a team in the city of Dubai.
The footy scene in France is hoping to soon affiliate with the polysports association Leo Lagrange in an effort to improve the profile of Australian Rules football and give itself a channel to receiving funding through government channels.
The move comes as the French footy clubs debate the best way forward for the sport in France, with Strasbourg pulling out of the AFLG after a tough first year and options for regional leagues in and around France up for discussion.
Mal Michael, Papua New Guinea's most celebrated AFL footballer retired last month, but the effects on footy in PNG are yet to be known. Early signs are that he will spread his time between Melbourne and his country of birth.
Australian punter Ben Graham has continued his excellent form for the New York Jets in the NFL, averaging 44.3 yards, slightly above the league average - a top result in his first full season. A longest kick of 69 yards is another impressive result. Two more long kicks weren't counted in his stats due to team penalties.
The 2006 Canadian footy season was marked by progress in some areas and setbacks in others. Two clubs, with players from five sides competed at the US Nationals. Several clubs had difficulty fielding a side, others folded, but there was some expansion with at least two full clubs starting play next year. However, this still leaves AFL Canada with fewer sides than at the end of last year.
Since the end of last year, footy in Finland has seen the Finland Lions make two trips to Prague, play a three-game series against the Stockholm Dynamite and hold a match Finland vs The World, with an all-Finnish team taking on Irish and Aussies from the Finnish footy scene and only going down by twenty points.
Now the crew are putting together plans for a local league featuring teams from Helsinki, Espoo, Turku and possibly Vantaa (all fairly close together on Finland's southern coast), with the goal of having enough Finns playing regularly in the league to push for a Finnish team (tentatively nicknamed the "Ice Breakers") at the 2008 International Cup.
The first International Rules Masters (players over 35 years of age) test was played on October 28th this year at the GAA club in Annaghdown, Galway, Ireland. There was both an A and B squad match, with Ireland winning both games.
The Fitzroy Reds are a strong community football club in Melbourne, playing in the Victorian Amateur Football Association. Originally the third club from Melbourne University, the Reds took on the Fitzroy name after the AFL's Lions moved to Brisbane and now play their matches at Fitzroy's Brunswick St oval, ancestral home of the VFL/AFL Lions.
The Reds have also developed a few international links recently, having some players represent the Melbourne Croats in the Multicultural Cup, a sister-club arrangement with the Atlanta Kookaburras and last October playing a tour match in Tonga against the Tongan national team, the Black Marlins. Although the Reds ran out winners in the game, the locals were far from disgraced, showing great potential in a developing footy nation.