This summer, my seven year old son and myself are introducing a new concept in
junior sport to Arlington, VA and the Washington DC area. We call it
Saturday Morning Footy. In many ways there is nothing new at all about
Saturday Morning Footy. I myself started playing Footy (aka Australian
football) on Saturday mornings in 1977, thirty years ago! Of course, in
1977 I lived in Ringwood East, an outer suburb of Melbourne Australia and the
program was run by my best friend's dad. The name itself comes from
Arlington's very successful junior basketball program called Saturday Morning
Basketball. Like Saturday Morning Basketball, Saturday Morning Footy will
begin with three weeks of "clinics" to teach the skills and rules (although
there will be a lot of fun games along the way), and the last two weeks will
consist of "matches" between the designated teams.
In the lead-up to this year's Asian Australian Football Championships in Bangkok there has been some talk about the formalisation of an official Asian AFL to complement the championships and create a structure for scheduling international matches and funding junior development. A proposal floated on the Hanoi Swans' blog suggests two divisions of five clubs each could play a home-and-away series each year, the divisions being north - Tokyo Goannas, Hong Kong, China (Shanghai), Vietnam (Hanoi) and the Philippines - and south - Bali, Jakarta, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. Each team would play the other four sides in their division once each year, with two matches at home and two away.
While WFN doesn't know how much this has been discussed by clubs so far, it looks like an interesting idea, particularly as there is mention in the plan of coordinating funding and sponsorship for clubs undertaking local and junior development. We'll post further news as it becomes available.
WFN recently featured a story on junior development in Scotland, and it is this that has earned the praise of Scotland's peak sporting administrative body, in particular the work the SARFL is doing with youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.
But rather than read more here, go to the Winning Zone for one of the best write-ups of Australian footy you are likely to see in international media, and find out more on the excellent work of the SARFL in not only growing the game, but in achieving real progress for some of Scotland's youth.
We note that the recent story regarding the start of the 2007 Papua New Guinean footy season is the 1000th story by WFN since we began back in mid-2004. Many thanks to all our volunteer writers, contributors and regular readers who keep the passion for international footy alive. Let's hope there's 1000 more stories on their way as our great game continues its steady growth around the world.
AFL PNG’s Port Moresby competition has just kicked off and to help with the commencement of the season AFL legendary coach David Parkin, along with former Carlton coach Wayne Brittain, current AFL National Coaching and Volunteers Manager Lawrie Woodman and former AFL Runner for Essendon and Carlton Peter Schokman are in PNG. This Saturday they feature as the major guests of AFLPNG at a fundraising dinner for AFLPNG Junior AFL, which oversees what we believe to be the biggest number of junior footy players outside of Australia.
The 2006 USAFL National Champions, the San Diego Lions play their first official US Footy match for 2007 this Saturday, June 16th at Doyle Park, La Jolla, California. They will be taking on a combined Arizona Hawks/Las Vegas Gamblers side. We also wonder if it's time for USFooty to introduce a new tradition.
Canada's national Australian Football team, the Northwind, are in full swing with training sessions and trial games against Canadian club and combined sides. First up this Saturday 16th June is strong Ontario AFL team the Toronto Dingos. A highlight will be when they blow across to the west for an international invitational series in Vancouver against the US Revolution and the Japan Tsunami. They'll also play the touring Australian Convicts in October in what will be a very busy year for the Canadian squad, which started early with a match against the US in Texas in January.
Northwind's 2007 schedule can be viewed on the AFL Canada website here.
Finland won back-to-back CEAFL Championships last weekend with a victory in the grand final over Austria, avenging an earlier defeat in the round-robin qualifying rounds. The four-team competition was hosted by Vienna and saw Finland, Austria and Croatia all win two matches in the qualifying rounds, Finland and Austria going through to the final on percentage. The event was staged in Austria and received some great exposure with a piece on local television, though footage from the 1991 SANFL Grand Final, a bloodbath between West Adelaide and North Adelaide remembered as possibly the most violent in the league's 130 year history may not have been the best advertisement for the sport. Let's hope the presenter (speaking in German) noted the game isn't usually like that. The report can be seen on Youtube here.
The tournament matches also counted towards the first round of the Eastern European Tri-nations, with Croatia winning the Schnitzel Cup (as the Vienna round of the tri-series is known).
As we hinted back in January, the Australian Football League seems likely to bring State of Origin football back in 2008 as part of the 150th celebrations for the early foundations of Australian Football. The series was once the pinnacle of Aussie Rules, with exciting, high standard matches surpassing the quality of any state league and with no international opposition it represented the best the sport could offer (though premiership success was still every player's ultimate goal). For various reasons it withered away and was finally ended. However support is on the rise. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou has publicly stated his enthusiasm for the concept, and a pre-season survey of AFL captains was also very positive, adding to growing media and public calls for a return. Not everyone is in favour of it, but momentum for the series is gathering quickly and unlikely to be stopped. Here we'll look at the various recent opinions on bringing back Origin. Later we'll examine the history of interstate competition, why Origin died and why the push for it again.
The "feel good" story mentioned that his first introduction to footy was responding to an advertisement calling for football officials in a local Geelong league. Thinking that he was applying for a position as a soccer referee, he ended up taking the job. Since finding his feet,Tinashe has developed a love for footy and has become quite a skilled umpire.
A few AFL umpires could take a leaf out of his excellent repoir with the junior players.
Washington Eagles (8th in our US poll) 109 points handily defeated the
Carolina Tigers (10th) 25 points. The game was played at the
fields in Poolesville, MD. Poolesville lies in the hart of Maryland's
horse country past the grand mansions of Potomac and DC's northeastern
suburbs. While it was definitely hot, there was none of the
humidity that DC is famous for.
Ireland's O'hAilpin brothers have continued their rocky rise to AFL ranks in 2007, with mixed results for both of them. Setanta has played both fullback and ruck at Carlton with promising signs but hasn't yet managed to hold down either position. He did hit the headlines again with a brief and relatively mild "punch-up" with fellow Blues ruckman Cain Ackland at training last week, though both players and coaching staff laughed it off as one of those things that can happen in competitive workouts. Younger brother Aisake has moved up from the Northern Bullants' reserves to league side and would be hoping to make the Blues' senior squad in 2008. In the following story we have a look at the form of both players, and have a very recent update with talk that Aisake might be moved to Carlton's senior list well ahead of schedule - maybe even this week.