Two loosely related kicking articles in the past few days have us thinking about further inroads for our game overseas. The first on AOL Sports site wonders aloud if Aussie rules punters in the NFL could be a great promotional tool for NFL overseas. The obvious answer is that it will raise the profile of NFL but the opposite may also be true, that Aussie Rules will gain greater exposure by pure weight of numbers in the US.
The second article in the Times Online covers the comments of Welsh Rugby’s kicking coach Neil Jenkins bemoaning the head start that Aussie kids have in Rugby’s kicking game “ Our boys kick at that age, but are messing about. The Aussies do it properly because of Aussie Rules.” This may be the perfect argument in Rugby playing countries for parents to encourage their kids to take part in Aussie Rules development programs.
Martin Clarke’s rapid rise to senior AFL ranks continues at an unprecedented rate as far as Irish imports are concerned. Collingwood yesterday confirmed on their website that the 19 year old rookie has been promoted from the rookie list to the senior list.
It is thought that he will not play this week against Fremantle, but now he is on the senior list can be selected at anytime. He continues to work closely with Nathan Buckley and was working on fast leading and kicking drills with him while the media’s eyes were on Buckley at training yesterday, as Buckley continues to edge closer to his own senior debut for the year (returning from injury). It may turn out that they run out together the following weekend for the Queen’s Birthday clash on June 11th.
The short history of the Australian Rules Football League Ireland (ARFLI) is an interesting one with a mixture of extreme highs but also a few low points in what is a unique country for Aussie Rules. On the upside the national side went several years undefeated and claimed the inaugural International Cup back in 2002, and remained very competitive to finish fourth in 2005. The number of clubs also grew quickly from the first beginnings around the turn of the century, but the numbers have ebbed and flowed in the country which has both the advantages and disadvantages of the similarity between Australian and Gaelic Football. With the 2007 season getting underway with five clubs we chat to new ARFLI President Ciarán O' Hara about where he intends focussing the League's efforts.
Daniel Tincknell, who played in NZ for Auckland University Under 17s, Reserves and Seniors in the Auckland League is now playing for and working full time as a Development Officer for the Subiaco Football Club (WAFL). His major responsibility is development in his district. Prior to this he worked part time as a trainee for Fremantle and the WAFL. Daniel’s father, Colin Tincknell, was the second CEO of the NZAFL in the early part of this decade and Daniel, who had previously helped his father by volunteering with football related issues in WA, was able to continue and expand his efforts in NZ. This is a great story of footy's global growth ultimately supporting the game back in Australia.
World Footy News has covered the journey of Irish import Martin Clarke since his transition was first rumoured last year. It was today speculated in a Real Footy article that he could become the fastest of the Gaelic converts to a senior list and to a fully fledged AFL match.
A permanent home for USFooty and Australian Football in the United States may
currently be under construction in the City of Lauderhill, Florida.
Broward County is currently constructing a stadium with 5,000 covered seats for
cricket (and football) at a cost of $30m as part of a sporting complex that will
include three full size cricket (football) grounds. According to the Ft
Lauderdale's Fighting Squids' Joshua Goodstein, the County plans to place goal
posts on the field and is working towards hosting the 2009 USFooty
Nationals. If the renderings are anything to go by this will be a
beautiful world class facility that will have the ability to host major events
including USFooty Nationals, AFL games and possibly the 2012 AFL International
Cup (Editor: probably just speculation but you never know).
On the Friday before East vs West game, Broward County hosted a tour
by USFooty officials, who by all accounts, were very impressed. The
scheduled open date is mid-December 2007, and according to Goodstein, both the
Broward County Parks System and USFooty continue to work together in order to
bring footy events to this state of the art facility.
In the interesting opinion article, Ryan, who apparently has umpired last year's AFL Germany grand final between the Munich Kangaroos and the Rhineland Lions and a friendly between Munich and Madrid, is critical of the annual AFL exhibition match at the Brit Oval and the International Rules series and calls for some lateral thinking from the AFL in marketing the game in Europe - particularly in Denmark, Germany, Austria and Hungary, areas where fledgeling competitions exist.
Ed - an insider tip is that there's actually been some talk about this "behind the scenes" as well. Whether the Age writer was acting on a tip-off about an announcement which might come up this year is unknown - but news regarding more AFL attention to Europe might (note - we said might) make the headlines later this year.
The Scottish Australian Rules Football League (SARFL), in partnership with Culture and Sport
Glasgow, Community Club Programme is to launch Scotland's first junior Aussie Rules football
program in Glasgow in June 2007 and to be run throughout the summer. The program will introduce
the game through free-to-attend Glasgow youth clinics held at Bellahouston Park on a weekly basis,
with the SARFL providing free coaching and tuition.
This big edition of Footy Shorts looks at Houli's debut, the exposure footy's global side is gaining on the AFL website and Pakistan's plan to send representatives to the EU Cup. It also takes a glance at the struggle football faces in Nauru, following the nation's withdrawal from the 2005 International Cup, and reveals that two AFL players are headed for the New York marathon.
Just a quick note to explain that Ash is checking through the WFN Links section, and any modified addresses or descriptions will result in old links appearing in the "LINKS last 2 weeks" section in the right hand column, along with any new links added.
The prospects of Aussie Rules putting down some permanent roots amongst the locals in China are looking more and more positive, with the Melbourne Football Club continuing its exploration of commercial interests and confirming that footy has been accepted into several educational institutions. Getting government sanctioning is important in all countries, but none more so than in (partially) Communist China.
Key outcomes from a 10 day visit by Demons officials, the Melbourne City Council and the AFL included:
- visits to Beijing, Shanghai and Melbourne's sister city Tianjin
- commitments from several Chinese education, health and sports authorities were secured to allow the introduction of the Australian game over the next 12 months
- interest from large television broadcasters in adding AFL coverage to their schedules
- up to 15 players will be heading to China in October to run clinics and training seminars for expatriate and local players
- continuing to examine possibility of playing an exhibition match next year in Tianjin
- plans to bring one or two players back to Melbourne to train with the club and learn to deliver training programs
- again affirming the hope to have China represented at the 2008 International Cup, with perhaps 16 countries expected
In recent years soccer has dramatically changed its media profile Down Under, with the game no longer a poor relation to sports such as Australian Football and the Rugby codes. But something which has angered many sports fans in Australia is the sudden insistence by soccer authorities that the round-ball game be referred to as Football and suggestions that it's the real football at the expense of all others, something which ignores both local football history and in fact the origins of all the football codes (something most soccer fans are probably unaware of). With this in mind it's somewhat offensive to read the coach of Sydney F.C., the Harbour city's premier soccer club, declaring Australians "who chose not to embrace the growing nature of football Down Under were un-Australian and insecure in their code". Branko Culina was also quoted on the Fox Sports website by AAP as saying that "All Australians are sports minded people and if you're not going to accept football you're un-Australian".
The term "un-Australian" seems to be bandied around these days to mean "if you don't agree with me then you're not a real Australian", even though multi-culturalism, democracy and diversity of opinion has long been a cornerstone of Australian society. A great irony is that although there were indeed those that weren't inclined to support soccer, it was through the open-minded majority who preferred other codes but didn't try to hold soccer down that the game was allowed to grow to its present size. Let's hope Culina was "quoted out of context" or was simply referring to people who may actively seek to hold the game down, as opposed to the many who may quite reasonably simply prefer other sports, such as the football codes that are contact sports and higher scoring. As other writers have noted before - the fact that McDonalds is a dominant world-wide food chain doesn't mean individuals should abandon their own local favourites to embrace it simply "because lots of other people eat it".