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".
Five PNG players currently playing in the AFL Queensland with the Coolangatta Blues got a mention in the Sunshine Coast Daily newspaper this weekend after a match as some of the best on ground in a losing side. Coolangatta went down to the Maroochy-Northshore Roos by 39 points, but the Roos' coach noted that without the PNG contingent the Blues would be a lot worse off, also commenting on the immense untapped potential of players in PNG who might be appearing in AFL ranks in future.
San Diego hold on to their #1 ranking in the first regular season Top 10
Poll. The only change between this poll and the
USFooty Top 10 is that young NC Tigers dropped from 9th down to 10th, while
Chicago took over the 9th ranking.
There are no official rankings for international Australian Football, and putting together such a list is fraught with difficulties such as the lack of regular international matches, questions of whether teams fielded their best sides, and the thorny issue of whether to only consider matches played under International Cup rules, not to mention the risk of upsetting people who have a strong attachment to their side. Nevertheless, WFN has thrown caution to the wind and had a go at ranking nations based on their form in recent years, up to the end of 2006 - read on to see where your favourite team was listed.
The Italian team of the century will be announced soon. The initiative sees the great players of the VFL/AFL of recent Italian heritage being selected from to produce the best Italian footy side. The team will be announced at a dinner at Crown Casino on Thursday 31 May 2007. Proceeds from the dinner go to the Victorian Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. More details follow.
To be eligible for the team, a player had to have played at least one VFL/AFL senior game and been either born in Italy or had at least one parent or grandparent born there. From the wider Australian point of view the VFL/AFL criteria is a little disappointing, as before the AFL era there would have been many great players with Italian background playing in the other major leagues around Australia, so it's a little Melbourne-centric. Other than that, it's a fun initiative and it would be great to see some of the influential people involved turn their attention afterwards to seeding the great Australian game back in their ancestral home, where Italy appears to be a notable absentee amongst the ever growing number of European nations with grass-roots Aussie Rules sides (there was some development in Italy but this appears to have lapsed - let's hope not).
Italian Team of Century nominees: Steve Alessio, Mark Arceri, Ron Barassi snr (deceased), Adrian Battiston, John Benetti, Mario Bortolotto, Scott Camporeale, Domenic Cassisi, Vin Catoggio, Frank Curcio (deceased), Nick Dal Santo, Ron De Iulio, Paul DiMattina, Robert DiPierdomenico, Alec Epis, Brendan Fevola, Silvio Foschini, Cyril Gambetta (deceased), Daniel Giansiracusa, Len Incigneri (deceased), Alan Johnson, John Kennedy jnr, Anthony Koutoufides, Andrew Leoncelli, Tony Liberatore, Paul Licuria, Stan Magro, Gary Malarkey, Albert Mantello, Gerald Marchesi (deceased), Alan Martello, Peter Matera, Phillip Matera, Mark Mercuri, Joe Misiti, Tony Ongarello, Peter Pianto, Tony Polinelli, Simon Prestigiacomo, Adam Ramanauskas, Peter Riccardi, Mark Ricciuto, Guy Rigoni, Anthony Rocca, Saverio Rocca, Peter Russo, Laurie Serafini, Sergio Silvagni, Stephen Silvagni, Ian Stewart.
The Arafura Games were once a huge part of footy's international takeoff, with the competition the first tournament to feature international representative matches between national teams such as PNG, New Zealand, Nauru and Japan, as well as some of the expat sides from Asia and Aboriginal squads from the Australian outback.
Although the International Cup largely filled the market for a major international tournament, the Arafura Games still has Aussie Rules, albeit as a demonstration sport, and a developmental team from the Japan AFL is currently in town for the event. The Japanese have played three matches so far, defeating the NT Buffalos twice and the NT Crocs once, with another game against the Crocs to come tonight.
The AFL's Melbourne Demons have increased their push into the Chinese market, now announcing a focus on Chinese students studying in Australia and a new club website, melbournefc.com.au/china, published in Mandarin. Melbourne's The Age newspaper reported today that Demons officials have spent the past 10 days in China furthering plans for Australian Rules to be played at over 20 schools and universities in Tianjin.
Daily News ran their front page article on Saverio Rocca's attempt to become
Eagles punter in 2007. The front page pictured Sav holding an NFL ball
and a USFooty ball. Rocca is trying to displace current punter Dirk
Johnson. The Eagles are also looking for Rocca to take over holding
duties, much as Ben Graham does for the
New York Jets.
Rocca is currently listed as 50-50 to get the spot but has done well with his
hang-time clocked at 5.4 seconds which is well above the required 4.5
seconds. Rocca follows in the footsteps of Darren Bennett and Ben
Graham. Mat McBriar the All-Star punter for the Dallas Cowboys is also
Australian although McBriar never played in the AFL.
22 year old New Zealand rugby convert Adam Campbell is being hyped in the Australian media after a heroic effort against Hawthorn in the AFL.
Campbell was playing rugby union until he switched to Aussie Rules at the age of 16, after moving from Hamilton on New Zealand's north island to Aussie Rules heartland in Ballarat in country Victoria. At 192cm the tough key position player has been improving at a rapid rate, with a string of strong performances since his recent debut for Fremantle.
The Tonga Australian Football Association has applied to AusAID for their next Development Officer. We understand the position is not yet approved, hence TAFA are initially looking for expressions of interest. Some of the current achievements were outlined in our story Tongan footy bounces back from run of bad luck. Their requirements follow:
TAFA is presently applying for an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development (AYAD) through AUSAID and is seeking expressions of interest from talented Australian citizens aged 18-30 who may wish to become our next Development Officer. This may not apply directly to you, but please feel free to pass the following link to a relative or friend who might be interested and up to it.
This will be a unique opportunity for someone to practice every element of sports development right through from primary school introduction to coaching and managing the Tongan national team as part of the International Cup in Melbourne in Aug 08. TAFA development programs also have very strong links to community development, so it will also be a unique opportunity to make a real difference to other people’s lives.
Edinburgh has won the 2007 Haggis Cup, restoring Scottish pride after Ireland's Dublin Demons had a successful raid across the Irish Sea in 2006. Edinburgh also repelled a second Irish raider, the Dublin Swans, who merged with the Brussels team due to travel problems. Hosts Glasgow were also in the mix, and North London, fielding many non-Australians, were brave grand finalists. In surprisingly warm weather the combined Edinburgh team knocked over all-comers, going through undefeated. The following report is courtesy of the Scottish Australian Rules Football League's Eddie McAvinchey. No word yet on whether the vanquished were forced to eat haggis as punishment.
The Papua New Guinea national under 16s side completed their recent campaign at the Queensland state chapionships with a lot of positives and experience to take home. After being defeated 103-12 by the Northern Raiders (rep side of Brisbane's northern suburbs) and 114-19 by the Suncoast Power (from the Sunshine Coast area just north of Brisbane) in their first two matches, PNG managed a good win against the AFLQ Colts.
Although no players from PNG made the cut for the Queensland state squad selected from the tournament, AFLQ Talent Manager Mark Browning announced that four players from PNG will be brought to Brisbane for a four-six week block of training with the State squad.