Currently, the AFL is considering development pathways for international talent (see Part Two of Kevin Sheehan Interview). While this should be encouraged, I hope the AFL will consider the cultural differences between countries. In particular, any pathway for U.S. players into the AFL must go through the U.S. college system. A pathway that does not allow U.S. players to go to college will be a road to nowhere.
Irishman Colm Begley was today elevated from the Brisbane Lions rookie list to its senior list. Brisbane has suffered a large number of injuries this season, and the injury to Justin Leppitsch and his subsequent retirement has created a vacancy on the senior list. Begley, who was recruited from Gaelic football, only came to Australian Rules football in December. He has quickly adapted to the game, given a start in the Lions team in the NAB cup preseason competition where he did not look out of place.
We also briefly review the other Irishmen of the AFL, and Englishman Brad Moran.
Since the 2005 International Cup the Australian
Football League has conducted an extensive review of how it approaches
international development of the game. This has resulted in the
appointment of a new high powered International Development Committee and five
contact points within the AFL for the nominal five regions of Africa, America, Oceania, Asia and Europe. Other major revelations include confirmation of Melbourne as the likely 2008 International Cup venue, with a four year cycle thereafter, and hopes that the cost of attendance can be significantly offset.
Alexander Fangavaka, aged 14, is the second young Tongan lad to gain a TAFA (Tongan Australian Football Association) footy scholarship to Australia and the first to be based in Adelaide, where he is studying and playing at Norwood-Morialta High School, which has a strong history of football. He's also playing club football for Hectorville "Heccies" under-15's in the South Australian Amateur Football League and has attracted plenty of media attention.
Reigning AFL premier the Sydney Swans have sent two of their Talent Recruiting Managers to South Africa. Perhaps this is the first of many scouting parties that will head there to see what level the players are at.
The AFL's head of Game Development, David Matthews, has announced an agreement between AFL South Africa and the North-West Cricket Association which will provide Aussie Rules football with access to cricket ovals, sponsorship and a massive player base. Crucially, in an interview with a Melbourne newspaper, Matthews has tied together many of the threads that are strong topics of debate amongst supporters of international footy. He has clearly put forth the case for significantly increasing funding to South Africa, and the response from the AFL community in the coming months will be vital in determining the future direction of our sport.
worldfootynews.com is pleased to welcome several new correspondents, after our recent call for more volunteer writers. With Aussie Rules continuing to grow their assistance in bringing you the news will be most appreciated. We now have changes in place for Asia, Canada, and a new portfolio for the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.
As recently reported on worldfootynews.com, the New Zealand AFL has lost its CEO with Rob Malone moving into a new position in Rugby in that country. With the AFL recently re-affirming its committment to international development, potentially exciting times are ahead for the Kiwi leagues. Also on offer is a part-time position as National Umpires Director.
As a Muslim and being of Lebanese extract, Bachar Houli is hardly the stereotypical footballer. Yet next week, Houli will pull on the Vic Metro jumper and represent his state in the Under-18 national competition. It is a big step for any footballer, let alone one who has had to struggle at times with the additional stresses of racial, religious and cultural differences.
The weekend of June 10th 2006 found more Asian locals than usual startled by the spectacle of International Aussie Rules in full flight in their backyards as the Asian Footy calendar heats up in the lead-up to the big one - the Asian Championships 06.
In part one of our interview with AFL Talent Manager Kevin Sheehan we discussed the AFL's plans for a new International Development Committee featuring influential people from within the AFL's structure, and funding issues for affiliates and potential new countries to the international Australian Football scene. In the second and concluding part of the interview we discuss a possible international Scholarship program, AFL club interest in South Africa, and the third International Cup in 2008.
The Western Regionals held this weekend in San Pedro, California serves a number of purposes. It allows the western US clubs to get together in some good competition matches, to gain experience for newcomers, to finalise team setups, to qualify players for the National Championships and to allow the USAFL board to understand the strength of various teams for ranking purposes going into the National Championships.