The 2006 Barassi Youth Tournament wrapped up last week, but here are some more photos of the young international footballers involved, and a great letter from the parents of an Australian player which sums up the spirit of the event. We also report on some of the stories in the local Canberra press.
In a sudden burst of enthusiasm for the international growth of Aussie Rules both Geelong and Port Adelaide's coaches have spoken positively about the sport getting a foothold outside of Australia. Mark "Bomber" Thompson, coach of the Cats, speaking ahead of his club's match in London against Port, singled out China as a highly desirable market to push into, speculating that his club may play there next year (presumably against Melbourne). There's also an online poll WFN readers may be interested in answering.
The British Bulldogs have named their squad to take on Ireland as the warmup to this weekend's AFL exhibition match between Geelong and Port Adelaide at The Oval in London. The squad will again be captained by IC veteran John Boyle and features ten players from the Bulldogs team which toured Melbourne last year.
The Arafura Games, held every two years in Darwin, represents the only opportunity Aussie Rules footballers have to be a part of a large-scale multi-sport international sporting event. At the 2005 Arafura Games, over 3000 athletes from 32 nations competed in 30 sports, and from the 12 - 19 May 2007 it is set to happen all over again. In the past it has featured several international footy sides and games organisers are now encouraging Aussie Rules teams from across Asia Pacific and beyond to be part of the amazing atmosphere.
Tianjin Normal University, China's first all-Chinese Australian Football team, will take on the all-Australian Beijing Bombers on October 22nd. This will be the first ever China vs Australia game of Aussie Rules Football, to be played at the International School Beijing at 1pm. Five of the best Chinese players from this match will then be sponsored by the Beijing Bombers to join the team for a match against the Shanghai Tigers later this year.
The 2006 US Nationals have been run and won in Las Vegas. This year saw some new clubs taking out titles or rising up the rankings, but in the end it was regular west coast powerhouse San Diego that managed to snap Denver's stranglehold on the top ranking.
The Australian Football League appear to be following through on their commitment to footy in South Africa, with perhaps the biggest single increase in international Australian Football development in the game's history. This should result in a rapid expansion in staff and player numbers.
The Sydney Swans may have fallen one step short in the AFL this year, but their Irish cousins have completed the great achievement of winning a flag in essentially their first season as a club. It wasn't all good news from the Emerald Isle, as some clubs struggled to get onto the park. The following wrap of the Irish 2006 Aussie Rules season is courtesy of Ireland international John Enright.
Final results are in for the Barassi Youth Tournament for 2006. It's very important to remember that the juniors representing New Zealand and South Africa are in most cases very new to the sport, but there's no hiding the fact that there were some big losses recorded against non-elite opposition. Papua New Guinea chose not to enter, but it would have been very interesting to see how they would have gone. One suspects they would have been very competitive with the top sides, demonstrating what may be a growing gap between their juniors and the rest of the emerging international Australian Football countries.
The British Bulldogs and the Fianna na hEireann (Irish Warriors) will again do battle as a curtain-raiser to the AFL exhibition match between Geelong and Port Adelaide. The AFL match will be played Saturday, October 21st at The Oval and is a big event on the social calendar for the large Australian community in London.
Kicking off at 11.40am, the match between Great Britain and Ireland will be 18-a-side with full International Cup selection rules - the British team for the first time ever likely include players from both Scotland and England.
As the Canadian Football season draws to a close, the action promises to get only more intense, with big weekends for footy in all three active provinces, plus the important search for a coach for the national side.