Soccer-playing Brad Moran emigrated from England to Australia's northern state of Queensland just 4 years ago at the age of 15 - now making his first appearance for the AFL's North Melbourne Kangaroos. His remarkable adaptation to the indigenous code is profiled in a recent WFN story and then last Friday on afl.com.au.
This Saturday the 26th of August, over 200 Aussie Rules Footballers lace up their boots and take to the Jakarta Bintangs' home ground in Ciburbur to compete in the 2006 ANZ Asian Australian Football Championships. Despite the withdrawal of teams from Shanghai and the Philippines, this year's tournament attended by the Hong Kong Dragons, Japan Goannas, Thailand Tigers, Malaysian Warriors, Singapore Wombats, Bali Geckos and, of course, the Jakarta Bintangs promises to be one of the closest fought yet. In anticipation, we take a quick look at the competing teams.
19 year old Irishman Colm Begley made his senior debut for the Brisbane Lions on the weekend, capping off a meteoric rise to AFL football. Recruited from amateur Gaelic Football club County Laois, Begley played his first game of Australian rules football this year, and lined up in the NAB Cup quarter-final in just his third game of Australian football.
As profiled in a previous story, 18 year old county Down star Martin Clarke had signed with Collingwood. It is now confirmed that he will join Collingwood at the end of this year's Gaelic football season. Clarke captained the under-18 'Minor' county Down team to victory in the 2005 All Ireland Minor Football Championship Final.
Footy in Holland has had a number of false starts in recent years, but a team wearing the national colours finally made an appearance at last year's Eu Cup. Although they haven't had a chance to take on outside opposition since then, a crew have recently been training in The Hague. A temporary website has been created at aussierulesnetherlands.blogspot.com with plans for a permanent webpage in the works.
Interested new players can contact Arnout Brokking via email - firstname.lastname@example.org
At last weekend's Adelaide versus Fremantle match, participants aged from 5 to 13 from the 'Sporting Chance' program formed a guard of honour for the Crow's players. All the children have immigrated to Australia over the past year from countries like Sierra Leone and The Sudan.
Steve Harris, CEO of the AFL's Melbourne Demons, has announced that the club's planned tour of China, set for later this year had been cancelled. Hopefully this proves only a minor setback for the sport's development in China, with the club remaining committed to developing football in the third largest and most populous country in the world and still planning to play an exhibition match against the Geelong Cats in Tianjin during 2007.
In other news, Footy's ambassador to China Tom Mattessi was interviewed on Australia's SBS Radio. Mattessi was quizzed about the locals' grasp of the game and gave an insight into the inroads football has made in China.
The team has been selected from throughout the country with an even spread of players from Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury with some outstanding athletes being recruited from other sports. The selection process began in earnest at the National Provincial Championships held earlier this year in Auckland and the NZAFL High Performance Committee is confident of a strong showing at the tournament.
On the weekend of September 16 and 17, for the first time ever, a junior footy team from England will make its way to Farum, Denmark. Saturday will see the English kids join the various junior teams from Denmark and Scania in a lightning-premiership, followed on Sunday morning by probably the first ever full-scale junior international ever between a representative Danish junior side will clash with their English counterparts.
The Japan Samurai have completed their four-match 2006 tour to Australia, with their final match played on Sunday August 13 against Melbourne Vietnam at Windy Hill, spiritual home of the AFL's Essendon Bombers.
As has been the norm on recent tours, the Japanese brought a developmental side on tour, featuring players they hope could step up to IC standard in time for 2008. The Samurai lost to Howlong in their first match, were defeated by Box Hill North Superrules in their second, hung on to defeat Box Hill North in a nail-biter, then were soundly beaten by Melbourne Vietnam.
Pictures from the Japan-Vietnam match follow, full match reports and scores will appear in the next few days.
The British Columbia (in western Canada) junior development program continues to expand to rival any other international footy program outside of the so-called big three of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and South Africa. This season has seen more growth in numbers (both with the league and thousands of Auskick kids), regular television coverage, the possibility of a purpose built oval (very rare outside of Australia) and a plan to integrate the juniors with senior clubs, creating North America's first full club structure. Maybe oneday the'll be able to join a series between juniors from the UK and Denmark, or closer to home take on kids from the US. The following is a season wrap and report on future plans by the President of AFL Canada who is also in charge of the successful North Delta Junior AFL.