2005 saw clubs such as Bakersfield and Las Vegas make their debut on the US footy scene. A number of others around the country are in the embryonic stage, with the major determinant to their likely success being raw numbers of players. Once they have enough numbers it is hoped that the existing clubs can do their best to foster their new comrades and welcome them into the fold. World Footy News profiles some of these efforts here.
In a major announcement for footy viewers in the US today, independent public broadcaster MHz NETWORKS has announced it will broadcast the Australian Football League (AFL) "Match of the Week," and an hour-long highlights show, on its new national program service MHz WORLDVIEW for the full AFL season. Matches will air on Saturday nights at 8PM EST with replay Sundays at noon EST.
Western Australian Football League club the West Perth Falcons have sought out the Milwaukee Bombers to form a partnership that will allow them to promote themselves at an international level in the US. Importantly, the deal will see scholarship positions created allowing two Milwaukee players to undertake pre-season training with the club (who play in the professional state league feeding into the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers) and then stay on to play local football for the season.
Last weekend the 2004 and 2005 All Star Ladies Gaelic football teams of Ireland travelled to Singapore, where hosted by the Singapore Lions Gaelic football club they played an exhibition game and ran schools coaching clinics. They also met with officials of the AFL/Women’s AFL and agreed to an inaugural International Rules Series between Australia and Ireland to occur soon after the men’s series there this October. Two Tests will be played - one at Parnell Park (the GAA’s second ground in Dublin after Croke Park) on October 31st and the other to be in either Cork or Galway on 4th November. Both will be under lights and televised at least within Ireland.
The AFL created some international good will last Tuesday just before the opening of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. The AFL has jumped on the bandwagon of the Cypriot team. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou is of Greek-Cypriot background with his father migrating from the village of Kili to Melbourne in 1951. It was here that he met his wife who had migrated separately from Cyprus. Demetriou played 103 games for North Melbourne and 3 games for Hawthorn in the VFL.
The Chicago Australian Football Association are this Saturday March 18th to be filmed in action by Australian television’s Channel 7, with the Illinois club chosen to show their wares for upcoming segments to be shown on the network in Australia on three separate occasions. As well as footage of the players in action, club players and officials are expected to feature in a number of interviews.
The USAFL today announced that the 2006 All Star Game will be held in Sarasota, Florida on July 1st. The Florida Redbacks Australian Rules Football Club will be hosting the event, in what is hoped to be a boost to the promising football scene in Florida. Last year’s tournament was held in Dallas Texas, and in previous years it has been held in Atlanta Georgia and Long Beach California.
In the promotional match held last weekend between a French selection and British club the Reading Roos, the French side (mostly rugby players very new to Aussie Rules) came very close to pulling off an upset against the seasoned Brits, the margin during the last quarter at one stage only three points before Reading kicked the sealer to win 75-66. The game was played in cold conditions in front of between 500 and 700 spectators, including a sizeable media presence.
On two sides of the world over the past fortnight, some significant Aussie Rules and GAA clubs competed against each other in International Rules. In Gaelic football-playing and Gaelic-speaking Gweedore in Donegal, north-western Ireland, the West London Wildcats Aussie Rules football club, the biggest of the BARFL clubs, played CLG Ghaoth Dobhair, one of the best Gaelic Football clubs in all Ireland. Meanwhile far from the cool mists of Donegal in a steamy hot Sydney a 12 team International Rules tournament was played out by 6 Sydney AFL clubs and 6 Sydney GAA clubs.
The hybrid game came to Auckland on Sunday 5th March 2006 when representative teams from the Auckland AFL and Auckland GAA clashed at the Gaelic grounds at Seddon Fields, Point Chevalier. Gaelic football in NZ focuses on a half dozen clubs in Auckland and a few clubs in Wellington; Australian Rules also has its Kiwi stronghold in Auckland with Auckland winning the recent Provincial Championships. Auckland AFL went into their first game of International Rules with confidence fresh from their national victory, but as Rob Malone of the Auckland AFL reports, the skills of the Gaelic lads with the round ball saw the first game of this kind go their way.
A big weekend of footy in Arizona on February 25th and 26th with six teams, Chandler Outlaws, ASU Sun Devils, LA/Orange County combine, Inland Empire, Nashville and San Diego taking part in the 9 a side tournament. Seven games were played on day one at the Tempe Sports Complex, with the top four teams advancing to the semi finals and final being played on Sunday. The Chandler Outlaws team taking out the 2006 tournament.
Perpignan will this weekend host a promotional 12-a-side Aussie Rules match between a side drawn from clubs across France and a squad from England, composed mainly of Reading Roos players. The match is expected to capitalise on a strong media push, with television, radio and print media promotion over the last few weeks and more than 300 tickets sold as of a few days ago.