The Convicts squad has completed its three matches in South Africa, knocking off the strongest province, North West, in two matches. Early reports suggest their task then proved too difficult in Soweto, going down narrowly to the South African national side. This would be the first loss by a Convicts team - at first glance no cause for excitement amongst the Australian players but surely a good sign for the international growth of Australian Football. Tour leader Anthony Nanfra has sent WFN details of the first two matches (the final match report to follow later), as well as preliminary plans to travel to the US and Canada later in the year.
In more exciting news for "Rules" in Papua New Guinea, four PNG players have been included in a 27 man country Queensland talent squad - Ali Pinda, Stanis Susave, John Vincent and John James. A record ten PNG players were invited to the U18 country Kookaburras selection trials in Rockhampton, with those missing out on the final selection including Bergman Talingapua, Lewis Reu, Willie Aisi, Phenam Sioni, Moses Tibong and Raphael Gotuno.
It appears that the Louisville Kings website has jumped the gun (as have I) in announcing they are hosting the 2007 US Nationals. The club has contacted us to say that there is no definite decision on the location and that US Footy will make the announcement when the final decision is made. They have said they are removing the announcement from their site as it was added by a team member getting “ahead of himself”.
Rich Mann the National Championship Director also posted on the US Footy Forum today saying that nothing is yet confirmed but they were “VERY close to signing final contract with venue, fields etc” and “we should be officially announcing by end of week, but again, be aware I'm waiting on contract from city, so out of our hands to a certain extent.”
The Louisville Kings Footy Club website appears to be breaking the news (although rumours have strongly suggested it would be the case) that the 2007 Nationals will be held in Louisville, Kentucky (note that their website has since gone down). This will be the 11th staging of the event, in the 10th year of the USAFL. It will no doubt be promoted as a celebration of that milestone with a return to the original location of the first game of footy played in the US between Louisville and Cincinnati back in 1996.
Aussie Rules or International Rules? That has been the question some Australian Football fans have been asking since the re-birth of the hybrid game several years ago. Arguments are made for and against the concept, with some seeing International Rules as a vehicle for promoting Aussie Rules amongst younger Australians who want to see international competition and also as a tool for growing awareness in the footy community of international possibilities for our game. Others condemn it as barely a hybrid and more a slightly modified version of Gaelic football and question whether the AFL will not back Australian Football and forsee a future of International Rules only. Of course most people hold a view somewhere in between these extremes, or haven't given it much thought at all. Recently David Matthews, the AFL's General Manager of National and International Game Development, gave his views on what role International Rules may have long term and whether that clashes with dreams of Australian Football going global.
After all the media hype over the past year, Bachar Houli last night got the chance to let his football talents do the talking. The young Bomber was named to play in the evening’s NAB cup match against Carlton, held at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome. This level of match is arguably inferior only to a Premiership match (at least standard-wise), and depending on how the coaching staff rated his performance, it may help determine if and when he sees his first match for points.
While it may not be strange to find kids kicking a football in Ghana (a soccer powerhouse where the round ball game takes on an almost religious fanaticism) it would seem strange to see the Australian football being kicked around. At least in Dawhenya, a rural town just east of the Ghanian capital Accra, the local children are keen to try it.
Apologies for the broadly directed post, but a short message is in order to advise that when new users attempt to sign up for accounts they are competing for our attention against many "spambot" automatically generated account requests from spammers. Because of this issue there is a risk that a genuine application will be rejected accidentally, as happened today. If you sign up for an account and do not receive your password for several days then you may wish to try again.
AFL PNG has appointed Peter Cates from Adelaide, as the new national operations manager. This appointment will certainly strengthen efforts and programmes already in place with junior development to develop a locally sourced PNG player to the AFL.
The next major step in South Africa's rapidly unfolding football journey may well be led by the AFL clubs themselves. After the developmental South African youth team played their final tour match, in Perth last week, the AFL held a dinner at which they unveiled plans for powerhouse clubs West Coast, Fremantle and Collingwood to become heavily involved with fast-tracking the game in South Africa.
The GAA may have put the International Rules series into deep freeze, but former GAA stars in the AFL are running hot in pre-season training. We have a look at the form of the O'hAilpin brothers (and point you to a great documentary on the family), and draw attention to several recent media reports on the other members of the Irish invasion.