On 21st November, the Japan AFL Grand Final was held. In a repeat of the 2003 season finale, it was the Tokyo Goannas, the primarily expatriate Australian club, up against the University-based Samurai. The Uni boys provided most of the players who recently toured Australia (see previous stories), and have shown much improved form in 2004.
As reported recently on World Footy News, former Ethiopian refugee Tutlan Goaner was trialling with AFL club Essendon, in the hope of securing an international rookie listing. The Bombers passed on the tall but light-weight footy convert, in a move that sparked some criticism that the attention around Goaner was a publicity stunt. It certainly showed that the Australian media has a thirst for stories with an international flavour.
The Danish Australian Football League have released their upgraded website. It's the same address, www.dafl.dk, but has a new look and feel. You can choose from Danish and English by clicking the small flag at the top right of the site. Check out their great records database - something all established leagues should have.
Will the United States military be the next big area of growth for Australian Rules football? World Footy News conducted an email-based interview with some people who think it could be, and are actively leading the charge, with the first US Army side, the Mojave Greens.
On Saturday last a Redbacks selection took on an Irish team selection in an effort to boost awareness of Aussie Rules in Ulster (Northern Ireland). The Redbacks are currently considering a move from Belfast to the Mid-Ulster area where most of their player base are from and so players from all over the country descended upon Tyrone's County town, Omagh.
The town of Birkerød could soon be home to Denmark's newest Australian Rules club, the Birkerød Bombers. Formed by members of the nearby Farum Cats, the Bombers probably won't be ready for the DAFL next season - but they could have a place in a new developmental league until they've grown to a level where they can compete with the established Copenhagen area clubs.
The International Australian Football Council has released details of a major overhaul of its structure, staffing, constitution and position in relation to the AFL and the AFL's stated position as world governing body. The following article is a release from the IAFC staff, as listed on their website. In the interests of transparency, please note that the author of this World Footy News story was heavily involved in the IAFC re-structure. Whilst I would prefer to be completely independent, international Australian football is still relatively small, so overlap is inevitable. I make it my highest priority to be unbiased. If anyone ever has any doubts about that, please contact me to discuss, as I would hate the credibility of this news service to be compromised.
Update: by early 2005 my views regarding the current incarnation of the IAFC had changed and I resigned my position and no longer advocate for them, nor support all the statements made below. It had become clear that the so-called IAFC was effectively not the same body as the original one, as member countries no longer supported it and had attempted to wind it up (whether that was done completely in a technical sense is debated but all our sources have confirmed it was a unanimous decision). What I had been lead to believe was the same IAFC was not supported by any countries with football leagues, not democratic (run by one self-appointed person) and not transparent in its deailngs, even with its own small number of volunteers.
Update: by 2006 all pretence of an existing IAFC appears to have been ended, hopefully closing an ugly and distracting chapter in Australian footy's attempts at internationalising.
Dominant Auckland AFL side the University Blues have again won the premiership in New Zealand's biggest city and biggest league. This is believed to be their 12th senior premiership since formation in 1981, and their third in a row. In what has been described as the best Grand Final in many years, the Blues won by 18 points over Mt Roskill. After a great effort to make both the League and Reserves grand finals, it was a bad day for Mt Roskill, as they also went down in the early game to North Shore. The following is a report from the NZAFL website.
The Tongan schoolboys tour of Samoa was a great success. Although the boys lost their first international match, the scoreline indicates a very competitive game, which is a great effort for the young men from the Kingdom, given 2004 has been the first real season of footy there. It's also great to see the game developing in Samoan schools. Samoa 7.8 (50) defeated Tonga 4.5 (29). SARFA development officer Kable Kelleway said "It's good to let the youth know that they have another option when they're thinking about future opportunities to represent Samoa". Read on for the tour report from the Tongan Australian Football Assocation.
Aisake O’hAilpin (pictured, courtesy of Carlton FC) was officially placed on AFL club Carlton's international rookie list today. The young Irishman joins his brother Setanta, who has spent much of the past year on the list and is expected to step up to senior level sometime in 2005. Aisake has been given Anthony Franchina's old number 45. Franchina has been a great friend of Setanta in his stay at Carlton.
The high level of Australian media coverage has continued for St Kilda's pre-season camp in South Africa. The AFL club has now run several clinics in different regions, and the Australian media has followed them very closely. Coach Grant Thomas has been so impressed with facilities in Potchefstroom and the overall cultural experience, he has suggested the Saints might return there every year. Furthermore, he has enthusiastically endorsed the game's development there, and has urged the AFL to continue supporting footy in South Africa.