Two key issues for developing Aussie Rules around the world is ground availability and getting players involved in helping their clubs and administrators, not just turning up to play - a luxury not really available to new sports. Recently the Humber College ground used for Ontario Australian Football League finals got an upgrade, with players providing the extra manpower to assist the City of Toronto Parks in completing the job.
AFL club Hawthorn will be conducting a training camp in New Zealand for their players in December, following on from a similar program by Port Adelaide in 2004. The NZAFL have issued a Press Release saying that the Hawks will also be taking time out to conduct clinics for the South Island's Aussie Rules league, the Canterbury AFL, based around Christchurch.
Australian football continues to be developed
amongst children at an increasing rate in South Africa, in particular the
Northwest Province. Recently a Roadshow was completed in which "11
communities were visited, about 700 kids were reached and about 50 community
volunteers were involved in the training sessions and trained to take
up football on their own". The game has recently been introduced into
the villages of Morokweng, Schweizer-Reneke and Dithakong, which are all
in the Bophirima region of NW Province. From a personal point of view,
when World Footy News has been under pressure lately, it was also very
pleasing to see one of our writers (Jake Anson) and one of his mates
involved in the "Aussies on the Road" program, in which AFL South Africa gives
Australian tourists a unique look at the country whilst the visitors help
teach children Aussie Rules. It reminds us of some of the good things
that we can assist with, makes some of the sacrifices worthwhile, and makes it clear that we should continue the site for the good of football.
Jake spent a couple of days with the program whilst on holiday and we'll
no doubt get some great reports from him in the next few weeks or
Australian co-captain and Brisbane Lions veteran, Chris Johnson, made a heart felt apology for his widely condemned actions of the Second Test in Melbourne. However it did not help him escape a 5 week International Test ban that means he cannot play till at least 2008. Rule changes are also likely to decrease the chance of similar incidents.
AFL club Carlton has moved Setanta O'hAilpin to
their senior list for the 2006 season. After two years on the Blues'
international rookie list, the former hurling star recruited from Ireland
has been given his big chance. He joins Sydney's Tadhg Kennelly as the
two Irishmen on AFL senior lists. All three of the O'hAilpin brothers
are currently doing pre-season training with Carlton.
The decision to stage the Kangaroos versus Swans game in LA in January is being used as an opportunity for the USAFL to utilise the professional knowledge and skill-base of the AFL and those two AFL clubs, to further their own organisation and players.
The US Revolution will play a curtain-raiser to the Roos-Swans clash against the best Australians in the USAFL, on a weekend that will also feature a camp based on the AFL draft-camp and the inaugral USAFL National Players and Coaches conference.
The Hoganstand website has reported that Australian
Football powerhouse the Brisbane Lions have signed two young Irish Gaelic football
players from county Laois as international rookies. The Lions cite the loss of
their retention allowance (a monetary allowance that meant their salary
cap was larger than other clubs) has made them look further afield for a
competitive edge in recruitment. With an Irish connection in mind,
they have also indicated they wish to form closer ties with the Irish
community in future, in Australia and Ireland. Both these issues bode
well for the continuation of the broader vision that AFL clubs have displayed in the
last couple of years as they turn their eyes overseas.
The first-ever Prague Cup was held last Saturday, November 5th, with two new sides in the Finland and Czech Lions taking to the field against the German Lions of Düsseldorf. In a three-game tournament, the Germans came out on top, defeating the Czech Lions 48-15 then combining with the Finns for a social third match against the Czechs.
In somewhat of a breakthrough for Australian football in New Zealand, the Kiwis have been invited to attend the 2006 Australian Country Championships. With Papua New Guinea and NZ both close neighbours of Australia, they are both benefiting from increased interaction with Aussie leagues. PNG has so far pursued a juniors pathway with AFL Queensland, and NZ now take a significant step towards their goal of being recognised as a football peer to the Australian states. As the championships pit region against region, the Kiwis will also bring some of their best Australian players, provided they are now based in New Zealand.
2005 will go down in history as the year Scotland probably had its first Australian rules Grand Final (unless the famous, though widely thought to be fictitious competition referred to be C.C.Mullen in his 1958 'History of Australian Football' actually existed), as the Edinburgh Bloods convincingly defeated the Glasgow Sharks 83-13 on a typical Scottish autumn day.
This was actually the SARFL's second season, with the Bloods also winning last year's competition though a Grand Final was not held. This report courtesy of Eddie McAvinchey of the SARFL.
During the second International Cup, staged in
Melbourne in August, World Footy News spoke with New Zealand AFL General
Manager Rob Malone. Originally from Western Australia, where he played for West Perth in the WAFL (he also had a short stint at St Kilda), Malone has a
professional background in football administration, including Football Manager at West Perth and General Manager at Claremont. During the train trip to Wangaratta we
discussed the quality of the Kiwi team and the challenges facing the game.
Their following game against Samoa confirmed for this author that
Malone's rating of his squad was on the mark, as the Falcons demolished what
was an otherwise competitive unit, before completing the tournament
undefeated. Below is a transcript of the interview and a link to the
audio, however the latter is relatively poor quality due to background
noise levels on the train. We'll bring you further exciting news about NZ
footy in the next few days.