With the senior International Rules series scheduled for Australia this year, the annual under 17 series was played over the past fortnight in Ireland. The Irish lads won the Peter McDermott Cup with a 2 Tests to 1 result.
In this article we look at the remaining countries that have begun playing Australian Rules football. We've previously reviewed the regions of North America, Europe, Africa, Oceania and Asia. Here we'll see the beginnings of the game in the Middle East and South America.
The Papua New Guinea AFL are one of the two big Aussie Rules organisations outside of Australia (the New Zealand AFL being the other). Although not large in full time staff, it is responsible for thousand of players and officials across the islands of PNG. It is tremendous to be able to announce the launch of their website.
Australian Rules football countries around the world are in full swing with fundraising activities to get their players to the 2005 International Cup. South Africa recently had a very successful fundraising dinner in Melbourne, with around AU$25,000 raised. The Australian Rules Football League Ireland are also well on the way, as are the Papua New Guinea AFL.
In 2002, countries spent of the order of AU$100,000 each to get their lads to Australia. This has sometimes raised debate as to whether the money could be better spent developing their local leagues. But it is difficult to measure how important a tool the chance to represent your country is in recruiting and keeping players in the sport. The event is also vital in raising awareness in Australia and offers the chance for leagues to build links while they are Down Under. In the end, each country must make a choice.
The All-Sports Television Network, a US company with broadcast affiliates, has been the source of some debate in US football circles. The promise of American Aussie Rules matches being telecast is exciting, but with the anticipation comes the fear of disappointment. A positive recent development has been the upgrade to ASTN's website, with Australian Rules Football now listed as one of their sports.
Aussie Rules continues its steady growth in the United States. The heavily populated state of Florida has budding players spread across it, including Tampa, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Apollo Beach, Orlando, Ocala
and Naples. After a formative year in the SEAFL, the players will again come together as the Florida Redbacks to play in the inaugural Eastern AFL season.
Australian Rules Football has found it difficult to break into the Asian region. Although there are plenty of expatriate Aussies keen to spread the game, they have struggled to interest large numbers of locals, more so than in North America, Europe and Oceania. Japan and Indonesia are two possible exceptions. We look at their numbers, along with all the footy teams of Asia, in our latest in the World Footy Census 2004 series.
The Golden Gate AFL, based around San Fransisco / Santa Cruz, and the AFL Queensland, have entered into a sister-league relationship, much like sister-club alliances have been formed before. AFLQ continue to be a trendsetter in promoting Australian Rules football around the world. They already do a lot of work with AFL PNG and have assisted in other areas too. The reason could just be local contacts. Another explanation for their enthusiasm might be the appreciation they have for developing the game in a region where it isn't the dominant sport. It would be great to hear if other Australian leagues have similar arrangements. The following information is direct from the GGAFL site.
The International Rules series between Ireland and Australia has seen some experimentation with rules from the opposing code or the hybrid code back into the parent codes. Several of the experimental rules in the AFL's pre-season Wizard Cup over the years have reflected this. Gaelic football is also experimenting, and the current National Football League season has incorporated a number of new rules including the direct pick up of the ball off the ground (as is in International Rules). Further changes have been discussed, raising the prospect of Gaelic and Australian Rules football moving closer together.
For some reason St Kilda's tour of South Africa last year caused more attention on world Aussie Rules than just about any other event. Even the Pacific edition of Time Magazine has recently run a story.