For a number of years the Osaka Dingoes in Japan were one of the mainstays of the national league in the country. For a good few years, the Dingoes were right up there with the Tokyo Goannas as the teams to beat. However, in a world of change, things didn’t stay the same, and the once mighty Dingoes fell on harder times as their club and the league around them looked at changing the footy landscape – for a number of reasons.
The end result saw the Osaka Dingoes stand on the edge of a precipice and look down into the void of footy oblivion. Part of Japanese footy history and nothing more.
But that didn’t happen, and Matt Gale, president of both AFL Asia and now of the Osaka Dingoes, tells the story of how close the club came to extinction and how they have found their way back. It hasn’t been an easy ride, and at times has been fractious, but the end result is one of confidence and potential.
The young girl positioned herself behind the goalposts as usual. She did this at every training session to watch her brothers. On the field the coach barked orders and the players continued another set of sprints, sweat pouring from their brows, but knowing this was the last training session before the Christmas break.
Hannah watched the players. She watched them complete their handpassing drills every training night. She watched the kicking drills. She watched the tackling, the marking, everything. Tonight a tear ran down her cheek when she wished that maybe Santa might one day grant her the chance to play her favourite game. Maybe this Christmas?
As she sat watching, her cheeks still red from her gentle weeping, the coach turned around and faced her. Hannah was unsure why or what had happened. Maybe something was going on behind her. But the coach started motioning for her to come out onto the field.
Tash Gunawardana interviewed Lauren Spark from the Western Bulldogs AFLW team. Spark plays ruck and key defender for the Western Bulldogs and she used to play for the Wimbledon Hawks in the AFL London competition and for Melbourne University in the VFL Women’s competition.
What made you choose women’s football over women’s beach volleyball? I loved beach volleyball and still do, but it’s a tough sport to progress further in, with limited coaches and players available. I had always wanted to play football and wasn’t until age of 27 I met a friend who was playing and went down to join her at Melbourne University Women’s Football club.
Did you play any other sports growing up, other than beach volleyball and football?
Yes played all sorts, mainly tennis as a junior and then netball as a teen.
In the current Australian Rules football climate the idea of a national league team being located outside of Australia is still being viewed as untenable and unnecessary by many. So, imagine how far-fetched an idea it must have been to suggest the re-location of a VFL team to the United States back in the late 1980’s.
To further highlight the extravagance of the idea, many international-based competitions were yet to be created and only a very embryonic network of Australian Rules football competitions existed outside of Australia. In fact, the Sydney Swan shad only just moved permanently to the harbour city in 1982 and the West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears were admitted to the VFL in 1987 – the competition was barely a national one much less ready to go overseas.
Yet, the following excerpt from Michael Warner’s story in the Herald Sun newspaper sheds light on this idea – which almost ironically could be seen as a forerunner to expansion and development processes for the game in the decades following.
It was only four rounds ago when the Darwin Buffaloes were thumped by St Mary’s for a fifth loss in six matches, with an average of nine goals a game over that period – twice being kept to just two goals. Credit must now go to the coaching crew and players after the Buffaloes won their third straight since then, with each winning score being 120 points or better. That massive turnaround sees the Buffaloes now sitting in clear third place and a chance to consolidate a finals spot after the Christmas/New Year break.
Palmerston Magpies fought gamely, being just two goals adrift of the Buffaloes at half time. But, a strong 10 goal second half from Darwin saw them pull away at the end by a comfortable 44 points. Once again, the Buffaloes found multiple scoring avenues, which has been a hallmark of their resurgence. Ezekiel Frank kicked four goals for the Magpies.
The West London Wildcats will be hosting the 2018 AFL London Pre-Season Cup. To be played at the Duke’s Meadows Playing Fields, the event will be jointly hosted by AFL London and the AFL London Umpires Association. The event will be played on Saturday April 21st from 9am to 4pm.
Details of the draw will be released at a later date when details are clearer about which teams will be at the event for both the men’s and women’s draws. The matches feature 18 per side on the field and mark the build up to the start of the AFL London premiership season which will commence soon afterwards.
The West London Wildcats are the current title-holders in the men’s draw, having downed the North London Lions last year in the same event. In the women’s draw it was the GB Swans taking the title after defeating the Wandsworth Demons.
Mason Cox has managed to make a remarkable transition to Australian Rules football in his brief time in the AFL. In just 20 AFL games, the big Texan has grown more and more familiar with the game and begun to exert his influence on games, using his towering 212cm frame to disturb opposition defences. He has kicked 27 goals in his three seasons at Collingwood, with a strong prediction that there is better to come.
The www.afl.com.au website has suggested as much with their latest article, exploring players likely to have breakout seasons in 2018.
According to reporter, Ben Collins, “There are big hopes for Mason Cox to not only establish himself in the Magpies' line-up but become a key figure in what has been a misfiring attack. It's a tall task given the 'American Pie' has been playing the game for just three years and has just 20 AFL games and 27 goals to his name.”
Tash Gunawardana interviewed AFLW player Sally Riley who is the joint vice captain of the Adelaide Crows. Riley was part of the first AFLW premiership in 2017 and is now a one-time premiership player at the Adelaide Crows.
Which AFL player past and/or current do you model your game on? Sam Mitchell and his clean hands, decision making and disposal efficiency as he lacks leg speed similar to myself.
Who has influenced your footy and sporting career the most?
My parents have been my biggest influence on my sporting career and involvement in sporting teams. To this day they still encourage me to do what I love and to give everything 100%. Football wise Andrew Hodges has been a coach and mentor of mine for a few years now and he has taught me an unbelievable amount.
One of the world’s biggest overseas youth tournaments, the Oceania Cup was hosted at Albert Park in the Fijian capital of Suva this past week, with the hometown Fiji Tribe defeating Nauru in the grand final to take home the bragging rights.
The week began with a lightning football tournament in round-robin format, featuring the teams from Fiji, Vanuatu, and the representative side the Pacific All-Stars. The Vanuatu Volcanoes were the early surprise of the tournament, winning the first two matches convincingly over their Fijian hosts and the All-Stars.
Located in the far north of Australia, the Pyramid Power club – 25 kilometres south of Cairns – is no stranger to doing things a little differently. They have to. The club sits in Rugby League terrain and has to be extremely adept at finding ways to recruit, develop and maintain people – both on and off the field. That battle isn’t unique to Pyramid Power, but their latest project to develop this area is – and may be a blueprint for other clubs seeking ways to engage with community.
Back in 2012, the club launched their Brother Clubs Project – which was simply an invitation to clubs world-wide to be “brothers” – nothing more or less – as a way of bringing teams and people closer together. The idea still exists – friends remain friends, brothers remain brothers. But a part of that concept has now been applied closer to their home. The Pyramid Power Community Program again sees the club reaching out a hand of friendship to others in a way not often seen.
Unlike some places in the world where sport is played in winter in alarming conditions (see photo of fans in the grandstands at an American Football match – no idea what happened to the players), those involved in Australian Rules football across Europe have hunkered down in front of heaters or fires waiting for next season. With the latest round of the CNFA season done, we now wait for the thaw for the next sirens to sound.
However, AFL Europe have already got a smorgasbord of competitions lined up for next year, on top of all of the national and regional leagues that will gradually come to life.
First cab off the rank is the 2018 Fitzpatrick Cup in Ireland. To be played on 3rd February at the University College Cork, the UCC Bombers will be keen to go back-to-back, having taken titles last year and also the inaugural title in 2013. The University of Birmingham won the event in 2015 and 2016 and will be a strong chance again, but 2018 might also unearth a new champion.
The Bahrain Suns’ dream of re-entering the AFL Middle East competition has taken another couple of positive steps. Not only has the club released its new club logo (see image – top left), but it have also been invited to send a team to Muscat, in Oman, to compete in the Lightning Cup in January 2018.
Whilst the Suns have shared their moniker with the Gold Coast Suns, the logo itself is an original, rather than design to make the logo and club apparel stand out with a Bahrain flavour, rather than taking on the Gold Coast Suns’ emblem in a revised format.
Now the search is on for players, coaches and umpires to make the journey to Oman for the event, to be played on 19th January at the ABA/Rugby Club Ground in Al Khuwair, Muscat. Whilst the opportunity by no means guarantees that the Bahrain club will be a part of the 2018/19 AFL Middle East competition, their ability to be in Muscat will certainly help accelerate the process.