After one of the most exciting finishes to a CNFA season, with four teams locked together on wins, then two memorable semi-finals, grand final day ended up being an anti-climax. With poor weather washing out the big match between the Paris Cockerels and the Stade Toulousain A teams in Lyon, the league awaits a rescheduled date – likely now in September.
The month of June saw the combatants arrive at finals time locked in a near photo-finish. The ALFA Lions took the minor premiership by percentage from both the Paros Cockerels and the Paris Cockatoos. Just ten percent separated first from third, each team with five wins for the season. After a rattling finish to the season, Stade Toulousain A also finshed with five wins and the best percentage of all teams. They missed top spot, however, due to a forfeit earlier in the season.
Maybe I grew up in another era. On the other hand, perhaps I just had very good coaches when I was a kid. However, in my junior footy days down in Victoria, kicking with both feet was simply expected by coaches. We were encouraged to use our stronger preferred foot to cover ground and maybe for pinpoint accuracy. Nevertheless, all of my team-mates back then could kick with both feet.
It amazes me, then, that the following article by Callum Twomey at www.afl.com.au raises such an issue. Moreover, the fact that it unearths different types of thinking on the subject at the highest levels is a surprise to me – someone who would use the “Bradmanesque” (hitting a golf ball with a stick thousands of times to improve skills) style training by kicking either foot in the backyard to get better on my unnatural left foot.
Dad told me that if I was ever going to be a good footballer I would have to learn that skill. The most simple premise was that the time wasted trying to manoeuvre onto my preferred foot gave the opposition time to catch me or impact my kick – the opposite foot gave me more options and a full 180 degree arc to use the ball in.
When Majak Daw was rookie-listed by North Melbourne back in 2010, he kicked open the door for other players from African nation backgrounds to follow. Born in Khartoum, Sudan and a refugee to Egypt before travelling with his family to Australia, Majak became the first AFL player of Sudanese origin.
In his wake, others like Aliir Aliir (Kenya to Sydney Swans) and Mabior Chol (South Sudan to Richmond) play senior AFL football now. Others have been and gone, and some still wait in the wings – other players of African nation descent want to follow. However, all owe a debt of gratitude to Majak Daw the trailblazer.
This is what makes his accident last December so profound. When emergency services rescued Majak from the base of the Bolte Bridge in Melbourne, with a broken pelvis and hip, it seemed his playing days may be over – at least at the elite level.
Probably not what Paul McCartney meant when he wrote this song back in the late 1960’s, but the title certainly fits the journey for the Tyne Tees Tigers, now in their second full season as a part of the AFL Scotland landscape.
Currently, the Tigers sit just behind the reigning premiers, the Edinburgh Bloods in second place on the SARFL ladder. Four wins from five starts this season has been by far the best performance for the Newcastle-based team since their inception back in back in 2012. They spent two years playing social matches before gaining full membership status in the AFLCNE for the 2014 season.
Like most clubs, the early days featured some horrendous hidings, interspersed with some exciting wins – enough wins to keep belief and set a longer-term course.
The 2019 Euro Cup, held in Norrtalje, Sweden on the weekend, crowned the England Dragonslayers as the men’s champions and once again the Irish Banshees as women’s champions. The tournament is the showcase of European Aussie Rules, and the standard of matches across the day upheld that status.
For the Dragonslayers, this was their fifth Euro Cup win after back to back titles in Prague (2008) and Samobor (2009, Croatia), Bordeaux in 2013 and 2017. This was also the fourth title for the Irish Banshees, including a back-to-back performance after winning last year in Cork.
The men’s draw saw the traditional powerbrokers – England, Ireland, Croatia and Germany – joined by France, Wales, Scotland, Netherlands and host nation Sweden. But the most compelling aspect of the draw was the growing number of developing nations with Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic and Israel each sending teams.
Legendary former Hawthorn superstar, Cyril Rioli, will return to the game in an assistant coaching role for the Tiwi Bombers in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL). After his seemingly sudden retirement from the highest level of footy during the 2018 season.
Since then there has been wide speculation as to whether Rioli would return to Hawthorn, return to footy in Darwin or simply remain retired and use his experience behind the scenes. The Tiwi Bombers are delighted that Rioli has chosen to link with the club that hails from his home islands – the Tiwi Islands – north of Darwin.
Rioli, who remained on the islands until he was eight years old, moved to Darwin and then by age 14 was boarding at Scotch College in Melbourne until being drafted by Hawthorn in 2008. Since then, a legend grew – four premierships, a Norm Smith medal, three All-Australian selections, 189 games and 275 goals (some the most memorable in AFL history).
The following story by Hamish McLachlan, printed in the NT News this week, highlights the incredibly difficult journey of indigenous footballers, as recently as just 25 years ago.
In fact, in my own position coaching here in Cairns, North Queensland, I can say with certainty that the racism highlighted by former St Kilda star and media personality Gilbert McAdam, still exists amongst sections of communities. This story is important reading for the focus it brings to a topic that is too often treated with lip service, and at worst, ignored.
I was listening to David Letterman and Barack Obama talking about racism recently. Letterman said, “We can define racism. But we can’t explain it”.
The former US President responded with something like, “People come up with all sorts of reasons to try and put themselves over others, but biologically, there is no reality to racism — we made it up — but over time it manifests itself in very concrete ways and becomes a social reality, with very real impacts”.
Last year, World Footy News reported on a young woman who was defying the odds of gender, culture, religion, economics, geography, climate and other challenges to take the game of Australian Rules football to the mountain villages of northern Pakistan.
Saliha Baig Jaturi inspired many with her determination to take the game she learned to love, by virtue of being a part of the inaugural Pakistan Shaheens women's team at the IC17 in Melbourne. Now her story has caught fire with many other stories in print and television, as well as across social media.
Like many young Samoans growing up in Queensland, 15-year-old Lamont Kalolo grew up playing rugby league, even making it to the Under-14 junior representative level. But unlike many of his Polynesian cohorts, he’s chosen to give Aussie rules a go instead.
“(AFL) really boosted my confidence. It made me think that maybe there’s something more if I keep doing this,” Kalolo said in a recent interview with the Courier-Mail.
A natural athlete who plays at both full-forward and centre half-forward, Kalolo’s hard work is getting him places -- specifically, a spot at the Brisbane Lions AFL Academy program.
Since the early days of the USAFL, American players have travelled to Australia to bathe in the full experience of being at an Aussie rules football club in Australia. Most come to play the game at the highest level they can, some are happy just to play a game anywhere, while others will consult a USAFL team mate from Australia to hook them up with their old club.
Probably the most successful of those players (on a long term playing basis at state level) who came to Australia on their own initiative is Alex Aurrichio. Originally Aurrichio attended an AFL combine in LA before playing footy with the New York Magpies. He then came to Australia, worked around a number of clubs before ending up at Carlton’s VFL affiliate the Northern Blues where he played multiple seasons before moving to the SANFL and NEAFL leagues.
The AFLW season may be over in Australia, but the competition is just kicking off in Germany.
While other neighboring countries like France and Switzerland have long been a key part of women's footy in Europe, the Berlin Crocodiles and the Rhein-Main Redcats are leading the charge in the inaugural season for AFLW Germany.
The Redcats recently formed as a merger of Rheinland and Frankfurt women's teams; a combined ten players from the Frankfurt and Berlin sides have represented their country internationally, including at last year's AFL Euro Cup in Cork, Ireland.