As another football season commences in most Australian Rules football playing locations, it is a time to ponder one of the greatest risks to the game. The future of the game at grass roots level. The following article by J.J. Adams in the Vancouver newspaper and website, The Province, looks at the alarming drop in kids remaining in sports. His template is Hockey in Canada, but the messages are clearly universal, and will impact on Australian Rules football nationally and internationally unless we can find ways to arrest these trends.
Fear, greed, broken dreams: How early sports specialization is eroding youth sports
Kyle Turris is an NHLer because of his dog. Well, maybe not exactly, but while growing up his golden retriever deserves at least some of the credit for turning Turris into a 12-year NHL veteran. His ball-obsessed dog would chase a young Turris around their Burnaby backyard, the future hockey pro carrying a ball in his lacrosse stick as his hyperactive blur of fur tried to snag the hard rubber prize.
It will be a huge job but one of the newest Australian Football teams in Europe, the Winterthur Lions, will be doing their nation proud next weekend at the AFL Europe Champions League tournament in Amsterdam. Having received a “wildcard” entry into the tournament as the only club in Switzerland, the Lions have nothing to lose and all to gain by the experience.
A product of 2018, the Winterthur Lions Facebook page tells of their beginnings. “On Friday, 23rd February 14 pioneers and all-round legends gathered to found the only Aussie Rules football club in Switzerland. Thank you all for coming. We're very excited for the year ahead! New players of any experience level are welcome any time.”
It was back in 2012 when the most recent “Province Of Origin” football tournament took place in Ireland. Next month the event returns after a six-year hiatus. The concept is simple – Ireland is separated into the four key provinces – Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht – loosely, north, south, east and west – and the teams play for the pride of their province.
The call to action is out now to get as many players as possible interested in heading to Galway for the event.
According to Ronan O Móráin, organiser of the event along with Padraig Brady, Tony McAfee and Shaun Murphy of the Galway Magpies , “The Galway Magpies are hosting the ‘Province of Origin’ in 2018 in Galway. This event was a great success when last hosted in 2012 and we are trying to make it a big success with the hope of making it an annual event. It is open to Irish players and anyone of Irish descent and is a great opportunity to play for your province. Those interested must register on the link in the event page (https://www.facebook.com/events/152586618899840/ ). Cost includes an O'Neills guernsey and the cost of medals and ground hire.”
The West London Wildcats have taken out the men’s division of the 2018 Leprechaun Cup in Belfast, Northern Ireland, last weekend. Played under delightful sunny Belfast skies, the London powerhouse has got their 2018 season of to a flyer taking the title. Taking out the women’s draw, the ARFLI Women’s combined team – the Lucky Charms – won through to snare the women’s title.
According to the West London Wildcats Facebook page, “Congratulations are in order for both men’s and women’s teams that took part in the the Leprechaun Cup 2018 Tournament. Our lads came away as victors for the day coming up against host club Belfast Redbacks. Our ladies made it into the Grand Final but came up short against a very strong side from ARFLI Women's.”
The past three rounds of the AFL New Zealand premiership have seen a whirlwind of action, but one thing remains clear: the Central Giants are the class of the competition heading into the Easter weekend.
Round 5 Recap
The Southern Saints were looking to capture their elusive first win in 2018 and they finally got it, defeating the Northern Suns by 13 points at QBE Stadium. The first half was tightly contested, with both sides trading blows, but the Saints used excellent performances from Misilifi Faimalo and Pat Gibbs to lift them to a three-goal lead at the half.
It is not long now until the prestigious AFL Europe Champions League tournament to be played in Amsterdam next month. AFL Europe’s website has featured a great series of articles looking at the clubs coming to Amsterdam for the event. The complete stories are to be found on the AFL Europe website, however the links to each article are include below.
2018 Champions League Team Previews – Part One
In the lead-up to the 4th annual AFL Europe Champions League hosted by AFL Netherlands in Amsterdam on Saturday 7th April, afleurope.org will be taking a quick look at the teams who have qualified for the continents’ premier club tournament.
In our first round of team previews, we showcase two women’s sides including the highly acclaimed champions of the AFL London Women’s Premiership competition, the Wandsworth Demons, and the sole French women’s side the Bordeaux Bombers.
When he suited up for St. Kilda in 2015 Jason Holmes became the first American-born and raised player to play AFL footy since the league’s beginning in 1897.
Jason Holmes is a Chicago, Illinois (USA) native who played U.S. college basketball at Mississippi Valley State (Itta Bena, Miss.) and at Morehead State (Morehead, Kentucky). St. Kilda took a chance on him after a strong showing at the April 2013 AFL combine in Los Angeles, California.
Spending 2014 and most of 2015 at Sandringham, Holmes played the ruck in St. Kilda’s final three games of season 2015 (debut - rd 21 vs Geelong, a 97-97 draw) and in the last two matches in 2016. Having to either be delisted or elevated, Holmes signed a one-year extension through 2017 after running through his three-year rookie deal.
The CAFL season in South America continued on the weekend with the DC Aguilas up against the Bogotá Bombers. In a great game, and a showcase of what Australian Football is all about, the Aguilas held on in a classic. Paddy Smallwood from the CAFL (Colombian Australian Football League) shared the details of the clash, set against a grey and damp Bogotá backdrop.
“The league came alive on Saturday with an enthralling contest. The Aguilas jumped out of the box with six goals to two to take a handy four-goal quarter time lead in cold and wet Bogotá conditions. Sam Miller up forward was causing massive headaches for the Bombers and slotted three goals. The second quarter was a better contest with the Bombers pushing back hard and being on top for large parts of the quarter, but ultimately inaccuracy cost them and they went to the main break three goals down.”
With just on round left to play for the ALFA Lions, they have managed to claw their way back into the top four of the CNFA competition in France. Their 65-point victory over the Toulouse-based Aviators has seen them leapfrog the Paris Cockatoos into fourth place. However, from here they will need some divine providence or similar to play in this season’s finals.
Certainly, the win against the Aviators was just what the Lions had to do. In the end, the Lions won 95 to 30 and grabbed the maximum five points from the match as well as a percentage boost. But all of that will be for nought if they cannot defeat the Paris Cockerels in the nation’s capital next round on April 14th.
As it is, the Lions must be watching the result of the postponed match between the Cockatoos and Toulouse Hawks with huge interest. They will be barracking wildly for the Hawks to win at home to keep the Cockatoos under pressure and just outside the top four going into the final round. But that won’t be enough. They will need to either defeat the ladder leading Cockerels in a huge final round upset or hope that the Cockatoos go down in an even bigger upset to the Perpignan Tigers.
Visiting teams have learned this over the years – Cazalys Stadium in Cairns is wind affected. The howling southerly gales that travel up the valley from Innisfail heavily assist the northern end of the ground and make scoring at the other end difficult. Not so last night, with scoring heavily assisted by the tide rather than the wind.
(Picture: Jack Bowes leads the way for the Suns)
With Tropical Cyclone Nora nearing landfall at Kowanyama on western Cape York, and threatening coastal communities around the Gulf of Carpentaria, the cyclonic rain settled happily over Cairns. With freestyle and backstroke races an equally viable option on the Cazalys Stadium surface, the football went ahead as planned making a whole new spectacle that even the AFL hadn’t bargained on.
The opening centre bounce was wisely replaced by the opening ball-up, otherwise they’d have never found the ball again. However, from then on the Gold Coast Suns and North Melbourne Kangaroos sloshed it out in front of a very enthusiastic, albeit mostly bedraggled crowd. Those who braved the conditions should be commended, and they witnessed a hard slogging affair from two committed teams. During the first quarter, neither gave an inch and adapted relatively quickly to the conditions.
Western Bulldogs are the 2018 AFLW premiers, which was set up on the back of a strong superb second half of football played by the daughters of the west. It was heartbreaking for the Brisbane Lions who were unlucky again to go down in the AFLW Grand Final two years in a row. This grand final was a tale of two halves, as the Lions played a great first half of football and then were quiet in the second half where the Dogs became played dominant football in the premiership quarter. It was a very tough high intensity match of women’s football played by both teams this afternoon at a wet and slippery, Ikon Park.