Round two of the Japan AFL season has been (mostly) played and won, with another emphatic win to the Tokyo Goannas, who after only two rounds, are already looking like favourites for the flag.
The Goannas started the round with a 108 point victory, their 15th in succession since 2007, over the Komazawa Magpies in Chiba.
The reigning premiers booted 5.4 to nothing in the first quarter on the way to an 18.22 (130) to 3.4 (22) demolition job. Although led tenaciously in the ruck by Tanaka, the Magpies had no answer to the ball-winning ability of the Goannas midfielders, Wilson and Jones especially prominent.
At Shinshiro Sogo Park, accuracy in front of goal gave the Nagoya Redbacks a tough win over the Tokyo Leopards.
The Leopards came out all guns blazing, dominating the first quarter 6.4 to 2.0 For the rest of the game, however, inaccuracy in front of goal cost Tokyo dearly. At half-time they had 15 scoring shots to 6, but the margin was only 14 points. As the saying goes, poor kicking is poor football, and the Redbacks came to life in the second half, running out 14.7 (91) to 9.14 (68) victors in a hard fought affair.
The Osaka Dingoes - Senshu Powers game will be played in October.
The Asian Championships played in Kuala Lumpur on 5th September, 2009 were immensely successful in terms of participation with 10 Senior teams, 3 Under 18 Teams, Auskick and over 400 players, seniors and juniors participating. After a day of intense competition, last year's winners Dubai (UAE) Heat and Jakarta Bulldogs both managed a repeat triumph in the Senior and Junior competitions.
Dubai Heat last weekend won the Asian Championships in a repeat of 2008, defeating the Singapore Wombats in the Grand Final. The Heat trailed at half-time but superior fitness saw them overwhelm Singapore in the final stanza to score a well-deserved victory.
Third and fourth spots went to the Bali Geckoes and Hong Kong Dragons, who were defeated in the semi-finals by the Heat and Wombats repectively.
The pinnacle of the Asian Football season, the Asian Championships this year were held in Kuala Lumpur at the Selangor Polo Club on 5th September.
In the Juniors grade, the Jakarta Bulldogs also went back to back, asserting their superiority over the St Johns Malaysian Warriors, though the Malaysian boys' effort is to be highly commended as they took on far more experienced rivals and gave them strong competition.
The all-important draw for the 10th Asian Australian Football Championships in Kuala Lumpur on 5th September took place at the Australian Ambassador's residence on 27th August.
Group A consists of title holders Dubai Heat, hosts Malaysian Warriors, three-time winners Hong Kong Dragons, two-time winners Jakarta Bintangs and Thailand Tigers.
Group B consists of three-time winners Singapore Wombats, three-times runners-up Bali Geckoes, Lao Elephants, China Reds and Vietnam Swans.
Each team plays the others in their Group with the top two in each group progressing to the semi-finals, the winners of which play off in the Grand Final.
Whilst weather, injuries and depth of fitness within the squads are always a factor in an event of this nature, the teams in Group A promise intense competition, with all five harbouring realistic expectations of a strong showing.
On known form, Singapore and Bali look the likely semi-finalists in Group B.
A big day is promised on September 5th at the Royal Selangor Polo Club with the action kicking off from 8.30am and the final being contested at 4.20pm.
In addition to the main games there will be a Junior Under 18 competition as well as Auskick.
The Jakarta Bintangs stunned the Bali Geckoes and reinforced their Asian Championship prospects by defeating the Bali Beckos by 5 goals on home turf for the first time in 4 years at Kuta on August 15th.
A minutes' silence preceded the match - dedicated to Craig Senger and others lost to us in similar circumstances. It was a reminder to live every day as though it was your last.
Fitting, because that was how the Bintangs played. From the opening tap to the final siren the Bintangs were always in control. Led in dazzling fashion by Dave "Butcher" Edwards who kicked a club record 12 goals, the Bintangs held sway at every change.
The game strategy was simple, get the ball quickly to the big fellow down forward and he would do the rest. And with Matt Jolly and Chris Bandy winning the ball with regularity in the midfield, and with Bali captain Peter Muir well held, contested possession was achieved with sufficient regularity to build a match winning lead by half time.
While Bali managed to slow the momentum in the last two quarters, the result was never in doubt. A trademark Marzio Da Rae dropkick sealed the win just before the siren.
The Geckos have played in the Grand Final of the Asian Championships in two of the last three years, whilst the Bintangs have had a number of disappointing years since their glory years early in the millennium.
Possibly, the positions may be reversed in this year’s edition of the Asian Championships.
The Asian Championships is the goal of all teams in the Asian region. Being played in tropical conditions, subject to vagaries of weather and in a lightning premiership type format, the day is a true test of stamina, team management and above all, depth.
Yet, for all the elements of luck that can play a part with the draw, with injuries and other factors, usually the best side wins.
Whilst many internationals are played during the year, and nearly all clubs have some sort of intra-club domestic competition, like racehorses aiming at the Melbourne Cup, it is the Asian Championships that all conditioning is aimed towards.
This year is the 10th edition of the Championships - Hong Kong and Singapore have won 3 each, Indonesia (as a combined Jakarta-Bali side many years ago) 2, and Dubai 1.
Coinncidentally it is the 10th year of the Malaysian Warriors Football Club and they will be hosting the Championships on Saturday, 5th September at the Royal Selangor Polo Club, situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
On a day where bigger issues overwhelmed the football, the Vietnam Swans defeated the Laos Elephants by 4 points in a important warm-up game for the upcoming Asian Championships in Kuala Lumpur.
Craig Senger had been a player with the Jakarta Bintangs Football Club and tragically lost his life in the recent Jakarta bombings of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels.
Prior to the match, the Australian Ambassador, the Deputy / Minister Counsellor from the Indonesian Embassy and Dave Kainey (“Official Legend” of the Jakarta Bintangs and former Swans President) addressed all players and spectators. A minute's silence was observed.
On 7th August, 1858 Melbourne Grammar played Scotch College in Richmond Park in what is generally regarded as the first official Australian football match ever played.
On 8th August, 2009, 151 years later, almost to the day, history was created when the under-18 St John’s School Malaysian Warriors took on the Australian International School Malaysia and scored a meritorious victory, winning 17.6.108 to 5.6.36.
This will become the day every year that future Malaysian teams commemorate the first game of Australian Rules Football played, and won, by a team of indigenous Malaysians.
The Pearl River delta region in southern China is famous for two small territories controlled by Europeans until very recently. The larger city of Hong Kong was administered by the British until the closing years of the twentieth century, whilst across the bay the Portuguese maintained their outpost of Macau.
Macau is a small, densely-populated city of about half a million inhabitants, best-known for being the Las Vegas of Asia.
The Hong Kong Dragons have been playing footy since the early 1990s, with a long history of being a power in the Asian footy scene. In Macau however, the presence of Australian rules was restricted to the occasional locally-based player commuting across the water to play in Hong Kong.
This year, this is set to change with the beginnings of Auskick and school footy in Macau.
The pinnacle of the Asian Football season is the Asian Championships, this year to held in Kuala Lumpur at the Selangor Polo Club on 5th September.
The Malaysian Warriors are hosting this prestigious tournament for only the second time in commemoration of their 10th year of existence.
Teams participating include the hosts Malaysian Warriors, current title holder Dubai Heat, powerhouses Singapore, Hong Kong and Bali, as well as regular contenders Jakarta, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and the China Reds.
It is expected that the format will be two groups of five teams each playing each other once with the top two teams in each group playing off in cross-over semi-finals, with the two winners playing off in the Grand Final.
The Asian Championships get bigger each year and this year sees the second edition of a Junior Championship which will feature a significant number of Asian-born players. Teams from Jakarta (last year’s winner), Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore are expected to participate.
There will also be an Auskick session for the younger kids, as well as full catering and plenty of entertainment.
As always, it will be a huge day and all Malaysian footy followers are urged to get to the ground. Play starts at 10.00am