The former Olympian was second at the race in 1998 and finally took out the prize on Sunday evening, after several attempts during a 20-year athletics career.
The Bay Sheffield is run over 120 metres (with handicaps) and is one of the major events on the Australian professional foot-running calendar, this year being the 122nd consecutive running, reportedly making it the oldest continually run race in Australia. It has seen many outstanding winners, the last notable footballer being Darren Kappler who began his league career with South Adelaide (82 games) before playing 187 games for Fitzroy, Sydney and Hawthorn from 1987 to 1998. To our knowledge, no Asian-based AFL player has ever competed, pace not being a pre-requisite for most players in the region.
At the generous odds of 20-1 in the AUD 20,000 event obviously bookmakers were unaware of his Indonesian form, and it is expected Rob celebrated long and hard after his triumph.
Hold the phone! There is a new force in Asian football. Charging out of the dense jungles surrounding Vientiane comes the irrestistible force of the Lao Elephants.
The Lao Elephants, who formed a team last year and won two of their 4 matches at this year’s Asian Champs, have gone on to claim the Indochina Cup. They were undefeated in their matches against the Vietnam Swans, the Cambodian Kangas and the Thailand Tigers, in the tournament played in Phonm Penh on 22nd November.
The Bali Geckos won their home tournament the Bali9s for the fourth time at Canggu Club on November 1st, 2008. This year four teams contested, the Geckos, their perennial rivals the Jakarta Bintangs, Timor Leste Crocs and Borneo Bears.
The Crocs and the Bears are new clubs, and whilst they were well defeated by their more experienced opponents they can be proud of their efforts and their participation augurs well for the future.
Played on a nine-a-side, round robin format, this type of football demands good running skills and plenty of depth on the interchange bench, often putting visiting sides as a disadvantage. In the preliminary rounds the Bintangs carried all before them, narrowly defeating the Geckos and having good wins over Borneo and Timor Leste. Bali won their other two games to qualify for the final.
In the final however, with the addition of some fresh legs, Bali began better and held a good advantage at half time. The Bintangs fought back in the second half to get within 3 points, but the fresher and fitter Geckos were able to kick away and win by 11 points.
Chris Bandy has been in the job as Head of Australian Football Development in Indonesia for a year, after an Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development grant allowed for the introduction of Australian Football into Indonesian Schools.
The initial results have been highly encouraging, and it is expected that a fully-functional junior competition will be set up in Jakarta next year. WFN recently interviewed Chris on his adventures in what is a challenging, but most interesting and rewarding environment.
The Vietnam Swans scored a meritorious 6 goal victory over the Malaysian Warriors in wet conditions at the RMIT University ground in HoChiMinh City on 25th October to annex the LINFOX-LOSCAM Cup for the first time.
The Warriors have had the edge over the Swans in previous encounters and the result was sweet revenge for a 15 goal drubbing suffered in Kuala Lumpur earlier in the year.
This game served as en excellent warm-up for the Swans as they move on to the inaugural IndoChina Cup scheduled to be played at the Phomn Penh International School on November 22nd.
From an Asian football perspective, this is a particularly exciting encounter as it will see the rebirth of the Cambodian Crocs (or Khmer Roos or Angkor Whats?), a team that had gone into decline over the past few years.
Thanks to the efforts of Greg Eggins and others, the Crocs are alive and well and will be joined by the exciting new force in Asia, the Lao Elephants, the well-established Thailand Tigers and the rapidly improving Vietnam Swans. This should be a great contest and hopefully will become an annual event to join the ever growing pantheon of tournaments in the South East Asian region.
After recently sending a partial squad of Timorese nationals to the NTAFL's preseason community tournament, the Crocs are entering a team in the Bali 9s to be held this weekend. Crocs are coming from Timor-Leste, as well as some players travelling from Melbourne, Sydney and Darwin.
As Luke Gosling explains, "these Australian-based players are all connected with Timor-Leste through previous work in the country on capacity building and a wide range of development projects from music and cultural exchanges, financial systems development, water projects and health."
The Timor Crocs would also like to recognise the support of 'The Tradie' Magazine as a new sponsor to the club. Their support will enable some additional shorts for the team.
Joining the Crocs in this tournament will be local opposition from Jakarta and the Borneo Bears, as well as hosts the Bali Geckos.
Read on for some photos of training on the beach in Dili with a few of the Crocs.
Further to our report Football's home ground in Tianjin, more details have been reported in Melbourne's Age newspaper regarding plans to build an Australian Football stadium in Tianjin, China. The article says that Thomson Perrett, a golf course design firm, now has design plans for the ground which will be the first purpose-built Aussie Rules ground in the giant Asian nation.
The story did point out that there is grass-roots support for the game, with matches already played on smaller venues. Tianjin, 137 kilometres south-east of Beijing, has a population of over 10 million. It was interesting to note that the report cites AFL community facilities manager Ken Gannon as saying the ground would host Chinese and Asian championships.
"This provides a home for some of the activities that have been taking place," Gannon said. And for those worried that the AFL might be spending Aussie footy money overseas, this is another example of leveraging other sources of funding, with the article saying, "The AFL was not contributing any capital to the development".
China, India and Japan, were the three Asian teams to compete in the 16-nation Australian Football AFL International Cup last month. China was the only Asian nation to participate in both the Asian Championships in Singapore (through a mostly expat-Australian side) and the International Cup, events which unfortunately this year were held concurrently.
The Timor-Leste (East Timor) Crocs will be represented at this weekend's 12-team Indigenous Community Division of the AFLNT's annual
pre-season carnival in Darwin, from Friday October 10th until Sunday October 12th at TIO Stadium, Marrara.
The Crocs were invited to compete as a team in their own right, however this was not possible and the team decided instead to send a small delegation to play in a combined team with Australian Defence Force personnel and East Timorese residents in Darwin.
Luke Gosling from the Timor Crocs said, "the Timorese players are very happy to be coming to Darwin and playing their newly adopted sport of Australian Rules Football. One of the Timor-Leste players to watch is Amaro da Silva, who is also a very good soccer player. With strength, natural agility and hand-eye coordination, Amaro and the other Timorese players have taken to the sport quickly."
Thus far in Timor-Leste, as well as in representative games played this year in Indonesia, the team has played 9-a-side on a soccer field. The tournament in Darwin will be the first time the players have experienced the larger field and different gameplay of 18-a-side.
Gosling says, "In many ways the Timorese players are quick and agile like the Northern Territory's indigenous players, however they lack the many years of practice that comes from growing up with a footy in their hands. The Timor-Leste players have a great opportunity to learn from playing the community teams and from their own Timor-Leste and Australian teammates."
The Crocs are scheduled to play their first match this afternoon at 5.30pm.
The annual Bali9s tournament hosted by the Bali Geckoes at the Canggu Club will be played on November 1st. This year’s tournament will see four teams from the Indonesian region competing, Bali Geckos, their fierce rivals the Jakarta Bintangs and newly formed clubs the Borneo Bears and Timor-Leste Crocs.
Played in a 9-a-side, lightning premiership type format, each team will play the others with the two top teams playing off in a grand final.
Whilst the far more experienced Bali and Jakarta sides would be favoured to win through to the final, both Borneo and Timor Leste could take heart from the efforts of debutants Laos in the recently concluded Asian Championships, who proved that novice teams could cause upsets.
The Bali9s has been a prestigious trophy since its inception in 2002, the inaugural winners being the Bintangs. That year’s tournament took place just a week before the tragic Bali bombings in which 202 people lost their lives, 88 of them Australian. The 2003 edition which marked the one year anniversary of that event was particularly poignant, being attended by luminaries such as the then Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, and for the football fanatics, Ron Barassi, Mick Martin and Dermott Brereton. Jason McCartney played for the Geckoes on that day, but even he could not stop Bateman’s Bay from annexing the trophy.
The tournament has a lost some of its lustre in recent years, being usurped by its sister contest, the Bali9s Masters, a similar event for teams comprising the over 35’s. However, this year's competition, involving teams from the same geographic area, should be hotly contested and may become a fore-runner of an annual competition involving the same four teams.
The boldest innovation of the 9th Asian Championships in Singapore on September 6th was the first Under 16s Championship involving teams from the Jakarta Bulldogs, Singapore Wombats, Singapore Gaelic Cubs and Hong Kong Dragons. Anyone who was present could not have been anything but uplifted to watch these young lads, the vast majority of whom were non-Australians, show the levels of passion, excitement and commitment that we have come to expect with our game.