Traditional rivalry in Japan is never greater than Tokyo vs Osaka, between the town of blue suits and power and the town of merchants and fun. The greatest rivalry in Japanese sport is between baseball’s Tokyo Giants and Osaka’s Hanshin Tigers. On the same weekend when the sluggers were slugging it out in Tokyo, the Tokyo Goannas went on a road trip to Osaka to take on the hometown Dingoes in the big match at Maishima Sports Island on Saturday April 5.
In August 2007, Japan's national side the Samurais toured Australia, playing four matches against local amateur sides. The trip Down Under has become an annual event for the JAFL. Read on for a report of the tour, courtesy of Hiroyuki Tohyama.
The following is promotional material from the Australia Network (formerly ABC Asia Pacific).
In conjunction with Australia Network's coverage of the 2008 AFL competition, Australia Network has launched the Australia Network AFL Dream Team Competition. The competition allows Managers to pick a Dream Team within a salary cap and test their talent spotting skills. As well as playing against the global pool of Managers, each indivdiual can establish a private Mini-League and compete against family, friends and work mates locally or from around the world. The Dream Team Compeition also includes a celebrity Mini-League. Each Manager is welcome to enter the "K-League", Kostya Tszyu's Mini-League.
Great prizes are up for grabs, including a PSP console, games and AFL jerseys. The winner of Kostya's Mini-League will win a pair of signed boxing gloves.
The Tokyo Goannas and AFL Japan have released a great video documentary titled "History of Australian Rules Football in Japan".
Some of the footage goes right back to the late 1980s and includes some news headlines for the "Tokyo Bowl" VFL exhibition matches as well as AFL figures including Paul Salmon.
The video documentary, which is over 15 minutes long is a chronology in two parts, with the first focusing on the early years and the debut of the Samurais at the Arafura games and the second including progress from 2000 with highlights from the Samurai's 2002 and 2005 International Cup campaigns as well as more recent highlights such as Michito Sakaki's much publicised trial at Essendon.
Click on the links below to view the video from YouTube:
The Jakarta Bintangs recently assisted in Australian Football clinics for TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) members as part of a course to help prepare them for study in Australia. Officers took part in clinics in footy skills as well as demonstrations about the history of the game.
The Bintangs also hope to soon receive their first Footy Development Officer from the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program, as well as recently receiving a grant of $16,000 from the Australia-Indonesia Institute for further Australian rules development in the country.
The Indian cricket team, renowned for their crowd-pulling power at home (players enjoy superstar status), and for being the highest paid national team of any sport - in terms of sponsorship, is currently in Melbourne preparing for the Boxing Day Test.
They were scheduled to play the Bushrangers (Victoria's side in the Australian domestic competition) in preparation for their hit-out against Australia later this week, but poor weather led to play being suspended on the first two days and the Indian players instead given Australian football lessons. Melbourne newspaper, the Herald Sun featured Rudra Pratap Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni on its back page on Saturday, both marking footballs. This followed a picture of Melbourne football club captain David Neitz with Sachin Tendulkar, who is wearing a Melbourne jumper, the day before.
The Lao Elephants, Asia's newest footy side, made their debut on November 17th in Hanoi, taking on the Thailand Tigers and hosts Vietnam Swans in a three-team tournament. Thirteen players made the trip from the Lao PDR to pull on the pink and grey jumper (pictured at right), augmented by eight curious Irishmen who had seen them carrying a Sherrin at the airport and decided to come along for a kick.
The Elephants went down to the Vietnam Swans 5.2.32 to 3.5.23 in their first-ever match, a gallant effort in extreme heat and humidity with a number of players (not least the Irish) having never played competitive footy before. In the following two games, the Thailand Tigers proved themselves a long way ahead of their Indochinese regional rivals, defeating the Swans 85-21 and the Elephants 63-28.
The tournament also included a ladies' netball tri-series, with the Lao Mahouts running out victors over the Thai and Vietnamese sides in their first international appearance.
In a side note for trivia buffs, international footy identity and former WFN Asia writer "the Big Rooster" both designed the jumper and took the field for the Elephants, meaning he has now played for teams from 19 countries. International footy connoisseurs may also recognise the Elephant on the Lao jumpers as once having been at home in Eastern Europe.
The Japan AFL's Top League expanded to outside the Tokyo area this year with the arrival of the Osaka Dingoes bringing the numer of clubs to six.
The 2006 season saw the number of JAFL clubs grow to five, with the "Samurai" club of University students splitting into the Senshu Uni Powers, Komazawa Magpies and Tokyo Leopards and joining the expat-based Tokyo Goannas and Uni Graduate Eastern Hawks.
The Osaka Dingoes formed a few years ago, but didn't join with the Tokyo clubs until 2007, having a big first season and only narrowly missing the premiership.
The Tianjin Normal University (TJNU) footy club has recently branched out to form a club at its Yangcun campus, the newbies debuting last Saturday in an all-Chinese three-team tournament in Tianjin.
The TJNU City and TJNU Yangcun teams were joined by the SiShen Bombers, the local development squad of the Beijing Bombers, with around 50 Chinese students aged 18-22 taking part. The TJNU City side came out on top on the day, defeating Yangcun 36-25 and the SiShen Bombers 43-13, in a tournament enjoyed by all despite the wind and cold weather.
In other Chinese footy news, the two Aussie expat-based mainland clubs clashed in Shanghai on the weekend of November 10th, with the Beijing Bombers having their first-ever away win over the Shanghai Tigers.
The Thailand Tigers, Vietnam Swans and Lao Elephants will play a three-way tournament on November 17th at the United Nations School in Hanoi.
The footy will kick off at 12.30pm, with three matches pitting each of the teams against one another. The tournament will be the international debut for the Elephants who only formed in April 2007. The boys from Laos are reportedly very excited to be pulling on the pink and grey for the first time.
The tri-nations will also feature the Netball girls who will play from 11am
- including the international debut of the Lao Mahoots netball side.