Do you remember your first Aussie Rules footy match? I remember mine like it was last week. I was running out onto the ground in my Clayton footy jumper. I was so proud. The club wore Collingwood colours (and being an Essendon supporter, I still have involuntary tremors…even today). It was 1972, I felt ten feet tall and….
Hold on a moment! That statement is not correct. Not even close. Why? Because my selection to wear the purple and gold of the Clayton South Primary School footy team pre-dated club football in black and white by a good twelve months. In fact, I still remember my dad suggesting that if I did well enough in the school team, he would let me play in the local league the following year.
I’m quite sure that many readers of this article might also look back into their pasts and find a connection to school footy at some point. The more I think of it, my school days were responsible for some of my greatest footy moments. My first recorded “speccy” attempt was one. I missed the ball and slid quite gracelessly off the back of my opponent step ladder, winding myself. But it was possibly the highest I ever flew. The captain of my high school team in the late seventies was a certain Chris Mew, who would later become an integral part of one of the greatest Hawthorn squads in history through the 80’s and 90’s. In the same team, however, was one kid who went on to play reserves for Essendon and South Melbourne, and another whose older brother was a part of the inaugural Sydney Swans team in 1982. Through school footy I managed to meet some pretty fine players. Actually, in some ways, school footy in my Victorian upbringing was a bit like a “best of” team, with a cross section of some of the finest local talent attending the same school.
There is a fairly widely held knowledge that Australian Rules football can be traced back to as early as the 1860’s in the south east corner of Queensland, most particularly Brisbane. It has taken far longer, however, for the game to break into many northern markets.
Even though there were sporadic outbreaks in places like the Atherton Tablelands and Thursday Island, they were generally linked to the stationing of servicemen in those areas and rarely survived beyond the war years, unless absorbed into other competitions. It was not until the 1950’s that competitions began in Townsville (1955), Cairns (1956) and Mount Isa (1957).
But in 1969 there was much correspondence sent between Mackay and Victoria. In a situation which must almost echo the storyline of the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, where Tim Robbins’s character writes to the authorities so often that they give in and send him money for library books, the Australian National Football Council (precursor to the AFL Commission) gave in and sent fifty dollars to Mackay to help pay for stationary to allow the paperwork to go ahead for the creation of another centre of Australian Rules football in North Queensland. Fifty bucks to get started!
The city of Townsville, located 1300 kilometres north of the Queensland state capital of Brisbane, is not generally considered to be a major player in Australian Rules football. In fact, this city of approximately 190,000 people has other features and pursuits which have forced the national game into the background.
Ask most people who are familiar with the northern city what they know of the place and the list is likely to include the Lavarack Military Barracks and RAAF Base, James Cook University, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Castle Hill, Magnetic Island or the North Queensland Cowboys national Rugby League team. Australian Rules football still remains a small niche market, supported by some, but largely anonymous to the remainder of the population.
But 2013 could see that profile change radically as Townsville will become one of the key hubs of Australian Rules football in the country, if only for a short time.
Townsville’s Festival of Footy will run from February to April, featuring some of the best local, state, national and international Aussie Rules in the country at that time.
A little over six months ago a small Australian Rules football club in northern Australia had an idea.
In a deliberate bid to turn around negative perceptions of their club, they looked at social media, specifically Facebook, to begin contacting clubs as possible “friends”. But like anything enjoyable, one or two friends became nine or ten. Before long, the club had hatched an idea of having a group of “Brother Clubs”.
So the term “Brother Club” was bandied about, but many people did not really know what it meant. Some clubs jumped at the chance and became “brothers”. Other clubs, being a little more sceptical, held off in case it was some brand new “scheme” which would ultimately result in a risk to money or image. Both fair points given what is out there on “the net”.
But the “Brother Club” idea is not new and is not a threat. For the simplest comparison, consider the world wide concept of sister cities, where cities around the world come together for geographical, cultural, social or economic reasons to be friends for the small price of a lovely plaque and maybe a small civic event to celebrate it. From there, those cities decide whether they do anything else.
Young Tyrese Bounghi, from Gordonvale State School in North Queensland, probably has to pinch himself every now and then. A week ago he was just another normal 12 year old boy going to school and playing footy.
But last Saturday he wore a football jumper donated by the Vietnam Swans Australian Rules Football Club based in Saigon. Now he is about to become the pride and joy of his home towns of Yarrabah and Gordonvale as a new face of international Aussie Rules football.
Last Saturday saw an International Day in Yarrabah, a small indigenous community east of Cairns, which was organised by local club Pyramid Power Junior AFL Club. At this event, kids from the community were asked to come down, have a kick and wear the donated jumpers from a number of international clubs. These included the Manchester Mosquitoes (England), Reading Kangaroos (England), Dublin Demons (Ireland), Orange County Bombers (California, USA), Baulkham Hills Hawks (Sydney, NSW) and the Vietnam Swans. Photos of the boys were sent around the world, and the shot of Tyrese was seen by the Swannies, prompting the club to request an interview with him to encourage a cultural exchange and further the “Brother Club” concept developed by Pyramid Power.
The AFL is pleased to announce Australia Post AFL Multicultural Ambassador Bachar Houli has been named an inaugural winner of the Award for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding.
In a partnership between the University of South Australia’s Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding and the Australia Day Council, the award was established to highlight the efforts of people around the nation who are contributing to social harmony and community cohesion.
As the first devout Muslim to play AFL, Richmond defender Bachar Houli has become a leading influence for many young Australian Muslims.
AFL National Community Engagement Manager Jason Mifsud said Bachar Houli is committed to strengthening cultural awareness and has shown he is a great community leader.
Australian Rugby League fans already know Innisfail, in North Queensland, as the home of two test match internationals. Ask anyone remotely connected to Australia’s “other” football code and they will tell you that Innisfail is where North Queensland Cowboy’s star Ty Williams was born, along with Melbourne Storm’s Billy Slater, argued by many to be one of the game’s greatest full backs.
Innisfail has not been seen as a hotbed of talent for Australian Rules footballers.
AFL Cairns Juniors have invested a great deal of time in recent months developing a junior Australian Rules football team in this beautiful town, located in the picturesque Johnston River Valley, 90 kilometres south of Cairns. Eddie, Tim, Baden and the crew from this organisation have been training Innisfail kids, as well as others in nearby Tully and Mission Beach, to produce the next wave of Aussie Rules stars.
The work they have done with local primary schools to get kids involved in our great game may see the next Billy Slater wearing a Gold Coast Suns or Brisbane Lions jumper rather than that of a Rugby League team.
WFN welcomes aboard Wesley Hull who, amongst other interests, will examine some of the stories of grass roots footy within Australia.Wesley will be familiar to some readers through his involvement with the Pyramid Power football club and our story about it.
White driftwood sits on the golden sand of Lilly Beach on Badu Island in the Torres Strait. Coconut Palms sway gently in whatever breezes the day brings. The water changes from blue to green to shades of grey, depending on the moods of the day. Turtles and dugongs cruise languidly by beneath the surface and various sea birds chatter and squawk about whatever they wish.
Surely this description of paradise has nothing to do with Australian football. Does it?
This picture of paradise changes once you add a few young boys and girls, who run with excited freedom along the beach. They gallop, screaming and laughing with joy, as they play a game of Rugby League, touch football or Aussie Rules. The delightful sounds of youth combined with the majesty of their surroundings. Idyllic.
Torres Strait is the body of water that separates mainland Australia from Papua New Guinea. At its narrowest it is 150 kilometres wide and contains over 250 islands. Some of these are alluvial islands made from the sediments of nearby rivers. Others are coral cays and others still are continental islands, part of the original Great Dividing Range. Very few of these islands have permanent settlements.
This is where Henry and Nathaniel grew up. Born on neighbouring Thursday Island and living their youngest days on Badu. This was light years away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, and equally as far away from the MCG, the symbolic home of AFL football.
A total of 94 players were tonight added to AFL club lists at the 2012 NAB AFL Draft, held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Queensland.
Dandenong Stingrays' midfielder Lachie Whitfield was taken at selection number one by the GWS Giants, with the Giants adding Jonathan O'Rourke (Calder Cannons) and Lachie Plowman (Calder Cannons) at selections two and three respectively.
Jimmy Toumpas (Melbourne), Jake Stringer (Western Bulldogs), Jackson Macrae (Western Bulldogs), Oliver Wines (Port Adelaide), Sam Mayes (Brisbane Lions), Nick Vlastuin (Richmond) and Joe Daniher (Essendon) rounded out the top 10 selections, while three players with previous AFL experience were re-drafted onto club lists - former Port Adelaide player Ben Jacobs and former Gold Coast player Taylor Hine both selected by North Melbourne while Hawthorn re-drafted premiership player Michael Osborne.
Irish rookies Zach Tuohy and Niall McKeever were both ugraded to the senior list as were Sudanese born Majak Daw and South African born Jason Johannisen.
The Greater Western Sydney GIANTS have welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government of a partnership to support young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds in Greater Western Sydney.
The Federal Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Sport, Senator Kate Lundy, announced at ŠKODA Stadium that the Federal Government through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has committed $1.2 million over three years to fund a national approach to youth settlement through the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network Australia (MYAN)
As part of this commitment, $270,000 has been earmarked to fund the establishment of a new independent service in New South Wales through a partnership between the GIANTS, the Centre for Multicultural Youth and Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW and its local host organisation, Settlement Services International (SSI).