This will most likely be our final article on unofficial World Rankings for 2008 until our final list is released, based on the user comments so far and a final vote by worldfootynews.com staff.
In this article we consider where to rank the countries that did not attend IC08 but which have been deemed eligible for ranking based on good numbers of players that would qualify under International Cup rules. These countries are: Tonga, Spain (Catalonia), France, Germany and Croatia (see Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - other countries to consider for further discussion).
During the off-season, as has been pointed out by numerous scribes the AFL clubs love to tie up with visiting celebrities, sports or others, for photo-ops thereby garnering some useful publicity. However, living in Asia, and being an inveterate televised sports watcher it always strikes me as remarkable the number of chaps one sees in the crowd shots at international cricket and tennis wearing AFL jumpers.
So let's get all us international footballers wearing our club guernseys when we grace international events that have significant television audiences!
The search for a major sponsor in these deteriorating economic times has been a difficult task for some AFL clubs, so it would have been a great relief for the Western Bulldogs to secure Mission Foods for the next 3 years, worth $4.5million. In a press release the club stated that Mission Foods’ products will be distributed nationally and be available from all leading food retailers and independent supermarkets from Monday 19th January 2009. “Mission Foods have chosen to partner with the Western Bulldogs to spearhead their launch into the Australian market place for the Mission brand”, said Western Bulldogs President David Smorgon.
Established in 1949, Mission Foods is part of Mexican based group Gruma Corporation, with operations spanning Mexico, the USA, Central and South America, UK and now Australia. Mission Foods are exclusively focused on the manufacture of flatbread and Mexican products and corn based snacks with 60 years experience manufacturing over a quarter of the world’s tortilla’s.
From an international footy point of view the introduction of a large Mexican company is enticing. To the best of our knowledge Australian football has no presence on the ground in the country of 107 million people. With Mission Foods CEO Juan Gonzalez reportedly a "sports nut" no doubt the Doggies will want to get him on board as a supporter of the club. Wouldn't it be tremendous if they could also stoke an interest in introducing our great game to Mexico? worldfootynews.com has contacted both the Western Bulldogs and the AFL with some initial thoughts on this. We'll keep our readers informed if there are any developments.
Australia Day around the world is celebrated by many Australian rules football clubs. Some hold matches (despite being in the depths of northern hemisphere winters), while others just get together to party and celebrate all things Australian, often raising much needed funds for their team's year ahead.
As we did for the 2008 AFL grand final we will list details of events here. Please post details of your event in the comments section and we will periodically add them to the main article here. While Australia day itself is celebrated on 26th of January in Australia the events around the world may be held on a nearby date so please check carefully.
Also, please check with your intended destination - we can't guarantee their plans won't change or that there will be enough spaces for everyone.
USA tennis star Andy Roddick, in Melbourne for the Australian Open was given some Aussie Rules tips by Richmond AFL stars. The AFL players also joined a round of tennis too and apparently impressed. The mutual publicity stunt achieved some good coverage in Melbourne.
With the 2009 introduction of a Northern Territory representative team into AFL Queensland's top league, the Velocity Sports Cup, the participating clubs will be playing matches at venues right across the state (QLD) and territory (NT). The NT Thunder (appropriately named after the storms that accompany the wet season) open their campaign on Saturday 4th April at 7pm with a home game in Darwin at TIO Stadium against 2008 premiers Southport. That will be the first of 5 matches at that venue in the minor round, but they will also play 4 home games around 1300 km south, in Alice Springs, right in the heart of the Outback. With the squad split between the two locations, surely their alternating travel must be the world's longest distance for a home game? Such flexibility is something international clubs will appreciate.
The pride of the Top End will of course play away games in Queensland's two biggest population centres, Brisbane and the Gold Coast (around 2000 / 2800 km away from Alice / Darwin), but their journies do not end there. The demanding travel schedule also includes trips to Townsville and Cairns, both in Queensland's north (see map below). All in all the Thunder are set for a tough initiation into Queensland's league, with the players likely to rack up more kilometres than any other Australian footy team. The possible exceptions are Western Australia's two AFL sides, Fremantle and West Coast, but even they will only travel 10 times in a 22 round season, compared with 13 for the NT side (given 4 home games are in Alice).
HRG Australia has announced that it has been appointed to provide corporate travel management services to what was described on industry website e-Travel Blackboard as Australia’s largest and most prestigious sporting body, the Australian Football League (AFL).
Following a successful tender process, the AFL awarded HRG Australia the contract, citing the company’s innovative and flexible approach as key reasons behind their decision.
"With the AFL set to expand to Western Sydney and the Gold Coast, and with an eye on future global development, we wanted to appoint a company that could work with us as we broaden our horizons," commented Ian Anderson, Chief Financial Officer of the AFL.
We bring this to the attention of our readers as it's nice to continue to see references to "global development", something that was missing for many years. It isn't a major breakthrough, just another small sign of how times have slowly changed.
An article appeared in the Herald Sun about actor Michael Vartan, who regularly watches games on cable and has struck up a friendship with AFL star Brendan Fevola so now "roots for" the Carlton Football Club.
The Hollywood star, best known for his supporting roles, had a leading role in the 2007 Australian horror film Rogue, where his character does battle with a monster size man eating crocodile.
The following is from a press release today jointly by the Australian Governement and announced today by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin along with the Hawthorn Football Club's Lance Franklin.
The Australian Government has provided $250,000 to help expand Australian football training and development opportunities for Indigenous youth in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. These activities will be jointly funded by the Australian Football and West Australian Football Commission, which currently provides $200,000 a year for Australian football activities in the Kimberley. The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said sport can play a powerful role in expanding the life chances for young Indigenous people. “The program has the potential to provide new pathways for young Indigenous people in some of the most disadvantage communities in Australia,” Ms Macklin said.
2008 has come to an end and it must surely be regarded as the most successful yet for the growth of Australian Football.
The stand-out event was the 2008 Australian Football International Cup. 16 full sides plus an appearance by Tonga in the Multicultural Challenge meant there was easily a record number of teams and players. The Israel-Palestine Peace Team grabbed most of the headlines and it was terrific to see so much attention, but in purely football terms perhaps the arrival of China and India was the biggest news. The semi-finals being played under lights in Warrnambool were a huge success (though better lighting and an extra 10 degrees warmth would've been appreciated), with the football an excellent standard, only to be bettered in the Grand Final which saw sentimental favourite PNG win after two previous grand final losses, with New Zealand gallant in narrow defeat. The event also saw an International Forum between the AFL and many countries.
Many of the highlights were things we'd previewed in the 2007 review (see 2008 set to outshine a stellar 2007 - part one and part two). It's amazing just how many good news football stories there were across 2008. All countries probably have positive news to report so selecting just a few is fraught with danger, but here is a summary with a few stand-outs.