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.
In our continuing series of debates towards creating a defacto World Ranking we now ask the question whether the 2008 International Cup finishing order was a fair assessment of the countries that competed and thus whether they should be used as the initial basis for our World Rankings.
As 2009 begins we present below the club premiers and provincial champions from across the world of Australian football for 2008. This is the third year in a row that we've compiled the list (see Club Premiers 2006 and Club Premiers 2007).
It was a year in which we saw many multiple-in-a-row premierships for some but notably not red-hot favourites Geelong in the AFL. One tier down, at Australian state league level, former strugglers Central Districts made it a remarkable 7 out of the last 9 in the SANFL in South Australia. But that still doesn't match the 8 in a row by the Shepherds Bush Raiders in London's Conference. The same club is also home to the West London Wildcats (pictured) who racked up their 5th straight London Premiership title, while the club's third side, the Ealing Emus, also claimed the Social League, leaving no doubt that the West London club is the most dominant outside of Australia - and can any within Australia lay claim to such success?
The Goodwood Saints won their fourth straight in the SAAFL (South Australian amateurs), Subiaco 3-peated in Western Australia's top league as did Launceston in the Northern Tasmanian league and the Eastern Blues in New Zealand's South Island Canterbury league. Teams going back-to-back included Glenorchy in Tasmania's Southern Football League, the Darebin Falcons in the Victorian Women's Premier Division and Solna in Sweden's Stockholm league.
Not helping the cause over the years of a Tasmanian AFL bid has been troubles within Tassie's domestic football scene. The same issues that affect an AFL push also affect local footy. With a relatively small population spread right across the state, it has been difficult to maintain a coherent state league. Tasmania has sometimes had a single league and sometimes it has broken into northern and southern leagues. Compounding their problems, the state has a side in Victoria's state league, the VFL, that has consistently performed very poorly.
Perhaps a change for the better is on the way - but it's a controversial one. AFL Tasmania was established by the AFL in 1998. It has managed and delivered game development programs throughout Tasmania but mostly in isolation to the clubs - it's probably fair to say that the various clubs and leagues have not always been on the same page.
It is AFL Tasmania that is behind the launch of a new Tassie-wide league, to be called the Wrest Point Tasmanian State League. In 2009 it will have 10 clubs, a mixture from across the island. They are Burnie, Devonport, Launceston, North Launceston, South Launceston, Glenorchy, North Hobart, Hobart, Clarence and Lauderdale.
On this site we've bemoaned the lack of improvement to Adelaide's number one football ground, AAMI Stadium (Football Park). In particular South Australian fans have had to sit by while there have been major upgrades to the MCG, the building of the indoor Telstra Dome (Docklands Stadium), and a complete overhaul of the Gabba in Brisbane, as well as plans for a brand new facility in Perth and Sydney having use of ANZ Stadium (was Telstra Stadium / Olympic Stadium).
During that time AAMI Stadium has improved. New seating and the addition of two video screens and the relatively small northern grandstand have all made the venue better. But all along fans have wanted several things - to get closer to the action (the 1970s design with low sloping stands leaves the audience a long way from the playing surface), to increase the capacity (the Crows had a long waiting list for season tickets), and of course the ultimate dream - an indoor stadium closer to the city centre, as the AFL built in Melbourne.
The SANFL, owners of AAMI Stadium, in the Adelaide suburb of West Lakes, have had plans to upgrade, but have consistently denied the viewing distance was an issue or that it would change. The constant criticism of that line has caused some friction, so it is somewhat ironic that they have now released their plans for the upgrade - and it includes moving around one third of the spectators closer to the field. But simultaneous with the positive result came the negative - due to the global financial crisis, the state government has "postponed" its funding support. Thus the major changes will be delayed.
In our continuing series towards a list of World Rankings for 2008, it's time to determine what other countries should be included. The obvious ones so far are the sides that attended the 2008 Australian Football International Cup. What other nations could reasonably be expected to provide a squad of say 22 players under International Cup qualification rules? The players should be active players, having played in 2008, but not restricted to those that can travel - let's assume the dream situation that all expenses are paid or that any international matches are hosted locally.
In today's article we ponder the status of Ireland's AFL players.
So what about the Irish players? Ireland finished fourth at the 2008 Australian Football International Cup, but they did not have access to their professional players on AFL lists. At this stage of the game's evolution it was not realistic to expect that they would be made available, and whether they should have is not the purpose of this debate. The question is whether they should be included when pondering a world ranking system. Should the rankings only reflect matches played, or should it consider the strongest nations in terms of the teams they theoretically could put on the field, given their professional players too?
The AFL has announced Laws of the Game changes for season 2009. While the rules will immediately affect the AFL season (and NAB Cup competition), it is as always up to bodies around the world on whether they implement these changes or ignore them.
AFL Football Operations Manager Adrian Anderson, Chairman of the Laws of the Game Committee, said the Commission had approved the following at its monthly meeting in Melbourne today:
1) Four minor rule changes for the 2009 Toyota AFL Premiership Season;
2) Two new interpretations for the 2009 Toyota AFL Premiership Season;
3) One change to the AFL regulations for the 2009 Toyota AFL Premiership Season;
4) Introduction of three 2009 NAB Cup / NAB Challenge rules that may be introduced for the 2009 Toyota AFL Premiership Season;
5) A revision of the rules used in the 2008 NAB Cup, which has seen some rules retained and others discarded to bring the NAB Cup more in line with the Toyota AFL Premiership Season.
As expected the AFL has told the Tasmanian AFL bid team that their proposal is very good but they will have to wait as the Gold Coast and West Sydney are next.
The bid team travelled to AFL House, led by Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett. Under the theme Ready When You Are, the presentation showed that the Launceston Aurora stadium, with a capacity of 21,000, would provide a similar deal to Geelong's successful arrangement with the 25,000 capacity Skilled Stadium (Kardinia Park). Combined with corporate support such as a 3-year $4 million deal with confectionary maker Mars and a fervent supporter base, the Tasmanians are believed to have demonstrated they are ready as soon as the AFL gives them the nod.