The chance of the Gold Coast Football Club being awarded a licence to compete in the AFL from 2011 took a big step forward during the week, with Queensland's Premier, Anna Bligh, committing her government to contribute $60million to an upgrade of Gold Coast Stadium (Carrara).
The global financial crisis has been seen as a major threat to the 17th licence bid, and reported plans for a $300million stadium were shelved. But the announcement from Queensland's Labor government is thought to have all but guaranteed the state will secure its second AFL club. It's believed the AFL will also contribute significantly to the stadium, and hopes to gain Federal government funding as well.
The only concern in that area is that a state election is imminent, and the National-Liberal opposition has not yet matched Bligh's promise - this has reportedly upset local candidates given that the business community is looking forward to the significant money an AFL club would bring to the area. A Queensland study on the economic impact of a Gold Coast-based AFL side found that when the club was up and running at full capacity it would generate more than 400 local jobs and economic activity of $34 million a year – 92 per cent of which would flow to non-AFL businesses.
The tip is that the licence will be awarded to the Gold Coast at the AFL Commission meeting later this month. That would be good news for PNG's Amua Pirika, who is playing with the club as they head into the TAC Cup Under 18 competition.
After a series of articles the final worldfootynews.com unofficial World Rankings for 2008 have been compiled. The list is a result of voting from six of our writers and taking into account discussion in the articles leading up to the vote. We're well aware that no system can be perfect, especially given arguments on issues such as whether to consider professional players (Australian, Irish), where to rank entities not necessarily widely acknowledged as countries (Catalonia versus Spain, the Peace Team), and whether to consider the best side a nation might put forward or just who was available, not to mention the lack of international matches and vagaries of the IC08 pool system. Nevertheless, it would seem to be a worthwhile outcome to be able to look back on the most recently completely year and to be able to point fans, players and people new to international footy at a table that is a reasonable attempt to rank the world's Australian football playing nations. Here is that list:
The AFL Commission had their first 2009 meeting yesterday and on the agenda was expansion, in particular the proposed licences for the Gold Coast (17th, nominally 2011) and Western Sydney (18th, nominally 2012) and a strong push from Tasmania, led by their state government, for inclusion in the AFL.
With dire economic times there are various reports that the AFL are increasingly cautious about expansion, however CEO Andrew Demetriou remained publically upbeat, saying "We are very confident in what we have seen, and 2011 and 2012 (for western Sydney), for us, are still on track for our expansion".
Saturday week ago, several parts of Victoria recorded their hottest temperature on record, including 46.4 degrees Celsius in Melbourne, the highest temperature recorded in an Australian capital city. Several bushfires broke out in the state with major blazes in the Churchill, Kinglake and Marysville areas. So bad were conditions (not just the heat but strong, unpredictable winds) that as of today 200 people are dead, hundreds of properties have been destroyed, thousands of residents displaced and hundreds of thousands of acres of land scorched. And sadly those figures are set to rise. In terms of lives lost, it is Australia's worst bushfires, surpassing major fires on Ash Wednesday (1983) and Black Friday (1939). Several of Saturday's fires (although now controlled) still continue some ten days on.
Numerous fundraising efforts have been launched to assist those who have lost everything. Companies have chipped in up to two million dollars each, everyday Australians touched by the stories of loss are giving generously out of their own pockets and several sporting bodies have held matches to raise money for the Bushfire vicitms. The AFL shifted the preseason match between Essendon and Western Bulldogs (two Victorian teams) from Darwin to Melbourne in one such example, with all money donated to the Victorian Government’s Bushfire Appeal Fund.
More than 35,000 fans turned up for the event which managed to raise more than 1.2 million dollars. The two teams had promised an exciting contest and didn't disappoint, with Essendon winning by the slimmest of margins.
Essendon 1.8.13 (70) Western Bulldogs 1.8.12 (69) Preseason competition includes the nine-point "supergoal" for goals scored outside the fifty-metre arc, on top of goals and behinds.
Click here to donate to the Red Cross' Bush Fire Appeal.
One of the best drivers for Australian football development across Oceania has been the use of AYAD positions. There are now an unprecedented 5 positions up for grabs across Australia's neighbours, with one spot in each of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Indonesia.
The Tongan, Samoan and Indonesian positions are somewhat urgent, with June/July intakes are positions closing soon, and the others for September. AYAD is the Australian Government's Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program. They provide great opportunities for Australians to visit other countries, expenses paid, earn a modest wage, help other communities, gain new skills and assist in spreading the great Australian game.
We believe all the listed countries have had AYADs at various stages, with the exception of Fiji. The new round of positions come with the added coordinated support of AFL Oceania. Most positions are for 12 months and are open to Australians 18 to 30 years.
More details can be found on the Tongan website and the AYAD website - however note not all positions are listed yet. The Indonesian position will work with the Jakarta Bintangs clubs and details are listed here. There is also now more information on the AFL website.
If the criteria fit, have a go yourself, or tell your mates about it. Expressions of interest can be emailed to email@example.com.
The Convicts concept sees teams of Australian footballers heading overseas for tours that involve football matches and sight seeing. We've followed their adventures closely, as they've travelled from South Africa to Europe to North America.
However 2009 is set to be a quiet one with no tours planned, after an initial look at China was scrapped. The Convicts' Anthony Nanfra told WFN that "I dont think it prudent to have a tour this year given the state of the economy", noting that players from Western Australia have been a big part of the tours and there are major employment worries from that group. Instead he is looking into some domestic opportunities and investigating options for 2010. We'll let you know when their plans solidify.
The story of footy is about change. Except that it does not all come from the top, or from the centre.
In the words of Australian artist Paul Kelly’s song… ‘From little things big things grow’….
The way in which the game is played around the world, often involving smaller teams on smaller playing fields, and sometimes with some rule modifications, may shape the future of the game in Australia. And what better day to discuss the future of Australia's indigenous sport, with a global view, than Australia Day?
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.