In August 2011 the International Cup will be staged in Sydney and Melbourne, and one proven way for representative players to improve their skills is to play for an Australian club, with all the week after week of high standard training and playing. It worked wonders for many of the Nauruan players in 2008, as well as players from other countries.
Now the Coolangatta Australian Football Club in south-east Queensland is offering eligible international players the same chance in 2011. The following offer is from Scott Reid, President of Coolangatta. He has been one of the key men behind the re-birth of Papua New Guinean footy over the last decade, so he his knowledge of international Australian football is both deep and realistic.
As we come to the end of 2010 worldfootynews.com has its annual reflection on the year gone by. We've been in the happy position over our existence to be able to report on 6 to 7 years of excellent growth in international Australian football. This year has been no exception. And that's not spin presented to try to give the impression footy is on an upward curve.
There is no question that, from a modest base, Aussie Rules has been doing very well; not always exploding in numbers, and with plenty more to do, but very positive indeed, after a rather sluggish first century or so. Instead of going into depth on all the various achievements, this year we'll just list some of the highlights that come to mind from across the year, as well as some more dubious events.
Of course because international footy is now so diverse and widely spread, even with around 500 stories in 2010 we're bound to miss some significant achievements, either on a larger scale or great local happenings. Did we miss something special? Got your own favourite? Let us know by posting a comment on this story.
The AFL's recently announced Champions League will provide the top teams from across Australian states (below the AFL) the chance to compete before a national TV audience on Foxtel, albeit given Foxtel's reduced market penetration compared with free-to-air TV.
But sadly for the concept's first year (2011) one of the major competing leagues will instead put forth its bottom clubs for the contest. The SANFL agreed to the Champions League but only on the grounds that it would offer three spots to its clubs, starting from the top finishers in 2010, but would not force them to play. A cascade of declined offers followed, resulting in South Australia likely to field 3 of its 4 bottom sides, from its 9 club competition.
The rebuff was expected, as most of the SANFL clubs had made it clear that the likely prize money on offer was inadequate and there were issues with clashing sponsors, and the last thing vulnerable state league sides can afford is to make a loss from such a venture. With SANFL player payments thought to be higher than most other state leagues outside of the AFL the requirements to satisfy SANFL clubs is higher. Just as important was that the clubs of course will continue to focus, as they have for over 130 years, on winning the local premiership. By sacrificing their byes during the season they would place themselves at a disadvantage compared with their local rivals - playing 3 or 4 extra games in a season, plus travel, is a large additional load. There is also a risk that the telecast of matches would be in direct competition with the state league coverage on ABC TV.
The AFL today said it would proceed with the creation of a state-league based knockout competition from 2011 onwards, which will showcase the quality of state league football across the country.
AFL General Manager National and International Development David Matthews said the AFL was intending to develop a new competition which would invite 16 teams from the various state leagues across the country to play in a knockout competition.
All state league competitions confirmed their interest to the AFL this week in being part of the competition, with invitations to teams within each league based on ladder position and the availability of the club to compete.
Building on the success of the 2010 World XVIII team which competed in the NAB AFL under 16 Championships the AFL will again call for nominations for the 2011 squad. The squad will comprise of the best Under 18 talent participating in competitions conducted by International affiliates and will take part in the 2011 NAB AFL under 16 Championships.
The 2010 squad played under the leadership of Head Coach Michael O'Loughlin (ex Sydney Swans & current AIS/AFL High Performance Coach) and his assistants Chris Johnson (ex Brisbane Lions) and Stewart Edge. Players in the squad represented nations including South Africa, United States, Sudan, Canada, England and Ireland.
The AFL today wrote to all clubs to confirm the trial rules that will be used as part of the 2011 NAB Cup competition.
AFL General Manager Football Operations Adrian Anderson said the AFL would continue to use the NAB Cup as an opportunity for the AFL to examine potential rule options, after a number of recent successful trials including the revised ruck rule at centre bounces, the altered advantage rule and the player substitute rule and the rushed behind rule – all of which have since become part of the premiership season and the Laws of the Game.
Mr Anderson said the AFL would trial four rule options across the month-long pre-season competition, along with one option that would be used in round one of matches only. Each rule to be trialled is as follows:
The USAFL makes the claim that they hold the "biggest Australian Football tournament anywhere in the world". This could be set to be challenged by a new pre-season tournament to be held in Ballarat in Australia. Of course USFooty has the runs on the board and is a set annual fixture.
This inaugural tournament titled the "Aussie Rules Club Classic" will be a “Festival of Football” over a three day weekend played under a round robin format. The tournament is presented by Initiative Marketing and the City of Ballarat and is a pre-season competition supported by AFL VIC, giving metropolitan and country clubs/teams the opportunity to play against clubs/teams from a range of associations and leagues across Victoria. The tournament dates are March 18-20, 2011.
Such a tournament might be ideal in future years for strong international teams to compete against Australian clubs. Clubs such as New Zealand's University Blues or the USA's Denver Bulldogs come to mind as two of many we would like to see in such a format. At this stage though the tournament is only open to Victorian teams.
The AFL has announced a restructure of Victorian football as part of building a stronger national organization designed to support and grow the game at all levels.
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou said former Essendon chief executive Peter Jackson had been appointed executive chair of a new entity, AFL Victoria Ltd., to manage the AFL’s investment in the development of the game in Victoria.
Under the restructure, the new entity will become directly aligned with the AFL. Mr Demetriou said the restructure would allow the AFL to more effectively support the game in Victoria as it has with AFL Queensland and AFL NSW/ACT.
After years of debate as to whether winning the FIFA soccer World Cup would damage Australian football in Australia, diverting funding, attention and prestige, the issue has been instantly rendered null and void until at least 2026 (or longer if the bidding rules remain the same). FIFA delegates gathered in Zurich to cast their votes for 2018 and 2022 and the winners were Russia and Qatar. Neither bid was widely considered kindly, although Qatar was a favourite amongst some betting agencies, but at the end of the day the voting is not necessarily about which bid is best for the sport, rather it is about convincing a small group of generally elderly men who possibly have a diverse set of motivations.
It will be interesting to see if the anti-AFL recriminations begin, with the AFL blamed for delays in securing stadia agreements, and also whether there is a knee-jerk government reaction declaring that Australia will immediately bid again for 2026. With the giant China looming, if they wish to host in 2026 then that could block out Australia for the next 30 years, depending on the ever changing FIFA rules. As pointed out to this author in comments below, current rules prevent the same region hosting in the next 2 periods (I knew that) and Qatar is in the Asian confederation (I didn't know that). So perhaps 2034 is the earliest, and if China got that, then 2046.
Perhaps Australian football would have managed to showcase Aussie Rules to the world during a hosted soccer World Cup, but rather than an opportunity lost one can't help but to think that a far greater risk to the sport has been averted. Let's hope the recriminations are not too strong and for our part, those that were not keen on Australia hosting soccer's biggest event need to moderate our relief, being sensitive to the many Australians who had their heart set on a different outcome.
AFL chief Andrew Demetriou has confirmed that the League Commission is seriously investigating playing AFL regular season matches outside Australia for the first time.
The announcement was made at the AFL industry conference held on the Gold Coast in mid-November.
Cities mentioned by Mr Demetriou as potential hosts were Mumbai, Los Angeles and Shanghai, with mention also made of plans by Melbourne FC to repeat their Shanghai exhibition match experiment after the 2011 AFL season.