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.
In 2007 the team at worldfootynews.com analysed the results from international Australian football over 2005 and 2006 to produce their consolidated view of how the world's Aussie Rules teams ranked against each other as at the end of 2006. The results were presented in World footy rankings for 2006. We fully concede this is a subjective analysis, but we thought it worthwhile to give it a go given no other world ranking system is in place.
The focus was on nations perceived to be capable of fielding full squads of local players (non-Australian) under International Cup rules, including 18-a-side on the field. The 2005 International Cup results were used as a starting point. Teams were ranked from Australia at number 1, Papua New Guinea at 2 (just squeezing out New Zealand) down to France at 17 (just qualifying as borderline able to field a full all-French squad).
We are about to undertake this process again, using IC08 as the starting point. But this time we want to involve our readers. Not in an actual vote, which is too hard to monitor in terms of balancing out country biases, but in a discussion of how the process unfolds. So here we welcome comments from our readers and writers. The topics up for discussion in this piece are the status of the Peace Team and Catalonia, and whether to rank Great Britain as one nation.
The license bid team pushing for a Tasmanian side in the AFL is due to present its case to the AFL Commission on Friday, led by Tasmania's political leader, Premier David Bartlett. The widespread belief is that the AFL will receive the bid but proceed with their plans for Gold Coast and West Sydney sides (the latter perhaps on a slower timetable). In which case the Tasmanians will have to watch on, frustrated again.
Perhaps that reality is already causing frustration. In previewing their case, key bid member and ANZ Chief Economist Saul Eslake stirred up the debate by referring to the West Sydney region, in some respects seen as Tasmania's competition, as Boganville. That's a suggestion that the people of West Sydney are bogans (a derogatory term suggesting they lack sophistication or class). It also has cache because it sounds very much like Bougainville, a semi-autonamous island of Papua New Guinea that was often in the news a few years back. It's a strange call by Eslake, who is very much the public face of ANZ, one of Australia's biggest banks - one wonders what other ANZ staff and shareholders think of their Chief Economist alienating potentially 2 million customers in the western suburbs of Australia's biggest city?
Robert Harvey was today named the 2008 AFLPA Madden Medalist. The medal recognizes his outstanding on field performance and off-field football achievements, personal growth and community spirit throughout his 21 seasons at the St Kilda Football Club. The medal was presented at a gala lunch at the Peninsula in the Docklands today. Harvey edged out Peter Bell, Shane Crawford, Scott West, David Neitz, Mal Michael and Nigel Lappin for the top honour.
The Top three votes breakdown for the four awards was as follows.
The Madden Medal Presented by AMP
Robert Harvey 28 Votes
Peter Bell 16 Votes
Shane Crawford 15 Votes
Earlier in the day Peter Bell spoke of his football journey after winning The Open Universities Australia Personal Development Award. The award comes on the back of his achievements including obtaining a law degree from the University of Melbourne and serve as AFLPA President from 2002-2007, in between captaining a football club and winning AFL Premiership’s. He is currently CEO of Simpking International Consultants.
The Madden Medal award recognizes both the well documented on-field success but also the achievements that AFL players have had in their community and personal development endeavours. Two players that are retiring this year that are up for a number of the awards are Peter Bell and Mal Michael, both of whom have received plenty of coverage on this site in terms of their backgrounds and international connections.
The winners of the awards have been determined by the Executive Committee of the AFL Players’ Association who all cast votes on a 3, 2, 1 basis for each award. The Madden Medal committee consists of the AFLPA Executive; Joel Bowden (President), Brett Burton (Vice-President), Luke Ball, Adam Goodes, Tom Harley, Nick Maxwell, Robert Murphy, Luke Power, Ashley Hansen AFLPA CEO Brendon Gale, and past player representative Simon Madden. The awards will take place this Friday in Melbourne and the achievements by all the retiring players below are worth noting.