I was listening to the cricket today and one of the guest English commentators enquired as to the process in picking which team to support in the AFL. His question was probably aimed more at Melbourne, the epicentre of the game, but the question itself is valid no matter where you are from.
It isn’t an easy answer, either. Firstly, the question has answers that fit for grass roots connections right through to national and international clubs. There are so many ways a person can become attached to a club.
Whether it be geography, traditions, family, success, colours, personal connection, sporting idol or just throwing a dart at a dart board, people always have a story to tell. Most of those conversations will revolve around the VFA/VFL/AFL lineage, and interstate competitions such as the WAFL, SANFL NTFL and more, but the connections to a club are still vast.
In a dawning of a new era for football clubs and franchises worldwide, the Essendon Football Club has entered into the arena of eSports. The following article comes directly from the club’s website and details the concept and rationale behind it as the club continues to explore new and exciting ways to develop new markets into the future.
Essendon Football Club has acquired a professional eSports team and will compete in the League of Legends, Oceanic Pro League and Oceanic Challenger League next year.
In partnership with Executive Sports and Entertainment (ESE), the Club has secured the licence of top tier eSports team, Abyss, and will relocate the team to Melbourne.
The operations and management of the team will be fully integrated as a division of the Essendon Football Club, with a new name, brand and logo to be established.
My first brush with a coach, apart from what I saw on television, was a bloke called Barry Burke. He played for Clayton, then in the Federal League, in suburban Melbourne. My Dad sometimes took me out to the quarter-time or half time breaks to “have a listen” to the coach. Apart from a requisite amount of swearing to motivate his team (stunning repartee was not one of his strengths), one catch-cry stuck. He would yell, “Do as I say, not as I do!” It was sound advice because he never set the world on fire on the field, but he did manage to yell a lot, and that seemed to work.
My own Dad was my next coaching experience. He took on the Under 11 B team, which I was in. There was no such thing as a free ride with Dad. If I played and trained well enough, I was in the 20. If I didn’t, I ran the boundary or water. For five years, Dad was my own John Kennedy or Ron Barassi. Later, he would become good friends with Tommy Hafey…but more on that later.
As draft time approaches the thoughts turn to which players clubs will pursue. In an increasingly competitive drafting world, teams are less cavalier about taking risks on project players that might just clog up lists. Many clubs have signed international players to their lists – but not all.
North Melbourne is one club - Melbourne is another. There are others. This is not finger waving at all. There are perfectly valid reasons why clubs have not pursued this line of recruiting at this time and have steered in a different direction.
But history tells us that there are gems. Jim Stynes (Melbourne) won a Brownlow Medal. Tadgh Kennelly and Mike Pyke (both Sydney Swans) won premierships. Zac Tuohy (Geelong) and Pearce Hanley (Gold Coast) are fast approaching 150 AFL games. Conor McKenna (Essendon) was touted by talent guru, Kevin Sheehan, as potentially the best Irish player of all.
The following media release from the AFL details the draw and rules for the new and exciting AFLX competition next year. Played as part of the pre-season build up to the season, AFLX follows in the steps of Rugby, cricket and even tennis with a revised, fast-paced format. The release states:
The AFL wrote to the 18 clubs today outlining the addition of AFLX, an alternative version of the traditional game, to run in the lead up to the 2018 JLT Community Series.
AFLX, a fast and exciting version of Australian Football, is to be played on a rectangular field and aims to showcase the unique and most thrilling aspects of the game to attract new fans.
The public will get their first chance to see AFLX in February 2018 when Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney host individual tournaments featuring all 18 AFL Clubs.
In part one of this feature the case was argued that for the good of both the AFLW and international footy (both women's and men's) the AFL needs to allow and encourage international rookie spots on AFLW lists starting now, ready for AFLW 2018.
The benefits include a pool of internationals ready to: boost the standard and colour of the AFLW, to promote the sport back home, to demonstrate a semi-pro pathway exists, and to one day provide opposition that will allow Australian women the chance to pull on an Australian jumper to play a true Aussie Rules international (a potentially alluring but difficult to quantify enhancement to AFLW).
All this for virtually no cost as the spots should be in addition to the regular lists, they don't even need to include payments (better if they do but initially I think most will agree we'll take what we can get). These women will put their lives on hold for a precious opportunity and will repay the game many times over in return. Just allow the free hit list positions and, like in the AFL men's competition, allow rookie elevation to replace an injured player (there were plenty last season) if the international is deemed good enough. And if she is good enough then presumably she'll be given a regular list spot the following year.
I've put out the call myself, I've shown the backing for this or similar ideas from people in the international footy community from our own Troy Thompson to Peter Holden on Girls Play Footy to former USAFL President Denis Ryan and Great Britain Swans Team Manager and GB Bulldogs player Jason Hill.
Now let's hear from AFL club the GWS Giants, from an international team captain, from a current AFLW player very familiar with international footy, and a player who could've benefited from such a position during 2017.
If you were to believe the comments of former St Kilda coach, Grant Thomas, the team with the worst list in the AFL just won the premiership. If you take the time to read further, across a variety of social media platforms, you can see that there is a Victorian bias in the draw and finals fixtures, particularly the use of the MCG as a permanent Grand Final venue. Former West Coast premiership veteran, Sam Butler, has stated as much.
Everyone is entitles to opinions, and past VFL/AFL players or coaches are in a uniquely knowledgeable position, being so close to the highest levels of the game. But it doesn’t necessarily make them right and a short look at some history and data can put things in a different perspective.
The AFL is constantly under fire for their efforts to even out the game. Strangely, I still remember people critical of the then VFL for not doing something about the “Silvertail” Carlton Blues when they could seemingly “buy” premierships. The poor old AFL/VFL cannot win here - they have either made it too even or not even enough. Classical “Goldilocks Syndrome” where to many it is never “just right”. From my position that view is distorted heavily by whether or not one’s own team wins a flag or languishes again outside the finals.
The 2017 AFL Grand Final kicks off at the MCG on Saturday afternoon in Melbourne. Richmond will play Adelaide in the Premiership decider. The full international broadcast schedule can be seen below.
In addition to the TV networks you can also subscribe to the Watch AFL service that will give you live access to all the matches and more (outside Australia only). You can access that service by clicking on the link here or the Watch AFL banner below and paying the subscription fee.
The 2017 AFL Grand Final is just a few days away where the Richmond Football Club will take on the Adelaide Crows at the MCG. This weekend all over the world Grand Final Parties will be taking place and we want to help viewers find them.
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Uncharacteristically for myself I'll get straight to the point. The AFL has a once in a generation opportunity to significantly boost world footy whilst at the same time add depth and colour to the AFLW, with a not unreasonable chance of even greater benefits down the track in terms of international representation for Australia's female footballers, all for virtually no cost.
The simple change - allow and encourage AFLW sides to add international rookies with no penalty to the number of players already on their lists.
The possible outcome - a pool of internationals ready to: boost the standard and colour of the AFLW, to promote the sport back home, to prove a semi-pro pathway exists, to one day provide opposition that will allow Australian women the chance to pull on an Australian jumper to play a true Aussie Rules international (a potentially alluring but difficult to quantify enhancement to AFLW).
The signs are that this opportunity will not be taken.
Below the case for the small but significant change is argued, including here and in part two we show the support by people from across the football spectrum, from the GWS Giants to a current AFLW player to an international captain and others involved in the game outside Australia.
With all due respect to the powers that be, this is a rallying cry to those that love the game, whether it involve male or female players.