In more great news for international Aussie Rules the Australian Football League's General Manager of National & International Development has revealed to WFN that the AFL is looking to stage a World Club Challenge in 2009, with a new stadium in Florida the leading candidate to host the event. What could make the tournament stand out from previous international tournaments is AFL backing and the prospect of major prize money.
Two loosely related kicking articles in the past few days have us thinking about further inroads for our game overseas. The first on AOL Sports site wonders aloud if Aussie rules punters in the NFL could be a great promotional tool for NFL overseas. The obvious answer is that it will raise the profile of NFL but the opposite may also be true, that Aussie Rules will gain greater exposure by pure weight of numbers in the US.
The second article in the Times Online covers the comments of Welsh Rugby’s kicking coach Neil Jenkins bemoaning the head start that Aussie kids have in Rugby’s kicking game “ Our boys kick at that age, but are messing about. The Aussies do it properly because of Aussie Rules.” This may be the perfect argument in Rugby playing countries for parents to encourage their kids to take part in Aussie Rules development programs.
In the interesting opinion article, Ryan, who apparently has umpired last year's AFL Germany grand final between the Munich Kangaroos and the Rhineland Lions and a friendly between Munich and Madrid, is critical of the annual AFL exhibition match at the Brit Oval and the International Rules series and calls for some lateral thinking from the AFL in marketing the game in Europe - particularly in Denmark, Germany, Austria and Hungary, areas where fledgeling competitions exist.
Ed - an insider tip is that there's actually been some talk about this "behind the scenes" as well. Whether the Age writer was acting on a tip-off about an announcement which might come up this year is unknown - but news regarding more AFL attention to Europe might (note - we said might) make the headlines later this year.
This big edition of Footy Shorts looks at Houli's debut, the exposure footy's global side is gaining on the AFL website and Pakistan's plan to send representatives to the EU Cup. It also takes a glance at the struggle football faces in Nauru, following the nation's withdrawal from the 2005 International Cup, and reveals that two AFL players are headed for the New York marathon.
In recent years soccer has dramatically changed its media profile Down Under, with the game no longer a poor relation to sports such as Australian Football and the Rugby codes. But something which has angered many sports fans in Australia is the sudden insistence by soccer authorities that the round-ball game be referred to as Football and suggestions that it's the real football at the expense of all others, something which ignores both local football history and in fact the origins of all the football codes (something most soccer fans are probably unaware of). With this in mind it's somewhat offensive to read the coach of Sydney F.C., the Harbour city's premier soccer club, declaring Australians "who chose not to embrace the growing nature of football Down Under were un-Australian and insecure in their code". Branko Culina was also quoted on the Fox Sports website by AAP as saying that "All Australians are sports minded people and if you're not going to accept football you're un-Australian".
The term "un-Australian" seems to be bandied around these days to mean "if you don't agree with me then you're not a real Australian", even though multi-culturalism, democracy and diversity of opinion has long been a cornerstone of Australian society. A great irony is that although there were indeed those that weren't inclined to support soccer, it was through the open-minded majority who preferred other codes but didn't try to hold soccer down that the game was allowed to grow to its present size. Let's hope Culina was "quoted out of context" or was simply referring to people who may actively seek to hold the game down, as opposed to the many who may quite reasonably simply prefer other sports, such as the football codes that are contact sports and higher scoring. As other writers have noted before - the fact that McDonalds is a dominant world-wide food chain doesn't mean individuals should abandon their own local favourites to embrace it simply "because lots of other people eat it".
There are no official rankings for international Australian Football, and putting together such a list is fraught with difficulties such as the lack of regular international matches, questions of whether teams fielded their best sides, and the thorny issue of whether to only consider matches played under International Cup rules, not to mention the risk of upsetting people who have a strong attachment to their side. Nevertheless, WFN has thrown caution to the wind and had a go at ranking nations based on their form in recent years, up to the end of 2006 - read on to see where your favourite team was listed.
22 year old New Zealand rugby convert Adam Campbell is being hyped in the Australian media after a heroic effort against Hawthorn in the AFL.
Campbell was playing rugby union until he switched to Aussie Rules at the age of 16, after moving from Hamilton on New Zealand's north island to Aussie Rules heartland in Ballarat in country Victoria. At 192cm the tough key position player has been improving at a rapid rate, with a string of strong performances since his recent debut for Fremantle.
On a promotional tour to Australia for the new Fantastic Four movie, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, some of the Hollywood actors in the cast (Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis and Jessica Alba), were treated to an introduction to Australian culture. As part of this, they attended an AFL Aussie Rules game between classic rivals Hawthorn and Essendon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This was their first experience of the sport, and subsequent interviews with the stars revealed nothing but praise for the Australian game.
The selection of Kieran Jack to debut for the Sydney Swans this weekend in the AFL is a true example of the value of footy development. Kieran is the son of rugby league legend Gary Jack who represented Balmain, NSW and Australia - showing that in a city dominated by rugby league, and where it had long been said that Aussie rules would not get local kids to play the game, the attractions of the game can overcome.
According to a recent edition of a Melbourne newspaper, following the 2007 AFL season, as many as four clubs will run community camps overseas, with South Africa the AFL’s recommended destination. Other countries that may figure in calculations are the US, England, Japan, China and Dubai.