The China Red Demons squad has been named, with 33 players headed for Australia. Although we knew we should expect a few taller players, with the Chinese not suffering lack of height like countries such as PNG and Japan, it's surprising to find 14 players standing at least 6 foot (183 cm). In fact Ren Xiaoyu (任晓宇) stands 197 cm (nearly 6'6") and Gao Rundong (高润东) is 195 cm (6'5"). In dry conditions and with enough supply, some of these big blokes could provide headaches for the defence of any of their more fancied opponents. With an average age of just over 22 and sporting backgrounds, these guys will also run all day.
With the university sides under development in Tianjin, Suzhou and Beijing and the large juniors program in Suzhou, the overwhelming majority of players to kick a sherrin in China this year will be local Chinese.
The full squad is listed below. Note: may not fully render on all browsers if Chinese character set not available.
The Canadian Northwind has named their squad for the 2008 International Cup, with a strong and experienced group of players heading to Australia.
AFL Canada this time around has appointed local OAFL legend Mark “Flash” Block as Northwind’s new coach and Emile Studham as his assistant skills coach. Mark is Canada’s most successful coach and has taken his local team, the Toronto Eagles to the past two OAFL Premierships. He is also no newcomer to the international arena as he captained the Northwind side in the 2002 International Cup.
Thanks to the generosity of the North Old Boys St. Patrick's College Amateur Football Club, while the Canada Northwind are in Melbourne for the International Cup, they will have a training base to call home.
NOBS, as they are known, are providing the Northwind team with their training facilities and club rooms, and will be holding social gatherings throughout the International Cup. The two teams will also practice together, something that will be invaluable to the Canadian players, giving them important knowledge of how teams in Australia play and operate.
Everyone associated with the Northwind squad wish to thank the Old Boys in advance for their hospitality, and look forward to an exciting and rewarding visit to Australia this August.
Visit www.nobspc.org.au for more information on the North Old Boys St Patrick's College Amateur Football Club, or www.aflcanada.com for more information on the Northwind and football in Canada.
One of the teams present at this month's International Cup won't represent a country. Yet the AFL's approval of the team, which attracted some scepticism from facets of the international football community, will result in Israelis and Palestinians of Islamic, Jewish and Christian faiths pulling on a "Peace Team" jumper and representing unity in a region troubled with violence.
WFN spoke with Roni Kresner, Director of Information & Project Development at The Peres Center for Peace who put things in perspective. "There is no AFL field in Israel or the Palestinian Authority; AFL equipment can not be purchased in this region, and had to be flown in from Australia; there are no professional AFL coaches; and the players speak different languages – Hebrew and Arabic – and accordingly all instruction must be translated into both languages."
And if trying to train a group of players that don't share a common language wasn't difficult enough, "Israelis cannot enter the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinians cannot enter Israel without permits, and so, in order to hold joint training sessions, the Peres Center organised permits for the Palestinian players, allowing them to attend training sessions in Israel."
Positively these hurdles have been overcome and the team will partake in the 2008 Australian Football International Cup.
The South African Lions have named their squad for the Cup, with 27 players heading to Australia. In a sign of exciting times to come, the average age is just 22 years. All four development provinces are represented, with 11 players from the original footy regions of North West and 6 from neighbouring Gauteng. There's one from Kwa-Zulu Natal but the big surprise is 9 from Western Cape, a great reward for their second placing at the South African national championships last month, and an amazing achievement given the region has really only been in full swing for 12 months.
Former high profile AFL player Jason McCartney takes the coaching role, with Mtutu Hlomela returning as captain and the oldest player at 27. There are five teenagers in the side. Three vice captains have been named in Steven Malinga, McDonald Mashigo and Benji Motuba (pictured), who was named overall best player at the nationals. The full squad is listed below, and we'll have a full preview of the Lions next week.
Staging the International Cup during the Olympics probably has the potential to reduce the exposure the tournament gets, as papers in Australia and around the world squeeze in sport and human interest stories related to the Summer Games. But a benefit that might not have been immediately obvious is that with the Australian media in Beijing en masse they've been happy to report back to Australia on the progress of Aussie Rules in the host nation. Several media pieces have been done, hopefully all adding to the growing realisation in the Australian public consciousness that the Aussie indigenous sport has gained a foothold in many countres around the world.
Here's David Koch from the popular Channel 7 Sunrise program having a kick with the Beijng Bombers against the Chinese national side: Sunrise on footy in China. Looks like "Plugger" could be a cult figure at the Cup, and the Sunrise team has promised to follow the Chinese team's progress at the Cup.
And here is footage featured on the Canberra Times website, including China Red Demons' coach Darryl Hoffman: Canberra Times footage (perhaps more easily viewed if downloaded first)
The writers at worldfootynews.com have worked their way through the draw for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup (we'd better also call it the AFL International Cup to make sure we get search hits - people seem to be regularly punching that in to search engines).
Putting together the final rankings of the seven writers who contributed, we've come up with the average placings and thus our consolidated tip as to the ranks come the end of the tournament.
Probably no major surprises, but read on to see how we ranked the sides.
With Finland entering the International Cup for the first time in 2008, the push for new recruits has been in top gear since the first tufts of grass appeared through the melting snow. It is a big ask for one of the newest footy nations on the world to embark on such a mammoth task, and so the net has been cast far and wide to secure Finland's best athletes.
Julian "The Big Rooster" Clark, Finland Footy's Founding Father, recently journeyed out to the British International School in Jakarta, Indonesia where 16-year old Finn Tuomas "Timebomb" Antilla has been developing well with the Jakarta Bulldogs AFC.
The Jakarta Bulldogs are an under 18 team that often play in conjunction with (and sometimes even against) the Jakarta Bintangs AFC, as well as some of the Java AFL's localised senior sides.
The 2008 Australian Football International Cup is set to go, with 16 teams attending, and over 16 nations represented. The Peres Peace Team unofficially "represents" both Palestine and Israel and Great Britain effectively represents three nations, in England, Scotland and Wales. Although the bulk of the British players come from England, and unfortunately none from the Scottish league, at least Wales now has its first Bulldogs representatives in Ed Doe and David James.
worldfootynews.com spoke to Ed, a 17 year old who is still at school yet about to represent his country at senior level on the other side of the world.
The Denmark Australian Football League is one of Europe's oldest and strongest Australian football establishments, finishing fourth at the inaugural International Cup in 2002. After the disappointment of missing IC05, a lot of work and preparation has been done to place the Danes back on the footy map.
With a team built around a solid core who have come through Europe's oldest juniors competition, the Vikings have been consistently on the winners' list, defeating arch-rivals Sweden and newer test adversaries Germany this year and last, although the Irish proved too strong in their 2007 test.
The Vikings will be back to show they are a force to be reckoned with this year, under the guidance of veteran coach and long-time Danish footy identity Jim Campion.
An emotional email sent by Kevin Nafte, an Israeli member of the Peace Team that will take part in the 2008 International Cup can be read below. It helps an audience outside of the Israel/Palestine region understand the huge challenges faced in getting the Peace Team to Melbourne. But after reading the email, it's easy to see that it was well worth the effort.
The AFL South Africa national jumper didn't fair too well in our recent poll, coming in equal 14th with the USA shirt. We're not sure if that stung them into action or whether a change was always on the cards, but here's an exclusive look at their new design, hot off the presses (large view inside the story). Definitely an improvement as the FootyWild slogan takes a more modest role in the overall image.