Almost 30 players attended the Japan National Team Training Camp last month at Narita Radisson Hotel Ground. Players were invited were from all the domestic teams such as Eastern Hawks, Senshu Powers, Komazawa Magpies, Tokyo Leopards and Osaka Dingoes. The camp ran over two days in order to assess potential candidates to be selected in the travelling squad for the 2008 International Cup. Our thanks to Hideki Miyasaka for the following report.
For many countries competing at this year's International Cup, securing sponsorship has proved a challenge. Not so for the Peres Peace Team, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious team from Israel and Palestine. Several AFL figures have already pledged their support. Brownlow medalist Robert DiPierdomenico will coach the team and now Ron Barassi has committed to assisting DiPierdomenico on game days.
In an article on The Australian Jewish News website, DiPierdomenico expressed his desire to take the Peace Team to an AFL match and introduce them to some big football names and most importantly getting the message across that "we can all live in one world.”
The International Cup is now little more than two months away. For the island nation of Samoa, home to around 180,000 people, sending a squad to the tournament is no small feat. The minimum wage is as little as a dollar an hour and costs to send a team are between fifty and eighty thousand dollars. Teams able to secure accommodation or airfares sponsorship find funding easier but still face costs of at least thirty thousand dollars. Yet at the same time, the tournament offers Australian football priceless exposure and a great opportunity for growth in many of these countries. For the past two years, AFL Samoa and the organisation's National Game Development Manager, Michael Roberts have been busy securing partnerships for their team, to help make Samoa's International Cup goal a reality.
As countries begin settling on their line-ups for the third International Cup, it’s interesting to note that the coaching staff behind the British Bulldogs are very much focussed on players that have been developed in the UK, even if that means overlooking, in theory at least, potential players Down Under – even an AFL-listed one.
The Peres Peace Team, a concept that will see Israeli and Palestinian Muslims, Christians and Jews take the field together and play Australian football at this years International Cup, has received another boost.
Carlton Football Club President, Richard Pratt has announced that the Pratt Foundation, established in 1978 by Richard and his wife Jeanne "to enrich the lives of our community", will support the team, alongside the Carlton Football Club for the duration of their stay in Melbourne. The Pratt Foundation is already a significant donor to the Peres Center For Peace.
Pratt alongside Australia’s Governor-General Michael Jeffery and his wife Marlena were recent guests at an Israeli State Dinner. They not only used the dinner to make the announcement, but also presented Israel’s President and Peres Peace Centre founder Shimon Peres with a Carlton Football Club jumper with the words “Peres Peace Team” printed below the CFC insignia.
Papua New Guinea have named a star studded squad for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup - the de facto World Cup of Aussie Rules. Two times runners-up, the Mosquitoes will go into the tournament either first or second favourite with reigning champs New Zealand.
The Papuans have listed the 2008 Telikom Mosquitoes Squad of 30 players and 4 emergencies. Pleasingly the team includes their star players that are being hosted in Queensland, including rising Queensland under 18s star John James, PNG's first Queensland under 16 representative (in 2006), Stanis Susuve, and some of their best players from their 2005 campaign such as Alestar Sioni who at one stage spent time with the Brisbane Lions. This year's squad has a more even age spectrum than 2005, and the Mozzies have even found room for a few of the stalwarts from past tilts, including Rex Leka (pictured below) at 33 and Overa Gibson at 35.
The Australian Football League are hoping to shortly finalise a draw for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup. A full 18 team program is still possible, with the AFL waiting on just three nations to confirm attendance. The countries with question marks are China, India and Spain. AFL International Coordinator Josh Vanderloo explained to worldfootynews.com the likely list of nations.
Firstly we must acknowledge the terrible devastation of the recent earthquake centred around Chengdu in western China - hopeful the toll will not rise much further, though sadly that seems inevitable.
Another milestone has been achieved in China's bid to attend the 2008 Australian Football International Cup in August and September this year. A national training camp was held last weekend at Nankai University in central Tianjin, near Beijing in the country's northeast. There were 46 players from across the Chinese footy development spectrum - Beijing Sport University, Beijing Bombers Australian Football Club, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin Institute of Electronics, Tianjin Nankai University and SuZhou Canglang district Education Commission. It seems footy is getting a real toe hold in four Chinese cities - Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and SuZhou. Andrew Sawitsch, an Australian Football Development Officer in China, described the camp as not just short term selection trials for the Cup, but an opportunity for all players "to expand on their skills and knowledge of the game for future matches and development".
The AFL Great Britain squad for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup is all but finalised, but there is still time a sliver of hope for eager Englishmen, Scots and Welsh to force their way into the side. There's also traditionally been a healthy number of Irishmen, with players hailing from Northern Ireland but playing in Great Britain often included in the British Bulldogs.
Bulldogs coach Charlie Kielty confirmed that some changes could occur, but the squad as listed on the AFL Great Britain website are in the prime position. "That is the squad at the moment. If we were leaving tomorrow 30 of those players would be on the plane. However, as we are still 4 months away, faces could change due to injury, bad form, personal issues, etc".
Johnny Boyle reprises his captaincy role from the last Cup, and Edward Doe from the South Cardiff Panthers may well be the first Welshman to represent Great Britain in Australian Football.
A 35 player squad for the Irish Warriors (affectionately known as the Green Machine) has been named ahead of the 2008 Australian Football International Cup. Head Coach Roger Clarke has named 15 players that represented Ireland at the 2005 Cup. Veteran Diarmuid Griffin will be the only footballer to have represented Ireland at all three Cup tournaments - he's currently playing for the Fitzroy Reds in the VAFA. Four others are also playing Down Under, and several stars from the 2002 campaign are also returning. Information courtesy of the Australian Rules Football League Ireland.
worldfootynews.com recently ran a story on some of the problems, particularly financial, facing countries attending the 2008 Australian Football International Cup later this year. The AFL’s General Manager, National and International Development, David Matthews (pictured at the 2005 IC), contacted us to explain the AFL’s position on some of the issues and to highlight their recent investment in international footy.
The world’s smallest island nation, Nauru will field a full team at this year’s International Cup. Australian football is the most popular sport on the South Pacific island, and Nauruans are renowned for their passion for the game. Like many Aboriginal communities in Australia, it is not uncommon for children in Nauru to be named after well-known footballers. According to Mathew Batsiua, the country’s Minister for Sport and one of the people behind the effort to get Nauru to the International Cup, “There’s at least one Jesaulenko bearing that Christian name here and you’ll even find a local Akermanis in our community”. The Chiefs' were one of eleven sides at the inaugural International Cup in 2002, finishing eighth. They were a late withdrawal from the 2005 tournament, and doubt had been cast over their involvement this year.
Batsiua revealed that as of May, players will spend time in Melbourne with VCFL clubs “to help them achieve top match fitness ahead of the August event”. Our Airline, the new trading name from Air Nauru, has agreed to provide air travel for 22 players and three officials, and the AFL has allowed Nauru's team kit to feature Our Airline’s logo. In further positive news for Nauruan football, the AFL is apparently considering conducting coaching and umpiring clinics, and reestablishing a revamped national football competition on the island.