The USAFL traveling squad for the 2008 International Cup has been announced. The selection process for the team known as the ‘Revolution’, began at the start of 2006 with their international match against Canada and has included a number of training camps and matches which culminated this past weekend in Florida. The 35 man squad has thirteen members of the 2005 squad which finished third at the International Cup including the 2005 captain Donnie Lucero and James Brunmeier who were both named in the 2005 Australian Football International Cup All Stars Team.
Clubs best represented are San Diego with five players in the squad, Minnesota Freeze four and Denver, Nashville, Milwaukee and Orange County each with three. Some of the better known clubs not represented this time include Atlanta, Chicago, Arizona, New York, Dallas, Kansas City, Louisville, Cincinnati, Portland and Seattle.
As we move to just over four months until Australian Football's de facto World Cup, the picture of exactly which nations will attend is becoming less clear. In our last update we suggested that the likely number had dropped to as low as 14, not including teams based on ethnic groups within Victoria.
Since then India firmed, finally getting some representatives to visit the AFL in Melbourne, we heard of a slight chance by the French (but subsequently discounted by another official there), and the AFL have decided to not rule out the Catalan region sending a representative side. Whether the latter will eventuate is yet to be seen as it's very early days in discussions.
We recently saw a report mentioning Fiji as a candidate, but that is understood to be a mistake. Also coming back into the picture is Tonga, as discussed in New AYAD arrives but Tonga looking for sponsor to fulfill IC dream. The AFL are also believed to be working to secure Spain and Nauru. Below we do our best to summarise what is a very fluid situation - at the end of the day, nothing is finalised.
In the past year or so the Tongan Australian Football Association's Michael Russell has been steadily taking over the reigns for footy in Tonga from TAFA's founder, Mark Korsten. TAFA had Russell in Tonga as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development (AYAD), and although a new AYAD, Dylan Harper, has recently arrived to continue the work, Russell has remained involved and is overseeing the small nation's push to attend their first Australian Football International Cup. But the Pacific country still needs some extra support to get them over the line.
We reported in What support for IC teams? that as per previous tournaments, airfares would be the single biggest issue for the competing nations at the International Cup, which face total event costs of more than AUD$100,000 for each country. The AFL has sourced an arrangement with Qantas and provided contacts for fifteen nations, with Nauru, Samoa and Tonga unfortunately not covered as the airline doesn't fly to those islands. We've now spoken with several countries about whether the offer has made a substantial difference to their costs, and sadly the answer so far is no, though Tonga is hopeful of making their own deal.
The AFL today confirmed that India will send a team to this year's International Cup. Two AFL India board members, Ravinder Chadha and Pranab Bhattacharya were last week able to attend a coaching course at AFL House along with two Chinese delegates. This is a promising step, with India's previous attempts to send delegates to Australia hampered by visa difficulties.
Chadha predicted "rapid growth" for football in India in the next five years, and expressed his desire to see Australian football played in several of India's major population centres. He highlighted the possibility of matches against neighbouring China and nearby Japan (no mention of Pakistan was made) and even suggested that famous cricket stadiums such as Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium or Kolkata's Eden Gardens, with the capacity to hold tens of thousands of spectators, might be sought out to host an AFL exhibition match in a few years time. If successful this would be a big win, as in the past the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been unwilling to open their facilities for external use. Ironically, the Indian cricket team were given Australian football lessons during their recent tour of Australia.
Football's growth in India was initiated by ex-Melbourne footballer Brian Dixon on his 2006 World Tour.
The Convicts' Anthony Nanfra has contacted WFN to let our readers know that he's produced a short "virtual tour" of the grounds where round 1 and 2 of the 2008 International Cup will be played, in Melbourne's inner northern suburbs.
Anth looks at the four large ovals that make up the park - McAlister, Ransford, Ryder and Western Ovals. His video can be viewed on Youtube here: IC Cup Ground tour.
More information on the grounds is available in our earlier story: Royal Park North.
In today's article on preparations for the Australian Football International Cup (also often referred to as the AFL International Cup or de facto Aussie Rules World Cup) we start to look at support such as transport and apparel for the competing nations.
As we've mentioned previously, the Australian Football League is developing its news page for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup. They've now registered a new domain that will redirect to that page. Hopefully users will find it a convenient shortcut. The page also has photos and video from the 2005 event (the captains are pictured at left), and we're told that "the site will be updated with lots of stories about the history of the Cup as well as up-to-date news on all the competing countries".
The Peres Center for Peace football team continues to attract media attention, with the latest article in the The Jerusalem Post.
This unique concept sees a group of Israelis and Palestinians, previously unfamiliar with Australian football, come together to learn the rules and then compete at this years International Cup. For several members of the team, it is their first real interaction with a Palestinian or Israeli and the article is an interesting read. It also raises the possibility of an Australian football competition in Israel once the International Cup is over.
The Convicts tour group have announced plans for a 2008 tour to Melbourne and Warrnambool. The plan is for something of a reunion gathering centred on the 2008 Australian Football International Cup. They're hoping it will help swell crowd numbers turning out to watch the tournament.
worldfootynews.com is conducting a series of interviews with Australian Football League staff as preparations get serious leading up to the August start of the third Australian Football International Cup. We've been speaking with Josh Vanderloo (AFL NAB Auskick Manager and an International Coordinator) and Roger Berryman (AFL Development Events Manager), who have just returned from a planning trip for the rounds in Warrnambool.
First on our agenda was to see whether the AFL is closer to knowing the final list of nations that will attend the tournament.