A concept that has been mentioned a few times in planning for next year's International Cup is a combined Israel-Palestine team, supported by the Peres Centre for Peace. The Australian Jewish News yesterday reported that plans for the team were well underway, with a dinner between key AFL and Jewish figures in Melbourne next month to gauge interest in the community to support the project, and corporate support via the Melbourne-based Pratt Foundation.
The team would be made up of players recruited and trained in Israel and Palestine over the next 10 months, then brought out as a squad for the cup.
In some exciting news for raising the profile of International Footy at a 'grass roots' level in Melbourne, the AFL has invited VAFA clubs to 'host' International Cup teams during the period of the 2008 International Cup. The VAFA has forwarded to club secretaries an invitation to become involved. The 'hosting' is envisaged to include sharing ideas, perhaps running a training session and a social function.
September has arrived for 2007 and Australia is gripped with AFL finals fever. For international footy fans it is also an exciting period as the countdown to the 2008 International Cup intensifies. Should the event be held on the proposed dates, round 1 will kick off on 27 August and the event will conclude with the finals being played on 6 September. Below we look at recent weather trends in Melbourne in order to get some idea of next year’s conditions. We also look at previous International Cup venues, and examine those which organisers may look to use for 2008. Adding to the excitement, the AFL have released the logo for next year's tournament. It is an adapted version of the 2002/05 logo and can be viewed in this story.
The Australian Football League has officially announced the 2008 Australian Football International Cup on their website, in the story Melbourne to host 2008 International Cup. It confirms our previous reports on the likely dates being August/September 2008 and to be played in Melbourne and a country venue. Teams to have expressed an interest were listed as New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Ireland, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Samoa, South Africa, Spain, USA, Nauru, Sweden, Denmark, Tonga, China, Czech Republic and Finland. Other nations are still welcome to nominate.
As we mentioned in Cup dates proposed as AFL ponders divisions, the AFL is considering inviting several teams from Melbourne's ethnic minorities to participate in the 2008 International Cup. The theory behind the proposal is that it will give footy a higher profile amongst these groups and help fast track their involvement in Aussie Rules. In other recent discussions, WFN put up the idea of having a women's competition too, but we've been advised it won't be on the cards for next year. One concern that has emerged, in terms of promotion, is the timing of the Cup so soon after the Beijing Olympics.
NZ versus PNG on the video scoreboard at the MCG in 2005
The AFL has released its preferred dates for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup, with late August and early September selected. Initial expressions of interest have been received from 15 to 20 countries, though some of those have acknowledged that they are not likely starters. The AFL has also put forth a proposal to split the teams into two divisions, recognising the very different stages of development around the world. Also sure to create much debate is the possibility of the inclusion of several teams drawn from some of Melbourne's ethnic minorities.
It appears the Australian Football League and the nations likely to
attend the 2008 International Cup are considering whether to loosen the
criteria that controls which players are eligible to represent a nation
at the tournament. In the first two Cups the definition was very
strict, though not always enforced as rigorously as intended. Options
are now being considered which could widen the net considerably, to
allow players who are simply passport holders for a given country. This
has the potential to be a major issue with some countries likely to
favour a free-for-all and others keen to maintain the status quo. Changes to the overall structure of the event are also on the cards.
The 2008 International Cup is now less than 18 months away (assuming an August 2008 date). This might seem like a long time to fans but supporters outside of Melbourne might want to start considering now whether they'll take a trip to Victoria's capital for the event. More importantly it means league administrators around the world will need to finalise whether their country will attend and start drawing up plans for getting around forty players and officials Down Under. Making sure players are available and sufficient funds are in place are two of the biggest issues. With AFL General Manager of National and International Development, David Matthews, recently speculating that as many as 20 nations may attend, we've looked at all the possible countries and rated the likelihood that they will be in Melbourne in 2008.
In part two of our long range look at the 2008 International Cup we consider which countries might attend for the first time. We also review previous standings and have a stab in the dark at possible finishing order at the next Cup.
The 2008 International Cup is just two years away, assuming it will again be held in August. This may seem like a long time but for each country planning on attending their thoughts should already have turned to raising the necessary funds and providing their squads with a quality schedule that will see them playing well come the big tournament. It remains to be seen which nations will show and whether the AFL will be able to significantly subsidise travel, but the hard-working volunteers across the various leagues will no doubt be doing their sums on the basis that they will have to foot the whole bill. We talk to some of the likely attendees, discuss their early preparations, and perhaps foolishly make some early predictions.