The USA Freedom was formed in 2007 and has played in international matches against Canada’s Northern Lights, most recently in the 2010 49th Parallel Cup. The team also toured Australia in 2009 and played against women’s teams in Sydney, Melbourne, Country Victoria and Cairns.
The first ever International Cup Women’s Division will be the first time the team will compete against teams from Ireland and Papua New Guinea.
The New Zealand Hawks squad has been named for IC11.
The Kiwis have an impressive history in the International Cup, never finishing lower than 3rd and winning in 2005 (pictured left). It's probably fair to say that they haven't always had the same amount of raw talent across the field that their main competitors Papua New Guinea have, but the Hawks (formerly Falcons) are always fit, strong and well-drilled with excellent structures and some quality key position height.
With the HANZ UP! program in conjunction with the Hawthorn Football Club there's now a new wave of junior talent starting to come through, reflected in the average age of about 23 years. The average height is 184cm (just over 6 foot), with Michael Tagg from Mt Roskill topping the numbers at 196cm (6'5").
This article was updated on August 3rd to include the Australian squad list, but very little height or age data available at time of writing.
The fourth International Cup is also the first time a women's division has been staged. Four nations are heading for Australia and will be joined by an Aussie side made up of women with indigenous and multicultural backgrounds (OzIM).
The stand out statistic is that the three Northern Hemisphere squads have average ages of mid to late 20s whereas Papua New Guinea's is just 18. But whereas their men often have to overcome a significant height difference for the women this will be vanishingly small. Note that not all players had data provided so averages are based on what was available.
The US Freedom has an average age of nearly 29 and height of 166 cm (5'5").
Canada's Northern Lights has an average age of nearly 27 and height of 165 cm (5'5").
The Irish Banshees has an average age of just over 27 and height of 167 cm (5'6").
The PNG Flame has an average age of just over 18 and height of 163 cm (5'4").
Basically no age or height data available for the Australian side at time of writing.
The South African Lions finished 11th in 2002, 8th in 2005 and roared up to 3rd in 2008. Their goal in 2011 is to make the Grand Final and have a crack at winning the tournament. With such a fast rise up the ranks the trajectory suggests that it's certainly possible, but some tough teams stand in their way.
When asked about the likely style the Lions will bring, AFL South Africa Operations Manager Joel Kelly explained that the South Africans have a lot of new players. "The 2011 squad of 28 features 19 new faces and there’s no doubt we will benefit from the fact that 3 of our key players have experienced State League footy in Victoria and Tasmania this year – the team is not tall by any standards but does have good leg speed and the skills have improved quite a bit since 2008, so you’re more likely to see a ‘run and carry’ style of game that plays to our strengths".
The Country and Australian Football
The Republic of South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation as it integrates so much of the cultural spectrum. Estimates vary, but the population is around 51 million and it is steadily, though too slowly for some, building up the standard of living after years of repression. Australian football got its start in South Africa in the 1990s, but then did it tough for some time. But building up to IC08 it became the number one focus for international development, with its relatively cheap costs, abundant population without access to organised sport, and various synergies with business investment. With extra AFL support and a genuine grassroots movement the sport began to flourish.
The Chinese Red Demons are making their second IC appearance in 2011, with the bulk of the squad hailing from the Beijing Bombers. The Shanghai Tigers also have a representative in the cadre of 16 players coming over from China.
The rest of the squad have been recruited from Chinese nationals currently residing in Australia, including one each from LaTrobe University (Melbourne) and the University of Adelaide.
The Red Demons faced a steep learning curve at the IC08, eventually breaking through for their first win over fellow debutants India in their last game of the tournament. Captaining the side is Zhang Hao from Beijing. Their inspirational leader Jiaming Pi from the 2008 squad will be back as vice-captain, this time joined by a further five Chinese nationals who play alongside Pi at the Asian community-based Southern Dragons in Melbourne's Southern Football League.
The team's average height is only 178cm, although they have some bigger players in Zhao Liutao at 195cm and the duo of Zhang Wei and Yang Yang, both of whom are 190cm.
Updated 12 August: Final list and correct player jumper numbers
The India Tigers return in 2011 to contest their second International Cup. Like Ireland, a majority of India's players are Australia-based although in India's case these players are largely inexperienced.
The squad's average age is 24. Most players are from or originally from West Bengal, Kerala or Goa; the "soccer states" of India. Nine players from the 2008 tournament remain in the squad. Making his debut for his country is Srinath Lakshmaiya, who played football in the Welsh Australian Rules Football League. Another possible debut is GWS Academy-listed player Dhruv Kaushik, although he is currently sidelined with an injury.
The squad will be lead by Sudip Chakraborty (Captain) and Vishnu Rishie (Vice Captain).
The South African Lions have arrived in Australia as part of an extended build up to the AFL International Cup.
The Africans were the rising stars of 2008 as they rose up the ladder to 3rd spot. This time around sees a fresh faced list (along with some returning warriors). The Lions have been steadily building relationships in Western Australia and that has been boosted by a special partnership with WAFL side the Swan Districts Football Club.
As part of their support the South Africans have played a combined Pilbara representative side, although the result was very much one-sided.The Lions arrived in Perth on Friday July 29 for a 12 day development tour which will include two practice matches and a series of training sessions and coaching workshops, all under the watchful eye of Swan Districts FC. The Lions' first game on Saturday (July 30) was a curtain-raiser to a WAFL fixture between Swan Districts and East Fremantle in the remote community of Karratha in the State’s far north, around 1500km north of Perth.
Canada's men are heading for the 2011 AFL International Cup no doubt looking to continue their rise.
The Northwind have finished 9th, 7th and 6th at the 2002, 2005 and 2008 Cups and must have their eye on a semi-final berth, although their competition has not stood still. With youth development underway for quite a few years there has been a steady flow of younger players that have grown up with the game. This should stand the Northwind in good stead, as does the ever strong Ontario league.
The average age of the squad is about 27 years. We don't have the average height because the Canadians have bucked the international trend and supplied the data in feet and inches. But at a glance it does look to be fairly tall, with most players over 6 foot, with the High Park Demons' Dale Simnett topping the list at 6'5".
It's official, Ireland has named a super-squad for the 4th International Cup.
Aisake Ó hAilpín is the main addition since our Preview. Consistent rumours and speculation that the Warriors would contain players that had been on AFL lists were put down by the Irish hierarchy until recently and now the full depth of their team has been revealed. Not only does it contain the core of players who went within a kick of 3rd spot in 2008 but it also includes:
Aisake Ó hAilpín - brother of Setanta and although now playing at Maribyrnong Park in Victoria he's 198 cm and spent several years on Carlton's list in the VFL playing for the Northern Bullants
Conor Meredith - now with Aberfeldie in Victoria but previously playing on North Melbourne's list in the VFL playing for Werribee
John Heslin - young gun Gaelic footballer about to join Richmond in the AFL
Alan Coomey - now playing with East Fremantle in the WAFL and winner of ARFLI's Player of the Decade (2000s) award
David Stynes - brother of Melbourne legend Jim and winner with Ireland in 2002
And 8 players currently playing with UTS Bats in Sydney, and further expats, add even more experience in Australian leagues.
This squad now asks the questions - who is favourite for IC11, Papua Guinea or Ireland?
China returns for their second consecutive International Cup and are this time keen to put in a better placing than 15th. With some experienced campaigners and an increased number of Australian sourced players, they will definitely look a much more polished and improved outfit from 2008.
The Country and Australian Football
The People's Republic of China (PRC) is the most populous state in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. The PRC exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four directly administered municipalities (Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing and the capital city- Beijing), as well as two special administrative regions (SARs) – Hong Kong and Macau
Since an AFL development officer was first based in China in 2006, it has been a big few years for Australian Football in the region. There has been consolidation of clubs in the major cities and the AFL has expanded promotion of the game in local schools and universities. The success and impressive crowd turnout of the Melbourne vs. Brisbane exhibition match in Shanghai last year during the World Expo further exposed the potential for expanding the game into China.
The national team debuted in 2008. Since then they played a number of friendly matches against the Beijing Bombers, a total of five International Cup matches and last year an U21s squad played against Japan. The highlight in their short history has been their win over India in their final IC08 match.
Nauru is a tiny Pacific Island nation that has the distinction of being the only country in the world that has Australian Rules as its national sport (assuming that status is disputed/shared by several sports in Australia). The capital city is Yaren and the population is just 12,000 but the number of Australian football participants is 300.
The the national team is known as the Nauru Chiefs and they are returning after a superb 2008 International Cup.
There are almost 2 million people living in Australia who have Irish ancestry according to the 2001 Census, and approximately 250,000 Irish Citizens living in Australia. Australians with Irish ancestry form the second largest migrant group after the 6.3m people with English ancestry.
With strong ties like this, it is no wonder the Banshees will be right at home when they visit Australia for the IC2011, in fact just over half the team are making the long haul journey from Ireland with the rest of the squad already based in either Sydney or Melbourne. Having picked up most players through Australian Gaelic football connections the Banshees already have the building blocks for what will be an impressive line up.