At the 2008 International Cup Tonga were originally meant to be part of the main draw, making their full international debut. In the last minute chaos that can occur leading up to such a big event they were scratched from the tournament as unable to commit and yet turned up anyway, ultimately playing exhibition matches in a multicultural round against Team Asia and Team Africa.
Even worse, in the lead up to the tournament, AFL Tonga (TAFA at the time) saw two of its players tragically crippled for life. Paumolevuka Tu'i (18 at the time) and Mafua Kiokata (22 at the time) were severely injured in a car accident. The Pau Mafua trust fund was established to help support the boys and in recent times assisted to provide new wheelchairs and other essentials.
No such worries this time, as the International Cup officially welcomes Tonga into the main draw. And since 2008 AFL Tonga has gone from strength to strength especially with a successful junior development program.
The Samurais for 2011 are strong in number (36 players named) and are lead by Michito Sakaki (pictured far left), who trained with Essendon back in 2008. Japan have been present at all International Cups but unfortunately that doesn't always translate into experience, with a high turnover as their mainly University-based players head off to careers. However this team isn't quite so young and does feature several players who have spent time playing in Australia including the excellent Box Hill North exchange program.
As we've come to expect, Japan will field a relatively short team, with the average height being 176 cm (5'9"). In fact, the typical player is not that small, but there are no tall key position players. The average age is about 23.
Of course it's simply a tremendous effort for the Samurai to attending the 2011 Australian Football International Cup given what a terrible year the country has had with the devastating tsunami and associated nuclear disaster. It's a cliché but just being there makes them winners.
The Tongan squad has been named for IC11. Unlike variations of the name Marlins in the past the Tongans, making their first full scale International Cup debut, will be called the Tigers (not confirmed but we assume they must have a deal with the Richmond Tigers). In 2008 they attended the Cup but competed in the multicultural draw not the main international competition.
Tonga will be coached by Jim Lucy (former New Zealand International Cup coach) who will be assisted by Edward McCowan and Mike Gawn. The side will be the first look at senior level of several of the young guns from their emerging youth teams (pictured left), and the average age is about 22. The average height is 181cm and there seems to be a lack of really big key position players, although some heights are not listed.
The Fiji Tribe has been named for IC11. Making their debut at senior level, the squad is dominated by youth, with an average age of just 20 years. Many of the youngsters from their recent youth sides (pictured at left) are included in the team.
Coached by Lawrie Woodman (AFL) and Glen Butler (AusAID Development Officer), people will be keen to see if the team brings with it the athleticism seen in players such as Nic Naitanui (West Coast Eagles). The side is by no means filled with giants, with only four players registering in the 190+cm range (6'3") and an average height less than 183 cm (6 foot). But if that quartet are solid players and can fill key positions then it should give the Tribe a good structure to build their running game around.
We now look at one of the International Cup's debutantes, Fiji. Everyone is familiar with such AFL talent as Nic Naitanui, David Rodan and Alipate Carlisle, all of Fijian descent, and the South Pacific nation will be keenly watched to see what fresh talent it brings to the competition.
The Tribe has spoken
IC11 will not just be their first attempt at International Cups but their first senior matches altogether. As such the team needed a name. That was left to the players, their families and friends. A few suggestions had been made and following a training session, AFL Fiji invited all the players and families to attend a small meeting and conducted a simple vote. This was met with immediate enthusiasm. The vote was unanimous in fact - the Fiji Tribe.
AFL Victoria is looking for 10 women aged 18 or over to join the AMI (Australian Multicultural/Indigenous) Team that will take part in the 2011 AFL International Cup Women’s Division this August in Sydney and Melbourne. The women’s games will run from the 15th to the 26th of August and all costs will be covered by the AFL.
Applicants do not need to be experienced at playing football, but should be interested in playing sports and have good fitness. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to play against female football players from all over the world.
If you are interested, please contact AFL Victoria’s Chyloe Kurdas by email email@example.com or by phone 03 8341 6042
We're closing in on the 2011 fourth instalment of the AFL International Cup and the world's footy nations are gathering for an assault on the Cup. Our previews continue with the 2005 champions and 2008 runner up, New Zealand.
After finishing third to Ireland in 2002, winning in 2005 and being the runner up in 2008 to PNG in a wonderful game of footy, NZ will be continuing their trend of sending a younger team to try and regain the title. The squad has an average height of 184cm, weight of 85kg and an average age of a touch over 23 years.
The squad has a mix of veterans and youth including old-stagers Mike Tagg who is 30 and Richard Bradley who is 29 and returning for his 4th International Cup. Youth in the squad is highlighted by teenagers including the Hawthorn-listed Rhys Panui-Leth, GWS-listed Charlton Brown, former New Zealand Under age Captain Sam Tuitupou, Vandyn Hartman, Troy Lavery, Lukas Swart and the likes of Cantabrian youngster Justin Clark.
Clark is in only his second year of Australian Football but has made an impact. Justin represented New Zealand for the Under 20’s against VAFA last year and followed this with selection in the Senior team in the Pacific Cup series against Tonga in November last year. At 192cm, his speed and fitness are fantastic attributes. Covering the 3km time trial for initial testing at 10 minutes 30 seconds, he can play any position on the field.
Another young veteran by New Zealand standards is Andriu Sucu. Playing his first senior game at the age of 14, he is now an integral part of the national team seven years later. The captain of the 2010 Hawks U20 team is versatile player that can play key position roles at both ends of the field. Outstanding skills and a long kick ensure that Andriu will play a big part in the success of this year’s International Cup campaign.
Although small in geography Great Britain has a relatively large population of 60 million and slowly but surely Australian football is marking its mark all over the isles. Footy in Britain exploded from its early years as purely London-based, to now being played in all corners of England, Wales and Scotland. Some regional cities can boast clubs that have now begun to show longevity, being established for 5 to 10 years. As well as promoting the growth of the sport, this has also given rise to a much larger pool of players for the Bulldogs' coaches to choose from - and made for a lot more travel around the country to do so!
Competition for squad spots has increased and from a coaching point of view, it's been great to see the dedication that players have shown to improve their game in pursuit of this opportunity to represent their country. The growth of the game around the country and the increased number of juniors beginning to get exposure to the sport should support its continued development and provide a pipeline of new players in years to come.
Perhaps the most remarkable statistic is that Great Britain has only one returning player from the 2008 Cup campaign, something that suggests a fresh new group but will also come with challenges in terms of experience.
worldfootynews.com is pleased to announce a friendly tipping competition for the 2011 AFL International Cup.
It will be coordinated by one of our readers, John Hamilton. The aim will be to tip the winners for each IC11 match, with margins in the finals used to separate players who tie for the top spots.
For a bit of extra incentive we've organised a couple of great prizes from Burley Sekem. Top spot will receive a Premier football (pictured left, recommended retail price AUD$109.95) and second spot gets a Match football (pictured below, RRP AUD$39.95).
The competition will be open to everyone that is a member of our site (including WFN staff, but they are ineligible to win the prizes). Not signed up? It's free, we don't spam you with adverts, and it allows you to post comments (purely used to stop spammers). Sign up here.
One difficulty will be the short turn around times for each round, between knowing what the draw is and when tips will have to be submitted.
[Note this draw has had several minor amendments by the AFL. Latest version is July 27th.]
The AFL have released (assuming no unfortunate late withdrawals) the final copy of the 2011 AFL International Cup draw, for both the Men's and Women's competitions.
The main amendment is that the women's competition will now play 5 rounds (4 matches each) of qualifying matches (including back to back days on the first Wednesday and Thursday), which means each team plays the other once (the much dreamed of "even draw" that eludes the elite AFL competition). The top 2 ranked sides will then play off in the Grand Final, and there will be a 3rd/4th playoff whilst 5th will probably be glad for the day off.
The Irish Warriors are coming to the 2011 International Cup with what potentially could be the most battle-hardened IC squad in the competition's history.
There have been a number of Irishmen playing Australian rules football around the globe for many years, but the global financial crisis saw a spike in the number of Irish emigrants over the past year or two. A number of these have come to Australia, where some have made the transition from Gaelic football to the Australian indigenous code.
The ARFLI earlier this year announced that it was planning to bring around 15 players from Ireland, with the other half of the squad to be sourced from Irish expats living and playing footy in Australia. Whilst the final squad won't be made public until July 22nd, we've got a preview of some of the Irish who will be suiting up for the Warriors in August, including some familiar names such as Stynes, Heslin and Finn.
In addition to the USA teams’ main supporter T-shirt sale fundraiser, some of the teams with representatives in the national team are also hosting their own fundraisers to help send their teammates to Australia for IC11.
Baltimore-Washington Eagles and Lady Eagles are hosting a Lobster Bake Fundraiser at Phillips Seafood Headquarters, 1215 E. Fort Avenue, Baltimore, on the 23rd July from 17:30 to 20:30, straight after the Metro Grand Final. They will also have a raffle for Australian beer/wine and other prizes. The money raised will go to support BWE Revolution reps Brandon Bladau, Freedom reps Jake Moyer, Judith Stein, Eileen Geogheedan, Karen Stablein, and Revolution assistant coach Denis Ryan.