Jim has become a journeyman in his quest to become the best Australian Rules footballer that he can be. Now out in Australia for the IC14, Jim tells us of his own journey.
“I found Aussie Rules through my best mate’s dad, Mike McFarlane, who ran a clinic at our primary school in Delta, BC. We all loved the game so he started up the North Delta Junior Australian Football League (NDJAFL)”
“I started out playing a few years in the NDJAFL, then started playing seniors for the Burnaby Eagles in Vancouver at the age of 14. I travelled to Australia in 2008 with the Junior Team Canada Wolfpack. My first senior Northwind game was in 2009 at the age of 17 against USA at the Parallel Cup. I recently moved to Australia (just two years ago) and played the 2013 season with Palm Beach Currumbin AFC and the Coolangatta Blues in the QAFL and played the 2014 Season with the Elmore Bloods in the Heathcote District Football League.”
A cold, at times wet day in the parklands of Melbourne, some crisp clean footy but also some cobwebs, some awkward players that look new to the game but still ploughing into danger, slightly barren fields at the end of winter, football field markings painted over the lines of other sports, a modest but passionate crowd, displays of skill that leave passers-by surprised and exclaiming they didn't know Aussie Rules was played in country xyz, colourful flags and dedicated volunteers shuffling around treating injured players, running drinks and trying to coordinate 24 teams of footballers. It must be the latest instalment of the International Cup.
Yes the 2014 AFL International Cup is well underway with Round 1 now complete. Today saw the welcome debut of Indonesia and Pakistan in the Men's competition, and Fiji and Tonga in the Women's, as well as the development Canada and USA teams.
Despite all the changes that can occur in three years in many ways there were no surprises on day one.
All the matches went as most experienced Cup watchers would've predicted. There were some massive margins and it would've been nice to see the dominant sides take their foot off, but their places in the semi-finals or Division 1 will, in many cases, come down to percentage, so no mercy can be expected when playing for their country and generally at great personal expense.
The final game for the day on Ransford oval put IC powerhouse the PNG Mosquitos up against the proud Japanese Samurai. Again – the chances of a close contest are slim but any followers of world footy know that the Samurai are nothing if not tenacious and will make even PNG earn their rewards. With the worst of the weather past – the sun poking through the trees and the chill breeze coming from the South-West and favouring the Brunswick end goals.
It's perhaps a bit early to stare too hard at the ladders but here we present the complete set after Round 1 of the 2014 AFL International Cup.
The Women's is straight forward but the Men are divided into 3 pools, with the complication being that the top 4 that go through to the semi-finals after 3 rounds are the top of each pool and then the next best based on combining all the teams - hence we've also shown a Combined ladder. That will also determine the teams that make what the AFL has called Division 1, i.e. teams 5 - 12, and Division 2, i.e. teams 13 to 18.
There are, as always, some bizarre percentages, due to lopsides matches and not in a small way because we've stuck to the AFL / Victorian way of calculating percentage, which is now spreading throughout Australian football throughout the world, namely points for divided by points against multipled by 100, rather than the conventional maths of for divided by (for plus against) multipled by 100. So the % means per 100 points scored by the opposition, not per 100 points of the total scores.
If it's not the biggest clash in international women's footy it is the most regularly played. The Northwind and Freedom teams have been playing each other since 2010 with the Canadians holding an advantage in the Win-Loss record.
On the wide open space of the Western Oval these two teams made it look like it was played on a grid iron field. There were no easy possessions for anyone through the game as every stat was earnt and many disposals were smothered or sent sideways as a tackle was applied. The windy conditions, often across the ground but mostly favouring the eastern end of the ground made marking and kicking into that breeze hard work. Amongst the congestion it was Canada’s moments of football clarity and ability to find space that won out though.
Northern Lights captain Aimee Legualt won the toss and elected to kick to the Princes Park end. In the first quarter the Canadians had the ball at their end for the majority of the quarter but it looked like we could have a contest on our hands as Jen Nicholl’s opening goal for Canada was quickly replied to by the US through Courtney Sherman. Kendra Heil added a second to give the Northern Lights a slight lead at quarter time.
Quarter time score: Canada Northern Lights 2.3 (15) to USA Freedom 1.0 (6)
The cold Melbourne August wind seemed to claim another victim, as the French Coqs went down, comprehensively beaten by the British Bulldogs, in a conflict which in more military forms went back to the 100 years war in the middle ages.
There were scuffles, though the umpires did a brilliant job of quickly extinguishing potential spot fires with free kicks, something which might happen more in the AFL.
The third game up on McAlister Oval pitted IC regulars Nauru against IC newcomers Indonesia. It looked like a mismatch and that's how it turned out but even in these matches there is much to be learned for the minnows. Under increasingly threatening skies that had so far held off - the Nauru cheer squad took position by the fence and one Oppenheimer Kenneth in the goal square.
Thank somebody for small mercies because the weather prediction was simply horrible for game day Sunday.
Apart from the temperature being a little chilly there was only a slight breeze that had no bearing on football.
The centre square was a little slippery from overnight rain and not a good surface for bouncing the ball which some players optimistically later tried doing.
Being the in the first round of games there was much interest in how the Vonu would fair against the highly experienced Banshees.
It didn't take long for Ireland to get some system going using their advantage in height and skill to put 3 majors on the board with Leiha Shrubsall timing in nicely for scoring opportunities.
Fiji managed to stage mix it in the midfield for a considerable period before Ireland managed 2 more majors through their strong running players.
Had it not been for the efforts of diminutive Aloesi Buidravo for Vonu taking some timely marks and general attack on the ball the score could have been much more.
The 2nd game up on Western Oval would see one of the tournament heavy weights in New Zealand take on the Swedish Elks who would seek to fly the flag for Scandinavian footy. In the warm ups it could be seen that the Swedes weren’t quite clean enough in the blustery conditions and this played out as the game wore on. The Hawks coming off a solid warm up game on Wednesday night in the wet at Elsternwick Park over Ormond Amateurs were well prepared should the weather turn, but the game was largely played in sunny but very chilly conditions.
With the temperature dropping a little, with a rising cold wind, conditions were good for football, though the centre squares were slippery from the previous night's rain. Throughout the day, play wasn't affected which was fantastic considering the earlier predictions. The quarter started with the ball locked into a very large Tonga forward line.
As the quarter progressed the Canadians were able to string some good football passages together which looked as they had been well-practiced. Halley Costanza was responsible for bursting through traffic to set up the only goal for the quarter as well as a number of other good movements.
The second quarter saw the Storm apply midfield and forward pressure and manufacture a goal mainly through the efforts of Nelma Ongolea who roved tirelessly around the ground. The Suns steadied and eventually established a systematic classical style of play. They did so with a spearhead in the form of Veronica Fernandez who marked and kicked truly and responsible for two other dangerous-looking points. Eventually this would be shown as the quarter where the Suns won it.