The Irish Warriors enter the 2014 International Cup attempting to win back to back titles, something that has never been achieved before in the short history of the tournament. Ireland has appeared at every International Cup, winning inaugural event in 2002 before slipping to fourth in ’05 and ’08 followed by victory at the MCG in 2011.
David Stynes, brother of the late great Jim, returns this time as player coach having been part of the winning Irish sides in both 2002 and 2011. Stynes replaces Shaun McElhone who has led the Irish side to great success since 2011, winning two 9-a-side Euro cups along with the full side European Championship in 2013. Unfortunately Shaun is unable to attend the 2014 International Cup due to family reasons. Stynes, who played Gaelic Football for Dublin prior to moving to Australia is the head coach of the Moorabbin Kangaroo’s in the Southern Football League.
Stynes is the only two time winner of the International Cup having played in 2002 before returning in 2011. His experience in 2011 showed in the final as, from half back, he organised the Irish defensive unit which helped set up their come from behind victory.
Although teams at the International Cup traditionally are representing the football competition in their country the Shaheens are a team of players that have formed in Australia, competing in local footy in Melbourne. Shaheens players are eligible to play at the International Cup as they are "amateurs who are nationals of the country they represent (Pakistan) and all players must have lived the majority of the years aged between 10 and 16 as a citizen of their nation."
While we have seen teams with locally based player before this is the first time a whole team has been locally based and all learned the game in Australia. Hopefully their participation will ultimately lead to footy's growth in Pakistan.
Pakistan: The Country
Pakistan is situated in the western part of the Indian subcontinent, with Afghanistan and Iran on the west, India on the east, and the Arabian Sea on the south. The name Pakistan is derived from the Urdu words Pak (meaning pure) and stan (meaning country). It is nearly twice the size of California.
The Capital (2009 est.) is Islamabad, 832,000 pop., although not the largest city in Pakistan. The Population of Pakistan is estimated to be 193,238,868 (2013).
The New Zealand Hawks’ preparations for the International Cup are stepping up a gear, with a practice match against Ormond AFC. The game will take place at Elsternwick Park on the 6th of August at 6.00pm.
Ormond AFC is a leading club within the Victorian Amateur Football Association, and the match will serve as an excellent warm up for New Zealand. Ormond AFC is a club with a long and proud history. Formed in 1931, the club has been well supported throughout the decades, and have won 13 Senior Premierships. Their reputation is one of playing a tough but fair style of football.
Ormond AFC President Richard Simon said “Ormond is thrilled to be provided with the opportunity to play this practice match. We will keep a close eye on the New Zealand Hawks during the tournament, and will be hoping that they can repeat their Premiership form of 2005.”
In what started a few weeks ago as the likelihood that one of the grounds at Royal Park would have each match covered, and then last week was looking like two out of three grounds - now all games in Round 1 will be streamed live and be available on demand to watch at later date. Additionally all matches on McAlister, Ransford and Western ovals on Friday August 22 (Finals Round) will have the same coverage.
Both the Men's and Women's Grand Finals will also be streamed live for the first time.
The US national team, the American Revolution or "Revos" as they are affectionately known, are heading to Australia to take on the best teams in the world in the Australian Football International Cup. At IC11 they lost to PNG after looking much improved from 2008 where they finished seventh; back in 2005 the Revos finished a very respectable third after beating 2002 winners, Ireland twice.
With the top nations powering ahead in their footy programs, can the Revos push on to the Grand Final at the MCG. In 2011 they selected for speed whilst still fielding an experienced side. The 2014 version is perhaps even more experienced, but now their biggest challenge is probably their ball use under pressure against the top sides such as NZ and PNG.
Women’s football in Canada has come a long way since the first women’s team was formed back in 2007 in preparation for the Northern Light’s first ever international against the USA Freedom. They lost that match, but didn’t lose the desire to continue the push to expand female football across Canada.
With the confidence of their 2011 International Cup performance where they were runners up to Ireland, the Northern Lights are coming over to Australia with the intention of going one better at IC14. And this time they have some extra friends with them. As PNG, NZ and Europe all withdrew teams from the women's division a decision was taken by AFL Canada to send a second women's team as they had a large number of talented players that were keen to make the trip who had missed out on Northern Lights selection. The Midnight suns will not only represent Canada proudly but will be looking to show that they can match it with both the other countries and those selected before them for Canada.
Canada is comprised of ten provinces and three territories. The official languages are English and French, which is spoken in the eastern state Quebec. Ottawa, in Ontario, is the capital city, though the largest city is Toronto, further south in Ontario near the USA border. Canada has an area of 9,985,000 square kilometers, but large areas of the north are covered in glaciers and permafrost and one could say are mostly uninhabitable. Canada’s population is 34,523,000, and a population density of 3.41 people per square kilometer means recruiting players from outside the larger cities is difficult. Canada’s national symbols are influenced by natural, historical and Aboriginal sources. An example is the maple leaf used on the national flag, and the Team Canada emblem, a totem pole style eagle. Before the women’s team adopted the uniquely Canadian “Northern Lights” moniker, they were called the Eagles.
India returns to Melbourne for their third successive International Cup. Their first visit Down Under resulted in a series of heavy losses, however at the last tournament the team displayed improvement and secured their first-ever victory, against East Timor.
Once again only half the squad will travel from India, however this time the travelling party are official participants in the Australian Rules Football Association of India, representing three of its clubs; Bengal Tigers, Maharashtra Giants and Jharkand Crows. In addition to this, a number of the Melbourne-based players have had regular match time at Masala Football Club, in the Victorian Amateur Football Association; the club having been born out of India’s last International Cup campaign.
AFL PNG Mosquitos (men's team) returns to contest their fifth AFL International Cup - one of a select group of nations to contest each tournament thus far. A team that whilst raw in 2002; managed to win through to the inaugural grand final only to fall short to Ireland. Since then the Mossies have contested each decider losing in 2005 to New Zealand; breaking the drought for a mighty win in 2008 in a rematch against the then NZ Falcons. And then in 2011 again came up short against the Irish. It's a proud heritage of participation and no doubt there would be an expectation of at least a top 4 finish and a reasonable hope of again competing in the final.
The USA Freedom was formed in 2007 and has played in international matches against Canada’s Northern Lights, most recently in the 2013 49th Parallel Cup. The team also toured Australia in 2009 and played against women’s teams in Sydney, Melbourne, Country Victoria and Cairns.
In the first ever International Cup Women’s Division at IC11 the USA Freedom finished third defeating the PNG Flames twice and Australian IM team.
This time around the USAFL chose to send a second "development" team to Australia to play against some Australian women's teams. They are known as the Liberty. As the International Cup approached and some of the original teams (NZ, Europe and PNG) pulled out a decision was made that the Liberty would also play in the International Cup.
The United States of America is comprised of 48 states in central North America, Alaska to the north west of Canada, and the islands of Hawaii in the mid Pacific. Though the majority population are European descent and English is the official language, the USA is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations.