The beauty of the International Cup is on many levels. The debut appearances of new nations joining the IC family is one of those. And when winning might not be the most likely outcome - there is still great joy to be had in the moments. For Sri Lanka that moment came at the 14 minute mark of the 2nd quarter - trailing badly to the Indonesia Garudas, 5.2.32 to 0.1.1 and desperately needing a spark.
In the wet and drizzly conditions of what one would describe as a traditional Melbourne morning, the German Eagles prepared to face the Shaheens from Pakistan in their first round encounter of Division 2.
With the Germans possessing the clear height advantage over the Pakistani side, it was poised to be a battle of the in and under players to give first use of the football to their respective teams. That’s exactly how it panned out as the match progressed.
If you like watching an exhibition of skilled team football, when the sun came out on Western Oval on Sunday afternoon the Japan Samurai provided everyone’s cup of green tea.
Often outgunned in the past by bigger and stronger teams, with their running game fading away in the last quarter in previous International Cups, the Samurai have finally drilled their game to perfection as well as facing the less intense competition in the new Division 2.
One thing that never surprises us when the IC schedule comes out is that USA v Canada is on there. Despite the nations playing regularly and sharing a border, someone always seems to think it a great idea to fixture these two nations to play each other when they travel to Australia.
Nevertheless it usually provides a great contest, and the spectators do enjoy the tension on the ground and in the air when they clash. Even though these teams are ranked closely, the US has an overwhelming record of wins in these contests. Both nations have big domestic competitions and surrounding community (and extensive networks in Australia) and are desperate to improve their place on the world footy pecking order.
It was cold, bloody cold at 8.45 am on Sunday morning when the GB Swans took on the Pakistan Shaheens in the first match of the women’s division of the International Cup. It was even colder for some of the Pakistan Shaheens who had left Lahore on Thursday when it was 40 degrees, another disadvantage against the Brits who had been enjoying mild summer maxes of 20 degrees.
The cold reminded me of 9.00 school matches on a frosty ground in Lenah Valley, in Hobart’s winter cold, when the ball hit the fingers like an ice block, and like the players in the first quarter, we dropped chest marks too often.
Today, perhaps it’s just cold fingers for the keyboard warriors as well, or for the goal umpire from Warragul who brought his local coat, rather than the IC17 slightly less insulated ones. That really helped when the north wind turned into a gale after half time.
Sometimes the story of a footy match is about the weather. Some other times it is about one side rather than the other.
Editor: We welcome Beau Newman as he debuts on worldfootynews.com
Great Britain Swans v Pakistan Shaheens
On what can be described as a nippy Melbourne morning, the opening round of the Women’s competition of the 2017 International Cup kicked off with the Pakistan Shaheens taking on one of tournament favourites in the Great Britain Swans.
It is quite a remarkable feat for some of the Pakistani players to even be partaking in the tournament itself, as some players had to take out loans to be able to afford to make the journey to Melbourne.
The match began in a willing fashion, with Great Britain asserting dominance early, establishing their run and carry game and taking it to Pakistan. The ascendancy was also significant in the stoppages as Alannah Blount was giving the Swans first use of the ball and the clearances were well in favour of the Swans as they took a 30 point lead into the quarter time break.
Sunday 6th August 2017 AFL International Cup Mens divison 1.
The wind may have dropped off but the heat was on field before the maiden bounce. Both sides seemed intent on a little intimidation. With France being promoted to first division it was felt Fiji were going to be favourites. Fiji were immediately into attack and it didn’t take long befpre a chipped pass to the square cleared the French fullback allowing a goal to be rushed.
Though the Fiji Tribe controlled most of the action it was the French who made the most of their limited opportunities. They forced errors from the Tribe and used the ball wisely. Whilst Fiji were more athletic with spectacular jumping they tended to blaze away rather than mount a measured attack. Later in the quarter Alipate Navuso #12 gathered the ball and snapped truly for only the second goal of the quarter for the Tribe. From limited opportunity the Coqs had scored 2 points for the Quarter whilst keeping the Tribe to a very modest 2 goals 4 behinds.
Sunday 6th August 2017 International Cup Women Canada Northern Lights Vs Fiji Vonu
In a very unexpected turn of events the Norrthern Lights had to play 24 minutes in the last quarter and kick the winning golden point to overcome a tenacious Fiji Vonu. The reigning champions had been held goal-less until the better half of the last quarter.
Both teams were welcomed by a somewhat sunny and only reasonably cold weather. Canada won the toss and proceeded to kick with a noticeable breeze. The Canadians and most independent onlookers presumed that this would be a good warm-up hit-out for the world champions. The idea from the Canadians was to push the advantage from the very onset and that’s what happened. Aimee Legault #10 laid a huge tackle and the ball was pushed into attack.
The last time these two met was in the IC14 Grand Final. In that match the Irish Warriors kicked 6.6, and today they did that again. This time however there was no late charge from PNG to overcome them. In fact PNG’s added just one point in the final term to see their 2 point lead at three quarter time become an eleven point deficit at the final siren with a score of 4.7.
The last time South Africa and Great Britain met was at IC11. South Africa won by 36 points. At IC14 the teams did not meet. But their fortunes were very different. South Africa narrowly losing to NZ in the 3rd/4th place playoff and Great Britain finishing ninth.
So there was not a lot historically to suggest that the outcome would be anything but a South Africa win today. In retrospect we know that South Africa were touch and go to come to IC17.
Growth of football in South Africa seems to have stagnated. On the other hand a bullish Great Britain has seen football grow not just in London but outside London, particularly in the North of England and in Scotland (both men’s and women’s footy).
It was a 2pm Women's International Cup match at the Ransford Oval between the Alfa Ireland Banshees and USA Freedom. At the start of the match both teams sung there national anthems in the wintery breezy cold conditions. The captains tossed the coin in the middle.
Freedom were kicking to the left of the ground and the Banshees were kicking to the right of the ground to begin the match. It was a tight tussle to start. The Banshees kicked the first goal of the match via Aisling Gillespie (#19). In the early stages of the match the Banshees were on top in the contest over Freedom, as they had all the ascendancy, kicking goals as they slotted through their second goal of the match.