Whether he knows it or not, Abu Dhabi footballer Ali Anmed Alhosani might be the catalyst of change in Middle Eastern Australian Rules football. This season Ali has become the first player born in the United Arab Emirates to play for a club in that country. The Abu Dhabi Falcons selected the 19 year old to play this season, effectively opening the door the more native born players.
Not only does Ali have a good football mind, but after interviewing him this week it is clear that he is one bright cookie with ideas that may influence the future of the game in the region.
His background is very interesting. “I am a 19 year old Emirati local, born and raised in Abu Dhabi. I completed my high school in Melbourne. I am also an independent visual artist, passionate long boarder, and a very good soccer player, but being a visual artist is what I'm known about most.”
Only hours after touching down at Dubai International Airport, after a gruelling 13 hour flight, the Port Adelaide Power players were straight into the grind of pre-season training, putting aside any thoughts of the heat, travel lag or hotel rooms. Such is the magnitude and potential value of this pre-season initiative that newly named rookies have already joined their team mates in Dubai, barely 12 hours after joining the club.
Whilst players have since had the chance to visit the attractions and markets of Dubai, and some even getting in a bit of golf, shopping and dining, the focus of the trip has been improved stamina, resilience and fitness and that began almost immediately the players arrived in the United Arab Emirates.
There is something truly ominous brewing in the Middle East. Whilst the new 2013/14 season is only three games old, with Round 2 completed last week, it is the Dubai Dragons who are out of the blocks like a veritable Speedy Gonzales inviting all other teams to catch them if they are to be stopped from winning three flags in succession.
Granted, there is a long way to go. This year’s format for the AFL Middle east draw sees eight rounds, with each team playing six matches. There is plenty of time for some teams to fall away, others to come alive or upsets to occur. But therein lays one of the pointers to the season. Of the three games played, the Dragons have played two of them…for two wins.
With comfortable wins by 58 points against the Muscat Magpies and 51 points against the Abu Dhabi Falcons, the Dragons have two wins already from their 6 matches. They also play these two teams again of their remaining four. Statistically, it will already be difficult to peg them back.
Adelaide based AFL club, the Port Adelaide Power, will embark on a 9 day trip to the United Arab Emirates as part of their pre-season training schedule for the 2014 campaign. The team will leave Australia on 24th November and return on the 4th December.
The trip will take the club to Dubai, where they will use the excellent facilities at the Dubai Sports Centre, which are considered to be amongst the best in the Middle East.
According to the Port Adelaide High Performance Manager, Darren Burgess, on the club website “the facilities at the Dubai Sports City are world class, so it’s a really good combination of a top line performance centre and hot conditions, plus a great chance for the boys to get away again.
In response to our recent article which explored the changes to AFL Middle East for the upcoming season, new Operations Manager, Tyron (Ty) Farrell has provided World Footy News with his preview of the upcoming season. Not only does Ty look again at changes to the organisation, he also provides his unique insight into the teams and their prospects.
So the 2013/2014 AFL Middle East Season is almost upon us and the teams have been hitting the pre- season trail pretty hard over the summer in anticipation.
This year the season has made a few major changes with Walid Melhem stepping down as Operations Manager as he moved back to Australia with work. Walid worked extremely hard over the last few years and should be proud of the work that he has done in getting the league to where it is today. From all in the region, we wish Walid all the best for his return to Australia and we look forward to continuing to build on the foundations that he left us.
As the footy seasons across Australia, Asia, the Americas and Europe begin to wind down, another competition is just starting to kick into top gear. The AFL Middle East 2013/14 competition is about the get under way next month, and there is something fresh and new about the whole competition.
Maybe it is just the effect of their brand new website at afl-me.com, revamped and looking a treat. Already the teams across the region are locking into a pre-season program of Grand Final breakfast functions (the Australian AFL), or the glamour of Melbourne Cup celebrations. But it is on the playing fields of the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar where the action is starting to happen.
Teams have already been in their pre-season training mode since July. The Dubai Dragons preparing to go for their own three-peat and win a third flag in a row. The Doha Kangaroos are planning and training to go one step better this season and grab a flag. The Dubai Dingoes, winners of last year’s pre-season AFL 9’s tournament, are wanting to get away to another good start and this time keep it going to the last match of the year. The Abu Dhabi Falcons and Muscat Magpies are also keen to put last season behind them and push for glory in this new season.
It is almost hard to believe that the AFL Middle East Grand Final was over three months ago, back on March 8th. Time has flown by without a full report on the season and, of course, the Grand Final result itself. In the first of a small series of articles on Australian football across the Middle East, a brief look at the season that was gives a small taste of the way footy panned out across the region.
The 2012-13 season kicked off with the pre-season AFL9’s tournament in September at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Arena (NASSA) in Dubai. The Meydan Cup was played enthusiastically with the Dubai Dingoes winning the day against their arch rivals, the Dubai Dragons, with a last minute surge to fall over the line in extra time.
As the season proper came closer it became apparent that the Bahrain Blues would not take their place in the league for this new season. It is universally hoped that they can return for the 2013/4 season.
Nearly 3 years ago we reported on a story that first appeared on Channel 9's The Footy Show which said that a Turkish-Australian was developing the concept of the Essendon versus Collingwood ANZAC Day blockbuster being staged in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2015 for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in World War One.
The Age is reporting that the concept is not dead, in fact the man driving it, Ismail Ozsoy, claims to have secured written support from the Turkish government and succeeded in getting major sponsors on board. Ozsoy is quoted as saying that:
''I don't want to get everyone too excited because if they [AFL] are not excited, there is no point.
''But they [Turkish government and businesses] have said 90 per cent. When it comes through the channels it has come from, and they have given it to me in writing as well, it doesn't matter whether the government goes by 2015, because it has been approved, it has to happen. But, of course, it takes two to tango.''
Martin Flanagan writes for the Age and is one of the few footy writers in mainstream AFL media who has been on-board with the International Cup. In particular Martin has followed the Peace Team, and recently he published this story Kick-to-kick in a rocket zone
It is "...an account of footy in a war zone written by Kevin Nafte, an Israeli member of the AFL Peace Team, to his Israeli and Palestinian teammates. It is in the spirit of the Peace Team ''dialogues'' in which players from both sides were encouraged to express their views to each other.