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.
Six teams are set to contest the 2010-11 AFL Middle East season, which will kick off in October. In surprising news the Dubai Heat, who have been Premiers in the league’s only two seasons are apparently not taking part. This season will consist of five Home and Away matches, plus a Grand Final and playoff for Third and Fourth position.
Read on for the complete fixture and club previews.
The Dubai Heat have again been crowned AFL Middle East Premiers, cementing their position as the most successful Australian Football club in the region. Whilst their competitor in the Grand Final, the Abu Dhabi Falcons, were missing a few star players due to injury and other commitments, ultimately it was a solid effort from the Heat that won them the match.
In the AFL Middle East season proper, each team plays each other once and the Falcons-Heat contest was scheduled for the final round. This match had gone down to the wire; the Heat edging out the Falcons by a slender two points. Whilst the victor remained the same in the Grand Final, the score line didn’t - Dubai this time registering a 54 point victory.
The second AFL Middle East season is drawing to a close. The last round is still to be completed, but the Grand Finalists have already been determined. Ironically these two clubs, reigning champions the Dubai Heat and their neighbours the Abu Dhabi Falcons, will also face off in the final round.