AFL South Africa's Western Cape Provincial Development Manager, Allison Simons, has been appointed to a new National role as footyWILD Futures Manager. With her time courtesy of Australian Volunteers International coming to an end, it was important she not be lost to the country.
Simons is remarkably well credentialled with her life already having covered a wide spectrum. She grew up in Kenya, moved to Australia where she studied and played football, and is the recipient of First Class Honours in Archaeology and Anthropology and has a PhD in African Archaeology (see Out of Africa - and back - Allison's football journey). Her new appointment seems to cement her in a career in the wonderful but no doubt challenging field of promoting Australian football in South Africa.
The AFL have released some promotion for the upcoming Collingwood versus West Coast match in Cape Town. Pleasingly the video launched via their website features a background on the South African national side, which should serve to educate fans in both Australia and South Africa that the sport is now on the ground in South African communities. No word yet as to whether the commercial will be aired on television in Cape Town.
The game is scheduled for 12:10pm South African time on Saturday 7th February 2009 at Sahara Park, Newlands, Cape Town, and is the start of the 2009 NAB Cup. After the match, locals sides Khayelitsha and Nyanga go head-to-head.
The AFL has confirmed that Collingwood will play West Coast in the NAB Cup (AFL pre-season competition) in South Africa. The clubs will face off at Newlands Cricket Ground, a Test cricket venue in Cape Town. To accommodate the match and other scheduling issues, the first round of the NAB Cup will span three weeks. The full fixture is here.
Cape Town is the second most populous city in South Africa and the provincial capital of the Western Cape, as well as the legislative capital of South Africa, where the National Parliament and many government offices are located. Western Cape is one of the four provinces being developed by AFL South Africa. Although participation in Aussie Rules is growing rapidly in South Africa, it will be a challenge to get a large crowd to this match, so hopefully a major media campaign will be used to raise awareness leading up to the game. Newlands hosted Brisbane versus Fremantle back in 1998, drawing 10,000 spectators. It's current seating capacity is 25,000. Regardless of crowd figures, the match will be a tremendous boost for the local players and development staff.
The game is 12pm local time, 9pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings time, on February 7th. It follows the successful UAE match between Adelaide and Collingwood early this year.
AFL club St Kilda today announced that it has delisted several players and among them is South African born rookie Luke van Reenen.
The 201cm ruckman, who started playing football in suburban South East Melbourne was yet to debut at AFL level and had an ordinary run of games and injury (Injuries slow internationals) with the Casey Scorpions. At 20 years of age and without a senior game to his name it is unlikely that van Rheenen will be picked up in the upcoming drafts.
11 years after their first and only venture to Cape Town in South Africa (Brisbane versus Fremantle in 1998), the AFL looks set to return in February 2009. A NAB Cup match between Collingwood and West Coast has been discussed for some time now and looks set to be officially launched next week, according to Melbourne paper the Herald Sun.
It will be staged during African Mining Indaba, "the world's largest gathering of mining stakeholders", with an eye on increasing sponsorship opportunities. Carlton and Fremantle played an exhibition match in Pretoria in the 2008 pre-season (see Dockers down Blues in Pretoria). Hopefully it will again be held in conjunction with matches involving local South African players.
Australian football and Zimbabwe have recently been back in the news after a few years’ hibernation. The recently reformed and renamed Australian Football Zimbabwe has plans in place to see junior footy clinics begin in the first half of next year, with the creation of school teams and a men’s national team in the pipeline.
We spoke to AFZ’s Larry Ferrier about the program’s development so far.
A small mention of Australian football being taught in refugee camps in Western Sahara, in the article Unionists to visit Saharawi Camps. Australian unionists will be attending the 6th congress of the Western Saharan trade union UGTSARIO, held in refugee camps of southern Algeria, which neighbours Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. Garry Holliday will teach kids how to play Aussie Rules football after the Australian Football League donated a football teaching kit.
Of course this is unlikely to spur great footy growth anywhere, but you never know, just think of the story of South Africa's Mtutu Hlomela and his accidental start in the game. At worst, nice to see some fun being brought to people in tough circumstances.
Bol Luak, the 17 year old Sudanese ruckman from the Murrumbeena Colts in the Southern Football League (reported earlier by WFN in Murrumbeena's Multicultural Colts featured in local media) has suprised many by taking out one of the league's most prestigious awards - the Shooting Star (equivalent to the Rising Star in many leagues like the AFL), for the league's best young new player in just his first season.
Most suprising is that he arrived in Australia from Ethiopia just two years ago knowing absolutely nothing about the game. His sporting background is soccer, where he held down the position of goal-keeper and his towering but still growing 193cm frame make him an ideal ruckman for Australian Football. He now features regularly among the best players for Murrumbeena and is obviously catching the attention of the league's umpires.
The inaugural South African National Championships were staged in Potchefstroom from 5th to 8th of July, with the country's oldest footy area, North West Province, fittingly taking out the open age title. Western Cape gave a strong showing in the grand final, before ultimately losing by 32 points. Pictured at left are Mtutuzeli Hlomela, Steven Malinga, Andre Swanepool and Reginald Mokotedi.
Australian football first got its South African start in North West, and that was followed by Gauteng. So just 18 months into the game's push into the additional provinces of KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape it's quite startling to see such competitive results for the new regions. In the high school division the results were even more surprising and a sign of exciting times ahead for the game.
Although there have been some tournaments between the North West and Gauteng provinces in the past, this week sees the first official AFL South Africa National Championships. The main tournament sponsor is Grandslots, and the games are being played at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom, from Saturday 5th – Tuesday 8th July 2008. All four of the current target provinces are in attendance, fielding teams in high school and open age groups.
After the tournament the 25 man South African squad to tour Australia for the International Cup will be announced, and in a surprise move it appears the Buffaloes will be no more, replaced by the Lions. In further exciting news, the Africans will be coached by former AFL star Jason McCartney.
We hope to bring you the results of this historic event shortly, but for now, here's some more information on what have been dubbed the footyWILD Nationals. Photos are from the Australian Indigenous tour and thanks to Sean Garnsworthy. Again, Nationals images should also be forthcoming shortly.