After their 100 point loss to the Australian Boomerangs side, South Africa's developmental team headed down to Kwa Zulu Natal province to pick up some more talented locals ready for Game 2 in Kwa Mashu, near Durban, on Wednesday 6th February. We'll have a report on that match as soon as possible.
Next up is the third and final match, again to feature a large contribution of locals, this time in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, in the Western province. Local development officers have been talking up the event to get the community involved, advertising the match as the first ever international Australian Football game to be held in Cape Town. Details are:
Khayelitsha Cricket Oval (Town 2, behind Law Courts), Saturday 9th February
Performances by the Kwaito Group "All Blacks" and traditional dance group "Imduyekezo Mat", music by DJ D Lo, competitions, prizes and giveaways.
12pm Curtain raiser - Nyanga vs Khayelitsha under 13s
2pm Main game - South Africa vs Australia (Indigenous Youth Team)
4pm Speeches and medal presentation
6pm Post-match function at Mzoli’s, Guguletu
Just a quick reminder that last Saturday's AFL pre-season match between Carlton and Fremantle in Pretoria will be telecast in Australia on Foxtel. Fox Sports 3 will show the match on Wednesday 6th February at 10 PM AEST (immediately after the soccer) and Thursday 7th February at 10 AM AEST.
Not surprisingly the talented Australian indigenous under 16s team has given the South African development side a football lesson in the curtain raiser to the Carlton-Fremantle AFL match in Pretoria. The Aboriginal side contains some of the best young players in Australia and raced away with the match, finishing up 100 point winners. It was pleasing to read that the home side had the support of an enthusiastic crowd - giving the locals someone to barrack for is an aspect of getting people involved in sport that should never be overlooked.
The result demonstrates that patience will be needed with the South African program. For all the good news stories we're seeing, and thousands of children involved in Auskick's equivalent, FootyWild, it will take a few years for the cream of those young players to become skilled at Australian Football and make their way into AFLSA's national sides.
North West province is the only region with sustained development over several years and the bulk of the Buffaloes sides have come from there. With AFLSA keen to spread the game further, and some of the best prospects from the recent talent camp being included in their youth squad, it's actually conceivable that this year's side may have more "athletes with potential" but less experienced footballers. So the results of this year's 3 match series should be regarded as a baseline from which to judge future matches. Having said that, in the next two games South Africa will feature even more raw young recruits from other provinces.
AFL Indigenous Youth Team: 5.3 10.4 14.6 19.9 (123)
South African Buffaloes development squad: 0.3 1.7 2.10 2.11 (23)
After trailing early, Fremantle rallied to defeat Carlton in the ARTH AFL Challenge at SuperSport Park in Pretoria. Sadly the game was marred by an injury to Kepler Bradley resulting in an ambulance coming onto the field. It ultimately proved to be a simple concussion, but given the match was an exhibition to promote the sport in front of thousands of children and their parents, it was a terribly unfortunate incident. We can only hope it didn't dissuade too many spectators from wanting their kids to play the game. Bradley returned to the ground later in the match, so hopefully this was noted by the crowd.
Overall the night seems to have been successful, with an official crowd of 5222, both clubs getting a solid workout, and the Australian indigenous team not unexpectedly too strong for the locals in the curtain raiser. The match also saw Carlton's new Irish recruit, Michael Shields, play his first AFL game.
Besides going live into South Africa on cable channel SuperSport, Saturday's AFL pre-season match between Carlton and Fremantle in Pretoria will be telecast in Australia on Foxtel later in the week. Fox Sports 3 will show the match on Wednesday 6th February at 10 PM AEST and Thursday 7th February at 10 AM AEST, but confirm closer to the date. It's being billed as an AFL Exhibition match.
With the NAB Cup widely regarded as needing changes to excite public interest in Australia (crowds are generally much smaller than the main season), let's hope next year we see an official NAB Cup game in South Africa televised live into Australia. With West Coast and Fremantle both involved in that country, better placed geographically in terms of flight times, and normally drawn to play each other in their NAB Cup openers, it seems the obvious choice to start the 2009 pre-season competition.
The RealFooty website is reporting that the South African government will fund AFL South Africa to the tune of AUD$250,000 as part of an anti-smoking campaign. Hopefully they've got their numbers right and it really is Australian dollars, not Rand (worth about one fifth of an Aussie dollar). If true, it marks another impressive step forward for the game's acceptance there, with the national government obviously impressed with the AFL's commitment and their ability, with AFLSA, to deliver healthy messages to local children. The article values the AFL's annual funding to footy in the African country at AUD$400,000 per annum, with an additional approximately AUD$600,000 coming in sponsorship and other sources, making for a million dollar annual program.
The Australian Indigenous youth squad to tour South Africa has been announced. The tour follows on from the February 2006 tour and a reciprocal visit last season. The team features some well-known surnames and will play the South African youth side as a curtain-raiser to carlton versus Fremantle in Pretoria. In an article on the AFL website, the target of 25000 South African players by 2009 is re-stated.
The Carlton versus Fremantle exhibition match in Pretoria on February 2nd will be no quiet run at an empty park. The game forms the centre-piece for a major campaign to raise awareness of Australian Football in the area and will see thousands of young players bussed in to see the game, live coverage on South African cable TV, and a curtain raiser in which all four of South Africa's footy provinces will be represented for the first time. worldfootynews.com speaks to AFL South Africa's Joel Kelly.
The West Coast Eagles' number one ruckman, Dean Cox, has written a player's perspective on their recent trip to South Africa. The article appears on the PerthNow website. In it, he talks about the conditions the locals endure and the speed with which children learn the game.
"We head out to the Umlazi township again but this time to run a clinic for kids from the orphanage. These kids are amazing. The talent they show from learning the game for about three months indicate that one day there will be an AFL player from Africa".
"I visited the orphanage. We had lollies, Sakatas and bars in our backpacks. We offer them to the kids, which they kindly accept. They take handfulls until all is gone. We notice that one of the younger girls doesn't really get too much food so when everyone has left we hand her another bar.
The first thing she does is open the wrapper, rip a piece off and give it to one of her friends. It was amazing how someone so hungry could share her first bit of a bar with someone else. These kids were just unbelievable".