Last week, World Footy News reported on the development of the game in Egypt through the work of Professor Mohammed Hashem and hundreds of enthusiastic kids embracing his Auskick In Egypt program (see:Spirit Of Ancient Egypt). Since then, things have moved quickly in Egypt.
As this story is being written Professor Hashem (Mo Hash) is in the far south-western Egyptian location of New Valley within the greater New Valley Governorate. He is there running Auskick-style clinics to another gathering of wildly excited kid embracing the game. What makes this clinic particularly special is the location.
New Valley is around 1000 kilometres south of the Egyptian capital city of Cairo. It is roughly due west of the Nile city of Luxor. The region sits within the eastern fringes of the Sahara Desert, close to both Sudan and the Libyan border. If I had been asked to find a more remote part of the world, New Valley would go close – as a kid I was enthralled by the magic of the isolated (now dry) Lake Chad in near-neighbouring Chad, south of Libya.
Whether you use the analogy of a strong wind blowing in from the Sahara, a tide relentlessly crossing the Mediterranean or a powerful new current flowing down the Nile, there is definitely something flowing into Egypt – a new game taking root in the land of one of the world’s oldest civilisations
Professor Mohammed Hashem from the American University in Cairo takes up the story. “Yes, AFL is alive and well here in Egypt thanks to our fantastic university and our great team. Egypt is rich in sports culture and the two predominant sports here are soccer and of course handball which the Egyptians are very good at on an international level.”
It wasn’t the first time that Aliir Aliir and Majak Daw had played against each other. Early in their careers they occasionally lined up on each other, including their first time at the highest AFL level in August 2016 (see A Glimpse Into An African Future) down in Hobart. But almost two years on, both have moved further into their careers and after yesterday’ thriller at Etihad Stadium, both have gathered even more spotlight.
Aliir Aliir and Majak Daw were lined up on each other for three quarters at Etihad yesterday. Both have had to re-establish themselves at the highest level. Aliir from injury and indifferent form across 2017 and early 2018, whilst Daw had reinvented himself for much of this season as a Kangaroo defender.
However, on the weekend, they were back in their former roles – Aliir the powerful defender and Daw the athletic forward. For three quarters both dazzled and entertained in a power struggle within a bigger struggle as the Roos and Swans remained within touch of each other. Then Aliir got loose up forward for the Swans and kicked the match-winning goal in a thrilling finish. Aliir’s effort sent Swans fans into delirium and Roo fans despair. On the day Daw on the statistical battle with four goals. Aliir’s single goal won the match.
The AFL’s 2018 campaign “Don’t Believe I Never” has been released. The key motivator in the campaign is a series of three videos focusing on the inspirational journeys of three people. Featured are Richmond coach Damien Hardwick and his journey with the club to premiership success, Sydney Swans footballer Aliir Aliir and his incredible journey from war-torn Sudan to the AFL and a teenage school-girl in western Sydney and her journey to the Bankstown Bull Sharks. Below is the story of Aliir Aliir.
There is a football revolution growing quietly, yet purposefully, across East African nations. Whilst most clubs and leagues outside of Australia grow from club to region to nation (or something similar), the growth across some African nations has been the opposite. National teams growing and filtering down to more localised growth. It is unique, and just possibly a blueprint for others to follow. To achieve it, the key pillars are a love of sport – any sport – and a liberal sprinkling of desire, determination, dedication, unity and faith.
Tom Purcell is not the only person to have driven this remarkable growth – a growth that sees teams from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda competing already and may soon add South Sudan and Rwanda. He works with a huge group people – ministers, teachers, students and so many others – to bring together an amazing sporting achievement. Tom was happy, however, for an interview to discuss the many aspects involved in one of Australian football’s most remarkable footholds.
Through the passion and drive of people like Tommy Purcell and his team, Australian Rules football is continuing to make headway in growing across a growing number of African nations. Back in 2014 matches were being played between teams from both Kenya and Tanzania. That competition has now grown to include Uganda in a three-nation rivalry.
In July the next instalment of the tournaments will take place when the Kenya Buffaloes, Tanzania Simbas and Uganda Simbis meet at the Brother Beausang Catholic Education Centre in Embulbul, 20 kilometres to the east of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
195cm ruckman/forward Joel Amartey has this week added to the list of AFL prospects from an African family background, being taken by the Sydney Swans at #28 in this year's rookie draft.
The Ghanaian-Australian Amartey impressed with the Sandringham Dragons in this year's TAC Cup competition, and will join former schoolmate Oliver Florent at the Swans, both Florent and Amartey having attended Mentone Grammar School together.
Florent is also from a multicultural background, his father being the late Mauritian-Australian tennis star Andrew Florent.
To see a highlight reel of Amartey's performance in the TAC Under 18s competition, click here.
Journalist Wouter Pienaar has reported recently in the Potchefstroom Herald about the exploits of South African footballer, Godfrey Molohlanyi, and his journey towards the 2017 International Cup in Melbourne.
Finding an Aussie Rules Football player in Potchefstroom is almost like finding a needle in a haystack. And, if that player is also representing South Africa in the Australian Football International Cup then you know you have discovered something unique.
Godfrey Molohlanyi is a South African Aussie Rules Football player from Ventersdorp. He is currently employed at Pick n Pay Vanderhoff Park in Potch where he works as a merchandiser by day.
Godfrey Molohlanyi packs merchandise at Pick n Pay Vanderhoff Park by day and, after hours, he plays Aussie Rules Football for South Africa.
Chris Johnson certainly experienced the highs and lows of football as a player. Drafted by the Fitzroy Lions in 1993, he went on to play for the club until their demise in 1996 – experiencing some of the leanest times of any VFL/AFL club. His move to the Brisbane Bears at the end of the 1996 season coincided with the rise of a new entity – the Brisbane Lions.
He went on to become a celebrated and decorated legend of the club, playing in three premierships, being an All-Australian selection as well as a member of the Indigenous Team Of The Century. He briefly co-captained the Brisbane Lions and in 2005 was co-captain with Andrew McLeod in the Australian International Rules team.
With a resume as hard-earned and impressive as that it seems only natural that his experience and philosophies be passed on to new generations of indigenous and multicultural players. At the 2017 National AFL Male Kickstart & All Nations Championships in Blacktown, that is exactly what he is doing.
Throughout November the AFL celebrated cultural diversity with a series of films focusing on the journey's of players from multicultural backgrounds. The following clip looks at the journey of Reuben William from the Brisbane Lions - a fascinating insight into how a kid born in Sudan has challenged himself to succeed at the highest level of Australian Rules football.