After what some might say was neglect, the mainstream Australian media have had a few reports recently about potential players coming into the AFL from overseas, and the growth of the game in South Africa. Perhaps Australian sports journalists are starting to realise that readers have an interest in footy beyond their own club.
AFL club Essendon are trialling Ethiopian tall man Goaner Tutlan. The 22 year old came to Australia as a refugee four years ago, and although his skills are only in the early stages of development, he has a background in soccer and basketball and his athleticism has impressed officials at the Bombers.
As part of their preparation for the 2004 season, the St Kilda football club undertook a two-week training camp in London, an innovative approach which the Saints believe greatly helped them to their explosive start to the year just played.
Such was the success that the Saints are doing it again, but this time heading to Potchefstroom, South Africa, taking advantage of world-class training facilities as well as the chance to expose the players to the challenges faced by the South African people.
World Footy News' Aaron Richard talks with St Kilda coach Grant Thomas.
The Australian Rules amateur footy players touring South Africa, dubbed the Convicts, will now travel in early 2005, numbers permitting. Organiser Brian Clarke is still looking for a few more amateur football players interested in the tour. Players can be from anywhere in Australia, or arrangements can be made for those overseas. The details follow.
As football programs grow in countries they soon wish to test their national squad, but in the case of South Africa, there are no other Aussie Rules nations nearby. This may not be the case for much longer, as plans are underway to introduce the game to Zimbabwe. The remarkable explosion in interest in Australian footy appears poised to spread through southern Africa.
Australian Rules football has made great gains around the world in recent decades, but Africa has remained largely untouched. South Africa is the exception, and the targeted growth is certainly exciting.
Footy development in South Africa is set to receive a boost, courtesy of Australian Volunteers International and the AFL. Working together, the organisations have called for applicants wishing to fill the role of footy development officer working with South African clubs, schools and communities.