For many of the Australian Convicts players who toured South Africa in February, the clinics for kids was one of the highlights. Although the matches were fun, and the sightseeing impressive, the personal contact made in less-visited places was something special. After the tour many of the players also went on to visit other places in southern Africa, such as Cape Town, Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe and Zambia) and Chobe National Park in Botswana. Here we talk about the clinics, and note that the previous stories on the matches have been updated with photos.
In recognition of greater involvement with the Australian Football League, Footy South Africa has been renamed AFL South Africa. It has also changed its website address. The term of current Executive Officer, Steven Harrison, also expires soon, and a replacement is sought as he wishes to return to Australia.
In the final match of the Convicts' successful tour of South Africa, the Aussies played the national side in Eldorado Park in Soweto, the famous town/suburb outside Johannesburg. The Australians came out all guns blazing, finishing the game in the first quarter, before the match settled into a more even tussle.
The second match of the Convicts tour has been played, on 3rd February, in the northern city of Mafikeng. The Australians encountered a tougher side than their first match, so had to lift their tempo, but again ran out comfortable winners.
The touring side, comprising amateur footballers from around Australia, will be playing three matches in South Africa in February. It has been announced that the final match will see "the Convicts" clash with the South African national side in what will hopefully be a great promotional match in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Ethiopian Goaner Tutlan has made his debut for St Marys in the Northern Territory AFL reserves. Playing against Southern Districts, the 196cm tall footy-convert kicked four goals from full forward, in his team's big win. His exceptional leap is said to be one of his greatest assets, but coaching staff are keen for him put on a lot more muscle. World Footy News will give updates on the African during the season.
The Essendon Football Club have been true to their word to stick with Ethiopian hopeful Goaner Tutlan, and have organised for him to spend a season learning Aussie Rules in Darwin, in Australia's Northern Territory.
As reported recently on World Footy News, former Ethiopian refugee Tutlan Goaner was trialling with AFL club Essendon, in the hope of securing an international rookie listing. The Bombers passed on the tall but light-weight footy convert, in a move that sparked some criticism that the attention around Goaner was a publicity stunt. It certainly showed that the Australian media has a thirst for stories with an international flavour.
The high level of Australian media coverage has continued for St Kilda's pre-season camp in South Africa. The AFL club has now run several clinics in different regions, and the Australian media has followed them very closely. Coach Grant Thomas has been so impressed with facilities in Potchefstroom and the overall cultural experience, he has suggested the Saints might return there every year. Furthermore, he has enthusiastically endorsed the game's development there, and has urged the AFL to continue supporting footy in South Africa.