Edmonton has "city of champions" as their tag line because of the number of athletes emanating from their city, the most notable being ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky. In some ways it's a lot like another sports mad city in Melbourne, with it's inhabitants supporting it's high profile sporting teams with fervor and just like Melbourne it has a fierce rivalry with a neighbouring city in Calgary.
It's just not men who are responsible for this reputation as there are many female athletes historically and presently in the mix. The founder of the first Australian Football club in Edmonton, Tristan Waldock for the Edmonton Emus is proud to point out that it's the women who first established the presence of Australian Football in Edmonton and it's the men who then followed. That may be an unique occurrence in Australian football history. That strong female sporting presence in Alberta probably goes a long way to explain the high representation from Western Canada in the the Canadian women's team.
The Gold Coast Suns tonight confirmed they have signed an American to an International Scholarship position. Brandon Kaufman, a wide receiver who was previously signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills in the NFL in 2013 will initially play with Labrador on the Gold Coast while learning the game.
Kaufman and a second potential recruit John Peters (who is on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad) were trained for three weeks by the Kick Builders US talent program in Denver in 2015 with the aim of getting them onto an AFL list. Kick Builders have been working with the Gold Coast Suns to improve kicking since early 2014.
Kaufman can be seen in action at the 2013 NFL Draft combine at the link here.
The USAFL Regional Tournament Series is back for the 2016 season with the venues finalised today. The three tournaments allow clubs to compete against a number of clubs from their region at one location. The results are used as part of the ranking of teams for the National Championships in October to be held in Sarasota, Florida.
Each (East, West and South) region will host both men's and women's matches with a Sunday morning training camp at each weekend for the women's national team to help determine the USA Freedom and Liberty squads for the 2017 International Cup.
An article in the Herald Sun this morning has linked AFL club North Melbourne with NFL club the Denver Broncos. The Colorado city of Denver, the home of the most successful USAFL club the Denver Bulldogs could be set to rapidly expand their footy interests.
In the article Denver’s vice-president of public relations, April Thewell, confirmed the team’s interest in the AFL.
“There is a lot of intrigue about Aussie Rules over here and we see the North Melbourne Kangaroos as a perfect fit,” she said.
“Our VP of football operations John Elway and other members of our management team are heading out to Australia in the coming days to accelerate the negotiations.
“Could the next Peyton Manning come from Arden St? We’d like to think so.”
The AFL’s US Combine is back in 2016 and back in LA. After the 2015 Combine was held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida, the venue for previous Combines in Los Angeles will again host athletes from around the US. The Combine will be held in just under a month from April 24-27.
This year's video promoting the Combine to US athletes can be seen below and has been updated with clips of Combine graduates Jason Holmes (2015 AFL debut) at St Kilda and Mason Cox (2016 NAB Cup footage) at Collingwood.
The AFL will be hoping to unearth some more crossover talent and a number of clubs will be present to identify suitable recruits. We know the Gold Coast Suns are on the lookout for a big American so would expect them to be keen participants.
AFANA’s Rob de Santos gives his US Footy viewing “State of the nation” address in the following article. A great read on how the US telecast situation has evolved and an evaluation of the options going forward. As always for any up to date information relating to the North American TV coverage of AFL footy you should visit the AFANA website.
(This is the first in a series of long form editorials on the state of footy on TV in 2016 and the future outlook.) A long time ago in TV world far, far away, a small group of passionate AFL fans managed to get the AFL and ESPN together and save the weekly highlights coverage on US and Canadian television. It was an early and largely unnoticed accomplishment of the internet age as e-mail and newsgroups were the media used to launch coordinated action. Looking back, it was an amazing achievement in 1995-1996. It also was the catalyst for the formation of AFANA.
Over the past 20 years we’ve evolved from lobbying by fans to more sophisticated ways of attempting to drive the AFL’s TV strategy (with varying degrees of success). We’ve successfully helped steer them to new TV homes for the sport when old ones blew up on us. We’ve succeeded in keeping it on the air for 21 seasons without fail. Now, we have to decide what we do in 2016 and beyond. The answers for 1996 and 2006 no longer are the right ones. The TV market has changed. The fan base has changed.
The AFL is far more media savvy than before and nominally, has an “international” strategy (although fans and marketing seem not to be a big part of that). We must change our tactics and strategy to deal with the AFL, TV networks, and fan development to match the world as it is in 2016.
While Myk Aussie's countrymen back in South Australia are sleeping, the Canadian based expat is out doing his bit to promote the Aussie football code across North America. Appearing on the Fantasy Sports cable TV Network with host Gabriel Morency this week, Myk previews the 2016 AFL season, does the best bets and picks for Round 1.
If you are in North America look out for Myk on your TV or on UStream with Gabriel on Friday nights. For now you can watch him on the clip below.
Canada are the reigning women's footy International Champions, and they show it proudly in this new promo video released this week as they look to take the game further in their homeland. Make sure you watch it.
All around the world Australian Football clubs are looking with anticipation towards playing the upcoming season and what could be more appropriate than the Seattle Grizzles coming out of hibernation.
Officially, the maiden event of the year was an Ausball tournamount to attract both newcomers and provide a hit-out for the regular members. The setting was a picturesque Magnuson Park sports field adjacent to Puget Sound, the waterway that dominates the Seattle topography. Hitting the track for the first time on synthethetic grass was a welcome experience compared to most under-developed pitches that seem to prevail for Australian football clubs overseas.
Gold Coast Suns list manager Scott Clayton last year hinted on finding new talent outside the draft and trading system in the USA (see audio below). Speaking after the trade period and prior to the National Draft Clayton was asked about looking at talent from other sports, he admitted that the Suns have not been much focussed on looking at other sports but said “We’ll start to look for a ruckman out of the US, which seems to be a pretty good idea at the moment”.