Earlier this year we reported on the journey of a young Melbournian, Nik Constantinou, and his dreams of following in the footsteps of past VFL/AFL stars like “Diamond” Jim Tilbrook, Saverio Rocca and Ben Graham to play American football. See Reverse Psychology Worth A Punt.
Whilst Nik is far from the only Australian to try and crack the American market, that doesn’t lessen his prodigious talent and potential – something that the Texas A & M University has noticed. Next week he will head to College Station campus located close to the Texan cities of Houston and Austin.
It is the same stomping ground of a player who now has a cult following at Collingwood – Mason Cox.
Nik has spent many years working towards an opportunity to head to the United States and try his hand within the college system and hopefully get to the NFL. That would be a very big deal for the former tall key position player from Aberfeldie in the Essendon District Football League.
As footy in the United States closes in on the 2019 USAFL Nationals in Sarasota – Bradenton, Florida in October, the Western Regionals tournament will be held this weekend in Salem, Oregon. The following article by Brian Barrish for the USAFL looks at the tournament in detail, particularly the teams involved in each division. For more information, visit the website at: https://usafl.com/
For centuries prior to Lewis and Clark happening upon the Williamette Valley, the area around Salem was referred to by the Kalapuya people as Chim-i-ki-ti, which means "meeting or resting place".
Three years after the USAFL’s travelling midsummer roadshow came to said meeting place, it comes again to the Oregonian capital. As it did in 2016, it will be the climax of what has, heretofore, been a memorable tour for those of us who have had the privilege to go to each of the stops on the Regional Championship series.
The first AFLW signing of an American player has finally been made. Today the Western Bulldogs officially signed American Dani Marshall. Marshall who has played in the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Arizona Lady Hawks made her way to Melbourne earlier this year to play with the Aberfeldie club in the Essendon Districts Football League.
After showing good form there and quickly making her way from a trial at the Western Bulldogs to playing their VFLW team Marshall quickly convinced the club she had what they needed at AFLW level.
Marshall also trialled and spoke with a number of other clubs in Melbourne but the Bulldogs have secured her services for the 2020 ALFW season.
While a number of other Americans have trialled and up until now failed to be signed to an AFLW contract, the hurdle has now been cleared and hopefully we will see other clubs willing to take on other talented players from the USAFL.
The club also announced today they have signed Katy Herron from Donegal, another Irish Gaelic footballer to join compatriot Aisling McCarthty. This comes despite the departure of head coach Paul Groves who was a strong proponent of the CrossCoders program that originally brought McCarthy to the club from Ireland.
The full statement from the Western Bulldogs below:
The following story from Rob Forsaith at AAP appeared on the www.7news.com.au website this week looking at the very real prospects of an AFL match being held in the USA for premiership points – most likely in California. Should this match occur in coming seasons, it would be a massive boost to the game in the States and a huge promotional opportunity for all USAFL clubs.
The United States might host a star-studded, stand-alone start to the AFL season if GWS's bid to play a game for premiership points in America gets off the ground.
The Giants and the AFL are in the early stages of discussions on the prospect of taking a regular-season match to the US.
Finding a suitable ground in a country full of rectangular stadiums is among the most challenging of several hurdles.
Officials are following with interest Philadelphia-based businessman Jignesh Pandya's $2.4-billion vision to spread cricket across his homeland, by constructing new oval stadiums in eight cities.
Since the early days of the USAFL, American players have travelled to Australia to bathe in the full experience of being at an Aussie rules football club in Australia. Most come to play the game at the highest level they can, some are happy just to play a game anywhere, while others will consult a USAFL team mate from Australia to hook them up with their old club.
Probably the most successful of those players (on a long term playing basis at state level) who came to Australia on their own initiative is Alex Aurrichio. Originally Aurrichio attended an AFL combine in LA before playing footy with the New York Magpies. He then came to Australia, worked around a number of clubs before ending up at Carlton’s VFL affiliate the Northern Blues where he played multiple seasons before moving to the SANFL and NEAFL leagues.
I had watched some AFL highlights on YouTube at that point and was instantly intrigued by Aussie rules: the pace of the game, the unique skills, and the all-around athleticism required to play it were all extremely appealing to me. I didn’t know much at the time, but I knew I wanted to get involved.
Nik Constantinou has a dream. He wants to be a punter in American football, and is well on the road to that dream.
We see a great deal written about the journey other “cross coders” have made in leaving their homes overseas to try their hand at Australian Rules football after having played a range of sports including Gaelic Football, soccer, basketball and many more. We have also read about the drive to do so and the reasons behind the attraction.
But we rarely, by comparison, read about the motivation of Australians who do the reverse: leave behind a life in Australian Rules football to go to the United States of America to give punting a go in American Football (Gridiron – maybe NFL).
Nik has shared some of his insights into a journey he has commenced to chase a relatively new dream – but a dream just the same.
The AFL Tribunal will sit tomorrow night, Tuesday April 2 5pm (Melbourne local time), to hear the charge laid against Collingwood’s Mason Cox.
Mason Cox, was charged with engaging in Rough Conduct against Dylan Grimes, Richmond during the fourth quarter of the Round Two match between Richmond and Collingwood, played at the MCG on Thursday night March 28, 2019.
It is slow and gradual, but it is relentless. More and more Hollywood and entertainment heavyweights are taking our great game to a world stage, perhaps nowhere more so that the United States.
In the past twelve months, a slew of Hollywood (or entertainment general) figures have visited Australia and ensured they spent time learning more about our game.
Last night, as part of the first AFL premiership match at the newly renamed Marvel Stadium, Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Matt Damon (remember his small role as Loki in Thor: Ragnorak) cheered on the Thor-themed Western Bulldogs.
“I played both club and school soccer through U17’s. During my youth games, I ran in the mids/forwards and was a natural goal scorer. After exceeding a score limit set by my coach, I was put into goalkeeper, so everyone had an equal opportunity to play.
"During one game, I was so bored in goal, I was cartwheeling, dancing and leg-swinging to the point I got my cleat stuck behind my body in the net of the goal. In attempt to free myself, I also managed to pin both my arms in the net.”
“My mom loves to describe the next part of the story with enthusiasm, because as one might guess, the other team had a sudden chipped ball over the last defender and is then on a breakaway toward me. With a lot of struggle and some miracle, I yanked my body from the net in time to make a diving save. I remember the eruption of parents on the sideline, and the deep scolding I got after the fact.
"The moral of the story, continuing to affect my sporting career, is to stay involved in the play and the closer I am to impacting the ball, the better.”