Sam Nichols reports on the Vice Media website about the growth of the game in North America – specifically the New York Magpies as a microcosm of the challenges facing the growth of the game as a whole. As the USAFL Nationals kick off in Racine, Wisconsin this weekend, this excellent story marks a good time to reflect on the journey of one club as an example of the journeys of others.
With just under 2000 registered players and 42 clubs, Australian Rules has taken a foothold in America without fans or money.
At a public park in Brooklyn, parallel to the East River, the New York Magpies—the city’s only Aussie Rules team—gear up to train, just like they do every Monday evening.
“There’s usually more people at training,” Shane Lowry, a longtime player and recently appointed coach, tells me. “We had a big weekend of footy in Philly, so I reckon a lot of people are tired.”
You know you are finally cracking the veneer of the American sporting market when you have the attention of the New York Times. On the eve of the USAFL Nationals in Racine, Wisconsin, that is just what is happening with journalist S B Tang getting Collingwood’s American Pie onto the sports pages of one of the biggest and widely read newspapers in the United States.
The USAFL's National Championships will see seven divisions of men's and women's footy in Racine, Wisconsin over the coming weekend, October 13-14 at the SCORe Complex.
This year's tournament features 45 teams spanning seven divisions, representing nearly forty clubs across the USA and Canada. Two women's divisions, four men's divisions and one men's reserves division.
Everyone will be out to hunt down Golden Gate who took out the 2017 titles in both the Men's and Women's Division 1. And those divisions are very strong with six stand alone clubs in each all eager to take that title.
Marc McGowan reports on the www.afl.com.au website about the reaction in the United States to the extraordinary success of Texan, Mason Cox, ahead of his AFL Grand Final appearance tomorrow. Cox has already captured the imagination of Australians, but as the AFL’s biggest game of the year draws closer, Americans are realising the magnitude of his achievements.
AMERICAN Mason Cox's extraordinary Australian football journey to Saturday's AFL Grand Final is finally gaining traction in the Collingwood giant's home country.
The United States media's relative lack of interest until now pales in comparison to the fanfare the 211cm forward has long received in Australia.
In one of the most remarkable VFL/AFL finals ever witnessed, the crowd at the MCG has erupted into the chant of the title as American footballer Mason Cox cut loose. As this article is being written, Cox dominates the Fantasy points on the http://www.afl.com.au website as the most impacting player on the field.
This isn’t a practice match but an AFL Preliminary final involving two of the great AFL clubs – Collingwood and Richmond – and it can truly be argued that Collingwood’s seven goal lead at half time is built heavily on the back on an American.
So far, Cox has claimed eight possessions (seven kicks), six marks (most contested) and crucially, three huge goals in a row that were the integral part of a Magpie goal-kicking avalanche. Rarely has a player dominated a half as Cox has done – NEVER an American.
Tyler Ames was a standout player with the Denver Bulldogs of the USAFL. He then became part of an exchange program with the USAFL and is in his second season with the Montrose Demons. Recently we had the chance to catch up with Tyler.
Image Source: ntnews.com.au
Tell us about your first season (2017) at Montrose. Was it everything you hoped it’d be? Did you feel like you got better each week?
My first season was an amazing experience. It took me a fair amount of time to settle into the standard of the league and really learn where I needed to be positioned on the field. For most of the initial games, I really struggled getting around the ball and even started many games from the bench. I’m sure I was much like watching little kids play chasing the ball around the ground without getting much of the ball. Fortunately as the season progressed I really started to find my form a bit. I was able to get around the ball and impact plays with my size and physicality and was even able to snag around 6 goals for the year most of which came in the back half.
The annual USAFL Western Regionals tournament was held this past weekend at the David Legacy Soccer Park outside Sacramento, California. It was a day of intense heat (105 F/41 C), but it was great to see some high quality footy being played in the state capital.
With eight men’s teams and four women’s teams, there was plenty of talent and experience on display. The men’s division one side was made up of the Seattle Grizzlies, the Los Angeles Dragons, the Golden Gate Roos and the San Diego Lions (who combined with several Arizona Hawks players). The day started with the Dragons taking on the Grizzlies, securing a 26-point win in the process; concurrently, Golden Gate defeated San Diego by a nine goal margin. As the temperatures climbed throughout the afternoon, the Dragons took home another scalp, beating the Lions and securing a spot in the grand final.
AFL Canada has been looking to increase it's international competitiveness by increasing the number of representative fixtures and the Canadian Nationals are the latest step up from the inter-provincial games held prior to the 2017 International Cup. AFL Canada has also taken development teams to England as earlier preparation.
This hasn't gone unnoticed south of the border where the USAFL is taking a team to Ireland this year and has been holding annual national tournaments. The following report on the Canadian Nationals is from Zachery Brandstater, Président of AFL Québec. WFN thanks Zachery for his effort in producing this report.
Pic: Rob Colburn.
The Canadian Nationals tournament is an opportunity for the various entities within AFL Canada to get together and play some high quality football. AFL Canada restricts eligibility for this tournament to only those who would be eligible for the Canadian national team. As it stands British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Québec all support leagues in their own right so there is plenty of football across the country (over 5000 participants in 2017, including youth football programs). This network of grass roots football is contributing to a strong football identity in Canada, and it is continuing to gain momentum.
Sam Murphy’s journey from American football walk-on to state league Aussie footballer has been a fun and eventful odyssey. The ruckman from the Los Angeles Dragons made his debut two weeks ago for the West Perth Falcons in the WAFL, becoming the latest American to thrive in local footy.
Originally from Fairfield, Connecticut, Murphy spent most of his youth competing in American football and was a letterwinner at Fairfield High School. When his family relocated to Los Angeles, Murphy spent a year at the highly-touted Oaks Christian football program, which is known for sending players to national powerhouses like USC and UCLA.