This opinion piece expands the argument that I made in a letter to The Age and an earlier piece (Show Me the Money!). It is not that I think the AFL should stop funding Queensland and start funding the USA with the money it saves. I actually believe the development of footy in Queensland should be a top AFL priority. What I'm saying is if it's worthwhile for the AFL to spend $10m (Australian) in Queensland then surely it's worthwhile to spend $0.5m in the US.
The British Columbia (in western Canada) junior development program continues to expand to rival any other international footy program outside of the so-called big three of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and South Africa. This season has seen more growth in numbers (both with the league and thousands of Auskick kids), regular television coverage, the possibility of a purpose built oval (very rare outside of Australia) and a plan to integrate the juniors with senior clubs, creating North America's first full club structure. Maybe oneday the'll be able to join a series between juniors from the UK and Denmark, or closer to home take on kids from the US. The following is a season wrap and report on future plans by the President of AFL Canada who is also in charge of the successful North Delta Junior AFL.
The 2006 Ontario Australian Football League season moves into the home stretch this weekend with Round 10 following the break for the civic holiday long weekend. Only 4 rounds are left to play before the playoffs, so every game is important to the seven teams still mathematically in the race for the top five positions.
Thanks to AFL Canada's Bill Frampton for contrbuting this detailed summary of the Ontario AFL heading into Round 10.
Saverio Rocca is likely to follow in the footsteps of Bennett and Graham and head to the NFL to try his luck as a punter. Rocca has been seen over the past few months at a Preston location practicing his punting. The potential move has been confirmed in the past week, with Rocca having his punting filmed at the Telstra dome to send to US scouts. Rocca may have already been trialling with an NFL club by now except that he has been trying to notch up 100 games in the AFL with the North Melbourne Kangaroos to ensure that his sons are eligible to play for the Kangaroos under the father son rule in the future.
The biggest footy clash of the season in Western Canada took place this weekend at Thunderbird Stadium, home of the University of British Columbia's Canadian Football team, as the Vancouver Cougars hosted the Burnaby Eagles, Seattle Grizzlies and Calgary Kangaroos for the West Coast Challenge. The Challenge was a revamped version of the BC Footy Cup, with the cup still on the line. This came on the heels of a successful tournament in Kelowna, British Columbia that put Vancouver/Burnaby and the two Calgarys (Canadians and Australians) against each other. This would be the first time however, that the clubs would meet as a whole.
Twenty two boys and girls aged 6 to 12 participated in two USFooty Kids clinics held in Arlington, VA on July 8 2006 and July 22 2006. Chris Adams and Denis Ryan (USFooty Kids National Coordinator) conducted the clinics with the help of players and coaches of the Baltimore Washington Eagles. Judging by the big smiles on the faces of the players, coaches and parents everyone had a great time!
On Saturday July 8th, the Baltimore Washington Eagles hosted its first USFooty Kids/Auskick clinic in Arlington, VA. I ran the clinic with the help of Denis Ryan (USFooty Kids National Coordinator) and members of the Baltimore Washington Eagles including Club President Rob Brunton and Senior Coach Matty Bishop. We had about 15 boys and girls aged 6 to 12. This was the first of two clinics for the year, with the second clinic on July 22nd.
Currently, the AFL is considering development pathways for international talent (see Part Two of Kevin Sheehan Interview). While this should be encouraged, I hope the AFL will consider the cultural differences between countries. In particular, any pathway for U.S. players into the AFL must go through the U.S. college system. A pathway that does not allow U.S. players to go to college will be a road to nowhere.
The Western Regionals held this weekend in San Pedro, California serves a number of purposes. It allows the western US clubs to get together in some good competition matches, to gain experience for newcomers, to finalise team setups, to qualify players for the National Championships and to allow the USAFL board to understand the strength of various teams for ranking purposes going into the National Championships.
With the formation of the SCAFL this year the Californian football scene returns to be one of the strongest footy regions in the US. The six round metro format competition has seen the Inland Empire Fire, 951 Purple Raiders, the OC Bombers and the LA Swans battle it out and bring regular competition for veterans and rookies alike.