The new boys in US footy, the Bakersfield Barbarians, are all set to have their first match, with the Orange County Bombers and a rejuvenated Inland Empire set to travel to the Californian city in October for some matches.
The Australian is Australia's major national newspaper and on 18th August 2005 ran a story previewing the Round 21 AFL match between Sydney and the Kangaroos. The first half focused on the non-Victorian domination of recent AFL grand finals, but of interest on the international front was a discussion of Aussie Rules as an important potential product in promoting "Brand Australia", and was put in the context of the upcoming match in Los Angeles between the two sides.
The Ontario AFL, one of the biggest leagues in the world, outside of Australia, is gearing up for the 2005 finals. Toronto Downtown Dingos will be favourites to go all the way having finished top with just one loss. The league has also announced its major awards and all-star team.
The 2nd US Collegiate Invitational is coming up, and the event is being used to promote a new plan for college footy, aimed at taking Aussie Rules a step further. Australian football in the US is growing steadily but many of the recruits are already in their 20s when they take up the game, and with so many new skills to learn, they often don't reach their peak until around 30. An obvious place to attract younger players is the university system, which is also a key part of professional US sports. The USAFL has funded a report, by Belmont University Sports Administration masters student, Adam Bishop, into how to develop the college game, and it will be presented to the ANZACC National Business Conference, being held from September 9 to 11.
The North Delta Junior Australian Football League (NDJAFL) is one of the great stories in the growth if Australian Rules football in Canada. An offshoot of the Vancouver Cougars club, season 2005 saw the number of teams grow from 6 to 8, with the sides competing in two divisions of four. With many of the players turning 15 or 16 next year, organisers have no doubt that some top senior players will emerge in the next few years. Perhaps the likely third International Cup in 2008 will see the first junior come through for Canada.
The prospect of an AFL match being played in the United States has been tantalising Australian Rules footy fans and players in the US for several years. After several disappointments the signs have been promising this year. Although it has yet to be officially confirmed, it now looks like the match is more likely than ever before.
An old favourite and a relative newcomer were the latest US clubs to kick off their 2005 season recently with their nearest rivals. And in other news another team looks to make their debut at this year's National Championships.