As Australian Football has developed in the United States over the past ten years, a number of clubs have begun using 9-a-side 'Metro Footy' to overcome the hurdles posed by a lack of large enough grounds, small initial squad sizes and the distances between cities.
Now, a new initiative is underway to take 9-a-side footy to the next level with the creation of 'Major League Aussie Rules', a plan which may see metro sides from across the USA competing against each other.
We previously reported a planned match between teams representing the MAAFL from the US and OAFL in Canada. The Canadians were planning on using the match to give valuable team practice to much of the Team Canada Northwind squad. Unfortunately the match has been cancelled due to the MAAFL unable to gather sufficient numbers willing to travel.
The Mojave Greens are sending two US Army soldiers down to Melbourne to meet with their Australian counterparts in hopes of building sister club relationships, future match dates, and a possible exchange program with potential matches in 2006. The following story is from the US Army's Chris Angle.
Initial plans for the United States Western Regionals round 2 to be staged by Seattle and Vancouver in Vancouver (Canada) have been cancelled. It appeared that two clubs had pulled out and several others were not keen. Combined with Seattle not fielding a team in the first round in Denver, and the scheduling close to the Revolution departure for the International Cup, and the decision was made to look closer to home for most of the clubs.
Despite the desert environs of Arizona on the US western side of the United States, the fifth Arizona AFL season has being punctuated by more than a few rain delays. After major re-scheduling, the minor premier, Arizona State University (ASU) Sun Devils, took on the Chandler Outlaws in the grand final. The following report is courtesy of the AZAFL's Darren Toohey, winner of the leading goalkicker award.
Florida is often associated with being the first place Hurricanes hit the US coast. Of course hurricanes don’t just appear, they develop quietly hundreds of miles offshore before hitting with devastating force. The Florida Redbacks similarly have been developing quietly for some time now and strengthening to hit the USAFL with some force of their own.
The BC Cup was a huge success in Vancouver with 5 teams Vancouver Cougars, Burnaby Eagles, Victoria Lions, Seattle Grizzlies and Alberta Kangaroos (21 Calgary Roos plus 4 Red Deer Magpies) taking to the field.
Australian Rules football has a long and successful history in Australia. Around the world the game has been much slower to take hold, but is now clearly doing so in several countries, with over 20 others starting to show promise too. The United States is one nation where the game has gone beyond the tenuous year to year situation in which an exodus of expat Australians could see the game disappear. But behind all the growth in the last 10 years, for any given city it usually (but not always) takes a keen Aussie to get the game started. Many such fledgling clubs start brightly but what next? In some cases they will become powerhouse clubs, the foundation from which large metro leagues emerge and support strong sides competing in interstate leagues. But in other cases they will slowly fade away. In hindsight we can look back and speculate where a club went wrong, or just wonder what could have been. No one knows in advance.
Aussie Rules has grown steadily in the US since first getting off the ground in 1996. It is easy to overlook how recently the game has been recently in that country. The sport's current strength is individual clubs scattered around the US, but increasingly the clubs are developing social reduced player number "metro" leagues to support the game. Now it appears the next step in growth could be in the college system, the corner-stone of US professional sport.
Salt Lake City, in Utah, has made some attempts at getting an Aussie Rules side together since 2003 but so far there has been no resulting game time. With a recent Arizona influence, hopes are up not only for a full side but also a metro league.