With the completion of the Auckland Australian Football League’s season last weekend, footy in New Zealand goes into its off - season with winners, losers and plenty to think about for all clubs ahead of the 2020 season.
The AAFL Grand Final was an absolute thriller with the University Blues downing the North Shore Tigers by four points. The Blues won the minor premiership ahead of the Waitakere Magpies and won their first final against the Mt Roskill Saints to book a berth in the final. The Magpies went down to a rampaging Tigers outfit, allowing the Blues and Tigers to fight it out for the flag.
After a tough match, the University Blues 7 9 51 defeated the North Shore Tigers 7 5 47 to take the 2019 flag.
Thirty-five players and officials from the Boe Lions’ 2019 AFL Premiership winning squad will be flown to Brisbane free-of-charge by the Republic of Nauru Government, Minister for Sport Hon. Maverick Eoe announced yesterday (Tuesday).
Minister Eoe said the Government’s gesture was a fitting reward for the Boe Lions’ “hard work and sweat” in over-coming Panzer in Saturday’s Grand Final at Linkbelt Oval.
When I look back through all my old International Cup photos, I don’t have any the feature Scott Reid front and centre. But there are plenty you can find him in the background, or off to the side of his trusted lieutenants. Match photos see Scott urging on from the bench. Photos around the huddle see him watching quietly in the background, usually looking pretty serious and always seeming to be looking towards the future.
Sadly Scott passed away late last week aged just 52. He described himself last year on The Footy Almanac in a post comment as 'Self Appointed Footy Missionary.'
Like many young Samoans growing up in Queensland, 15-year-old Lamont Kalolo grew up playing rugby league, even making it to the Under-14 junior representative level. But unlike many of his Polynesian cohorts, he’s chosen to give Aussie rules a go instead.
“(AFL) really boosted my confidence. It made me think that maybe there’s something more if I keep doing this,” Kalolo said in a recent interview with the Courier-Mail.
A natural athlete who plays at both full-forward and centre half-forward, Kalolo’s hard work is getting him places -- specifically, a spot at the Brisbane Lions AFL Academy program.
Matelita Tuilevuka left her home in Suva, Fiji, to chase a dream of her own. As soon as she heard about the CrossCoders Program last year, ‘Martz’ was inspired after cutting her teeth in the game of Australian Rules football playing for the local Suva Cats.
Before getting into her own story, Matelita addressed the nickname, ‘Martz’. “I think owing to the fact that some Fijian names are often laborious to pronounce, my family and friends settled on that because it was easier to scream, ‘Maaaaaaaaartzzz!’ Screaming like that happened quite often because I was always running off somewhere!”
Matelita, like most Fijian kids, loved her sport. “Originally, I was a long and medium distance athlete in Fiji high school athletics. I got a few gold medals from there but I did not think of pursuing athletics further.”
(Picture: Matelita with her CrossCoders coach, Michael Gallus)
David Lake has been appointed Senior Coach of the Gold Coast SUNS’ inaugural AFLW side.
The appointment comes hot on the heels of the club announcing its first three AFLW player signings.
An influential coaching figure in Queensland football over the last 15 years, Lake has coached Mt Gravatt and Morningside in the state league, as well as representative duties coaching Queensland, Papua New Guinea in the AFL International Cup and the first Gold Coast SUNS women’s representative team that played the Brisbane Lions in 2016.
Lake joins the club from the Brisbane Lions AFLW team where he has been their midfield coach since 2016.
Club founder, Elliott Takolu, is proud of his footy team. The Salamander Power club is based in Lae, north of the Papua New Guinea capital city of Port Moresby, and operates within its own small league – AFL Lae - well out of the glare of the rest of the football world.
Whilst it is known to some that footy is played as far and wide as Iceland, Chile, Myanmar, Uganda and many other exotic, far flung nations, this club which is close to Australia’s doorstep is almost anonymous.
Elliott tells the story by saying that “the club had been formed in 2008, fielding only Under 12, 13 and 15 boys. In 2009 and 2010 we decided to field Under 16 girls. Seeing interest grow from kids and youths we decided to field our senior men team in 2012.”
(Picture: Elliott and his 2012 Salamander Power premiership team)
In a rare opportunity to chat with a club president of a club from New Guinea, a fascinating account of growth and regrowth emerges. In the process, West Eagles boss, Alois Melua, gives us a small window into how a club operates in the shadow of other stronger codes in Port Moresby.
Alois started playing Australian Rules football in 2010. He played for several clubs in Port Moresby, starting with the Uni Tigers -the club managed by his late cousin and key figure in local PNG footy, Peter Meli. In 2017, Alois was with the Koboni club and joined the Eagles in 2018.
The club’s past shows a journey with highs and lows. “The West Eagles club started way back in the late 80s and has been one of the prominent clubs in history of AFL in Port Moresby and around the country as well. The club had won several grand ﬁnals in the Port Moresby AFL competition and also produce many talented and skilful players who have represented the country playing for PNG Mosquitos Team.”
The Fiji Tribe successfully defended their Oceania Cup this year, taking home the goods after a thrilling weekend of U15 footy in the nation’s capital of Suva. Playing against highly competitive sides such as the Nauru Stars, the Vanuatu Volcanoes and the South Pacific All-Stars, the Tribe finished the tournament with a flourish and will look to build upon their performance in the new year.
The first day, December 3rd, featured lightning cup-style matches between the Tribe and the Pacific All-Stars, which were made up of players from Tonga, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. The Tribe’s defense held strong in the contest. The hard-working Tribe were a bit inaccurate on goal, but they ensured that every possession was hard-fought in the midfield. Simione Kaivei led the way with two goals, while emerging Inia Rabuka was influential around the contest and earned best on ground honors for his efforts. In the end, the Tribe won by a score of 5.7.37 to 2.0.12.
There are many doubters and naysayers about Australian Football outside of Australia. That's a given. Most people I speak to have little idea of what is going on in New Zealand and glibly suggest all AFL ventures there to be a waste of time. However, 2 months back, Mitch Powell and Louis Herman-Watt in their edition number 28 of their 'Stoked Podcast' via the NZHerald had the task of reviewing the sporting week.
Mitch Powell watched and reviewed the AFL Grand Final and had the following very interesting revelations to make: