After having the luxury of most games on Free to Air TV in NZ last year, 2015 has seen the return of the bad old days for TV coverage of the Australian code after the collapse of Sommet Sport network. Each week just one game has been available on the Sky Sports network this year.
But just in time for the finals comes the announcement that footy will return to Free to Air for the 2015 AFL Finals series. TVNZ will show the matches on Freeview NZ Channel 13 with eight of the nine finals matches being shown live. Even better is the news that this is part of a three year rights deal that will run from 2016 to 2018.
Saturday was supposed to see the AFL Fiji inaugural Women's grand final as well as the Men's preliminary final contested; Unfortunately heavy rain across the weekend has seen the AFL Fiji finals schedule disrupted due to the closure of the grounds at USP (University of South Pacific) in Suva. Fiji Times reports that the matches scheduled will be played at some point in the future - with confirmation required of time and venue. The latest information from AFL Fiji is that both mens and womens grand finals will be held this week - Saturday August 29th - which presumably will see the mens preliminary final held in the morning and the grand final that afternoon. A tough ask no doubt and certainly will reinforce the benefit of the team winning through from the semis.
Women’s footy is probably the fastest growing segment of our great game – and perhaps not just in Australia. The last two AFL International Cup tournaments have included a Women’s division and last year included debutant sides Fiji and Tonga. With momentum growing towards a hoped for 2017 debut Women’s AFL league, the timing couldn’t be much better for the finale of the inaugural AFL Fiji Women’s competition that tomorrow sees the Royal Eagles line up against Qio Vula. It is also the Men’s preliminary final day.
Hawthorn announced yesterday the New Zealander Kurt Heatherley had been re-signed to a contract extension. There was some speculation that other clubs might seek the services of the key position defender but the new deal will see him stay at Hawthorn.
Yet to debut in the AFL Heatherley has been playing well for Hawthorn’s VFL affiliate Box Hill at Full Back and in recent weeks at Centre Half Back. His confident marking of the ball and ferocious attack at the contest are his greatest strengths.
Following is an update from the www.afl.com website looking at New Zealand Hawk, Kurt Heatherley and fellow Auckland recruit also with the Box Hill Hawks, Shem-Kalvin Tatupu. The article is by Travis King.
HAWTHORN will try to block rival clubs circling New Zealand project player Kurt Heatherley by ramping-up contract talks with the athletic defender.
Heatherley is yet to make his AFL debut, but his stocks have risen during a standout VFL season for Box Hill, with his impressive form attracting rivals' interest.
Hawthorn has been delighted by the international rookie's progress and AFL.com.au understands the reigning premiers are eager to hurry along negotiations on a new deal.
The Fiji Times has reported the start to the new (2015) Aussie Rules footy season in Fiji. The season got underway across the second last weekend of May and continued on with Round 2 across this last weekend of May just gone.
Week 1 saw the new improved AFL Fiji ‘Bulakick’ program underway – with a great turnout of kids who loved their new Bulakick backpacks and footies. This program runs 9 to 10.30 am on Saturday mornings for kids aged 4 to 11.
All matches are conducted at Maile Park playing grounds, University of the South Pacific (USP), Laucala Bay Road, Suva (enter through main gate and continue past the USP gym and tennis courts) – for any locals or expats passing through who want to have a look.
A new, revamped, AFL Fiji competition gets under way this weekend in Suva for the 2015 season. The off season has seen much work put into the glittering new look for the competition and the clubs themselves.
As announced by AFL Fiji, “[it’s a] new season, new captains, new teams - it's a fresh start for the AFL Fiji 2015 men's competition. The season starts this Saturday 23 May at USP and continues with two matches every Saturday at 9.00am and 11.00am.”
“Round 1 will start with a bang as last year's grand finalists face off in the first game of the season at 9.00am with the proud old Cats Kaukauwa looking for some revenge against the re-badged reigning premiers Giant Gata.”
“At 11.00am the plucky Swans Rerevaki take on the might of Lion Killa - both teams loaded with new faces and expected to be serious premiership challengers in 2015.”
As part of the AFL extravaganza happening in Wellington around the Anzac day clash between the St Kilda Saints and Carlton Blues the AFL Academy U17’s will tour playing their third annual game against NZ’s finest.
The Level One side (selected after the AFL U 16 Championships last year) include Ben Ainsworth who is a powerful small forward who leaps high, has a powerful burst of speed and can kick a goal from nothing.
Until this week, he has used those traits as a player for local club Morwell, TAC Cup team Gippsland Power and representative side Vic Country. Now he will face the New Zealand Hawks at Westpac Stadium in Wellington as part of the 100-year anniversary of Anzac Day.
Sure, most people who follow AFL know that Carlton Blues are the St Kilda Saints third opponent in the Saints’ annual Anzac Day Fixture at Westpac Stadium, Wellington.
But for the first time ever a junior Victorian team will be travelling to Wellington to play against the newly formed AFLNZ Academy Team. The Academy Team have themselves recently returned from a trip to Sydney where they played against a combined Independent Schools’ Allstars team and then the Swans Academy side who were coached by Swans legend Mick O’Loughlin.
The Academy side will be all the better for this experience but they will certainly be coming up against some slick players in the newly formed Peninsula Saints U16 team made up of players from the Frankston and Mornington Football Leagues, a traditional recruiting zone for St Kilda in days of yore.
Thanks to Lisa Roper who stepped up to coach the NZ Kahu team late last year for her thoughts on the series and what might be to come for the future of NZ women's players and teams.
Living in Oz, we are often talking about the depth or growth of the women’s game, and looking at other areas we can grow to continue the momentum from the two women’s draft matches as we prep for a national league in 2020.
Like the netball, super rugby, A-League, NRL, and basketball, a team from NZ only spreads that love, grows the brand and further enhances each of their codes. The potential for a NZ team in our own womens AFL competition is not so farfetched, if not ready for 2017, we have definitely now sown the seeds, and perhaps by 2018 we could look at least as an U18 side coming across and joining into our Youth Girls National Tournaments.
In the pouring rain for the anthems before Game 1.