As the end of October draws near and Australian based AFL fans wonder whether 2 or 3 weeks is the right length for the trade period or whether the Irish series is worth persisting with or not – we could be forgiving for thinking there’s not much going on in footy. Certainly the same can’t be said for AFL Fiji who have been working feverishly on many fronts.
We continue Lisa 'Kiwi' Roper's review of the recent tour by the Australian Under 16 girls team, the Breeze and their matches against the NZ girls team, the Kahus.
Game 2 was a different affair. Both coaching panels deciding that two mixed teams would further the playing development of the Kahus and leadership of the Breeze. What should have been an even contest ended up with the team coached by both assistant Coaches winning by a large margin and the Head Coaches copping plenty, as the spirit between this Trans-Tasman contest was more of great friends than the usual rivalries across all sports.
For myself, and many around, this only increased our excitement as to what we would see in Game 3. Just how much could a bunch of young athletes improve in a sport where they barely know the rules, most likely not actually seen a real AFL match, and have now only played two games in this code?
We asked Lisa 'Kiwi' Roper to give us her thoughts on the recent series between the Breeze (Under 16 Australian Girls Australian Football team) and the first ever female team in New Zealand - the Kahus. Living in NSW and playing and coaching the Australian form of football for many years (including playing over 200 games, and being in 10 grand finals in 12 years including two for NSW) she will always be a proud Kiwi. The greatest shame of this story is that womens footy only comes to NZ now. But looking on from the sidelines on this tour it seems Kiwi is happy to be looking forward to what the future holds for the Kiwi girls of today and tomorrow.
My perspective of the history making Trans-Tasman female tour. By Lisa ‘Kiwi’ Roper
Something special happened in New Zealand last week. Those that know will tell you there is always something special happening in NZ. Whatever they say, history was created and the “AFL is no longer a male game”, slogan was proudly announced at the opening ceremony. I was lucky enough to be there and get the best view in the Waka to witness the evolution of the sport as the first ever female New Zealand team took to the field.
Given the Maori name for Hawks, the Kahus were selected after mostly only picking the Sherrin up 6 weeks prior. This U18 team went through a High performance programme and completed the combine programme to get them as quick up to speed on the game as was possible in that time, before they took on the might of Australia.
St Kilda has secured the services of young Hawthorn midfielder Shane Savage plus the Hawks' first round selection (pick 17) in the 2013 NAB AFL National Draft in exchange for Saints ruckman Ben McEvoy.
Savage played 15 of Hawthorn’s 22 home and away games in 2013 for a career total of 56. He was an emergency for the club’s recent AFL Grand Final win over Fremantle.
The 22-year-old Kiwi will be a valuable addition to St Kilda’s midfield as well as becoming an ambassador of the club’s increasing presence in New Zealand, having being born in Auckland where he lived until his family moved to Australia when he was two years old.
Last weekend the first ever game of AFL played by women in NZ was held against the visiting Australia Breeze Youth Girls Team.
Though the result was a sound thrashing for the Kiwis nevertheless Women’s football has to start somewhere in NZ and now it has.
The result really was inconsequential as with all of the development programs through primary and secondary schools in NZ administered through AFL NZ such as KiwiKick, Hawks Cup and Play AFL 9’s the opportunities are there for the females in NZ to become increasingly involved.
Stand outs for the Kahus (Hawks in maori) on the day were Kayla Paniora, Firth Bidois, Claudia McMeekin-Currin and Kiana Laing.
The Victorian Amateur Football Association have continued their winning ways in New Zealand, beating the U-18 New Zealand Hawks 105-60.
The match was a fitting finale for the tour, with the result reflecting both the competitive nature of both matches, and the superior skill of VAFA.
For the Hawks, there were a number of strong performances. Rhys Panui-Leth, a former International Scholarship holder for Hawthorn, played a match befitting the honour of captaining his country, through his leadership in the midfield and poise in front of goal. Alex Barnsley was also a threat throughout the game, using physicality fearlessly to put pressure on his opposition.
During the game stars in the first match Kade Riddell and James McKenzie were again to the fore both kicking brilliant goals for the Hawks. By the end of the third quarter the Aussies were up tellingly 90-42.
AFL New Zealand have hosted in conjunction with the 2013 AFL Grand Final, an annual Community Awards function.
The event was an opportunity to recognise and thank the many people and partner organisations that have contributed to the success of AFL New Zealand over the past year.
The many different aspects of AFL New Zealand’s strategies and programmes were put on display throughout the Community Awards. Encompassing and recognising the contributions of primary and secondary schools, regional sporting trusts, media organisations or AFL New Zealand High Performance participants and parents, the awards covered the breadth of the AFL community.
The VAFA U 18's are currently in NZ and have played the first game, in a 3 match series against the NZ Hawks.
For the first time the NZ team opposed to the Victorians is of the same age range, with previous tours being against a NZ team with older boys. As the talent pool in NZ has increased, the need for this advantage has decreased.
Once again the Victorians were too good but players who stood out in the NZ Hawks/ South Pacific Academy game on Anzac Day as the curtain raiser to the Sydney Swans/St Kilda game were once again prominent. Hawthorn scholarship holders Ben Miller and Siope Ngata were standouts as were Kade Riddell and James McKenzie who kicked 5 goals.
With the final scorse 103- 51 the Kiwis were by no means disgraced.
The AFL New Zealand U-18 Kahus – Maori for Hawks – will play their debut game against the touring Australian Youth Girls High Performance Academy team in October. The format of this first ever showdown between the two countries will be a three-match test series.
Kahus players will be selected by a series of combine style AFL skills tests, trials, training camps and the AFL New Zealand High Performance Programme. School programmes, testing and trials were also conducted throughout June and players who impressed the coaches during these sessions will be advanced onto the High Performance Programme.
After this, potential players will be further trained at the end of August, then after the regional Youth Girls competition in September, a final squad will be selected to represent New Zealand against Australia.