As much as it may pain Aussies to focus on the potential of New Zealanders, given the success of the Black Caps in Hobart in the 2nd cricket Test, there is though reason to look towards the shaky isles for talented footballers.
The AIS-AFL Academy will send a squad of Australia’s brightest future AFL stars to New Zealand for a nine day tour in January 2012. Pleasingly NZ are taking this incredibly seriously and have looked far and wide in developing their initial squad.
An amazing list of players with New Zealand heritage has been listed in the initial New Zealand squad in a move that will drive the AFL bloggers into a frenzy.
The itinerary will commence in Auckland and culminate in Wellington where the AIS-AFL Squad will play against the New Zealand Hawks at Westpac Stadium 12.00pm on Saturday January 28th .
The 2011 Youth AFL Oceania Cup starts this week.Planes laden with excited young national representatives, in many cases flying overseas for the first time, are jetting toward Fiji.The Vanuatu Volcanoes departed with coach Mal Thiel perhaps more excited than any of his charges as the Volcanoes set themselves for their international debut.
The AFL season is well and truly over, and with only a few exceptions including the upcoming Oceania U16 Championships and those few areas like the Northern Territory and NZ that play in the months outside the regular AFL season, there is not much on field footy activity.
So we will take the opportunity over the next few weeks to post up some video footage mostly from 2011 that has surfaced onto sites such as Youtube, both from domestic international footy and from the International Cup.
To kick it off though we go back to 2010 to the AFL's National Under 16 Championships where the World XVIII and South Pacific teams were introduced to the footy development folks of Australia alongside a number of future AFL stars.
With the third AFL Oceania Cup youth tournament set to start early next week - and perhaps to start the journey of some well down the AFL talent pathway - it is timely to remind ourselves of the tangible assistance we might able to provide even if we are far removed from the various outposts of footy.
In the audio interview below you can hear PNG's team manager Moses Kari speak to Radio Australia's Pius Bonjui about the PNG Binatangs preparation. The team selection process has been interrupted by "social issues" in Lae. Their team also sees the addition of three Solomon Islanders to their squad.
The Binatangs are confident of going back to back this year.
Back in August, WFN ran atwo part interview with Dylan Wolfgramm, who happened to be the first captain of the Fijian Youth side at the inaugral Oceania Cup tournament held in Fiji in December 2009. As pointed out, the Wolfgramm family is very prominent in footy in Fiji. Now it's the turn of young Jack Wolfgramm, as he and his Junior Tribe team mates prepare for international competition starting next week.
December is now a key month on the International Footy calendar.The reason is the now annual Youth AFL Oceania Cup.The tournament kicked off in Fiji in 2009 with Tonga perhaps the surprise inaugural victor.Last year PNG made their debut (after various circumstances conspired against an appearance in 2009) and were comfortable winners as Tonga played hosts.
AFL Vanuatu is still young, but, the demands are increasing. Fund raising is well underway to help send the national U/16 team to Fiji next month (December) for the annual AFL Oceania tournament. Domestically, the AFL Vanuatu season is nearing an end, with the Grand Final scheduled for December.