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Monday, May 29 2017 @ 02:06 AM ACST
This page is a quick snapshot of the status of Australian Football in South Africa. For further information, browse our news items or use the search facility. If you wish to contact football officials from the country, please search our site for links to their leagues or clubs, including in our Atlas. If unsuccessful, we can normally assist with putting people in touch.
Approx population (2008): 48 million
National side: Lions (formerly Buffaloes)
Governing body: AFL South Africa
Primary contact / link: AFL South Africa
WFN Census (2004): 700 players (160 adults, 540 juniors). Massive growth since then, with around 17,000 players by 2009
WFN World Ranking (2008): 4th
History: Although there are reports of Australian soldiers and gold miners bringing Aussie Rules to South Africa late in the 19th century and early in the 20th century, the modern revival began in 1997 with the Australian Defence Force, who held football clinics in the rural areas of the North West Province under army personnel, led by Marty Alsford. A clinic by AFL club Adelaide and a pre-season game between Brisbane and Fremantle quickly followed, and placements by Australian Volunteers International and recognition by the NW Academy of Sport (a push led by Brian Dixon) established South Africa as one of international Australian football's brightest prospects. In 2007 four AFL clubs partnered with AFL South Africa to promote the game in North West, Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. With several key companies involved with funding, full-time staff and numerous part-timers, player numbers quickly headed to around 17,000 by 2009, mainly in junior ranks.
Outlook (from 2009): Brightest of all countries other than Australia. Rapid growth, major investment, and the AFL's number one international priority, South Africa is on a steep curve. Hopefully some AFL draftees will emerge by 2012, and one leading former AFL official (Colin Carter) has even speculated about a South African club in the AFL one day.
Other points of interest: As host of soccer's World Cup, getting the Aussie Rules message across will significantly harder in 2010 and possibly for some time afterwards - whether it is a major issue remains to be seen. As Africa's economic and academic powerhouse, it is hoped that entrenching the game in South Africa will help spread the sport across the continent.
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 23 2010 @ 05:10 PM ACDT|Hits: 2,918