Contributed by: Ben Leahy Tuesday, April 03 2007 @ 12:27 pm ACST
This year, the juggernaut that is the Asian Australian Football Championships rolls into Bangkok, home of the Thailand Tigers - hosts for 2007. The tournament has been scheduled a little earlier than usual this year for the weekend of July 14th, a fact that has seen many of the Aussie Rules teams of Asia, including four of the region's powerhouse teams, dust their boots off and blow the preseason cobwebs out with early match practise to get season 2007 underway.
In Hong Kong this week, the Hong Kong Dragons kick start season 2007 by hosting the Western Whalers, a touring Australian side hailing from the Scarborough Beach area of Perth. In a first for the Firebreathers, the match will be played on their home ground mid-week and under lights. The only unfortunate consequence of the Whalers tour is that the Firebreathers were unable to accommodate a coinciding request for a game on short notice from visiting Australian Navy Personnel.
In Singapore, the defending Asian Champs, the Wombats, have already opened season 2007 with an early hit out against their Irish counterparts, the Singapore Gaelic Lions. The Wombats defeated the Lions, 58 points to 33 in round 1 of their three match International Rules series, the Bill Nikolopoulos Cup. Last year, victorious Asian Champs coach, Lou Millicevic, flagged the hybrid game as valuable match practise for the Wombats ahead of the Champs Tournament and so this years Wombats will be, no doubt, pleased with the early result. In another encouraging sign for footy in Singapore, the Wombats launched their official AFL Auskick program on March 3rd with more than 38 junior wombats already signed on.
The nearby Jakarta Bintangs have got an even earlier jump on the competition this year having already played three competitive intra-club practise matches under the format of Vics vs The Rest of the World. They also gain further match practise this Saturday by hosting the Christmas Island Bulldogs at home.
However, as unfair as it may seem, it is the veterans of Asian Footy and not their younger counterparts who are the first footballers in the region to stretch out their aging legs and suit up for serious tournament play. Each year the Bali 9’s Masters Tournament for 35 yr olds and over marks the first big international Australian Footy clash of the year in Asia, and this year was no exception. On Saturday March 17, the Bali Geckoes hosted Masters Teams from the Jakarta Bintangs and the Singapore Wombats as well as the South Coast Buccaneers from Australia.
The following tournament report is reproduced from the Gecko Gazette, the quarterly newsletter of the Bali Geckos Australian Football Club.
Not quite the Masters...
The Bali Geckos commenced their 2007 season by hosting the ABC Radio Australia Paradise FM100.9 Bali Nines Masters Australian Rules Football Championships at the Canggu Club on March 17. In a repeat of last year’s final, the Geckos were outdone by their arch rivals the Jakarta Bintangs in front of a large crowd, going down by 20 points. The Bintangs went into the final as favourites after showing some great form during the round-robin event, starting off with a 8 goal win over the Singapore Wombats.
The Geckos played with a lot of determination and spirit but were unable to match the more experienced Bintangs. Final scores Bintangs 6 5 31 to Geckos 3 3 21.
Other teams to join the event were the Singapore Wombats and the South Coast Buccaneers from Australia. The event followed specially modified rules, the major ones being that teams are 9-a-side and all players must be 35 years and over. The day also included a netball game between the Bali Breakers and the Jakarta Kangarudas.
Bali 9s Masters Results
Bali Geckos 8 - 2 – 50 d Sth Coast Buccaneers 4 - 7 - 34
Jakarta Bintangs 10 - 5 – 65 d Singapore Wombats 3 - 2 - 20
Jakarta Bintangs 7 - 5 – 47 d Bali Geckos 5 - 3 - 33
Singapore Wombats 10 - 7 – 67 d Sth Coast buccaneers 5 - 2 - 32
Bali Geckos 6 - 2 – 38 d Singapore Wombats 4 - 3 - 27
Jakarta Bintangs 8 - 5 – 53 t Sth Coast Buccaneers 8 - 5 - 53
Jakarta Bintangs 6 - 5 – 41 d Bali Geckos 3 - 3 - 21
Top Goal Scorers
Chris Elliott (Bintangs) 13
Revo (Buccaneers) 7
Andrew Taylor (Wombats) 6
Jeff (Geckos) 6
Lightcom Player of the Tournament
Shane Art (Buccaneers) 15
Matt Jolly (Bintangs) 12
Chris Elliott (Bintangs) 10
Jeff (Geckos) 10
Jakarta Kangarudas 5
Bali Breakers 4