Articles on this Page
- 03/24/13--19:15: _World and South Pac...
- 03/24/13--19:59: _St Kilda to soon jo...
- 03/25/13--21:46: _German students try...
- 03/26/13--04:05: _Iberian Snapshot – ...
- 03/27/13--04:55: _Euro bound AIS-AFL ...
- 03/27/13--05:08: _International Broad...
- 03/27/13--05:46: _Suns to release Ari...
- 03/27/13--06:15: _AFL Europe's April ...
- 03/27/13--07:16: _An Avalanche of Aus...
- 03/27/13--21:24: _So, what might the ...
- 03/29/13--10:53: _Women’s Curtain Rai...
- 03/31/13--07:33: _Croatia 2013 – The ...
- 04/01/13--15:55: _Hanley reported but...
- 04/02/13--15:45: _Tadgh speaks to Leg...
- 04/02/13--18:43: _International Broad...
- 04/04/13--05:58: _U15 National Kickst...
- 04/05/13--05:45: _AFLNT To Tackle Dep...
- 04/06/13--04:10: _Tadgh Kennelly disc...
- 04/07/13--21:58: _Aussie young guns o...
- 04/08/13--03:55: _PNG Binatangs elect...
- 03/24/13--19:15: World and South Pacific teams to return for fourth tournament
- 03/24/13--19:59: St Kilda to soon join the NZ recruiting bandwagon?
- 03/25/13--21:46: German students try their hand at 9s in Sydney
- 03/26/13--04:05: Iberian Snapshot – Spain, Portugal & Catalonia 2013
- 03/27/13--04:55: Euro bound AIS-AFL squad to warm up against Collingwood 2s
- 03/27/13--05:08: International Broadcast Schedule: Round 1 Week 2
- 03/27/13--05:46: Suns to release Arizona Documentary
- 03/27/13--06:15: AFL Europe's April promo video
- 03/27/13--07:16: An Avalanche of Austrian Talent
- 03/27/13--21:24: So, what might the Anzac Day Game mean for footy in Wellington?
- 03/29/13--10:53: Women’s Curtain Raiser to Headline AFL Women’s Round
- 03/31/13--07:33: Croatia 2013 – The Power Of Positive Thinking
- 04/01/13--15:55: Hanley reported but likely to accept reprimand
- 04/02/13--15:45: Tadgh speaks to Legion team ahead of big week for AFL Europe
- 04/02/13--18:43: International Broadcast Schedule: Round 2
- 04/04/13--05:58: U15 National Kickstart Championships – Townsville 2013
- 04/05/13--05:45: AFLNT To Tackle Depression & Anxiety
- 04/06/13--04:10: Tadgh Kennelly discusses AFL Europe squad's progress
- 04/07/13--21:58: Aussie young guns over European Legion by 86 points
- 04/08/13--03:55: PNG Binatangs electrify Cairns
The AFL has announced the 2013 NAB Under 16 Championships draw. This year's tournament will again include a WA Northwest team as well as a Flying Boomerangs indigenous team who will play against the World and South Pacific teams.
The South Pacific and WorldXVIII teams will be back for their fourth tournament which will be held in western Sydney from July 6 to July 13.
Saturday July 6
SA v Vic Metro at Blacktown International Sportspark, 12pm
Vic Country v WA at Blacktown International Sportspark, 2.30pm
Sunday July 7
South Pacific v Boomerangs at Blacktown International Sportspark, 9am
WA North West v World Team at Blacktown International Sportspark, 11am
Tas v NT at Blacktown International Sportspark, 1.10pm
NSW/ACT v Qld at Blacktown International Sportspark, 3.30pm
Tuesday July 9
Vic Country v Vic Metro at Blacktown International Sportspark, 11am
WA v WA at Blacktown International Sportspark, 1.10pm
Wednesday July 10
Qld v Tas at Blacktown International Sportspark, 10am
NT v NSW/ACT at Blacktown International Sportspark, 12pm
Boomerangs v WA North West at Blacktown International Sportspark, 2.20pm
World Team v South Pacific at Blacktown International Sportspark, 4.20pm
Friday July 12
WA v Vic Metro at Blacktown International Sportspark, 10am
SA v Vic Country at Blacktown International Sportspark, 12.10pm
Saturday July 13
Boomerangs v World Team at Blacktown International Sportspark Ground Two, 9.30am
WA North West v South Pacific at Blacktown International Sportspark Ground Two, 11.30am
Tas v NSW/ACT at Blacktown International Sportspark Ground One, 11.30am
NT v Qld at Blacktown International Sportspark Ground One, 1.30pm ...
Representatives from St Kilda were in Auckland this week, checking out potential crossover players. A key member of the visitors is Hawthorn’s former list manager Chris Pelchen. Hawthorn have done it in the past, most notably with Kurt Heatherley who plays for a Hawthorn feeder team in the TAC Cup and has transitioned from an International Scholarship player to an International Rookie.
Club bosses see rich athletic potential to mine in Auckland, a point emphasised by chief executive of AFL New Zealand Robert Vanstam. "We're not looking to steal athletes from the NZRU or NRL," Vanstam said in reference to the recent spate of code-hopping by Israel Folau and Karmichael Hunt. "We're more interested in giving kids here another option."
Saints’ Chief executive Michael Nettlefold expected a sellout crowd in Wellington, bringing St Kilda to an untapped fanbase. With St Kilda among the 10 of 18 AFL clubs based in or near the Victorian capital, their home market is saturated.
"The sport is new to many people in New Zealand, so we're hoping to be at the forefront of something special. And to be able to build links with New Zealand on Anzac Day is a wonderful thing."
"It's a fast and dramatic sport," said St Kilda coach Scott Watters. "There's nothing like these athletes anywhere in the world. The action moves quickly and around 360 degrees. "We reckon we've got the greatest sport in the world and we think Kiwis will agree."
For more, see AFL scouts on mission to mine likely talent ...
A group of German soccer students from Bamberg University recently took on the Tattersalls Football Club in Sydney in a match of AFL 9s - with the Germans' superior fitness allowing them to run out victors over the locals.
Bamberg is in the north of the German state of Bavaria, and while it's not particularly close to any existing AFLG clubs, the idea of some new enthusiastic footy fans in Germany might be of interest to the German footy community!
The following report originally appeared on the AFL NSW/ACT website.
GERMAN STUDENTS GIVE AFL 9S A GO
Touring German soccer players from Bamberg University have had a taste of Aussie Rules, playing in a friendly AFL 9s match against Tattersalls Football Club.
By Dalton Woods
Students from Bamberg University in Germany are in Australia to play a series of soccer matches against various universities around the country.
However, Prashanth Shanmugan, Chairman of the Young Members’ Committee at Tattersalls Club and a Sydney Swans ambassador, hoped to build stronger cross-cultural links between Germany and Australia.
He succeeded in doing this through an AFL 9s match, the nine a side, non-contact version of Australian Rules football.
Though an AFL 9s match is usually divided into two 20-minutes halves, this one was broken into four 15-minute quarters.
The players could not have asked for better weather as the two teams hit it out on a sunny Friday afternoon at Robertson Road fields in Moore Park.
The Germans were clearly excited to be playing this new sport, bolting out to an early lead after kicking four of the first five goals.
By half time the Aussies gained some composure and briefly held the lead, but in the end they were not able to match the enthusiasm or fitness of the Bamberg students.
Pulling ahead in the second half, the German delegation won the friendly encounter by 17 points.
After the match, the delegation attended a special cocktail reception in their honour at the Tattersalls Club. ...
As the new Australian Rules season dawns for most European countries, various hibernating footballing leviathans emerge from their winter slumbers. One such region is the Iberian Peninsula where footy lovers in Spain, Portugal, Catalonia and Andorra prepare for the 2013 season.
The love of the game has not necessarily translated to large numbers in these countries, nations and principalities, meaning that regular fixtures are difficult. But that hasn’t stopped the intrepid few from generating interest to keep the code’s flag flying.
According to Dani Ribas, the communications contact for Australian Rules football in Spain, the 2013 season will not see new growth, but a consolidation of the game from last year. “Unfortunately there’s no league in Spain [or] new teams, although we are working on that. It’s hard to recruit new people if you cannot promise them regular matches against other teams. But we do interesting things: we are near to arranging the first match between Madrid Bears and Lisbon Dockers in Portugal and also a friendly tournament in Catalonia in spring.”
Dani adds, “[We have the] Bears in Spain and Dockers in Portugal (9's teams). In Catalonia there are a couple of teams but they don't have a league either. We would like to play Lisbon, Madrid, Catalonia and Andorra in the same league, but distances are too long and [as it stands now] we couldn't afford the travel expenses without any financial aid.”
Nevertheless, those dedicated numbers of people who want to see the game flourish one day are working hard to ensure games of some sort go ahead. It will also be interesting to see whether Spain can again have a team at the Euro Cup in 2013. Early indications are that numbers are low and this may prevent a team from forming. However, given that the location is Bordeaux, it is possible that a Spanish side may yet get there.
The updates from David Valente, the president of Futebol Australiano em Portugal, suggest a similar situation this year in Portugal.
According to David, "Currently we're starting to train again, after having stopped for winter. We don't have access to proper grounds, so we must use public parks, without adequate draining. Therefore, when it rains our training ground becomes a proper 'gluepot', as they used to have at the Western Oval or at Glenferrie all those years ago.
We're still in touch with the Madrid Bears and hope to play with them sometime before the end of the spring."
On the positive side, David points out , "apart from that, people are still coming forward showing interest in playing, so our group is growing. Hopefully it'll grow even more now that the AFL season has started and games are on TV again.
I'm sure the game against Madrid will bolster interest and that some people that only practice irregularly now will become more committed.”
Getting the players on to a field is one challenge, but the Lisbon Dockers are also finding access to suitable equipment difficult. As David points out, “basic materials are scarce, though, including footballs. [This is] despite the Fremantle Dockers' goodwill. Still, we have a committed group and hope to start working with the Australian Embassy soon.”
But to offset these difficulties, David still holds out an air of optimism for the future. "It would be great if we could organise competitions between Portuguese, Spanish, Catalonian and Andorran teams, both club and national. We could play in Madrid, which is more central, or rotate host cities. I think that there aren't many international club matches in Europe right now, and we in the Iberian Peninsula could step in to help fill that gap."
With suitable sponsorship it is exciting to imagine a competition which rotates between Madrid, Lisbon, Barcelona and Andorra.
As has been mentioned by Dani in Spain and David in Portugal, the Catalan team is firmly on the radar of the Lisbon Dockers and the Madrid Bears for matches throughout the season. Whilst these will not be part of a fixture, they will likely be played as stand-alone challenge matches.
Catalonia was previously home to a promising local league with clubs in Barcelona, Valls and Tarragona, however this petered out in the last few years. Former president of Catalan football, Pere Moliner Salinas, confirmed that whilst there is “no regular league” in Catalonia this year, the team (or teams, depending on numbers) will await confirmation from other Iberian Peninsula teams to play various tournaments throughout 2013.
For a detailed overview of the state of the game in Andorra, World Footy News published the article Andorran AFL – The Phoenix of the Pyrenees ...
The inaugural AFL Chairman’s Cup and MCC President’s Medal will be presented at the annual AIS-AFL Academy match this Thursday night. The AIS-AFL Academy level two squad, playing as Australia Under-18s will play Collingwood’s VFL team in a curtain-raiser to the Carlton v Richmond match at the MCG.
The winning team will be presented the AFL Chairman’s Cup by AFL Commission Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick.
The best Australia Under-18 player will be awarded the MCC President’s Medal which will be presented by MCC President Paul Sheahan. AIS-AFL High Performance Coach Michael O’Loughlin and his assistants Glen Jakovich, Brad Ottens, Matthew Lloyd, Tadhg Kennelly and Brad Johnson will select the medallist.
The AIS-AFL Academy Level Two squad will depart for a 15-day European tour on Saturday March 30. The squad will train at the AIS European training centre in Varese, Italy, before travelling to London. The squad will play the European Legion on Saturday April 6 at Surrey Sportspark.
The squad will then travel to Denmark and combined AIS-AFL Academy and European sides will play in Copenhagen on Wednesday April 10.
AIS-AFL High Performance Coach Michael O’Loughlin said he was looking forward to taking the AIS-AFL Academy squad to Denmark for the first time.
“The players will be representing their country and the game while on tour which is a big responsibility. They will also be challenged to prepare and recover from matches in a new environment which will allow them put their training into practice,” he said.
AIS-AFL Academy mentors Brad Ottens and Tadhg Kennelly will be travelling with the squad.
The AIS-AFL Academy Squad will be presented with their Australian guernseys at a function tonight at Etihad Stadium.
The AIS-AFL Academy is part of the NAB AFL Rising Stars Program, which supports young players from grassroots to the elite lev ...
The 2013 AFL season gets underway for the 14 other teams this week. The first match this week is on Thursday night Australian time between the Richmond and Carlton. No matches are played in Australia on Good Friday. The schedule can be seen below.
|Carlton v Richmond||W Bulldogs v Brisbane||GWS v Sydney||Gold Coast v St Kilda||Melb vs Pt Adelaide||N Melb v Collingwood||Haw v Geelong||Highlights|
|Asia||28/3 @ 2230 HKT (Delay)||30/3 @ 1030 HKT (LIVE)||30/3 @ 1730 HKT (Delay)||31/3 @ 1330 HKR (LIVE)||1/4 @ 1200 HKT (LIVE)||2/4 @ 2230 HKT|
|Pacific||28/3 @ 2200 FJT (Delay)||30/3 @ 1430 FJT (LIVE)||30/3 @ 2130 FJT (Delay)||31/3 @ 1400 FJT (LIVE)||1/4 @ 1600 FJT (LIVE)||3/4 @ 1800 FJT|
|India||28/3 @ 2230 IST (Delay)||30/3 @ 0900 IST (Delay)||30/3 @ 1500 IST (Delay)||31/3 @ 1100 IST (LIVE)||1/4 @ 0930 IST (LIVE)||2/4 @ 2200 IST|
|UK & Ireland||28/3 @ 0830 GMT (LIVE)||31/3 @ 0500 BST(LIVE)||2/4 @ 1100 BST|
|Europe||30/3 @ 0930 CET (LIVE)||2/4 @ 2300 CET|
|UK & Ireland||1/4 @ 2300 BST (Delay)||2/4 @ 2330 BST|
|FOX SOCCER PLUS|
|USA||31/3 @ 2100 PDT (LIVE)|
|Middle East||28/3 @ 1130 KSA (LIVE)||30/3 @ 0530 KSA (LIVE)||31/3 @ 0830 KSA (LIVE)||1/4 @ 0700 KSA (LIVE)|
|OTLSM BOATS AND SHIPS|
|Worldwide (excl. Aust)||28/3 @ 0840 GMT (LIVE)|
|New Zealand||1/4 @ 0000 NZT|
|Canada||1/4 @ 0030 ET (LIVE)|
|Latin America||31/3 @ 1000 MST (Delay)|
|ONLINE via LIVEAFL.TV|
|Worldwide Online||0845 GMT||0240 GMT||0540 GMT||0845 GMT||0210 GMT||0540 GMT||0420 GMT|
Broadcast times subject to change. All times are local unless specified. For the latest information visit afl.com.au/broadcastguide
Broadcast times subject to change. All times are local unless specified. For the latest information visit afl.com.au/broadcastguide...
The Gold Coast SUNS will provide Queensland sports fans with an access all areas pass to the Club this weekend, when a special covering the teams recent high performance altitude training camp in Arizona airs on 7mate. Viewers in the rest of Australia and overseas will also be able to watch the doco on the Club's YouTube channel.
From trekking through the Grand Canyon, to navigating the red rock formations of Sedona on Mountain-Bikes and scaling the icy slopes of Mount Humphrey's, the SUNS TV cameras captured every second of the fourteen day camp, documenting the intensive and challenging program set by newly recruited high performance manager Stephen Schwerdt and the GC SUNS coaching staff.
From personal achievements and setbacks to team activities, nothing is off limits during the thirty minute special which highlights the dedication and sacrifice required to play AFL at an elite level, whilst also highlighting the advances the GC SUNS have made as the playing group prepares for their third season in the AFL.
Gold Coast SUNS General Manager of Communications and Content Jason Sintome said the Arizona documentary was a fantastic opportunity for GC SUNS fans across the state to experience life as an elite athlete and get to know their favourite players a little better.
"Arizona ‘The making of a team’ is a 30 minute journey which takes viewers behind the scenes and into the heart of the football club at a time when they are working extremely hard in testing conditions, 7,000 feet above sea level where every task as tough mentally as it is physically.” Sintome said.
In an era where fans constantly crave greater access and often have the latest news on their sporting stars at their fingertips, the Arizona documentary is a significant step forward in the clubs continuing quest to further engage with existing passionate fans across multiple digital platforms and to introduce new audiences to the Gold Coast based club.
Viewers will also be urged to discuss the program as it goes to air using the #SUNSarizona hash tag which has been promoted throughout the show with Arizona themed quizzes on Twitter & Facebook, in real time.
“Our goal was to position viewers within the camp and make them feel like they are there in Flagstaff and part of the team during each exercise and every challenge.”
"At the same time we are very much aware that simply watching a television show or broadcast is a thing of the past for most viewers, and through the many social media platforms available, we want to instigate discussion and feedback when the show airs on Saturday,” Sintome said.
Arizona “The making of a Team” airs on 7mate from 4:30pm on Saturday, 30th March and will also be uploaded to the Club's YouTube channel allowing interstate and fans based internationally to enjoy the show and join in the digital conversation.
Arizona "The making of a team" precedes the first episode of the Clubs weekly television show SUNS TV and the opening match of the season between the Gold Coast SUNS and St Kilda LIVE from Metricon Stad ...
“Well, where to start?” begins Oliver Krajacic, captain of the Styrian DownUnder Dogs in Graz, Austria. “Apart from restructuring internally, we finally managed to organise an Australian Football course in cooperation with our local university. The 25 spots were gone in about three weeks, and the prospect of adding that many potential regular players to our sport is just an extremely positive turn of events for us.”
Such is the manner in which Oliver almost breathlessly extolls the excitement of an off season which may forever change the fortunes of Australian Rules football in Austria. Oliver puts it in this light: "If no more than 5 or 6 players from that course turn out to be EU Cup material, we might finally get some competitiveness going. People fighting for a spot on the team for interleague matches or the EU Cup. That's something we'll have to get used to. Heck, practice sessions with possibly two full teams being available were the stuff of dreams in recent years.”
This is a veritable avalanche of players when compared to previous seasons, but it hasn’t all been beer and skittles over the past couple of years.
Oliver has certainly watched from a close distance as Australian Rules football started to ebb away before these latest positive changes.
“If you check our placements in the Euro Cups of the last few years, you'll notice we didn't do very well. All our struggles can be (more or less) traced back to a single problem: a lack of players. For the last three years (and before that, but I've been involved only for that long) we were constantly struggling to get a decent number of people to practices. Six players would already be considered ok, ten was a success, and our core players were almost universally close to or above 30 years of age.”
“Without the Vienna Kangaroos we were also lacking an opponent of comparable level to play constantly and earn experience for our understaffed team. The Interleague with the Croatian teams from Zagreb certainly was an improvement, but we were rarely able to field all of our better players to be somewhat competitive. Games against the Croatian national team were usually brutal blowout losses for us.”
“Don't get the wrong impression though. We are insanely grateful for the support and friendship of the teams from Zagreb. They are an all-around super friendly bunch, very helpful and without a hint of arrogance. They have time and again provided help with coaching, especially when we were starting out with our current team and always tried to be encouraging, even after they trashed us on the field.”
It is clear from Oliver’s descriptions at this point that Australian Rules football in Austria was on a slide in the wrong direction. Something or someone had to become the catalyst to turn the nation’s footballing fortunes around. Enter DownUnderDogs president, Martin Schitteg.
“Before [our restructure] our president, Martin, basically did everything. Despite welcoming an adorable little boy to his family and being somewhat occupied with that, he still poured his heart and soul into the club. Without him, footy in Austria would have died and been forgotten when the Kangaroos ceased to exist. [We are all] very thankful for his commitment to the club and the sport.”
But this recent connection with the Karl-Franzens Universität Graz, and the interest generated by the Australian Rules football course, might just prove to be the turning point for the game in Austria. Certainly Oliver sees this development in a positive light.
“So we kind of have high hopes for this year, both as a club and as a national team. I don't think we can be really competitive internationally for a few years [yet] though. Even if all the students that signed up are amazing athletes, you need to play the game to get better at it.”
“However, more players means more friends and relations that hear about the sport, which, in turn, means more potential new players or even teams, a higher profile for the sport in our province and country, and that certainly is encouraging.”
Oliver paints a picture of renewed optimism for the game in Austria. Despite a variety of hardships over the past few years, it appears that the darkest days might be over and a new dawn is about to rise over Austrian Aussie Rules.
And that can only be good for the game, both in Austria and across Europe.
Team Austria - the Avalanches
The DownUnderDogs of Graz, Austria, together with their Croatian rivals
Having had the great good fortune to be in Wellington as a foundation member of the NZAFL Board, formed when the AFL decided to support international football financially rather than in a tokenistic fashion, for the three pre-season games held there from 1998-2001 it is fair to say I have some good memories of football development at that time.
Having been at the coalface of player recruitment and development during this period as a local Club President, a Wellington player and League President at The Basin in 1998 and coach of the victorious Wellington team at the two Stadium Games’ curtain raisers I think that gives some real perspective on what the Anzac Day game may mean for future game development.
That said, things change. Since the last Stadium game so many initiatives have developed for NZ and International footy. The AFL has seen international development as a key development area. They have supported this not just through various funding arrangements but through the support of competitions at junior and open age level.
The International Cups grew from the pioneers at Arafura’s efforts, running of events such as the South Pacific Cups and the inclusion of South Pacific and World representative teams at the Australian Championships. This list continues to grow and I realise is not exhaustive.
The AFL are no longer alone in looking to develop the game in New Zealand. Hawthorn were the pioneers but now St Kilda have joined them in promoting the game. The structure in development provided through the Hawks support of school age football I would think has really advanced this aspect of the game. The raw talent is there as evidenced by the Giants, Melbourne and the Hawks all listing players from New Zealand.
Another factor that NZAFL struggled with was the inability to retain a leader in the foundation years from 1998. A string of capable people filled this role but moved on quickly as the funds available for salary were always low. Things may have changed regarding funding since 2005 but I think it has been of immense benefit that Rob Vanstam has given the role continuity.
One area that seems to have not yet benefited from the increased focus on development is the actual competitions in New Zealand.
The 6 Club Auckland competition once had a Reserves Grade and some Clubs had U 17’s but now the AAFL seems to have a single competition with the University Club fielding two sides, Waikato managed to get to three teams but seems to have two at best at present and Wellington had a 4 Club League and a Reserves competition but did not even have a competitive League game in 2012.
On the positive side has been the emergence of competitive football in Otago, however that is very much in its infancy, and also that Christchurch has sustained a strong 4 team competition.
From my own experience investing time, effort and passion into international footy competitions requires a huge commitment. In many senses it is unrewarding with the weakest elements often holding back those ready to move forward. Sure a Club can organise enough players for an 18 a side senior team and a 12 a-side Reserves team but if their opponents can’t even organise 9 players to turn up the good work of the proactive ones becomes a waste of time.
I have heard all the arguments about sharing the players around but that is not what happens. They come to play because their mates are in a team and that team is well organised on and off the field. They want to give the game a go but will not stick around with another Club because they haven’t got a commitment to the code in the first place as footy is just one of many recreational choices, they haven’t bonded with that group of players or they become sick of wasting their time with ‘scratch’ matches when their new Club doesn’t show with enough numbers, if at all.
To run a Club well is probably a 10 month a year commitment, at the minimum, and so few in the international arena have the passion and time for this. Often those capable of doing so are already tied up playing, coaching and managing their sport of origin still rather than their adopted sport of AFL.
The last three paragraphs have clarified the real nuts and bolts reality of life at the coalface. In fact I have probably put a positive spin on it!
The reason I have outlined these issues attached to the positive developments around the growth of the AFLNZ programs is that the very few people who used to commit the time in Wellington to try to promote local footy have found their efforts better rewarded delivering the AFLNZ objectives. That way they are supported by the AFLNZ staff and have the opportunity to run short term ‘project/competition/talent identification’ programs that often involve the bonus of football-related travel. Put that up against the continual slog of trying to build a Club and League when others don’t share the same passion and it easy to see why such a choice is made.
It is to be hoped that in the end all of the talent identification and junior development programs eventually build a critical mass that will demand serious local competitions. At present in Wellington add-ons such as AFL 9’s, which is a format best served for newly establishing areas and the more social attachment to the game in traditional centres, seems to be the focus.
I thought it might be informative to capture some views of some of the greats of Wellington football on their perspective as to what has, and is, happening with what was once a NZ dominant competition.
I had the great fortune to work with Mike O’Donnell in the mid 90’s in rebuilding the WAFL (Wellington Australian Football League) when it had only 2 functioning teams and 37 registered players at the end of 1994. He established the League with his brothers in 1973 as a young man when his family moved across from Melbourne. He is a NZAFL, Wellington and Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs Life Member. He was also part of the first NZ team in 1979 to tour Australia once football had been re-started in NZ in the 70’s.
The next two players I introduced to the game and they have contributed mightily since.
John ‘Jacko’ Jackson came to the game in 1995 as a Provincial Rugby Rep in his late twenties. From their he has captained and coached many local Bulldogs Premiership teams and captain and coached at NPC level very successfully. He played for NZ at Arafura in 1997 and 1999 as the team’s vice captain and World Team selection and captained the inaugural NZ team at the International Cup. Off field, besides his coaching roles, he has had a variety of committee roles at Club and League level.
Guy Ferguson is a player who came to the game in 1999 as a 15 year old. He is a direct result of The Basin Game and junior development at the time. He has played on until the present time being a key component of the 2005 Kiwi’s win at the International Cup. For me Guy is what The Basin game was all about, bringing youth to the game because that was where long-term NZ footballers would really develop from.
I have asked the guys a series of questions to which they have responded:- RS= Rod Shaw, MO= Mike O’Donnell, JJ= John Jackson and GF = Guy Ferguson
(RS) What brought you to the game in Wellington and when?
(MO) My brothers and I founded the Wellington Aussie Rules competition in 1973/74. We started with a game at Trentham Memorial Park and things just developed from there.
(JJ) In 1995, I was playing NPC Rugby for Horowhenua and premier club rugby for Poneke. AFL is a summer sport in Wellington and I went along to watch some good mates play a ‘game of Aussie Rules’ that they were raving about!
(GF) I think you guys might have come to school? Otherwise I think my good friend Alex Barker got me on board!
(RS) That’s right Guy, Matt Woodhouse who was on the WAFL Committee at the time, went in to Wellington College. The WAFL committee had developed a number of strategies to improve the competition around The Basin game and that was one of them.
(RS) What was your perspective of the game in Wellington?
(JJ) When I first played, the game was very social and lacked numbers but was very rough so I loved it! We lacked player numbers & umpires and it was basically run by expat Aussies, By late 90’s player numbers, skill level & standard of umpires was fantastic with a very competitive local comp where any of the 4 club sides could win. A lot of ‘word of mouth’ created player growth from other winter sport codes and the fact it was played in summer meant we did not compete with major winter sports i.e. rugby, rugby league & soccer.
(RS) Yes it was rough Jacko but, as must be done, some rather large penalties including a 2 year ban for one player supported the umpires to take control of the game and feel able to make a decision knowing they would be backed up at WAFL Committee level. There was a lot of time spent in organising Club and League Functions to get the ‘buy in’ from what might have been very casual participants.
(GF) It was fun, different from Rugby. When I first started out the level was above me and I just played Reserves. By the age of about 20 the grade was competitive and enjoyable. At times the quality of the competition has been really good, at times the Bulldogs have been a bit too good, which is not really that much fun.
(RS) Guy- it wasn’t above you skill wise as you won two B & F’s for the Bulldogs Reserves before you went in to the seniors full time. You were still not physically developed enough to play seniors regularly but that Reserve Grade allowed you space with 12 a side and more younger players to learn the game against. It served a great purpose as a development grade which meant when senior players left the sport at the end of a season or moved on, you had younger and/or new players to come up that could already play and had formed some attachment to the Club and the sport.
(RS) What did the Arafura tournaments mean for you and your attachment to the game?
(JJ) I absolutely loved going to these games (went on two trips). It meant that all the hard work and effort on and off the field meant we had a goal to aim for making the hard slog of local footy and much travel for NPC games in cars and at our own expense worthwhile. We got to represent our country. In 1997 the NZ team was dominated by Auckland players, coaches & administrators which proved uncomfortable for non- Auckland players. As Auckland’s national dominance declined a ‘new breed’ of player came through which meant more harmony and better prepared teams. The trips I was privileged to be part of created lifelong friends and memories. Whilst the NZ team probably did not quite get the next level i.e. win gold, this came down to a combination of the lack of resources (money), time together (warm up games) and in some instances the ‘holiday’ factor that often crept into the team!
(RS) Yes, representing the country made all the hard work at local level worthwhile when turning up was often just hard work with the Wellington weather, the on-going likelihood of a forfeited game and the familiarity that a 4 team competition brings. How good was it doing the Haka as we came by the Marrara Stadium in the walk by for all of the countries to launch the Festival? Arafura enabled players to see the bigger picture and generally return to their local competitions as more skilled and motivated to promote the game. The ‘holiday factor’ was not a big issue really- I think PNG had the wood on us. In reality when players almost entirely self-fund some trips they do become a ‘trip of a lifetime, to such an exotic destination as Darwin. This factor was certainly not in evidence on the 2002 trip to Melbourne for the International Cup.
(RS) What did the first AFL pre-season game at The Basin mean for you?
(MO) It was just great to see a live AFL game in NZ, and especially at a ground like the Basin Reserve.
(RS) Couldn’t agree with you more Mike but when big Dipper was out on the bank chatting up my wife I did have some concerns while I was standing at Full Back for Wellington against an Auckland avalanche of goals!
(JJ) Overwhelming playing in the curtain raiser. I was not used to the standard that a very good Auckland side played at. It however was the single most important game for me and a host of other Wellington players, coaches, administrators for us to be better and no longer the easy beats which just added to the rivalry and caused a huge lift in standards!
(RS) No doubt Jacko- it further galvanised the key administrators and players in Wellington to further lift their game and that has only proved good for NZ footy as a whole.
(RS) What did the Stadium pre-season games mean for you?
(MO) Just great to see Kiwis having the opportunity to see a live AFL game.
(JJ) Some of the best sporting memories I will ever have. I captained Wellington twice at the stadium and we are unbeaten. We played on a quality sporting facility with my closest friends and the ‘best’ Wellington had to offer. Having family in the stand watching …… priceless.
(GF) I thought this was great, I will most probably go again this year!
(RS) Having access to such a venue specifically designed to accommodate AFL was brilliant. It is a top rate venue with a great playing surface. The work of Will McKenzie and the NZAFL Board at the time was visionary in creating this situation in a country that is obsessed with Rugby. It was very evident from the discussion around the events that the games had been well-received, though attendance figures were not spectacular.
(RS) What have the international Cups meant for you?
(JJ) I was privileged and honoured to be captain of NZ in 2002. As a team we under- performed, winning the Bronze medal after playing poorly against eventual winners Ireland. Nevertheless it was a fantastic opportunity for players again to represent NZ overseas and in a city (Melbourne) where AFL is a religion, just an incredible experience. I truly wished that I was younger at the time so I could have possibly made another International Cup. The fact that this competition continues with the NZ team often favourite is a true testament to how important it is for the AFL players in our country.
(GF) Don't get me wrong, it was a fantastic opportunity to play on the MCG, but for me footy is all about doing it with your mates, it was only myself and Byron Roff in 2005, it was extremely disappointing when Al Hunter was, very surprisingly, dropped from the squad. The competition at the International Cup was average except for two teams. We whipped most people bar PNG, it seemed for some international teams it was just a social trip.
(RS) The International Cups are something special. I have attended games at all Cups and the esteem in which the tournament has grown is very evident. I had the good fortune to watch Ireland and NZ in 2011 and that was a highly-skilled and very bruising affair. I also watched Jim Lucy’s Tonga play the Swedes and that was just an enjoyable game of footy. Sure the skill level was a big drop but the passion was very evident in the players representing their country. It really is what sport should be about!
(RS) What has happened with the Wellington competition and why?
(JJ) Sadly the Wellington competition is in a very poor state due to lack of administrators therefore the league is run by the same people that are either umpiring, playing and/or coaching teams.
Obviously lack of playing numbers has hindered the competition and growth. Shocking, bordering on complete incompetent, umpiring has left players/coaches frustrated and disillusioned with the sport. Playing on Sunday I believe has now hindered the game with many players having families and not having the time to give up on Sunday afternoon any more. Any chance to look at Saturday competition is often pushed aside by administrators again looking after their own club interests.
Remarkably, Wellington now has probably the best venue/facilities it has had in my time, Hutt Park, Seaview with access to changing rooms and Stop Out soccer clubrooms and a city council willing to help.
But regularly turning up on a Sunday afternoon to find the opposition team has 5/6 players or no umpire so coaches/players having to take the reins is not a great advertisement for the game…..disillusioned is a word that comes to mind!
(GF) I reckon Sundays is a killer, so some are hungover, but if you’re not, it’s your Sunday and do you really want to be trooping off to play footy on a Sunday. I reckon that has been the biggest hold back in attracting players. I reckon mid week / Friday night on an artificial ground like the one in Island Bay and it would be up and cranking.
(RS) Sounds like there are some constructive ideas there for re-invigorating the game. That said, I believe the challenge is on getting people to actually care about a local competition enough that they might find the time to develop this alongside the AFLNZ initiatives that would seem more rewarding and less stress.
(RS) What do you hope will come from the ANZAC Day game for football in Wellington, NZ and for future AFL games in NZ?
(MO) I hope it gets lots of support from the locals and that it is the forerunner to making more games in Wellington. I also hope that it leads to more locals joining the local competitions and the profile of AFL growing over time.
(JJ) Wellington/NZAFL has been here before. In my ‘time’ Wellington has had 3 such events and look where the League is now, so I’m not sure. I don’t see 100 people suddenly turning up and wanting to play AFL in Wellington. What are the 4 clubs actively doing themselves?, What is WAFL doing?…..I would not know or have any idea. Wish list would be for all 4 clubs to be on the concourse, in the stadium handing out flyers about their club with website details, club contact details, dates/venue for an ‘open day’/ training dates, season/venue dates times to try and it is an opportunity to capture people who want to play, some of them may never have known Wellington had a competition!
(GF) I reckon it will get some attention as it is different, but. . . . . . there are a lot of other options out there for people, but also even the Hurricanes and Wellington Phoenix are not filling out Westpac Stadium.
(RS) I hope there is a huge turnout and that the WAFL and AFLNZ have planned wisely on how best to leverage growth in the local game as a result. This has worked before very successfully but it will not happen without a focused effort which is strategically plan ...
The AFL has announced that a women’s game will feature as a curtain raiser to the 29th June (Round 14) clash between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs at the MGC.
The two teams will wear the geurnseys of the AFL clubs and the players will be selected from across the Australian Women’s leagues, the All Australian team and the 2012 high performance squad, by means of the first ever women’s draft. The draft will take place in early May and will be managed by the AFL.
The women’s match was requested by Melbourne Football club who have had a major part in developing the women’s game and raising the level of the game played across Australia through their sponsorship of the VWFL, whose Premiers Division is currently Australia’s top women’s league.
"We wanted to showcase the best female players the game has to offer as well as sending a message to all girls that they may one day be able to represent the AFL club they support in a women's competition,” Melbourne’s chief executive Cameron Schwab said. "This game is an important step towards the idea of an elite level female competition. Other sports have successfully developed elite female competitions and our sport should be no different.”
The Western Bulldogs also have a major champion of the women’s game on board: The club has a female director, Susan Alberti, who has donated thousands to support the VWFL and is well respected across Australia for her work in both the men’s and women’s game. On the back of this, Bulldogs’ chief executive Simon Garlick had no hesitation in agreeing to the curtain raiser.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the match and can’t wait to see the Bulldogs’ women’s representative team take to the MCG donning the red, white and blue,” he said. “The Dogs look forward to building on the match to encourage women, especially from our diverse backyard in Melbourne’s West, to play our great sport."
The AFL hopes that the curtain raiser, played in front of thousands of fans at the MGC, and more important the draft which will go into selecting the players for both teams, will be a key step towards their 2020 goal of having professional women’s teams playing in televised matches as part of a national competition, similar to what their counterparts in soccer already enjoy.
The idea is that as well as the current “men’s team”, the AFL clubs will also have a women’s team who will represent them in the women’s AFL competition. Several AFL clubs already have unofficial ties with women’s teams through sponsorship, and many second tier clubs in states with integrated women’s leagues have their own women’s team. It is therefore not a difficult step to imagine the strengthening of these ties over the next seven years.
Cameron Schwab confirmed that Melbourne Football Club was thinking exactly along those lines:
''The vision is that the Melbourne Football Club will one day have a men's team and a women's team,'' he said. ''The same way that there used to be a men's team and under-19s or reserves team that all represented Melbourne. At the moment, 50 per cent of the community can't have the opportunity to play for their AFL club.''
VWFL legend Debbie Lee, winner of three premiership titles and five Helen Lambert Medals (the equivalent of the AFL's Brownlow), agreed that the curtain raiser was the start of the AFL’s plan to gear the women’s game, and the supporters at the MCG, up the 2020 national competition level.
''This gives young girls the dream of playing for their AFL club, which is phenomenal,” she said. “I grew up barracking for the Bombers, but I could never dream of playing for them.''
And whether the players chosen in the draft barrack for the Bulldogs, the Demons or another team, the 29th of July will be remembered in Australian history as a day when the eyes of the AFL clubs will be fixed on them, and not the other way ro ...
The first thing that leaps to mind when Josip Kravar, president of the newly formed Association of Australian Football of Croatia (AAF), speaks is his positivism. “AAF is taking big steps now and we are willing to be one of leading countries in Aussie Rules in Europe, [to] spread our magnificent sport, young people, [and] spread our community. Above all, enjoy playing Aussie Rules.”
It is difficult to argue with his enthusiasm, however, when the list of recent Croatian footy achievements is truly analysed. Josip and his crew have been very busy people since last season and 2013 could very well see a very positive and exciting year.
Over-arching the achievements to date is the new name of the association. As Josip says, “In 2013 we founded the Association of Australian Football of Croatia (AAF) [in] what was a big legal step for us now. Under AAF we have 3 clubs, Zagreb Hawks, Zapruđe Giants and Velika Gorica Bombers.” With this new identity locked away, attention could turn to the development of the game in other areas.
Most notable of these developments is the link with the University of Zagreb. Josip explains that, “The AAF in 2013 signed an agreement with the Sport Faculty from University of Zagreb. With this agreement we gained [the] opportunity to build our first oval in Croatia. We are now starting a project of finding sponsors for this project and hopefully we will play our first 18 [per] side games in 2013.”
This development alone marks an enormous step forward in Croatian footy, but the progress doesn’t stop there.
In a move reminiscent of the developments in Austrian footy (see previous article, An Avalanche of Austrian Talent), the AAF has linked heavily with the University of Zagreb to develop the game on a number of fronts.
According to Josip, “In April 2013 we have Academic Cup- [the] University of Oxford Aussie Rules football club will play with the newly founded "pilot project" club Academic [team] Zagreb. The university provided support so we have lectures across faculties and we [have] raised new players from University that will play against University of Oxford.”
“This is a new start for us because now Australian football will be included in faculties across the University as option for every student to play.”
With a new name, facilities, grounds and even player markets being unearthed, Josip and his team could be excused for relaxing and leaving things at that. But that is not the case, as they have also sought to strengthen their on field performances and off field image with some key signings.
Josip continues the story. “In 2013 Richmond ruckman Ivan Marić became Croatian national team Ambassador in Australia. He will help [the Croatian] Knights to go to the IC cup 2014 (see previous article Ivan Marić joins the Croatian Knights as Ambassador). The next news is that Ciaran O'Hara, ex Irish coach, is now Croatian national team coach. He will be coaching the team [in preparation] for the European Championship in Dublin.”
In preparation for the upcoming season, both at national and international level, the Croatian national team will play their Spring Cup with a match against the North London Lions.
Josip Kravar and the entire AAF should be extremely proud of their efforts to transform their national competition. In an tremendous show of positive thinking they have unflinchingly attacked every area of the game in their country, leaving few stones unturned, to develop a game and brand which may yet become the envy of other Australian Rules playing countries across Europe.
It will be exciting to see how things pan out in 2013 for Croatian footy as they aim to impress Europe, and then…the world.
Stay Positi ...
After a strong preseason performance for the Brisbane Lions, Irishman Pearce Hanley was reported in the Lions loss against the Western Bullldogs on Saturday. The charges are as follows:
Pearce Hanley, Brisbane Lions, has been charged with a Level One engaging in rough conduct offence (125 demerit points, one match) for engaging in rough conduct against Daniel Giansiracusa, Western Bulldogs, during the third quarter of the Round One match between the Brisbane Lions and the Western Bulldogs, played at Etihad Stadium on Saturday March 30, 2013.
In summary, he can accept a reprimand and 93.75 points towards his future record with an early plea.
Based on the video evidence available and a medical report from the Western Bulldogs Football Club, the incident was assessed as negligent conduct (one point), low impact (one point) and body contact (one point). This is a total of three activation points, resulting in a classification of a Level One offence, drawing 125 demerit points and a one-match sanction. He has no existing good or bad record. An early plea reduces the sanction by 25 per cent to a reprimand and 93.75 points towards his future record. ...
The 2013 AFL season moves on to Round 2 this week. The international broadcast schedule can be seen below. All times are correct at the time of publishing and WFN takes no responsibility for changes to the schedule.
|Television||St K vs Rich||Syd vs GC||WB vs Freo||Bris vs Adel||Ess vs Melb||Pt Adel vs GWS||Geel vs NM||Coll vs Carl||WC vs Haw||Highlights|
|Asia||5/4 @ 1730 HKT (Delay)||6/4 @ 1100 HKT (LIVE)||6/4 @ 1730 HKT (Delay)||7/4 @ 1300 HKT (LIVE)||9/4 @ 2230 HKT|
|Pacific||5/4 @ 2130 FJT (LIVE)||6/4 @ 1500 FJT (LIVE)||6/4 @ 2230 FJT (Delay)||7/4 @ 1700 FJT (LIVE)||9/4 @ 2200 FJT|
|India||5/4 @ 1700 IST (Delay)||6/4 @ 0900 IST (Delay)||6/4 @ 1400 IST (LIVE)||7/4 @ 1100 IST (Delay)||10/4 @ 1800 IST|
|Africa||5/4 @ 0430 EST (LIVE)||12/4 @ 0900 EST|
|Caribbean||5/4 @ 0430 EST (LIVE)||9/4 @ 1430 EST|
|UK & Ireland||5/4 @ 0930 BST (LIVE)||6/4 @ 0630 BST (LIVE)||7/4 @ 0330 BST (Delay)||7/4 @0600 BST (LIVE)||9/4 @ 1900 BST|
|Europe||6/4 @ 1030 CET (LIVE)||9/4 @ 2300 CET|
|UK & Ireland||8/4 @ 0200 BST (Delay)||9/4 @ 2330 BST|
|FOX SOCCER PLUS|
|USA||5/4 @ 2230 PDT (LIVE)||6/4 @ 2200 PDT (LIVE)||9/4 @ 1930 PDT|
|Middle East||5/4 @ 1130 KSA (LIVE)||6/4 @ 0830 KSA (LIVE)||7/4 @ 0800 KSA (LIVE)||7/4 @ 0930 KSA (LIVE)||8/4 @ 1900 KSA|
|OTLSM- BOATS AND CRUISES|
|Worldwide (excl Australia)||5/4 @ 0850 GMT|
|New Zealand||8/4 @ 2400 NZT (Delay)||10/4 @ 1200 NZT|
|Canada||7/4 @ 0100 USET (LIVE)||TSN.ca|
|Latin America||7/4 2 1000 MST (Delay)|
|ONLINE STREAMING LIVEAFL.TV|
|Worldwide (excl Australia)||0850 GMT||0245 GMT||0210 GMT||0540 GMT||0840 GMT||0840 GMT||0310 GMT||0520 GMT||0640 GMT|
Broadcast times subject to change. All times are local unless specified. For the latest information visit afl.com.au/broadcastguide
On Monday 8th April the northern city of Townsville will again become a major hub of football action as it hosts the 2013 indigenous Kickstart Championships.
As stated by Kathleen Newman, Townsville regional Manager for AFL Queensland, “These championships, held from 8-12 April, [will] bring together around 150 of the most talented indigenous players from around the country and is sure to showcase some very exciting football. There is every chance spectators will see the next Cyril Rioli, Lewis Jetta, or Chris Yarran, running around.”
The matches will take place at Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville, and is yet another feather in the cap for Australian football in the city as it vies to become a major destination of choice for the AFL. As Kathleen says, “This is a big event for Townsville and is the third part of our already successful ‘Festival of Football’.
Running in conjunction with the Kickstart championships is a separate competition between teams from PNG, New Zealand and the Oceania Region. The championships will culminate in a game between the South Pacific team and a Combined Kickstart team.”
At the end of the tournament the 2013 Flying Boomerangs squad will be announced, featuring the best 25 young indigenous players.
Since the foundation of the Flying Boomerangs in 2006, many players have gone on to forge careers in the AFL, including Austin Wonaeamirri (Melbourne), Leroy Jetta (Essendon), Cameron Stokes (Hawthorn), Steven May (Gold Coast), Peter Yagmoor (Collingwood), Curtly Hampton (GWS) among others.
The Flying Boomerangs travel each year to developing international countries to play a series of matches. These have included trips to South Africa (2006, 2008, 2013), Papua New Guinea (2009, Tonga (2010) and Fiji (2011).
AFL Queensland have released an article detailing the event which can be found via here.
The full draw for the event can be found here.
World Footy News will publish the results of the carnival in coming weeks. In the meantime, anyone headed to Townsville next week might like to drop in and experience some terrific football and get a look at some of the AFL talent of the future.
This event will be the culmination of Townsville’s Festival Of Footy, which has included the Gold Coast Suns Community camp and the recent NAB Cup clash between the Gold Coast Suns and the North Melbourne Kangaroos.
Congratulations, Townsville, on a job well done.
The following media release from the AFLNT details their partnership with beyondblue to tackle depression and anxiety in the Northern Territory.
AFLNT HAS THE ‘BALLS’ TO TACKLE DEPRESSION & ANXIETY
AFL Northern Territory will join forces with beyondblue in tackling depression and anxiety in the Northern Territory for a further three years following an extension of the partnership agreed this week.
“We as the lead sport in the NT have a duty and a responsibility to assist organizations such as beyondblue in order to combat the many issues that we face in day to day life,” said AFLNT CEO Tony Frawley.
As a Community Partner of AFLNT beyondblue will be involved in developing key awareness activity to all areas of the Northern Territory that will commence this weekend at the third beyondblue Cup clash between NT Thunder and Mt Gravatt.
“Given the locations of our nine remote projects in Wadeye, Groote Eylandt, Galiwin’ku, Tiwi Islands, Lajamanu, Hermannsburg, Ngukurr, Gapuwiyak and Maningrida and combine this with the profile and reach of the NT Thunder, we believe we have a great vehicle to drive key messages throughout the vast expanses of the Northern Territory,” advised Frawley.
beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell AO said she was excited to extend the partnership, which began in 2010, between the Territory’s number one sport and Australia’s national depression and anxiety initiative for another three years,
“This is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about depression and anxiety in some of the most remote parts of Australia,” she said.
“These conditions are very common and people need to know they can tackle these challenges and regain control of their life.
“This partnership will help us spread this message to footy fans and the wider Northern Territorian community.”
The NT Thunder will play in the beyondblue Cup against Mt Gravatt this Saturday night at TIO Stadium, for the second time which will become a key feature of the extended partnership.
“NT Thunder have had various players, staff and associations with people that have been exposed to depression and anxiety whilst, playing, working or supporting our organisation, this is a way we can give back and ensure that we continue to promote positive well-being with in our community,” said NT Thunder CEO Jarred Ile ...
Tadgh Kennelly discusses the AFL Europe squad's progress before today's match against the AFL-AIS Australian team at Surrey Sport's Park.
The AIS-AFL Academy, the cream of Australia's young football talent, has defeated the open-age (but focussed on roughly under 23) European Legion side 15.14 (104) to 3.0 (18) at Surrey Sportspark, England. Hopefully more details to follow later. ...
The Papua New Guinea U16 Binatangs arrived in Cairns for two footy matches this weekend en route to their appointment this week in Townsville for the South Pacific Cup, and if the show they put on today is any indication, the New Zealand and Oceania teams will be in for a torrid time.
Their visit to Cairns started on Saturday 6th April with a scratch match against the North Cairns Tigers U18 team. Binatangs coach, Murray Bird, admitted “We didn’t really keep score…but I’m told it was about 17 goals to 3.” The Tigers are no mugs, but they got a taste of what this PNG side has to offer.
With whatever cobwebs the players might have bought with them from home well and truly blown away, the team moved further south the following day to Gordonvale, home of the Pyramid Power Junior Football Club.
The Pyramid crew had arranged this day with the assistance of Ben Drew, AFL Development Officer - Pacific in Melbourne and the local body AFL Cairns.
The Sunday picnic atmosphere at Power Park, under the watchful and approving gaze of nearby Walsh’s Pyramid (a 922 metre mountain which dominates the vistas of Gordonvale) welcomed the Binatang team. After a Welcome to Country address from local tribal elder of the Malanbarra Yidinji people, Saunders Ambrum, and a musical welcome on the didgeridoo from Jimmy Creek, the remaining welcomes were exchanged and the game commenced.
From the opening minutes the smallish but appreciative crowd were entertained by a disciplined, talented, courageous and almost telepathic PNG team. By the end of the match the Binatangs had prevailed by a whopping 116 points – final score: PNG 19 8 122 d Pyramid Power 1 0 6. But this day was about welcoming a guest and also exposing the young local players to an elite level of footy which they may not otherwise get unless selected themselves at representative level.
The day also featured an International Day where the Gordonvale crowd were invited the run out on to the field in footy jumpers donated by clubs across the world and add an even greater international flavour to the day . The Footys4all Foundation in Melbourne also donated a range of awards for the players.
This game presented another big opportunity for Cairns to sell itself as a logical hub for Australian Rules football throughout the Oceania region. Even the PNG contingent were keen as mustard to look at returning again in subsequent years and hoping to make this an annual event if at all possible.
From Gordonvale, the PNG Binatangs hopped back on the team bus and travelled south down the Bruce Highway to Townsville to get a good night’s sleep and prepare for their first game tomorrow in the South Pacific Cup. After two days of honing their already impressive skills in Cairns, the PNG lads should be ready to produce that magic again…and again…against their New Zealand and Oceania opponents.
Based solely on what was on display in Gordonvale today, these Binatangs, described by some as the best ever U16 team to leave their home shores, might well claim the title of the best U16 side throughout the entire Oceania region.
Cairns certainly won’t argue with that.