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Independent News and Views from the International Aussie Rules Community

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    Even curious onlookers love it when a horse stays with the rest of the field for most of the race, then bursts free coming into the home straight and races away to victory. The footy equivalent is no less exciting – euphoric for the victor and shattering for the team that has been trampled. Saints did it to Palmerston last weekend, and this weekend it was Nightcliff running over the top of the Tiwi Bombers.

    Nightliff Tigers stayed close enough to the Bombers for the first three quarter of their match at TIO Stadium on Saturday night. The Bombers held a narrow eleven-point lead at the final change and would have hoped to at least hold their ground in the final quarter. But, the Tigers had other ideas and after kicking six goals in three quarters, unleashed another six in the final term of a low scoring match to claim a come from behind 13 point victory. The win keeps Nightcliff in second place, but the loss stings for the Bombers, leaving them outside the top five.

    The Southern Districts Crocs enjoyed an eight-point week with their win over the Palmerston Magpies following on from an NTFL decision to reverse their finding over an ineligible player. The Crocs were given back the four points previously stripped from them, and their 55-point win over the Magpies sees them undefeated after eight rounds and two games clear of Nightcliff. The Crocs got away to a five goals to one first quarter and never looked back against the plucky ‘Pies. Former Essendon player, Leroy Jetta, kicked three for the Crocs, as did Dylan Barry,

    St Mary’s were in a mean mood in their match against the Darwin Buffaloes. Also kicking five goals to one in the opening stanza, Saints then proceeded to move further and further away with the game, capitalising on the Buffaloes’ lack of scoring power to run out winners by 81 points, steered home by Peter Macfarlane with seven goals and Jack Musgrove with five. Saints now find themselves in third place after starting the season with three losses, whilst the Buffaloes are now in a dangerous position – second last and needing to find scoring avenues quickly to stay in the finals race.

    In Sunday’s clash between traditional rivals – Waratah and Wanderers – it was the Tahs that looked a million dollars early. Leading by 43 points to nil at the first break, Waratah kept the pressure on a shell-shocked Wanderers team across the next two quarters to hold a 90-point lead at the final break. Defensively, they had kept Wanderers to just two goals by three-quarter time. The final quarter saw Wanderers kick five goals to make the scoreboard a little more respectable, but the damage had already been done by Waratah, with Kim Kantilla booting six of their goals.

    Next weekend’s matches will see the Southern Districts Crocs clash with a revitalised Waratah on Friday night, St Mary’s will play the Tiwi Bombers at TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon, followed by the Darwin Buffaloes versus Wanderers match. Sunday will see Nightcliff take on Palmerston.

    Final Scores – Round 8:

    Southern Districts Crocs 14 17 101 d Palmerston Magpies 7 4 46
    Nightcliff Tigers 12 7 79 d Tiwi Bombers 10 6 66
    St Mary’s Saints 21 11 137 d Darwin Buffaloes 8 8 56
    Waratah 16 23 119 d Wanderers 7 2 ...

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    The West Coast Eagles have swooped and selected Northern Territory ruckman, Tony Olango, with their second pick, #27 overall, at today's AFL Rookie Draft. The young giant - of Kenyan and Sudanese descent - missed selection in 2016, but will now head west as an Eagle. 

    Marc McGowan, from the website looked at another Northern Territory talent ahead of this afternoon’s AFL Rookie Draft. With the Brisbane Lions selecting Territorian, Zac Bailey, at pick #15 at last week’s national draft, big ruckman Tony Olango (of Kenyan and Sudanese descent) was one of a group of other players hoping for another chance to get onto an AFL club list today.

    INTRIGUING Kenyan-born Sudanese talent Tony Olango's AFL future rests in the hands of two clubs at opposite ends of Australia. understands West Coast and Geelong are both considering recruiting the 201cm jack-in-the-box ruckman in Monday's NAB AFL Rookie Draft.

    Sudanese footballers already in the AFL are Sydney's Aliir Aliir, Eagle Tarir Bayok, North Melbourne's Majak Daw and Tiger Mabior Chol. 

    Olango is set to relocate from Darwin to Perth to be closer to family if his name is not called – with the Eagles willing to help – and he plans to continue to pursue his AFL dream in that scenario.

    The 19-year-old, who has been likened to West Coast big man Nic Naitanui, spent this season playing for Northern Territory Thunder in the NEAFL and NAB AFL Under-18 Championships. 

    He also played a match for Hawthorn's VFL affiliate Box Hill in the AFL Victoria development league in July. 

    Olango's story – from a Kenyan refugee camp to the Top End by age two, then an unsuccessful trial with Scottish soccer giants Glasgow Rangers in 2014 and eventually his AFL tilt – has been well told. 

    But he was left devastated last year when, after having enough interest to attend then excel at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, he was overlooked at all drafts. 

    Multicultural Darwin footballers previously didn't come under Next Generation Academy guidelines, but a rule tweak put Olango's draft rights up for grabs for the NT's applicable AFL clubs. 

    Olango, in consultation with AFLNT State Academy coaches, chose Hawthorn in February this year over West Coast, Geelong, Essendon, Collingwood and Melbourne. 

    But the Hawks elected not to nominate him and will instead draft fellow Sudanese and NGA prospect Changkuoth Jiath, who played for Gippsland Power and Xavier College in 2017.

    Olango boasts a rare combination of speed and spring for someone of his height, but his football game sense remains a work in progress.

    The sports science student's rawness and an extensive injury history, including osteitis pubis, shin stress fractures and knee issues, scared off AFL recruiters last year.

    Olango has one sister and six brothers, one of whom, Matty, spent time with A-League club Perth Glory’s Youth team. 

    Adam Sambono, Francis Kinthari and Kieren Parnell are among other Northern Territorians hoping to find an AFL home on Monday. 

    Marc McGowan’s original story can be found at:

    Picture Credit: 


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    Following just a year after Jack Bowes made his way to the Gold Coast Suns from Cairns, fellow Cairns Saints product Jacob Heron has taken the same route – pre-selected prior to today’s Rookie Draft as category B Rookie. Whilst it might not sound quite so glamourous as Bowes’ selection in the top ten of the 2016 draft, make no mistake – Heron is the equal of Bowes and will find his way to the Gold Coast Suns senior list very quickly.

    Like Bowes, Heron is a player that I have coached against. Thankfully, not as often. His pace is electrifying, especially when he reaches open space. His skills, from the point of view of an opposition coach, are flabbergasting. Dangerous on both sides of the body, Heron could change a game – and often did.

    But there is more to Jacob that simply football skills. This is a young man who lived and breathed the game. Off field you could see him throughout his junior career helping his club as an umpire, water boy, whatever was needed. His involvement in the game was total.

    Leaving Cairns for the Gold Coast as part of th Gold Coast Suns Academy in 2017, Heron started to gain a reputation in the NEAFL – and along the way caught the eye of those important recruiters and talent scouts.

    For such a quick player, he also had tremendous defensive ability – proving in the NEAFL that he was more than capable of half a dozen tackles or more per game – a trait he had in his junior days in Cairns which has simply gone to another level.

    Cairns has seen an ever-growing list of players making it to the lists of AFL clubs – successfully. Jack Bowes is the next most recent behind Heron, but Charlie Dixon is a star at Port Adelaide and Jarrod Harbrow an inspirational leader at the Gold Coast Suns. Courtenay Dempsey (Essendon), Sam Michael (Brisbane/Essendon) and Peter Yagmoor (Collingwood) are other Cairns players who have recently been on AFL club lists. Now Jacob Heron has the chance to be their equal – or better – as he looks forward to a new career at the Gold Coast Suns.

    Combined with the recent recruitment of Townsville players to North Melbourne (Brayden Preuss and Josh Williams), North Queensland is becoming a “go-to” location for clubs hunting talent. Unfortunately two other Cairns products – Timakai Bowie and Damian Burke - missed out on rookie selection.

    But Jacob Heron has got there and football in Cairns, and the AFL, is better for it.

    Picture Credit: Gold Coast Suns @ ...

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    AFL London player Jess Edwards has made the journey from playing her first footy with the Wandsworth Demons, (returned home to play in Adelaide in 2017) and now has been selected to play in the Collingwood VFL team in 2018. Tash Gunawardana interviewed Edwards after her selection and asked about her footy career so far.

    How does it feel to be given the opportunity to be selected to play in the VFLW for Collingwood?

    I am feeling very excited and eager to get started with the new opportunity.


    What is the journey that led to this signing?

    After being the captain of North Adelaide in the 2017 Inaugural SANFL (South Australia Football League) season, I went back to my local team Adelaide University. With the support of my coach Krissie Steen, I sent some footage of my SANFL season to a few AFL Women’s Clubs. Collingwood took an interest and I set up a meeting with Wayne Siekman and decided to trial for their VFL Woman’s team. It then went from there.

    How has your signing been significant for footy in the UK and internationally?

    I don’t really believe that my signing has been significant however having started playing initially in the UK I do believe that a pathway is forming for women. With the increase in participation in AFL for women across UK and internationally there is a real chance for exposure for international players.

    What made you go to London to play women’s footy?

    I was originally going to play Gaelic and teach while there. My partner and sister both wanted to play footy and found out AFL London were starting an inaugural women’s league. We went out to a come and try day and met Rachel Gouldingay who introduced us to the Wandsworth Demons. They were very inclusive and had great vibe to the team.

    Is footy growing in London?

    Yes, most definitely. We started out with four teams when I was there and now I believe they have two divisions, with each having about 5 teams. This is a fast growth for a sport that isn’t traditionally played there. It has become a great way to meet people and make new friends, but there is also fierce competition across the clubs.

    Do you think there will be other players from AFL London who might be selected to play in the VFL and/or AFL?

    I definitely think that there would be players that could play at the VFL/AFLW level. It would obviously be a big commitment, but there are talented players over there.

    What was it like to play footy in the UK compared to Australia e.g. in the SANFL?

    I do think there is a quite a jump in levels and ability between these two leagues. In Australia, we have exposure to the game at a much younger age so even if you don’t play you know the basic idea of the game. With exposure to good coaching and plenty of game-time the gap will begin to close. The competitiveness is certainly comparable.

    Would you like to play midfield for the Collingwood VFL side like you did for the Wandsworth Demons?

    I do love to run and it is one of my strengths, so I would love to play in the midfield. I love the pressure in there and the feeling of laying a successful block for my teammate. I think playing midfield for Collingwood would also be a great chance to work on my quick decision-making skills.

    What other position would you like to play in your first season with the Pies?

    One position I have recently been playing and grown to love is half back. I love being able to read the oppositions switch and have a little sneaky run off the halfback when I can.

    What are you most looking forward to about playing footy for Collingwood in the VFLW?

    At the trials and being at the Holden Centre gave me a real feeling of professionalism. I am looking forward to being part of an elite environment. The Collingwood girls were encouraging and really made you feel part of their team and family. I am looking forward to gaining the knowledge and support I need to get to the next level and hopefully being part of building a great pathway for many to follow. ...

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    195cm ruckman/forward Joel Amartey has this week added to the list of AFL prospects from an African family background, being taken by the Sydney Swans at #28 in this year's rookie draft.

    The Ghanaian-Australian Amartey impressed with the Sandringham Dragons in this year's TAC Cup competition, and will join former schoolmate Oliver Florent at the Swans, both Florent and Amartey having attended Mentone Grammar School together.

    Florent is also from a multicultural background, his father being the late Mauritian-Australian tennis star Andrew Florent.

    To see a highlight reel of Amartey's performance in the TAC Under 18s competition, click here ...

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    The following media release from the AFLNT details the selection of five Northern Territory footballers about to embark on a trip to Fiji as part of the Rio Tinto AFL Flying Boomerangs squad. Each was selected at the end of the AFL National Diversity & Kickstart Championships back in April where the best indigenous and multicultural footballers from across Australia in the Under 15 age group played each other in a state versus state competition. The best players gained national selection in the Flying Boomerangs (indigenous) and All Nations (multicultural) squads.

    Five Territorians will join the Rio Tinto AFL Flying Boomerangs Leadership Program, which begins tomorrow, Saturday December 2, in Fiji.

    Clarence Baird (Palmerston Football Club), Joel Jeffrey (Wanderers Football Club), Brodie Lake (Southern Districts Football Club), Tyrell Lui (Wanderers Football Club) and Reggie Gallagher (CAFL) were all selected on the back of their performances at the 2017 AFL National Diversity Championships held in Blacktown earlier this year. 

    Their selection is also based on school attendance, leadership skills, and football ability.

    A further two more Territorians will travel with the group in Donny Cubillo, Physiotherapist, and former Geelong Cats star, Mathew Stokes who will perform the role of Program Manager on the trip.

    Currently in its twelfth year, the Rio Tinto AFL Flying Boomerangs is the national under-16 male Indigenous development program. Twenty-six talented Indigenous players from across the country will participate in the eight-day camp that focuses on personal and career development, leadership and cultural identity. 

    The Fiji program coincides with the AFL’s Under-15 Youth Oceania Cup where teams from across Fiji, Vanuatu, and Nauru will compete in a Lightning Series. In addition, the Boomerangs team will play a match against an All Stars team from the Oceania Cup. The program itinerary also includes a church visit, a day trip to Yanuca Island, high-performance training and mock draft interviews. 

    AFLNT Manager of Talent and Pathways, Wally Gallio, said the Rio Tinto AFL Flying Boomerangs program to Fiji was built on providing development opportunities both on and off the field. 

    “It’s a great opportunity to experience both football and cultural experiences on the back of their performance in the first camp in July on the Gold Coast when they played the World Team where they won both games. The four Territory boys all performed consistently.” 

    “These young men will become the next generation of Indigenous sporting role models as they continue on their pathway into the AFL,” Gallio said. 

    The Rio Tinto AFL Flying Boomerangs will be coached by Barry Lawrence (WA) with Rulla Kelly-Mansell (TAS), and Harry Miller (SA) named as assistants. 

    Rio Tinto is one of Australia’s largest employers of Indigenous people, employing some 1600 Aboriginal men and women across the nation. 

    Picture: Northern Territory players in Blacktown earlier this year.








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    The Bordeaux Bombers played host to the Paris Cockatoos yesterday in their Round 4 encounter, and between them they played a game for the ages. In one of the tightest CNFA games seen for a long time, the Cockatoos held on after an incredibly tight game by just one point – to whoops of delight from exhausted Cockatoos and broken hearts (but not spirits) from the Bombers.

    At the first change, just a goal separated the teams (Bombers 15, Cockatoos 21) whilst the second quarter saw the Bombers claw ahead to take the same advantage to the half time break (Bombers 29, Cockatoos 23). The Cockatoos came out in the third quarter and in a dour struggle managed to gain enough advantage to lead by just five points at the final change (Bombers 42, Cockatoos 47).

    The last quarter was a magnificent contest as both teams punched and counter-punched. There are games where a draw is the only fair and just result, and this would have been one of those games. The Bombers kept on getting closer and closer by degrees. But, by the final siren, the Paris Cockatoos had their noses in front by just a solitary point. The final scores saw the Cockatoos hold on over the Bombers 69 to 68.

    The clash in Toulouse was not a close battle. The Paris Cockerels, also on the road for the weekend, got away early in their clash against the Toulouse-based Aviators, and never looked back. Their relentless attacking across the four quarters was only matched by their defensive efforts to keep the Aviators from mounting any kind of competitive score-line. In the end, the Cockerels came away with a big, percentage boosting win with the finals score 181 to 19.

    All four of the teams that played this weekend now go into their winter recess – none playing again until early March. Next weekend will see the final games of 2017 when the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes host the ALFA Lions in a huge game, whilst the Perpignan Tigers face a daunting task hosting the undefeated Toulouse Hawks.

    After this weekend’s matches, the Cockerels join the Hawks with three wins from three games and are well placed going into the run to the finals next year. With two wins from three matches, the Cockatoos are also tracking well. With one win from four matches, the Bombers can maybe consider themselves unlucky, but will likely be in a battle for fourth place come finals time with the ALFA Lions and Coyotes. The Aviators are still finding their way, but with a win from their first four matches, they are in a position to improve on that next year.

    Next week, the Hawks have a chance to grab the outright lead with four wins from four games against Perpignan. The Tigers themselves will be using the time to develop then rest before a new onslaught after the break. The ALFA Lions and Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes are both in the same boat – one win from three games – but their clash next weekend will be vital to both sides and could shape the ultimate finals make-up.

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    Ryan Davidson has reported from Dublin for the website on the impressive performances of the talented players on show at the Euro Combine held in the Irish capital. Considered a catchment for potential future AFL players, recruiters from Geelong and Essendon were present. 

    AFL Recruiters have been impressed by several tall prospects on show at the European Combine in Dublin.  

    Twenty-three of Ireland's best underage Gaelic footballers converged on University College to be put through their paces by former Collingwood defender and AFL Europe specialist coach Marty Clarke and AFL international talent manager Kevin Sheehan. 

     Former Brisbane Lions and St Kilda defender Colm Begley was casting his eye over the talent as a scout for Geelong, while Essendon also had a recruiter in attendance.

    Clarke, who played 73 games for the Magpies, said he was impressed with how his young countrymen adapted to a foreign game over two days off testing. 

    "Every year the standard seems to be getting higher and higher," Clarke told 

    "The testing was first class and some of the ball use in that match situation was very good. 

    "There were some really good taller lads who were very mobile, and in some ways in the Jimmy Stynes mould. 

    "There has been a shift in (recruiting focus) by getting big and mobile guys."

    County Cork's Mark Keane should be on the radar of AFL clubs, with the 193cm prospect excelling in match simulation with outstanding game sense, kicking and contested marking. 

    Peadar Bryne also caught the eye with the 199cm Dubliner recording an impressive 2.92 in the 20m sprint, and then backing that up with strong showing in the gruelling Yo-Yo test. 

    Derry's Anton Tohill is no stranger to Australian Rules Football, with his father Anthony Tohill playing under 19s and reserves with Melbourne in the 1980s.

    Standing at 199cm, the 17-year-old bounced back from several heavy collisions to display his eye-catching athleticism and leadership qualities.

    Tohill says his father's guidance and support has been important as he explores whether a professional career in Australia is right for him.

    "Dad has been fabulous, he understands it's a big opportunity for me," Tohill told 

    "He went through all this with Melbourne back in the day, so he's been giving me advice on how to be a professional on and off the pitch. 

    "He says be aggressive, and when you get knocked down, just get up straight back up. 

    "'Never give up' is his message to me." 

    An all-time AFL Combine record tumbled on day one of testing with Dublin's James Madden breaking former Gold Coast midfielder Joel Wilkinson's mark of 2.75 in the 20m sprint with a lightening time of 2.69.

    The 185cm prospect, who hails from Ballyboden - the same GAA club as Stynes - also shone in agility testing, posting a very impressive time of 7.76. 

    Oisin McWilliams is another who looks like he could make the switch to the oval ball game, with the Derry product possessing pace, endurance, sound skills and a cool head in traffic. 

    Three of the Irish hopefuls will be invited to attend the AFL Academy camp at the IMG Academy in Florida next month to train alongside Australia's elite underage talent. 

    The original story by Ryan Davidson can be found at:

    Picture: James Madden (credit: )


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  • 12/03/17--18:31: Waratah The Real Deal - NTFL

  • Yes, it might be a foolish, early call, but there is every sign that Waratah might just be the real deal to go deep into this season’s NTFL finals series. Their win on Friday night against the previously undefeated Southern Districts Crocs at TIO Stadium, when taken in isolation, was just a bloody good performance. However, when looked at over a longer five-match performance there are some even better signs.

    Round Five saw Waratah pull of an “upset” win against Nightcliff. But, looking back now, it may not have been so much an upset as a pointer to what would come. Two inconsistent performances against the Buffaloes and Bombers have been followed by a total dismantling of fellow finals aspirant, Wanderers, and now they have outlasted Crocs in a tight match – proof also that they can handle pressure when on their game. Should they continue in this vein of form, Waratah will play finals and will worry other teams. Crocs will be one of them, kept to their lowest score of the season by a miserly Waratah defence. Star Croc, Will Farrer, was kept to just two goals while Kim Kantilla kicked another five for Waratah.

    St Mary’s held off a determined Tiwi Bombers outfit, largely on the strength of an eight goal second quarter. The Bombers got away to a solid seven goals to four opening quarter, but couldn’t contain the Saints in the second and third quarters. In the end, the Saints came away with a hard-earned 27-point victory, with the dual attack of Peter Macfarlane and Jack Musgrove kicking five each. The win strengthens St Mary’s third place on the ladder, whilst the defeat puts pressure on the Bombers to stay with the pack.

    The Achilles Heel for the Darwin Buffaloes in recent times had been their attack, but they got their mojo back up forward on Saturday night. With nine separate goal-scorers, Buffaloes were too good up forward and all over the field for a listless Wanderers, with Darren Shillabeer and Matt Campbell doing most of the damage up forward. Both teams are now locked on four wins (along with Waratah) at the half-way mark of the season, and need a big second half of the season to gain a finals berth.

    Nightcliff were far too strong for the Palmerston Magpies on Sunday. Whilst the ‘Pies stayed in the game until three quarter time, down by just four goals, their worrying last quarters haunted them as they again allowed six goals to nil in the final stanza (as they did against St Mary’s two weeks ago), killing off any hope of a comeback. Nightcliff now sit clear second, now just a game behind the Crocs, and certainly have the final’s double chance in their sights. Mathew Bricknell kicked four for the Tigers whilst former Collingwood, Carlton and Port Adelaide journeyman, Cameron Cloke, kicked three for the Magpies.

    Next round will see the perhaps the match of the round when Southern Districts clash with St Mary’s. Both desperate for a win, the Buffaloes and Bombers do battle. Waratah mets the Palmerston Magpies and on Sunday, Nightcliff take on Wanderers.

    Final Scores:
    Waratah 9 6 60 d Southern Districts 7 13 55
    St Mary’s 22 13 145 d Tiwi Bombers 18 10 118
    Darwin Buffaloes 19 9 123 d Wanderers 9 4 58
    Nightcliff 19 16 130 d Palmerston 10 5 ...

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    The Port Adelaide Football Club is proud to announce a partnership with Four’N Twenty that will continue strengthening cross-cultural ties between Australia and China.

    The iconic Australian brand will be the Presenting Partner for Port Adelaide’s ground-breaking grass-roots program, Power Footy, which uses football to introduce Australian culture to Chinese schools.

    Patties Foods Chief Executive Officer Paul Hitchcock says, “Port Adelaide’s engagement in China matches the company’s vision to evolve its sponsorship strategy with a more global focus, while building on the relationship with the club which has already spanned three years.

    “Nothing is more Australian than a Four’N Twenty beef pie with sauce, but we don’t see any reason why we can’t share it with the world. After all it is ‘The Great Australian Taste’,” said Mr Hitchcock.

    “We recently struck a partnership with the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, as part of our global brand strategy to expand the geographic footprint of the quintessential Australian taste.

    “Now, we’re excited by the opportunities made available through Port Adelaide’s pioneering entry into the Chinese market.”

    Port Adelaide’s General Manger of China Engagement, Andrew Hunter, says the club, like Four’N Twenty, is determined not to be limited by Australia’s borders.

    “The Four’N Twenty partnership with the Philadelphia 76ers and now the Port Adelaide Football Club is further evidence that we are on track to be the first Australian sporting club to become an international brand,” Mr Hunter said.

    “This is a great example of how our engagement in China offers our partners another avenue through which they can develop their business. Four’N Twenty changed their sponsorship strategy in Australia, but remained a partner of Port Adelaide because of our engagement in China.”

    The initial two-year partnership will see Four’N Twenty pies available at Adelaide Arena at Jiangwan Stadium during Port Adelaide’s landmark Round 9 clash with Gold Coast.

    Mr Hunter says the ultimate Aussie snack will also fuel Chinese students as they take part in the Power Footy program.

    “Power Footy is our flagship engagement initiative in China. We are currently delivering the program in 17 schools, but we will be active in 50 schools by the end of 2018. This will mean we will reach over 100,000 Chinese students by the end of next year. And we are not just teaching footy, but talking about football as an expression of Australian culture.

    “Four’N Twenty’s support for Power Footy is an excellent endorsement of the program. They believe Power Footy is a wonderful tool of engagement with Chinese students, who are destined to visit Australia in the future as students, tourists, or to pursue business interests.”

    Four’N Twenty will also partner PAFC in its universities engagement program in Adelaide, where the club hosts 50 Chinese university students at every Adelaide Oval home game as part of its commitment to welcoming them to South Australia.

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  • 12/06/17--04:15: The Best Coaches Are…

  • My first brush with a coach, apart from what I saw on television, was a bloke called Barry Burke. He played for Clayton, then in the Federal League, in suburban Melbourne. My Dad sometimes took me out to the quarter-time or half time breaks to “have a listen” to the coach. Apart from a requisite amount of swearing to motivate his team (stunning repartee was not one of his strengths), one catch-cry stuck. He would yell, “Do as I say, not as I do!” It was sound advice because he never set the world on fire on the field, but he did manage to yell a lot, and that seemed to work.

    My own Dad was my next coaching experience. He took on the Under 11 B team, which I was in. There was no such thing as a free ride with Dad. If I played and trained well enough, I was in the 20. If I didn’t, I ran the boundary or water. For five years, Dad was my own John Kennedy or Ron Barassi. Later, he would become good friends with Tommy Hafey…but more on that later.

    The next brush with coaching was, well, royalty. The old “friend of a friend” scenario. Actually, not quite. My Mum knew Nancy Cerutty, wife of the legendary coach, Percy Cerutty. My brother and I went to the house at Portsea on the Mornington Peninsula a good few times. Twice we met the great man. We would usually just play on the trampolines – professional ones set into the ground – and act like athletes.

    This was the man credited with coaching Australian athlete, Herb Elliott, to an Olympic gold medal in Rome in 1960. Other great Australian athletes like John Landy and Betty Cuthbert fell under his influence. He was also famous for being at the forefront of the Aussie Rules fitness revolution when Hawthorn ran the Portsea sand-hills behind Cerutty’s home to build fitness – some say enough to win their first flag in 1961.

    He was famous for saying great, inspirational things like “hard things take time to do, impossible things take a little longer.” He also once stated “if you die, I will bury you in the sand hills with all the other runners.” This quote resonated. Once my brother and I decided to REALLY be like athletes and run the sand hills track to Portsea Back Beach. Run is probably too strong a word – we both ambled along the track and I reached the beach with no brother in sight. I thought, quite wrongly, that he had in fact died and crawled off into the sand hills, though not in that order.

    One day he said “hello” to us at the trampolines. Another day, whilst the women chatted, Percy himself invited my brother and I into his “trophy room”. It was his version of Dave Kerrigan’s “pool room” (if you don’t get the Kerrigan reference, I strongly suggest you hire out the Australian movie “The Castle” and be educated). The difference was that I saw my first Commonwealth Games medals and a replica of Herb Elliott’s Olympic gold medal (at least I think it was a replica). Around the walls were photos of some of the world’s greatest athletes – autographed.

    I have never forgotten my brush with fame, and most particularly a great (albeit controversial) coach. Of all the mantras Cerutty is known for, one rings true to me even today. “If the coach cannot do it, he cannot ‘teach’ it – only talk about it.” That is an idea that I have always stuck to – I am not saying it is correct or otherwise – just that I have lived it all of my coaching life, and it is a lasting legacy of my connection (admittedly brief) with the great man.

    (Incidentally, Percy was born in Prahran, and I was born in Margaret Cole Hospital in Prahran. Kevin Sheedy is one of Prahran’s greatest exports, even though he was technically born in South Yarra, which is as close to Prahran as you can get. I sometimes wonder if there is something symbiotic about that….probably not!)

    Since 2001 I have been coaching at junior and senior level. I have researched the art of coaching to be more knowledgeable, and played until I was 56 this year to remain as relevant as possible. Along the way I have gathered a list of coaching traits that have seen me enjoy many successes, as well as the players who have played for me. Some of these might be of value to anyone considering taking on a coaching role…maybe even help those already coaching.

    To break a player emotionally is, to me, just wrong. If a coach has any purpose at all – other than teaching – it is to inspire. That can be by word or deed, and might simply be an arm around a shoulder or a whispered word. A player MUST believe in themselves to function, and tearing into a player (of any age, but especially kids) cannot possibly build that belief.

    Communication sits at the heart of every good coach. The ability to impart a message is only one facet of the art of communication. It is tied to the idea of inspiration – able to say the right things at the right time, to get the best out of a person – or equally to help work on the not so good. But the ability to communicate has to transcend the arena. The best coaches can communicate with players, certainly, but must also be able to speak to community, family, club people at any level, umpires, opposition – really, anyone at any time. If that sounds far-fetched, consider one Kevin Sheedy (again) and how his success to this day goes far beyond an ability to communicate with players. He is successful because he can draw out the information from people just as well as he imparts it.

    A passionate coach knows how to lose just as much as an impassionate one can win. Poor coaches have won premierships, passionate lovers of the game have won wooden spoons. But based on experience, footy at junior levels and even into senior ranks is a journey for players. The passionate coach who loves the game and every facet of the game can infuse that passion in their players. They can make the journey exciting, delightful, rewarding. They can instil a love of the game into those around them – the result often being a player that wants to be a part of that passion.

    I don’t think stats exist for this, but I’m willing to bet that more premierships have been won by passionate coaches than not. I would also say that, more importantly, players have been more successful when in the company of coaches who make them believe and make them want to aspire to great things.

    A good coach doesn’t know everything. They might well know a lot, but they are also prepared to keep on learning. A good coach is on the same journey as their players, just in different clothes. Coaches that get above their station and believe they cannot learn anymore will almost certainly burn out. The good coach can learn from almost any conversation or situation. A good coach can understand that they are not bigger than the game, but a part of the mechanisms that drive the game. They work in synch with everyone, and are humble enough to learn from defeat or hardship, just as much as they learn from success.

    There are probably so many other gems from other great coaches that aren’t mentioned here. But I have always been prepared to read, watch, listen – whatever it takes to be better. I imagine there are snippets of other coaches in me that I’m not aware of. Maybe I am possessed by many other footballing spirits, after years of watching footy replays, live matches and any other exposure – and not just Aussie Rules. My coaching is probably the sum of many, many parts. However, I think that is healthy.

    My dad once said,“you give me one hundred percent of your commitment, courage, talent, integrity, effort and knowledge and the scoreboard doesn’t matter.” They were wise words, and most likely he picked them up from someone else. If he did, that just adds to my own argument. If he made them up – You Rock, Dad! But, they have been my modus operandi ever since he said them in my presence. It is amazing what you can learn if you are prepared to listen. That is a good coach.

    I mentioned earlier that I would return to the great Tommy Hafey. Truth is, he only ever said three or four words to me down at Tideways Beach in Sorrento. He and dad were having a chat on their morning walk, and he turned to me and said “How are you, son?’” when Dad introduced me to him. I am probably paraphrasing – it was a long time ago. But it was about four words. The reality is he may have said, “I love pizza”, or “nice day for swimming”, or “get of my property”.

    It didn’t matter. He took the time to speak to me and I was delirious with happiness. He wasn’t bigger than the game, he communicated, he inspired me and he showed me passion in his preparedness to embrace a fan. He was also humble and displayed his integrity to me via my Dad.

    Maybe, just maybe, that is why he was such a great coach.


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    Marc McGowan from the website looks at the success of Darwin-based club – St Mary’s – in producing some of the greatest AFL players of all time – and plenty of other useful footballers. World Footy News reports regularly on the Northern Territory Football League, and many people Australia-wide are becoming more familiar with the NT talent, as well as one of the country’s most successful football clubs.

    Those five words are the catchcry of the bloodlines-rich St Mary's Football Club, home to the legendary Rioli and Long clans, in the Northern Territory.  

    A club formed in 1952 as somewhere for Darwin-based Tiwi Islanders to play – and initially rejected for having a team of mostly "full-blood" Aboriginals – has blossomed into one of Australia's most successful.

     The Saints, also known as the Green Machine, won their fourth senior men's premiership in five seasons and 32nd overall in March this year. 

    In that Grand Final side were Ben and Shannon Rioli and Jack Long, as well as ex-St Kilda utility Raphael Clarke, the younger brother of Xavier, who were both top-10 AFL draft picks.  

    "It takes a touch of courage to coach this club," senior coach Ricky Nolan, son of the late North Melbourne premiership ruckman Mick Nolan, told  

    "People always say St Mary's has a great culture, and it's a culture of hard work. We train harder than any other club, but we also have unbelievable bloodlines.  

    "Every year you'll be watching a junior game and a Rioli or a Long will pop up from nowhere who's been living on the island."  

    The on-field success has stretched to AFL and NAB AFL Women's level, to the point eight St Mary's footballers were drafted in the past four years – and many more before that.




    2017: Tony Olango (West Coast) and Jasmyn Hewett (Adelaide AFLW)

    2016: Ben Long (St Kilda), Willie Rioli (West Coast) and Shaun Edwards (Sydney) and Tayla Thorn (Adelaide AFLW)

    2015: Daniel Rioli (Richmond)

    2014: Jake Long (Essendon)


    Among that group were Ben and Jake Long and Daniel and Willie Rioli, while Danielle Ponter – Michael Long's niece – is almost certain to join Adelaide for the 2019 AFLW season once she is eligible.

    Beyond that, Richmond and Fremantle father-son prospect Maurice Rioli jnr, at age 15, has already played four senior matches for the Saints this season.  

    He won't be eligible to be drafted until 2020, while his younger sister, Maria Rioli, has kicked seven goals in four under-15 girls' games for St Mary's this year.  

    The late Maurice Rioli snr's father, Cyril Rioli snr – grandfather of Hawthorn's 2015 Norm Smith medallist – and the Longs' patriarch, Jack Long snr, started their family's long history at the club.  

    Cyril Rioli snr excelled more at cricket, according to Vic Ludwig, who was club president for an incredible 42 years, while Long snr was a "no-nonsense, tough, uncompromising" footballer.  

    Long snr used to sell crocodile skins to Darwin businesses to pay his way from the Tiwi Islands to play football for the Saints each week.

    Ludwig's son Steven succeeded him as St Mary's president in further evidence of the family links.

    "My theory is that right from the beginning there was so much opposition against St Mary's that we said, 'Stuff them, we're going to show these people'," Ludwig told 

    "It's been proven those Tiwi Islanders can play a bit of footy. Ted Egan, our first captain, always says to me, 'You can't beat the genes'."



    (Excluding draftees since 2014)


    Peter Burgoyne

    Ronnie Burns

    Warren Campbell

    Scott Chisholm

    Raphael Clarke

    Xavier Clarke

    Michael Long

    Cyril "Junior Boy" Rioli

    Maurice Rioli snr

    Brian Stanislaus

    Austin Wonaeamirri


    Marc McGowan’s original story can be found at:


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    South America's newest Australian Rules football team, the Bogotá Bulldogs, are gearing up for a huge 2018. As reigning champions of South America, they have twice won the Andes Cup against the Santiago Saints from Chile. They are now gearing up to go bigger and better for 2018, and their video is helping to spread that message.

    With tiny murmurings coming from Uruguay, Peru and even a small team in Mexico, the team from Columbia could soon be the epicentre for footy across South and Central America. Combined with the continents longest running club in Chile, the Santiago Saints, the game could be on the rise - hopefully in a big way. But the scope for growth in Colombia alone is cause to be optimistic, as shown in the video clip.

    Alternatively to see the Youtube clip, go to: ...

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    In a dawning of a new era for football clubs and franchises worldwide, the Essendon Football Club has entered into the arena of eSports. The following article comes directly from the club’s website and details the concept and rationale behind it as the club continues to explore new and exciting ways to develop new markets into the future. 

    Essendon Football Club has acquired a professional eSports team and will compete in the League of Legends, Oceanic Pro League and Oceanic Challenger League next year. 

    In partnership with Executive Sports and Entertainment (ESE), the Club has secured the licence of top tier eSports team, Abyss, and will relocate the team to Melbourne. 


    The operations and management of the team will be fully integrated as a division of the Essendon Football Club, with a new name, brand and logo to be established.  

    The Club is committed to creating a professional culture and high performance environment for the team, providing the best facilities, programs and resources to deliver success in tournaments locally and globally.  

    Essendon Chief Marketing Officer, Justin Rodski, said the Club was delighted to be the first Victorian AFL Club to acquire a licence and first professional eSports team to be based in Melbourne. 

    “eSports is the fastest growing sports category in the world and is quickly changing the entertainment and sports landscape,” Rodski said. 

    “The international audience is close to 300 million people, the majority are aged 14-34 years, providing a unique platform to engage and reach a younger demographic of fans.

    “As a Club, we are looking at ways to diversify our business, invest in growth and create new opportunities to drive incremental consumer and commercial revenues. 

    “eSports teams are no different to any other professional sports club model and eSports fans are no different to any other sports fans in their passion to support their team. 

    “We will bring our expertise in elite and professional sport to strengthen the team across all areas, including a particular focus on player welfare and development. 

    “There is a rich and diverse community eco-system in eSports and this is our opportunity to be culturally relevant to the millennial audience and engage a new fan base. 

    "Our investment in eSports will not impact our core business of winning games of football. The team and players will align to our values as a Club and our vision of being the most respected, inclusive and successful Club in Australian sport.” 

    The Global eSports audience is projected to reach 400 million in 2018, made up of nearly 200 million eSports enthusiasts and a further 194 million occasional viewers. In 2017 the eSports economy grew to US$696 million and brands spent approximately US$517 million on advertising, sponsorship and media rights. Consumer spending this year on merchandise and tickets will amount to US$64 million. 

    League of Legends OPL is the most developed and professional eSports league in Oceania. Backed by Riot Games, the leading publisher in eSports globally, the OPL provides teams a direct path to global competitions including the League of Legends World Championships. 

    Many professional sports clubs have invested in eSports, including NBA teams Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, the New York Yankees, European soccer powerhouses Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, FC Schalke and AS Roma and in Australia, the Adelaide Crows. 

    Executive Sports and Entertainment (ESE), is a leading Sydney agency founded in 1998.  ESE managing directors Leon Spellson and Rohan Sawyer have over 35 years combined experience in sports and entertainment industry and have been seen as key players in Australia eSports commercially. ESE specialise in commercial rights across a number of sports and the joint venture with EFC is another high profile partnership for the agency. 

    Rohan Sawyer, Managing Director of ESE said: “We are thrilled to partner with one of the biggest and most respected sports Clubs in Australia.”

    “Essendon is an iconic brand with a huge supporter base and we are excited to give our team members the opportunities to live their dreams under a great club. 

    “eSports has already exploded globally and we see League of Legends and the OPL doing the same here.

    “The majority of gamers are aged 18 to 30 years old and with most sporting codes and brands are struggling to communicate with them, eSports provides the platform for direct engagement.” 

    Daniel Ringland, Head of eSports at Riot Games Oceania, said: “It is great to have another AFL Club come on board to support an OPL team. Next year is looking to be our most competitive year yet and it is going to be amazing to see AFC and Essendon go head to head in the OPL, just like they do on the footy field.” 

    To read the original story on the Essendon Football Club website, go to:


    Picture Credit: Fox Sports ...

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  • 12/09/17--00:00: From a Hawk to a Blue
  • Tash Gunawardana interviewed AFLW player Kate Shierlaw who played one season in AFL London for the Wimbledon Hawks and now plays for Carlton in the AFLW after being rookie selected in the inaugural 2017 AFLW season.

    What made you choose Women’s footy over Women’s basketball?

    I have always been obsessed with footy but never saw a pathway for women. The footy opportunity was a very lucky one for me and just being in the right place at the right time over in London. Basketball has provided me with a very good grounding for footy and it wasn’t about choosing one over the other, more about the opportunity that was presented to be able to play a sport I love at the highest level.


    What was it like to be selected in the rookie draft by Carlton a club you have supported your whole life?

    I can’t explain the feeling of being drafted to the club I have supported my whole life. I’m obsessed. It makes walking into the club every day that much more special and I am very lucky to be in the position I am, let alone representing Carlton.

    Do you feel you playing for Carlton, Lauren Spark playing for the Western Bulldogs and Jess Edwards signing to the Collingwood VFLW has been significant for footy in the UK and internationally?

    I feel like any exposure we can give footy over in the UK is a good thing. It’s not going to magically grow the game, but the rapid increase in women playing the game all over the world is seriously the best.

    Do you think or know of any other players from AFL London who might be selected to play in the VFL and/or AFL?

    I was only over there for one season, and can’t think off the top of my head, but there are some decent athletes over there, in particular the Irish girls who are quite natural to the game

    What was it like to play footy in the UK compared to Australia?

    The standard is completely different. In the UK you can get away with being a good athlete and stand out whereas in Australia there are so many good athletes you need more than that. That’s where the skills really stand out. Physically it’s not too dissimilar.

    What did you learn most from playing for the Wimbledon Hawks?

    I think I just learnt to play footy with some freedom, to fly for my marks and to lead and help others who are new to the game.

    Image: Wimbledon Hawks.

    Who have been your biggest influences on your footy career at Wimbledon Hawks and your sporting career so far?

    Lauren Spark was my biggest help at the Hawks. We would often do marking together and conditioning too. She was also the one who effectively got me drafted. In terms of my sporting career, I like to admire a lot of athletes and pick up bits and pieces from different people.

    For you, what has been the biggest change from AFL London to the AFLW so far?

    The biggest change from London to AFLW is the running requirements and defensive efforts. It’s a very demanding game, all over the field.

    (Image Source below:Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac)

    Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPacWhat did you enjoy most about playing in your first season for Carlton in the AFLW?

    I loved the whole experience and how we got to influence and change society’s outlook on women’s sport. To see little girls with footballs in their hands was the most special part. Sharing that with my teammates and now close friends was also very special.

    Do you think the first season of the AFLW was a successful one for the AFL?

    The first season was a huge success and much more of a success than the AFL would have ever imagined. I love that it just smashed anyone’s expectations. There is no need to put any limits on things women can do.

    What is the thing you love most about playing Women’s footy?

    I love the impact it has had on young women and how many are now playing the game. I wish I was 18 again! Proving to so many people what we are capable of.

    Have you played any other footy position or only Ruck/Forward in your footy career thus far?

    I played quite a few different positions in the VFLW including defence. I love the forward line and am learning more and more about the ruck.

    Who has been the player or players you have learnt the most from in your first season at Carlton?

    This is a tough one, there are so many that have had an impact on me. I watch the way Bri Davey goes about it and just admire everything about her, the coaches have helped me so much, and a lot of the other girls too.

    Would you ever consider being traded to Adelaide so you can play in your home state?

    I’m very happy at Carlton and a lifelong supporter so it’d have to be something drastic for that to change. I’m really settled in Melbourne too.

    What are you most looking forward to in your second AFLW season with the Blues?

    I’m looking forward to playing more footy and continuing my growth. Hopefully we will have an even more successful season next year, I can’t wait!!! ...

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    Whilst the ALFA Lions look back in despair at the vagaries of football – premiers last season and possibly missing finals altogether this season – the Toulouse Hawks and Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes have all but guaranteed their finals placings after the weekend’s matches in France. With all teams now set to enjoy the winter hiatus, much planning and soul-searching will take place between now and early March when matches resume.

    The Toulouse Hawks did not take long to flex their muscle over the Perpignan Tigers. Leading 51 to 13 at the first break, the Hawks powered to a 10 goal half time lead (80-20). By three-quarter time the lead had blown out to 96 points. The Tigers fought back in the final quarter to keep the damage to a 106-point defeat. Final scores saw Toulouse Hawks 153 to Perpignan Tigers 47.

    It means that the Hawks are now four wins from four matches. Whilst it is conceivable that they drop their last three matches – against the Cockerels, Cockatoos and Coyotes – it is unlikely as two of these matches are at home. The Toulouse Hawks WILL play finals.

    In the game that impacted most on the finals race, the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes downed the ALFA Lions by 33 points. For the Coyotes, two wins from three matches isn’t enough on its own – but with a rescheduled match against Aviators to be played and their next scheduled match being against the Tigers, it is hard to see the Coyotes dropping many more games.

    But for the Lions, defeat was disastrous. Even if they win their remaining matches against the Bombers (home) and Aviators (away), they would have to meet the Cockerels in the final match to win four for the season – and that may still not be enough. Losing is not an option now for the Lions, but they cannot influence any other results and will pray that something goes terribly wrong for either the Cockatoos, Coyotes or Cockerels.

    The final score saw the Coyotes 97 defeat the Lions 64.

    Whilst the Round Five matches will be played over the weekends of 3rd and 10th March, the postponed match between the Paris Cockerels and Paris Cockatoos will come first on 24th February. Details regarding venue and other arrangements will be advised by the Paris Cocks club loser to the date. This game is enormous for both clubs and will shape each team’s finals chances, as well as those of some other clubs in the finals rac ...

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    To many, the draw between Palmerston Magpies and Waratah rates as an upset. Certainly, few would have expected that the bottom team would get up and share the points with the team that has recently impressed so many. However, that is at face value. Digging a little further, there is evidence that Palmerston was due for a win – and when you are the bottom team, a win against any team higher could be seen as an upset.

    But, digging into the eight defeats this year for the ‘Pies, their average losing margin is just 39 points – which is low for a bottom team. Their biggest defeat of the season was last weekend by 65 points against Nightcliff. Also, most of their defeats can be traced back to one poor quarter (or a little more) where concentration dropped and the opposition got off the chain. It suggests that any time Palmerston can put together four solid quarters they are a capable unit.

    The game against Waratah never reached great heights – until the dying moments – but Palmerston were able to lead almost all day and held their nerve at the end to at least deny Waratah a last gasp victory. With winnable matches coming against the Buffaloes (twice), Bombers and Wanderers over the next six rounds, Palmerston could yet rattle home at the tail of the season.

    In other matches, The Southern Districts Crocs answered another challenge against St Mary’s, running out 15-point winners. The Crocs led all day, but the Saints were never out of reach. In the end, courtesy of a six-goal hall to Wil Farrer, the Crocs held off another finals candidate and bounced back after their surprise loss to Waratah last weekend. Peter Macfarlane kicked four for Saints.

    The Darwin Buffaloes were too good for the Tiwi Bombers, cruising to an important 43 point win. After a few weeks of sub-par performances, the Buffaloes had too much scoring power up forward with Darren Shillabeer kicking another eight goals and making a powerful focal point for the Buffs. The loss will sting for the Tiwi Bombers. Leading by three goals at the main break, they were over-powered in the second half in front of a home crowd.

    Wanderers provided the bookends for their defeat at the hands of the Nightcliff Tigers. With the opening two goals of the match, things started well enough for the Muk Muks. But after that things turned turtle, with the Tigers slamming on 21 unanswered goals on their way to a commanding 111-point mauling of Wanderers. With twelve different goal-kickers, the Tigers were just too potent all over the field and inside 50 – a huge difference to Wanderers, which just couldn’t find cohesion inside fifty.

    Like the Buffaloes a few weeks back, Wanderers are struggling to kick winning scores – averaging just over six goals a game over the last month. If they want to play finals, Wanderers need to find goals quickly.

    Next weekend sees the final round before the festive season break. Palmerston will be hoping to go the next step and down the Darwin Buffaloes. The Tiwi Bombers will host an out-of-sorts Wanderers, Waratah will clash with St Mary’s in what could be a huge game, whilst the top of the table showdown will see the Southern Districts Crocs up against the Nightcliff Tigers in a game that is shaping as a grand final preview.

    Final Scores:
    Darwin Buffaloes 17 18 120 d Tiwi Bombers 11 11 77
    Southern Districts 11 7 73 d St Mary’s 8 10 58
    Palmerston Magpies 10 3 63 drew with Waratah 9 9 63
    Nightcliff Tigers 21 11 137 d Wanderers 3 8 26

    Picture Credit: NT ...

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  • 12/11/17--01:44: Suns Rising In Middle East

  • The Bahrain Suns’ dream of re-entering the AFL Middle East competition has taken another couple of positive steps. Not only has the club released its new club logo (see image – top left), but it have also been invited to send a team to Muscat, in Oman, to compete in the Lightning Cup in January 2018.

    Whilst the Suns have shared their moniker with the Gold Coast Suns, the logo itself is an original, rather than design to make the logo and club apparel stand out with a Bahrain flavour, rather than taking on the Gold Coast Suns’ emblem in a revised format.

    Now the search is on for players, coaches and umpires to make the journey to Oman for the event, to be played on 19th January at the ABA/Rugby Club Ground in Al Khuwair, Muscat. Whilst the opportunity by no means guarantees that the Bahrain club will be a part of the 2018/19 AFL Middle East competition, their ability to be in Muscat will certainly help accelerate the process.

    The Bahrain club announced earlier this year that the aim was to have a viable club up and going as soon as is practical (see:Bahrain Taking Steps Towards AFL Middle East Return). To have this opportunity during the current season allows the club to progress further with player and personnel recruitment as well as assisting with sponsorships and other assistance needed.

    It has been over six years since the Bahrain club (then called the Bahrain Blues) have played in the AFL Middle east competition, so the Muscat match will mark an historic return. Miracles are not expected initially, though the club is unlikely to knock back the offer of the odd miracle here and there as they grow.

    It is hoped that the Bahrain Suns can accept the invitation quickly and turn their attention to assembling a team that can announce to the Middle East that they are back – which would be an enormous story of hope for the club and the competition and a great shot in the arm for all concerned.

    Those driving the club deserve a huge pat on the back to get the Suns this far already, and who knows where this journey might go from here.

    Picture: Reverse logo design for Bahrain Suns


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    Unlike some places in the world where sport is played in winter in alarming conditions (see photo of fans in the grandstands at an American Football match – no idea what happened to the players), those involved in Australian Rules football across Europe have hunkered down in front of heaters or fires waiting for next season. With the Latest round of the CNFA season done, we now wait for the thaw for the next sirens to sound.

    However, AFL Europe have already got a smorgasbord of competitions lined up for next year, on top of all of the national and regional leagues that will gradually come to life.

    First cab off the rank is the 2018 Fitzpatrick Cup in Ireland. To be played on 3rd February at the University College Cork, the UCC Bombers will be keen to go back-to-back, having taken titles last year and also the inaugural title in 2013. The University of Birmingham won the event in 2015 and 2016 and will be a strong chance again, but 2018 might also unearth a new champion.

    The 2018 Champions League will again be held in Amsterdam, this time on 7th April. AFL Europe is confident that the 2018 team numbers will be the biggest yet for both men’s and women’s competitions. The event, co-hosted by the Amsterdam Devils and AFL Netherlands, features the invited premiers from national leagues across Europe. So far, the West London Wildcats are the only champions, having won the event since its inception with titles in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The challenge is there for another team to usurp the Wildcats as Europe’s best men’s team.

    The Wimbledon Hawks won the Champions League title for the women’s competition in 2017, taking the title previously held by the GB Swans from 2016. With the growth in women’s football unabated across Europe there is a huge opportunity for a new champion to emerge in 2018.

    The 10th Annual ANZAC Cup in 2018 will be part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneaux, making it another very emotional and special event. To mark the occasion, players from the competing teams – the Australian Spirit team and the French national team – will play their match on the 25th April soon after the dawn service in completed. On 24th April 1918 German forces had taken the town of Villers-Bretonneaux. However, overnight Australian troops fought back and had reclaimed the town by dawn the next morning, hence the connection to the Australian Armed Forces.

    Later in the year, the German city of Berlin is earmarked as the host city for the 2018 Euro Cup. Details are yet to be announced and much work to be done, but with Germany being a little more central in Europe compared to other recent hosts, the opportunity exists for record numbers of national teams in men’s and women’s competitions.

    Details of other competitions and events will be announced as the year progresses. For more information on events across Europe, go to the AFL Europe page at or visit their Facebook page at .

    In the meantime, stay warm (or cool if in the grip of summer) and get in some cricket, tennis or golf until the footy season returns in 201 ...

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    Located in the far north of Australia, the Pyramid Power club – 25 kilometres south of Cairns – is no stranger to doing things a little differently. They have to. The club sits in Rugby League terrain and has to be extremely adept at finding ways to recruit, develop and maintain people – both on and off the field. That battle isn’t unique to Pyramid Power, but their latest project to develop this area is – and may be a blueprint for other clubs seeking ways to engage with community.

    Back in 2012, the club launched their Brother Clubs Project – which was simply an invitation to clubs world-wide to be “brothers” – nothing more or less – as a way of bringing teams and people closer together. The idea still exists – friends remain friends, brothers remain brothers. But a part of that concept has now been applied closer to their home. The Pyramid Power Community Program again sees the club reaching out a hand of friendship to others in a way not often seen.

    In short, the program centres on allowing their youth players – male and female – to build strong links with the Gordonvale community (the own in which the club is centred) through a process of “giving back” to the community. The concept hinges on the idea of developing meaningful relationships across the community, developing cultural awareness, wellbeing, resilience and understanding. In an era where some of these values do go missing, the club sees these values as part of what they can and should be offering all young people who come to the club.

    According to club president, Jim Floyd, “we want to empower our youth whilst teaching the power of giving to a variety of audiences around us in the community. It is all about our youth learning the value of giving to someone else and making their day better. It empowers our youth with feelings of generosity and self-worth. By showing someone respect, and treating them with care and dignity it then commands respect in return. Honouring people who have given so much for their country really puts your life into perspective.”

    The program’s charter is based on five key pillars – Caring, Respect, ANZAC, Support and Hope. In brief, the pillars are:

    Power of Caring – visiting local hospitals to brighten the days of sick children, as well as visiting aged-care facilities with the same aim.

    Power of Respect – volunteering our time to do gardening or maintenance in aged-care or community facilities.

    Power of ANZAC – Being involved in the annual Gordonvale ANZAC Day ceremony, both during the formal march and in any other way of assisting with the events.

    Power of Support – offering guidance and ground marshalling duties at the local Great Pyramid Race as well as any other key community events.

    Power of Hope – fundraising and helping to grant children less fortunate in our community a special wish and bring a smile to their faces.

    What appears to be a simple set of values and aims has already been put into service and the feedback from local communities across Cairns has been enormous. Many of the players at the club have arrived from a variety of challenging personal backgrounds, and the club has already been able to make substantial change to their lives.

    According to Sharlie Mundraby, one of the club’s senior youth girls players, “Pyramid Power have helped me a lot to pull me out of my dark situations and they helped me find my happiness again. Being in this program just makes me want to give back and that’s exactly what I plan to do”.

    Whilst the club is setting about enriching the lives of their own players and the local community from which they come, it isn’t lost of the club that this project has potential ramifications beyond their own community. Jim Floyd acknowledges that this project is aimed at the club’s own catchment, but similar programs could be applied to communities across the world as a means of community engagement and a rich experience for youth, or anyone else, within a club.

    Like the previous Brother Clubs Project, the Pyramid Power Community Program is simply a means of bringing people together and seeing the positive changes that come from that. The club exists in a challenging environment – geographically, economically and socially – yet is still keen to attack those challenges head-on for the youth of today and tomorrow.

    Picture: Club President Jim Floyd and players volunteering at recent Queensland state elections.


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