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Independent News and Views from the International Aussie Rules Community

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    GWS Giants chief executive Dave Matthews says the club may look at playing matches for premiership points in the coming years, with China, India and the USA mentioned in an article that appeared in Melbourne newspaper The Age this morning.

    Mr Matthews praised the NZ venture that saw St Kilda and Melbourne clash in Wellington this year, and says the Giants may be interested in also taking matches offshore.

    However, he also mentioned that Giants home games could not be transferred, with an agreement in place with the ACT government to play 3 home-and-away matches in Canberra each year until 2021, and the remainder to stay at the Sydney Showgrounds.

    This raises the possibility of another AFL club to move an otherwise low-drawing home game against the Giants overseas, if a financial incentive presents itself.

    For more, read AFL Team Giants keen to play in China, US and India. ...


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    Jason Lassey of Bigfooty Media interviews James Moore, Development Officer with the Jakarta Bintangs.

    You can read the text version of the interview here

    Jason has also recently published articles covering footy in NZ here and an interview with the 2013 AFL London premiers the West London Wildcats here. ...


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    The New Zealand National Provincial Championships (NPC) were held last weekend in Christchurch at Westminster Park. In a thrilling weekend for footy in NZ Auckland were undefeated in their three games, though Wellington pushed them hard. Canterbury won two matches with a particularly convincing win over Wellington and Otago were winless after losing to Wellington.

    For more please view:- http://aflnz.co.nz/auckland-win-first-afl-new-zealand-npc-since-2007/ ...


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    Football in New Zealand continues to be supported by high quality touring Australian teams.

    Locally this weekend sees the Senior Championships (NPC), all local Leagues have played their Grand Finals or are due to and the school-age Hawks Cup has recently been completed. It is important that all of this local footy leads to opportunities for the players to be tested against Australians.

    The schoolboys aged U16 from the Hawks Cup will play the touring Flying Boomerangs which provides real purpose for their involvement in AFL.

     

     

    This opportunity is provided by the arrival in NZ from December 5 for a 10-day tour of New Zealand.

    The Flying Boomerangs is a personal development and leadership program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young men aged 14-15 years-old.

    Selected from the 2013 AFL KickStart Under-15 Championships, the Flying Boomerangs squad of 24 players will play two matches against the New Zealand Hawks in Wellington at Hutt Park,

    The Boomerangs will be accompanied by AFL Indigenous programs mentor and former Melbourne Demons star Aaron Davey on tour.

    AFL Head of Diversity and International Jason Mifsud said this is a great opportunity for these talented young men to develop on and off the field.

    “The Flying Boomerangs squad is made up of the best rising Indigenous talent in the nation and they will be given the chance to represent their country and showcase Australia’s game in New Zealand when they play two exhibition matches against local teams.

    “Throughout the tour the players will be exposed to elite training, as well as many cultural experiences which will be focussed on addressing the four core pillars of the program; Resilience, Identity, Decision Making and Communication.

    “The tour to New Zealand is a significant event in the Boomerangs’ program as it focusses on personal development and leadership, helping the participants to develop into confident young men and leaders in their community.”

    In 2013, six Indigenous players who graduated through the Flying Boomerangs program were drafted; Jarmen Impey (Port Adelaide), Malcolm Karpany (West Coast Eagles), Jay Kennedy-Harris (Melbourne), Karl Amon (Port Adelaide), Zac Bates (Geelong Cats) and Jack Martin (pre-listed with Gold Coast Suns).

    Tour highlights:
    Dec 5 – Depart for Auckland, Maori welcome at the airport
    Dec 6 – Oteha Valley Primary School visit (AFL KiwiKick session)
    Dec 7 – Cultural experience at Mitai Maori Village in Rotorua
    Dec 8 – Rafting in Rotorua
    Dec 9 – Tongariro Crossing Hike
    Dec 10 – Visit Westpac Stadium
    Dec 11 – Combined training session with NZ Hawks
    Dec 12 – Game One, NZ Hawks v Flying Boomerangs at Hutt Park
    Dec 14 - Game Two, NZ Hawks v Flying Boomerangs at Hutt Park
    Dec 15 – Return to Melbourne

    The second game played in Wellington will be the curtain raiser to the local Grand Final where the undefeated Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs play the North City Demons.

    2013 Flying Boomerangs squad:
    Shai Bolton (Meadow Springs, WA), Kobe Broome (Holland Park West, QLD), Lenny Christie (Kedron, QLD), Antionne Forrest-Yarran (Hamilton Hill, WA), Denver Garlett (Adelaide, SA), John Garlett (Parmelia, WA), Logan Gray (Banks, ACT), Jamie Hampton (Alice Springs, NT), Callum Harrison (Launceston, TAS), Dion Johnstone (Dennington, VIC), Jordan Jeffery (Palmerston, NT), Kym LeBois (Ceduna, SA), Keiran Martin (Alice Springs, NT), Liam Nelson (Surf Beach, NSW), Tommy Nickels (Northam, WA), Sam Powell-Pepper (St James, WA), John Pupangamirri (Mullumbimby, QLD), Jy Simpkin (Mooroopina, VIC), Kyle Thomas (Reservoir, VIC), Calvin Thorne (Rockingham, WA), Samual Walsh-Bannam (Milltown, VIC), Keenan Waterbury (Freds Pass, NT), Mathew Wilkes (Armadale, WA), Anthony Young (Newborough, VIC)
    Eugene Warrior - Head Coach ...


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    Following last year’s success of the inaugural national level tournament of Australian Rules Football in Kerala, India and the wonderful reception it enjoyed from people, it was time for hosting the 2nd annual national championship - AFL India - OGM Cup 2013. The venue for the tournament this year was the richest state of India, in terms of per capita GDP, Goa which is located on the western coast of India.

    There was fair bit of improvement on last year's tournament which witnessed participation of five teams from three states of India. This year, with the immense popularity of the sport increasing day by day, a new state featured in the tournament from West Bengal, the birth place of Footy in India. All up there were six teams participating- three junior teams and three senior teams. The senior teams were Bengal Tigers, Maharashtra Giants and Kerala Bombers and the junior teams were Maharashtra Giants, Maharashtra Tigers and Tamil Nadu Kangaroos. All the teams played in round robin format with the top teams qualifying for the Grand Final. This year the tournament witnessed two winners-one in the senior division and one in the junior division attesting the fact that the popularity of Footy in India is disseminating like wildfire.
     

     A regal show of passion and devotion for the sport along with dexterous skill were on display as the players from different strata of social and economic backgrounds and age groups faced each other, all aiming to lift AFL India – OGM Cup, sponsored by Perth based mining company OGM, along with its Indian counterpart RP Group of Companies.

    The tournament was organised by the Australian Rules Football Association Of India (ARFAI) at the Village Panchayat Ground, Sangolda, Goa from 15th of November to 17th of November,2013. The opening ceremony saw some eminent personalities of the Australian Rules Football fraternity. The tournament was inaugurated by Andrew Cadzow - AFL Asia Pacific Manager, who was in India as a part of a broader initiative undertaken by the ARFAI through the Australian Sports Outreach Programme (ASOP) grant sanctioned by the Australian Sports Commission. Also gracing the event were Peter Cullen - Founder and current National Development Manager of Reclink Australia, Rhan Harris - ambassador of Reclink Australia and the legend himself Gavin Crosisca - who played 246 games for the Collingwood Football Club and being on the coaching panels at AFL clubs North Melbourne and Hawthorn.

    All the three days had its share of excitement, passion and drama. The first day saw the coaching persona of Andrew Cadzow and Gavin Crosisca train not just the players but also the development officers of ARFAI, coaches/mentors from the different states along with the coaches from the international sports NGO - Magic Bus, who is one of the partners in the ASOP programme that ARFAI is working on at present. Their competent advice to the players was reflected in the skills the players showed during the tournament. On the second day the passion that the players feel for the game and momentousness of the tournament is to them was evident. During a senior division match between Kerala Bombers and Maharashtra Giants incessant sledging could be witnessed and in the end this led to a nasty brawl between the two teams. Even though this incident showed the passion of the players for the game but the ARFAI officials along with Andrew, Gavin and Peter rightfully condemned the incident.

    ]A decision was taken to take disciplinary action against the teams involved in the brawl and they were banned from the tournament. As a result of which Bengal Tigers were announced as the winner in the senior division of the tournament, but not the winner in the conventional sense per say; instead they were the Fair Play Champions.

    But the excitement didn’t dampen as the junior division matches went on as scheduled with some really prodigious play on display. The main lodestone of the third day was the Grand Final of the junior division. The two deserving teams- Maharashtra Giants and Maharashtra Tigers- went into the finals. The portentous show of skills and sportsmanship went on to nullify the unfortunate incident that happened the day before. To quote the great American football coach Vince Lombardi “Winning is not everything, it’s the only thing”.

      Those words of Lombardi seemed to be ingrained in the mind of all the players. They played with all they had, they gave in their best efforts. It was a really close contest with Maharashtra Tigers having the last laugh defeating Maharashtra Giants 3-6-24 to 3-3-21 and lifting the AFL India-OGM Cup from the hands of Wayne Lewis, Commissioner to India, State Government of Victoria. For Wayne who has just settled in India, it was an overwhelming experience to attend a tournament of his favourite sport in India, which he had no clue had started making its mark on the cricket crazy nation, and thus he promised bigger support in the future from the Victorian Government’s side to help develop Aussie Rules in India, arguably Victoria’s best product ever.

    Sudip Chakraborty, Secretary General of the ARFAI hosted the awards ceremony. The ARFAI presented footies with the logos of the sponsors to the supporters and dignitaries present. Reflecting on the events of the past few days Sudip said “It has taken a lot of hard work since last years’ national champs, travelling around India continuously and specially making three prior trips to Goa to set up the tournament on totally unfamiliar grounds. But the best part is the scale of the tournament went up quiet high compared to last year along with the skill and passion for the game on display by the players. Now that we have a team of officials together thanks to the ASOP grant, we look forward to a much bigger tournament next year with other new tournaments filling in the year as well.”
    AFL India would like to thank all the three AFL Clubs, Richmond Tigers, Essendon Bombers and GWS Giants for their support they have shown towards the tournament, along with other sponsors Victorian Government, Reclink Australia, Musashi, India Unbound, and Patchi.

    We are also grateful to Reclink Australia for providing the wonderful support in helping Lincoln Harris set up the Maharashtra teams and Rick Shrowder, Director of Global Community Sports, based in England, for the wonderful work he has put it in Tamil Nadu which culminated in the popularity of the sport in the state through the work of an NGO named Patchi, led by Syed Ali . We would also like to thank Rhan Harris, Ambassador of Reclink Australia for flying up to Goa from 'Down Under' especially for the tournament, and sharing his skills and knowledge with the players from all the teams and training the umpires for the tournament.

    With the success of this year’s tournament, the third instalment is surely going to take place next year and probably with involvement of more states as Australian Rules Football Association of India has already decided to promote the sports in the states of Jharkhand and Rajasthan. All the information regarding AFL in India will be up on our brand new website http://www.aflindia.org (it redirects one to our Facebook page at the moment) which will be launched in the New Year and we are looking forward to offer advertisement space to everyone interested.
      ...


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    Jason Lassey of Bigfooty Media interviews General Manager of AFL Europe - Ben MacCormack.

     

    You can read the text version of the interview here. ...


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    Alex Starling was awarded an international scholarship with the Sydney Swans after the first unofficial US Combine in 2011. He was to continue his studies and basketball at a US college and return to the Swans at the end of 2012.  He also played a handful of games with the Florida Redbacks in the USAFL.

    Unfortunately though injury meant he was unable to come to Sydney to fulfil his AFL destiny with the Swans. Starling left the radar, and the Sydney Swans did not respond to questions as to whether there was any chance he would get another chance with them after saying they would not list him as an International rookie at the end of 2012.

    But he has now popped up in yesterday's Leader community paper having signed with AFL club Frankston.  Coach Simon Goosey has been in contact with Paul Roos who first found Starling at the US combine and set him up with the Swans and told Goosey that Starling was "one of the best athletes he's ever seen" . 

    We'll speculate that there's some good chance that former Frankston star Mick Ablett who is now the AFL Academies Development Manager (and formerly spent time in the US) and involved with a number of the international Combines may have put in a good word at his old club in Startling's favour also. ...


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    The AFL this week announced a new multi-year agreement with Rightster - the digital video distribution, marketing and monetisation specialist - relating to the AFL’s international live streaming subscription service, AFLTV. The service, operated and built by Rightster on the AFL’s behalf, offers live and on-demand coverage of every Toyota AFL Premiership season match to fans all over the world, via AFLTV.

    Throughout the 2013 Toyota AFL Premiership season, AFLTV reached thousands of fans in over 216 territories, delivering more than 2.5 million streams, including Hawthorn’s Grand Final win over Fremantle earlier this year. 

    The AFL and Rightster have reached agreement to cover the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Toyota AFL Premiership seasons. This will allow the development of a long-term strategy which will include additional features and content in order to further drive fan engagement.

    General Manager - AFL Media, Peter Campbell, said: “We’re pleased to announce this agreement with Rightster as part of our ongoing commitment to international AFL fans. As the importance of digital platforms, fan engagement and digital revenue grows, we believe Rightster is the perfect partner to help us build our sport and business in this area. They offer us the transparency and control we feel is vital to success.”

    Rightster CEO, Charlie Muirhead, said: “After a hugely successful first year, it’s fantastic that the AFL and Rightster have agreed to extend our relationship until 2016. Digital media has transformed the way sports fans view games and highlights, and engage with their sporting heroes. Leagues, Clubs and Federations are seeking new ways to understand and engage with fans whilst offering the excitement of sport to a growing online audience. At Rightster we’re working with sports brands to gather more audience data and insights across more channels. We look forward to continuing to deliver digital innovation and growth to the AFL and helping them take Australia’s Game to the world.”

    The agreement will also see the AFL and Rightster work closely together to deliver added value to AFL commercial partners and explore other digital initiatives together.

    We would love to hear any feedback on how you used this service and how well it worked by logging in and using the Comments link below. ...


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    This year has been a very positive one for Wellington AFL in that a local season of footy was played. In 2012 the competition never eventuated even after trying to commence with three teams with the North City Demons in recess.

    After the excitement generated from finishing Runners Up to Canterbury in the National Provincial Championships (NPC) in late 2012, regular participation of Wellington players in NZ senior and under-age teams and the highlight of the Anzac Day game between St Kilda and Sydney at the Wellington Stadium it provided the impetus for the re-establishment of the local competition.
     

    It would be fair to say that despite best intentions the competition hasn’t exactly flourished this year. The season was to be of each team playing each of the others three times, providing a 9 game season. By the end of Round 6 neither the Wellington City Saints or defending back to back premiers of 2010-11, the Hutt Valley Eagles, were able to field a team. North City Demons were also struggling a bit and added some of the players from the Eagles in Round 8 and the Saints and Eagles in Round 9 to play the Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs who had regularly turned up with 20+ players each week.

    The Wellington team that competed in last week’s 2013 NPC was not disgraced in finishing third and providing that the bulk of those players return to the local competition in 2014 they should provide a springboard for a competition with much greater depth.

    That said, the local Grand Final will be played this Saturday with the NZ U 16’s playing the touring Flying Boomerangs Australian indigenous youth team as a curtain raiser.

    It is fair to say that the two Wellington teams with the best organization and playing depth this season will square off on Saturday. The Bulldogs have been undefeated all year and after playing in the last 5 straight Grand Finals, and with 11 of the Wellington team in their squad, should be formidable. There is no doubt that the young and enthusiastic North City Demons will make a game of it, indeed they have been closing the gap on their opponents as the season has progressed. With Bulldogs stand outs Andrew Eastwood (broken arm from NPC) and Ryan Roselli (OE to London) out it further opens the game up.

    From the North City Demons, Joe Baker-Thomas will be a player to watch. The Porirua teenager currently holds an AFL International Scholarship with the St Kilda Football Club. Another recent New Zealand representative at the club is Waylon Baker, who was part of the Under 18 New Zealand Hawks team who played a series against the Victorian Amateur Football Association in October. Their team also includes New Zealand Hawks player Sam McKenzie, known for his ability to take marks under heavy pressure.

    The Eastern Bulldogs will have a very strong side going into the WAFL final, featuring many players who have represented New Zealand. Stanley Chung and James Terry played for the New Zealand Hawks in 2013, Wayne Harvey and Guy Ferguson are former NZ representatives, and Kade Riddell has played for various age grade New Zealand Hawks teams.

    Both coaches are also highly experienced. Shannon Wall, who will coach the North City Demons, has been an assistant coach for various New Zealand Hawks teams, and Jason Wozniak from the Eastern Bulldogs coached the Wellington team at the NPC. Interestingly these two are likely to be the only Australians playing in the Grand Final.

    AFL New Zealand has experienced significant growth in Wellington over 2013. With thousands of children participating in AFL KiwiKick, and hundreds more teenagers participating in AFL Secondary School programmes, the future for the game in the capital is bright.

    Given all that has happened this year with footy in Wellington it is to be hoped that Saturday provides two brilliant of football and provides a base for future growth in the region.

    http://aflnz.co.nz/wafl-grand-final-to-cap-exciting-year-for-afl-in-wellington/ ...


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    Stateside Footy presents coverage of the USAFL women's footy with Minnesota vs Boston and then Minnesota vs New York . These games took place at Rogers Field on the site of the former Fort Devens in Harvard, MA in July this year.

    Stateside Footy is a cable access TV show produced with the assistance of WCTV - Wilmington Community Television in Wilmington, MA. It features Aussie Rules Football as it is played in the U.S.A.

    Stateside Footy's Bill Robert is well known as a big Geelong fan. Possibly lesser known is the mayor of Beverley Hills - John Mirisch. You can read the article on John on the AFL website here. ...


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    Jason Lassey of Bigfooty Media interviews Terry Anderson, President of AFL Canterbury.

    You can read the text version of the interview here. ...


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    St Kilda flies home from Colorado today after an extensive two-week high altitude training camp in Boulder.

    The Saints trained at University of Colorado’s elite training facilities, while also embarking on several demanding hikes throughout the scenic yet challenging Colorado mountains.

    St Kilda high performance manager Adam Basil set the squad a number of difficult challenges that they relished and completed despite being subjected to weather as cold as -20 degrees celcius.

    As well as the demanding training sessions, the St Kilda team made time for several sporting excursions that had them watching basketball team the Denver Nuggets, ice hockey team the Colorado Avalanche and NFL team the Denver Broncos.

    The Saints continued their close association with the Broncos through charity appearances, while also getting an up close look at the powerhouse NFL team at both practice sessions and at a home game.

    Senior coach Alan Richardson paid tribute to the St Kilda squad for their resilience and work ethic throughout the camp.

    “I have been super impressed with the way they have embraced everything we have thrown at them both physically and mentally,” Richardson said.

    “The weather has thrown up some challenges and they have been super.”

    To view video of the team’s rigorous trek up Table Mountain
    , click here. ...


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    Fiji again is hosting the AFL Oceania Cup for the third successive year. AFL Tonga and AFL Nauru arrived last weekend however at late notice AFL Vanuatu were unable to make the trip.

    Day 1 kicked off with a lightning premiership format with 4 squads participating : Nauru, Tonga, Fiji and Fiji/Vanuatu.

    The tournament then reverted to the competition days leading up to the Grand Final in Suva on Friday. Nauru ran out deserving winners over hosts Fiji whilst in a tight tussle the Fiji/Vanuatu squad edged out an inaccurate Tonga by 2 points in the 3rd place play of.

    Ben Drew, the AFL Development Officer for the Pacific highlighted the following for thanks : AFL Fiji, Coca Cola, Suva Grammer, Fiji Sports Commission, FNU (Fiji National University) for all the assistance over the week, as well as both AFL Tonga and AFL Nauru for the terrific football they have played.
    From the tournament was selected the 2014 Oceania Squad - article to follow. These boys will be competing at the South Pacific Cup in Coffs Harbour April 2014.

    Grand Final results below

    GRAND FINAL
    Nauru 8-8-56 def Fiji 2-1-13

    GOAL KICKERS
    NAURU: Pilo Dagiari 4, Reed Dageago 2, Macho Teabuge 2
    FIJI: Apisalome Macanalagi, Pita Wilson

    BEST PLAYERS
    NAURU: Pilo Dagiaro, Lennox Agege, Hess Tekai Foilape, Enovy Tungi, Iverson Star, Kazaam Grundler
    FIJI: Meli Ledua, Ratu Mua, Apenisa Sailo, Simione Kuruvoli, Pita Wilson

    3RD & 4TH FINAL
    Fiji/Vanuatu 3-3-21 def Tonga 2-7-19

    GOAL KICKERS
    FIJI/VANUATU: Taniela Waqa, Simione Raicavu, Richard Shephard
    TONGA: Kisione Taulani, Haele Finau

    BEST PLAYERS

    FIJI/VANUATU: Jone Baba, Raymond Tuisawau, Josateki Tuiriban
    TONGA: Vaiola Kivalu, Kisione Tailani, Haele Finau

    Player Awards:

    Oceania Medal: Kazaam Grundler (Nauru) Best on Ground Grand Final

    Nauru: Pilo Dagiaro
    Fiji: Meli Ledua
    Fiji/Vanuatu: Jone Baba
    Tonga: Kisione Taulani
    ...


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    After the running of the AFL Oceania Cup in Suva, Fiji, last week the AFL Oceania Squad has been announced. The squad will compete in next years South Pacific Cup against New Zealand and PNG.

    In 2014 the South Pacific Cup will be held on the NSW mid North coast at Coffs Harbour.

    As reported the result of theAFL Oceania Cup 2013 - Nauru claim the title the Nauru squad have run out victors and are well represented. Prior to last year, the tournament had included New Zealand and PNG at this point however the splitting of the tournament into the Oceania and subsequent South Pacific Cup tournament provides a solid representative pathway for even the smaller Pacific nations.

    First Name Surname Country
    1 Lennox Agege Nauru
    2 Pilo Dagiaro Nauru
    3 Hess Tekai Foilape Nauru
    4 Kazaam Grundler Nauru
    5 Jarrod Illig Nauru
    6 Iverson Star Nauru
    7 Enovy Tungi Nauru
    8 Jeremiah Kam Nauru
    9 Kisione Taulani Tonga
    10 Saimone Moaetau Tonga
    11 Loni Finau Tonga
    12 Sione Brown Tonga
    13 Siosuei Havea Tonga
    14 Semiji Vakacegu Fiji
    15 Meli Ledua Fiji
    16 Rata Mua Cavuilati Fiji
    17 Simione Kuruvoli Fiji
    18 Pita Wilson Fiji
    19 Savenaca Vueta Fiji
    20 Jone Baba Fiji
    21 Taniela Waqa Fiji
    22 Jonetani Tavusu Fiji
    23 Ryan Bonga Vanuatu
    24 TBC Vanuatu
    25 TBC Solomon Islands
    ...
    EMERGENCIES:
    1 Mitieli Ralesi Fiji
    2 Josepg Magoon Fiji
    3 Mesake V Fiji
    4 Penni Waquavi Fiji
    5 Inoke Wesley Fiji
    6 Sione Taufoou Tonga
    7 Darnel Diema Nauru
    8 Macho Teabuge Nauru

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    Thirteen of the VWFL’s top players have been selected to take part in the 2014 AFL Victoria VWFL Academy/ TAC Club Talented Player Pathway Program – a special pre-season training programme, focussing on skills and game sense, held at their local TAC Cup region.

    The VWFL stated on their website they were delighted to have the Northern Knights, Calder Cannons and Eastern Ranges on board for training program but added all TAC Regions were supportive of the idea.

    AFL Victoria’s VWFL Competition Manager Darren Flanigan said it was a great opportunity for the girls to further their football development.

    “AFL Victoria are always looking to promote and enhance women’s football in general and to provide new development opportunities for elite players,” he added. “Having the chance to be part of a highly professional programme is something the players have really embraced.”

    The players who accepted the invitation have been placed into groups, depending on the TAC Region which best suits their residential or work location. The groups are as follows:

    Calder Cannons: Lauren Arnell, Nicola Stevens, Alicia Eva, Kaz Paxman

    Eastern Ranges: Lou Wotton, Meg Hutchins

    Northern Knights: Lauren Spark, Melissa Hickey, Katie Brennan, Stephanie Chiochi, Aasta O'Connor, Elise O'Dea, Daisy Pearce            

    Players are expected to attend weekly training sessions. The first session with the Calder Cannons and the Northern Nights took place last week.
      ...


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    With the completion of Round 11, the NTFL now goes into its Festive Season break, providing a chance to look at the first 11 rounds and also what comes in the remaining 7 rounds when hostilities resume on 4th January.

    It is becoming increasingly difficult to see much but another St Mary’s flag at this stage. Undefeated, and boasting an impressive runs of big wins, little stands in their way. Their biggest tests will come when they play second placed Wanderers twice in the remaining seven rounds, but other than upsets top spot is virtually locked in.

    Wanderers have been the surprise packets this year, and have an almost identical form line to St Mary’s. Their only loss was by three goals to St Mary’s earlier in the season. It would take the wheels to fall off dramatically for them to fall out of favouritism for a grand final berth…but footy is a funny game.
     

    The remaining finals spots will hinge on the consistency of the rest of the field. Nightcliff started the season well but have been a little erratic since. Southern Districts are guilty of the same ups and downs as have the Tiwi Bombers. All have tough runs home, and whichever teams get on a roll will secure finals.

    This brings us to Waratah and Palmerston. Waratah have just gone along quietly: winning expected games and losing expected games. With a run home that includes the lowly Buffaloes twice and the erratic and out of form Tiwi Bombers and Southern Districts, Waratah should do enough to hold their current fourth spot. Palmerston, on the other hand, could be a wild card. After a horrid start to the season, they have won three of their past four. They are on the improve and could snag some more wins, but whether it is enough for finals is a bit too optimistic.

    Buffaloes theoretically could win all seven games, though not terribly likely. Even still, they have won two from ten, so are mathematically in the equation (for another game at least) but in a practical sense can start planning for next season, as harsh as that may sound. Central Australia played only the first nine rounds and do not figure in the finals makeup this season.

    So, at this stage, St Mary’s and Wanderers appear certainties, Buffaloes highly unlikely, and Tiwi Bombers and Palmerston probably requiring miraculous turnarounds given that they both only have three wins each to date. This would see Waratah, Nightcliff and Southern Districts as the other likely finalists. We will see in late February when the finals begin, but footy has its own set of tricks that can change things…that’s why we love it.  ...


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    As the Australian Rules footy season comes to its winter recess across the countries of the Middle East, it is a time to reflect on what is fast becoming a five team race to the finish line. Earlier this year World Footy News updated the progress after the first couple of games, but much has happened since then to give all teams hope for the season which recommences on 17th January.

    After Round Two, the Dubai Dragons had won both of their clashes and were odds on to run off with the competition, leaving the other clubs to squabble over the crumbs. Things have changed quite substantially since then.



    Last year’s grand finalists, the Doha Kangaroos began their quest with comfortable wins in rounds two and three over the Dubai Dingoes and Abu Dhabi Falcons. With the Dubai Dragons having lost the local derby to the Dingoes in an upset, suddenly last year’s finalists are locked on two wins each at the top of the ladder.

    The Dingoes win against the Dragons gives them one win from their three games. Muscat Magpies also enjoyed a win against the Dingoes and to round out the fixtures to date the Abu Dhabi Falcons defeated the Magpies. This collection of results now sees the Dingoes, Magpies and Falcons locked on one win each, a game behind the Kangaroos and Dragons.

    This sets up a fascinating finish to the season with all teams a realistic chance of winning enough games to set up a grand final berth.

    Barring upsets, both Doha and Dubai Dragons have 2 winnable games each in the run home, but their Round 6 clash against each other will likely determine top spot. At the other end of the ladder both Muscat and Abu Dhabi have tough runs home. Muscat plays Doha and both Dubai teams which is a tough run. Abu Dhabi fares a little worse, playing the same three sides, but Muscat plays two of those games at home.

    Dubai Dingoes have the best run home, playing both Muscat and Abu Dhabi. A win in just one of those should be enough to see finals action.

    In any event, the final rounds from January to March will provide no end of frenetic entertainment as all five clubs know that they can still control their own destiny. Everyone is still in the race with three rounds to go. And you can bet the house on all teams doing their best to create the upsets which might change the whole complexion of the AFL Middle East competition for this 2013/14 season.

    We look forward to our next review at the end of the home and away matches, and a preview of the finals ser ...

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  • 12/19/13--04:17: Shaheens take to full field
  • Thanks to Kashif Bouns for the following.

    The Pakistan Shaheens rapid rise in the Australian football world took another step yesterday at Arden Street (North Melbourne's training base), with the team playing its first full field practice match, up against Team Africa. While the end result fell to the Africans, the Shaheens put on a showing that proved there is plenty to come.

    After a minute’s silence to recognise the life of former South African president Nelson Mandala, the Shaheens started well dominating the opening few minutes and peppering the goals for a number of behinds, which wasn’t that surprising given they had only stood on a footy field once before as a team. Team Africa then got a bit of a run-on with some unanswered goals but pressure from the Shaheens defence saw them spraying their attack and missing more goals than they kicked.

    The second half saw the first goal for the Shaheens to Atta Khan with a set play out of defence leading to a Team Africa error and a set shot from inside the square. New player Muazz scored the Shaheens second goal a few minutes later.
     

    Best players for the Shaheens included Zain who captained the team, Umair, Sajid with plenty of other great contributors across the board.

    With only 14 weeks of training and most of the team having never played a match before, this match was always going to test the new side. In the end, the experience and fitness of the Africans gave them too much control of the game and they ran away easy winners. But the Shaheens sent enough of a message to say they can’t be trifled with.

    Pakistan will also be playing another game against the same opponent on Saturday 21st December as a part of a festival.


    Kick under pressure


    The unsung but important off field business ...


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    Since the end of the 2013 season in Cairns, much has been going on behind the scenes to ensure the further growth of the game in far northern Queensland. The Green light has now been given to new teams for 2014 which will strengthen both the junior and senior ranks playing within the AFL Cairns competition.

    At the beginning of 2013, AFL Cape York proudly opened the doors to its first intake of boarding students. These young men came to the new establishment – AFL Cape York House – to live and receive their education through nearby secondary schools. They came from as far afield as the Torres Strait Islands, Cape York Peninsula communities and many other places. Opened in May of this year, most of the boys played Australian Rules football with local clubs North Cairns Tigers and Pyramid Power.

     

    The goals of AFL Cape York House are encapsulated in their mission statement which says their aim is “to provide educational, employment and training opportunities for young Indigenous men from Far North Queensland's remote communities in a culturally appropriate, safe and secure residential environment in Cairns to ensure young men reaches his full potential.”

     

    The aims of the house took a massive step forward at the AFL Cairns Juniors general meeting this week with the Cape York Eagles, a team to be comprised of boarders from AFL Cape York House, being admitted to the junior league for the 2014 season. They will initially field teams in the Under 15 and Under 17 age groups as they build numbers and strength into the future.

    As stated by AFL Cairns Juniors, “AFLCY House is very unique in that it offers students from Cape York, the Gulf [communities fringing the Gulf of Carpentaria], Torres Strait and local regions a safe and secure ‘home away from home’ living experience while pursuing success in schooling, cultural endeavours, works experience, training and sports. This facility allows students to be individually case managed while developing career and life pathways.” Having their own junior football club will add to that experience allowing the students to play for their own club and learn the workings of a club from a grass roots level.

    Whilst new clubs are always greeted initially with some degree of scepticism, mainly revolving around the impact on player pools, the fact that AFL Cairns Juniors will now boast a ninth team offsets those concerns as it is further evidence of the strong growth of Australian Rules football in the region.

    Similarly, Pyramid Power’s own foray into senior football, with the introduction of a permanent team in next season’s senior women’s competition, is further evidence of growth across the region. To date the Gordonvale based club has remained exclusively a junior entity. But the step up next year to a senior team in women’s competition may be a precursor to a senior men’s team in the not too distant future.

    This growth, combined with the Cape York Eagles entry to junior ranks, signals another new era for Australian Rules football in Cairns. Clearly the higher profile of the game with the recent Gold Coast Suns and Richmond clashes has helped to generate greater interest. But credit is also due to the people at AFL Cairns Juniors, AFL Cairns, AFL Cape York and the volunteers at local clubs as between them they strive day in and day out to grow the game.

    It will be interesting to watch the progress of the Cape York Eagles and the ongoing growth of AFL Cape York House, as well as Pyramid Power’s first adventure with senior football. But one thing is certain. The game is already better for their arrival.
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    In a recent announcement, St Kilda's New Zealand international scholarship holder Joe Baker-Thomas will relocate to Melbourne from his home town of Porirua City in Wellington in early 2014.

    Since being signed with the Saints in April this year, the 17-year-old has been based in Wellington undertaking an AFL development program implemented by St Kilda, and supported by AFL New Zealand.
     
     “Joe has come a long way in a short space of time considering he wasn't even aware of the AFL 12 months ago.  He has progressed significantly with his football skills and we hope to build on this development through his training in the Saints Player Academy program in 2014,” said St Kilda Head of Football, Chris Pelchen.
      
     

     Baker-Thomas underwent his final year of schooling this year, residing in Wellington, while undertaking one-on-one training with AFL New Zealand coach Shannon Wall.
     
     In August Joe also spent ten days at St Kilda’s home base at the Linen House Centre in Melbourne to get a better appreciation of the demands of AFL football and life as a professional athlete.  Joe will officially relocate to Melbourne in early February 2014.
       
     "We're very ambitious for our plans in New Zealand and we aim to have 5,000 NZ members in the next three years," Pelchen said. "The support we have received from the Wellington City Council and the overall growth of AFL in this country has been outstanding." 
     
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