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Independent News and Views from the International Aussie Rules Community

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    In great news for footy viewers in NZ the Australian Football League today to announced Sommet Sports and SKY Sport have renewed their international rights for the next three years.

     

    New Zealand sports fans will be able to watch every AFL game in the 2014 Toyota AFL Premiership Season on either the Sommet Sports or SKY Sport channels.

     

    Each week Sommet Sports will broadcast a minimum of five matches live and the remaining matches on delay. The rights include live broadcast of the Toyota AFL Finals Series matches (including the Grand Final) and a weekly highlights program that will air over 28 weeks (on holdback).

     

     

     

     

    Sommet Sports and SKY Sport also have the right to broadcast all NAB Challenge preseason matches between February 12 to March 1.

     

    SKY Television New Zealand will also broadcast AFL matches during the premiership season; one AFL premiership match per week on delay, one AFL finals match per week on delay, the Grand Final live and both ANZAC Day matches live.  SKY Sport will also air a weekly highlights program first following each round of matches.

     

    The partnerships with Sommet Sports and SKY NZ will carry AFL matches into 90 per cent of New Zealand homes.

     

    “We’re so happy to be able to deliver to the Kiwi viewer such an exciting code. We want to thank the great support and commitment that the AFL has shown us, and we in turn will be delivering that same commitment to our loyal viewers by broadcasting arguably one of the most enthralling games available,” Andrew Reeves, Director of Sommet Sports said.

     

    AFL General Manager - Broadcasting, Scheduling & Major Projects Simon Lethlean said he was very pleased to announce an extension of the New Zealand broadcasting rights.

     

    “Following the great success of the first international AFL game played for premiership points in Wellington last year, we are delighted to confirm Sommet Sports’ and SKY Sport’s extended commitment to broadcast the game.

     

    “Making the game accessible to as many people in New Zealand as possible is vital to the growth of the AFL’s popularity,” he said.

     

    The NAB Challenge commences on Wednesday February 12 and the AFL Premiership season commences on Friday March 14 with the Grand Final to be played on Saturday September 27.

     

    The AFL will again play a match for premiership points in Wellington in 2014. The St Kilda Saints will play the Brisbane Lions on ANZAC Day, Friday, April 25 at Westpac Stadium.

     

    St Kilda development coach Paul Hudson is coaching the New Zealand Hawks in a match against an Under-17 Australian side today, Saturday, January 25 at Westpac Stadium.  ...


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    The AFL's Kevin Sheehan spoke to Radio Sport in New Zealand ahead of yesterday's talent combine in Wellington, the audio can be heard below.

     

     

    (Direct link) ...


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    The second of three matches for the School Sports Australia Under 15 team in South Africa was played on Tuesday at the Mohadin Cricket Ground in Potchefstroom. After the first game, won by the visiting School Sports Australia team by 30 points, the South Africa Lions would have taken heart from that scoreline. However, the visitors triumphed today by a far more comfortable 70 points.  

    SCHOOL SPORT AUSTRALIA TOUR - MATCH 2 RESULTS
    21 JANUARY 2014- POTCHEFSTROOM

    School Sport Australia 16.9.105 d  South Africa Lions 5.5.35

    SSA BEST PLAYERS: Michael Humble, Harrison Hawkins, Lachlan Mckenzie, Shaun Nugent, Kobe Mutch and Kyden Jarvis.

    SSA GOAL KICKERS: Sam Mclarty 4, Ben Ainsworth 2, Jacob Alison 2, Alex Diplacido 2, Harrison Hawkins 3, Jed Kemp 1, Mitcheu Maguire 1 and Jonty Scharenberg 1

    SA LIONS BEST PLAYERS: Tshoboko Moagi, Thabiso Phakedi, Asanda Funda, Akholiwe Figlan.

    SA LIONS GOAL KICKERS: Akholiwe Figlan1, Asanda Funda 1, Thabiso Phakedi 1, Steven Matshane 2

    The final game in the series will be played today at the  Khayelitsha Cricket Ground. We will bring you the update of this game when available.
      ...


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  • 01/26/14--13:34: Kiwis take it to AIS
  • Contributed by Rod Shaw.

    The Kiwis very nearly defeated the AIS AFL Academy in Wellington last Saturday.Though it is a game of mainly men (NZ Hawks) against boys (AIS) this aspect has not changed and therefore the performance of the Hawks shows evidence of significant progress on-field for the Kiwis.
     
    With so many of the AIS players going on to be listed by AFL Clubs this annual game provides a clearly defined benchmark for quality development. The AIS AFL Academy is well known for producing top quality footballers. From the 30-man team that toured New Zealand in 2011, 29 now have contracts with AFL clubs.
     
     

    From the Hawks, the close match showed the incredible progress made by the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme. More than two thirds of the players in the team have been part of the system, coming through age group representative teams or through being selected for the programme off strong performances at the AFL New Zealand National Provincial Championships.

    A small contingent of players also came from Australia, including a quartet of New Zealand born and heritage players who currently represent the Northern Territory Thunder. A trio of players also came over from Melbourne for the match, including Khan Haretuku.
     
    Haretuku spoke for the team when he described the mood in the New Zealand Hawks camp. “It was a close loss, and I’m still hurting. I’m sure all the other boys are too. It leaves us all hungry for more.”
    In a tense and absorbing contest between the New Zealand Hawks and the AIS AFL Academy has finished with less than one goal separating the teams. The Australians took the lead in the final minutes to win 4.16 (40) – 5.6 (36).
     
    Former Bisbane Lions great Chris Johnson, Head Coach of the AFL AIS Academy, paid tribute to the opposition. “It was a great contest. To the credit of the New Zealanders, your tackling and endeavour on the ball was first class today.”
      
    The Australians took an early lead, through the boot of Jake Sushames. Strong defensive pressure from the Hawks kept the score low, and a goal to Brendan Clark kept them in the match. The first quarter ended 1.7 (13) – 1.0 (6) to the Australians.
     
    A brutal second quarter followed, with neither side able to get on top. The AIS AFL Academy chipped away, edging slightly further into the lead. At halftime the score stood at 1.10 (16) – 1.1 (7).
     
    The match looked to be slipping away from the Hawks after the halftime break, with the first goal of the quarter going to Rhys Mathieson of the AIS. However, the Hawks attack sparked into life, as they stormed back into the match.
     
    St Kilda International Scholarship holder Joe Baker-Thomas played a tremendous match as a forward, picking up a crucial goal from open play. Tim Morton then took an incredible mark under pressure, before calmly slotting a goal. With one quarter to play, the deficit was only two points.
     
    The crowd roared their approval when Andy Christensen stepped up to kick a goal, giving the Hawks a five point cushion. The lead fluctuated across the final quarter, with Michael Hagan picking up a goal to put the AIS back in front.
     
    The Hawks weren’t finished though, working a passing move to perfection to put Sean Butler in on goal. He made no mistake, giving the lead back to New Zealand.
     
    The final say of the match went to Ryan Burton of the AIS. His late goal gave the lead back to the Australians, with only minutes to play. Playing right up until the final siren, the Hawks maintained their intensity, though an upset win proved to be just beyond their grasp. The match ended 4.16 (40) – 5.6 (36).
     
    Strong performances were recorded by many of the Hawks, with Andrew Howison and the VFL's Frankston Dolphins player, Khan Haretuku, being awarded the Best on Ground trophies for the game. 
     
    The AIS AFL Academy also featured players who will surely go on to be stars of the AFL. For such young men, they played with intensity and heart against the Hawks. Chris Johnson made special mention of Stephen Tahana, saying “without him we would have struggled to hold our backline together.”
     
    NZ Coach Justin Davies selected the AIS's Jacob Weitering as their best. Jacob is from the Mt Martha Club and will be looking to emulate the GWS Giant's Lachie Whitfield who is also from the Mornington Peninsula Club. 

     The afternoon concluded with a message from AFL New Zealand Chairman Geoff Dickson, who asked the AIS players and staff to carry a message back to Australia with them.
     
    “The one weakness in AFL is the lack of international representative football. Our boys are proud and passionate to represent their country, and we want you to aspire to represent your country too.”
     
    Final Score
     
    AIS AFL Academy 4.16 (40)   (Sushames, Mathieson, Hagan, Burton)
     
    New Zealand Hawks 5.6 (36)   (Clark, Baker-Thomas, Morton, Christensen, Butler)
     
    Best on Grounds
     
    Presented by Chris Johnson of the AIS: Andrew Howison (NZ) and Stephen Tahana (AIS)
     
    Presented by Justin Davies of the NZ Hawks: Khan Haretuku (NZ) and Jacob Weitering (AIS) ...


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  • 01/28/14--05:34: Welcome to the Tribe
  • Advertising Feature

    World Footy News welcomes aboard a new sponsor - Tribal Sport, headed by David Lake, International Cup coach of Papua New Guinea as well as QAFL club Morningside and previously coach of Mt Gravatt in the NEAFL.  Here Tribal Sport discusses their origins and a deal on offer to all countries competing at the 2014 AFL International Cup.

    The brand Tribal Sport was built on serving the Sporting Communities of the Pacific -  Supporting the players, the volunteers and fans so that they too could send their message to competitors about their Pride, Heritage and Culture. The gear is made with all those things in mind as we attempt to accentuate the virtues of the participants from these regions.

    As they have developed and supported the brand in the Pacific we have now taken our place in the Australian market as a key supplier to all the different sports AFL, Rugby, Netball, Cricket, etc.

    As we continue to form key alliances in the Australian and South Pacific markets we look to strengthen our position as a key supplier in the supply of Sportswear to clubs/schools and corporates.

    With the upcoming IC14 coming along in August this season we are looking to further expand our brand through Australian Football teams across the World. What better way than to offer starter deals so you can get your country's team looking its best. Click on the Tribal Sports banner link to view the deals we have put together for you. If you can’t see what you want please contact us on mytribe@tribalsport.com.au and tell us how we can best give you what you need for your country.

    So far it's ‘welcome to the tribe’ Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

    We look forward to making our brand at Tribal your vehicle to success at the upcoming IC14.
      ...


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    The AFL will hold an AFL 9s skills session and game next Saturday (1 February) at the Midsumma Festival, Victoria’s annual arts and culture festival for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) community.
     
    In conjunction with Carlton player Brock McLean and Yarra Glen footballer Jason Ball, the AFL 9s session will give members of the GLBTI community a chance to try the AFL’s newest form of the game as part of the Midsumma Team Melbourne Sports Day.
     
    AFL 9s is fast, free-flowing and involves nine players on each team playing on a smaller field with no tackling, making it suitable for everyone. It enables people of all ages and ability to participate in male, female or mixed competitions that fit around their busy lives and provide an environment where fun, enjoyment and safety are a priority.
     
    The skills session and game are part of the AFL’s ongoing efforts to promote AFL 9s to new audiences as well as to further encourage diversity and inclusion in Australian football.
     

    The AFL 9s program is national, with more than 1100 teams currently registered at over 80 venues across the country.
     
    With the recent appointment of former Swans champion Jude Bolton and his wife Lynette Carroll-Bolton as AFL 9s national ambassadors and a target of 60,000 participants playing AFL 9s by 2016/17, AFL General Manager - People, Customer & Community, Dorothy Hisgrove said the aim was to expose as many potential players to the game as possible.
     
    “AFL 9s is a terrific way for people to stay fit and stay in touch with friends and we look forward to seeing participation grow as the game becomes increasingly popular for its fun and social appeal.” Ms Hisgrove said.
     
    “It is a game for everyone and we welcome the opportunity to team up with the Midsumma Team Melbourne Sports Day to encourage members of the GLBTI community to come along, have a kick and give AFL 9s a go.”
     
    Brock McLean recently became an Athlete Ally ambassador as part of his personal efforts to encourage people to embrace equality and to stand up against homophobic behaviour. Jason Ball is an openly gay footballer at the Yarra Glen Football Club and an ambassador for beyondblue.
     
    The AFL has been working with Mr Ball on initiatives to promote Australian football as a sport for everyone and one that provides a welcoming and inclusive environment for people in the GLBTI community. He has recently participated in training sessions for the State Football Leagues and his personal story is included in an education program for first-to-third year players at each of the 18 AFL clubs.
     
    Mr Ball said that sport had long been a place where the GLBTI community felt excluded, whether through direct or indirect homophobia.
     
    “That's why I'm so proud to see sporting events taking a more prominent role in this year's Midsumma Festival. This is a great way to create a safe and welcoming environment for the GLBTI community to increase participation in sport,” Mr Ball said.
     
    “As the home of football it makes sense for Melbourne's premier queer festival to include the opportunity to come and try AFL, alongside all of the other sports already on offer at the Midsumma Sports Day. 

    “The modified rules of AFL9's makes it the perfect option for beginners to the game. It's fast, fun and easy to play. It is also fairly easy to get a group of friends together and play competitively in a local AFL9's competition.”

    Mr Ball praised Brock McLean for his participation in the sports day.

    “As the first AFL player to become an ambassador to Athlete Ally and march at Pride March last year, Brock's participation in the Midsumma Sports Day is another example of his tireless efforts to champion GLBTI inclusion and acceptance. His presence will be greatly appreciated and I know that all of the participants are looking forward to kicking the footy with him.”
     
    The Team Melbourne Midsumma Sports Day will be held on Saturday 1 February at Footscray Park & Victoria University, Maribyrnong Blvd, Footscray.
     
    From 11am Brock McLean and Jason Ball will join up with the St Albans Spurs FC to hold a skills session and to run some training drills. From 12.30pm – 1.30pm an introduction to AFL 9s will be held prior to a game.
     
    For further information about AFL 9s and to register at your local venue, visit www.afl9s.com.au ...


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    The touring School Sport Australia Under 15’s team have completed their tour of South Africa earlier this week by whitewashing the series against the South Africa Lions. But, although the results might suggest three wins, the margins of 30 points in Game 1, 70 points in Game 2 and a 59 point result in Game 3 suggest three solid wins, but no blowouts. The South African team remained committed to their goal of making life as tough as possible for the visitors, and succeeded.

    MATCH 3 RESULTS
    24 JANUARY 2014- KHAYELITSHA CRICKET GROUND, CAPE TOWN

    School Sport Australia 12.11.83 d South Africa Lions 3.6.24

    SSA BEST PLAYERS: Lachlan Mckenzie, Shaun Nugent, Jack Graham, Jonty Scharenberg, Nelson Foley, Kobe Mutch, Stan Wright.
    SSA GOAL KICKERS: Nelson Foley 2, Kobe Mutch 2, Shaun Nugent 1, Jonty Scharenberg 1, Sam McLarty 1, Mitchell Maguire 1, Alex Diplacido 1, William Brodie 1, Jack Bowes 1, Jacob Alison 1.

    SA LIONS BEST PLAYERS: Thabiso Phakedi, Pani Sivuyisile, Khaya Sikiti.
    SA LIONS GOAL KICKERS: Khaya Sikiti 2, Msizi Mkhize 1.

    As an interesting footnote of personal interest, from the perspective of a Cairns resident, young Jack Bowes managed a goal in this game. Jack, like most other boys on tour, has a big future ahead and might well be the next big thing to come out of Cairns.
      ...


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    Northern Territory football fans, and particularly the excited fans in Alice Springs, are gearing up for one of their biggest matches of the year when the Melbourne Demons take on the Geelong Cats at Traeger Park on Friday 28th February as part of the AFL’s NAB Cup pre-season competition.

    A few days earlier, Townsville gets its moment in the sun when the Gold Coast Suns return to the city to take on the Brisbane Lions at Tony Ireland Stadium.  The North Queensland city, recipient of the effects of successive cyclones (Dylan and Edna) last week, will be looking forward to the excitement of big time AFL football again after successfully hosting the Suns v Kangaroos match last year.

     

    For Alice Springs, in the absolute heart of the country, this is their chance to show the game to the locals, but also show off TIO Traeger Park through national exposure as a bona fide AFL venue. This is the first of their two AFL games this season, as they host the Melbourne versus Port Adelaide game in Round 11 for premiership points also. Darwin will retain its annual premiership match when the Melbourne Demons host the Fremantle Dockers in Round 16 at TIO Stadium.

    Alice Springs locals should get an uncompromising battle with the Melbourne Demons, now under premiership coach Paul Roos, keen to lift themselves out of the inky depths of the wooden spoon zone. Their opponents, the Geelong Cats, are also keen to prove that their dynasty isn’t over and will unleash their reserves of talent in the lead up to Round 1.

     

    Across to the east in Townsville, the Gold Coast Suns, tipped by some to push for finals action in 2014, will be hell bent on teaching their state rivals, the Brisbane Lions, a thing or two about how to play in North Queensland.  Brisbane, however, have played in the tropics before, both in Cairns and Darwin, though many in their young list will experience the energy-sapping heat and humidity of Townsville in the “wet season” for the first time.

    Tony Ireland Stadium, the AFL headquarters in Townsville, will be keen to be showcased again in a favourable light as a future AFL venue for premiership points. Last year’s clash between the Suns and Kangaroos gained the ground and the city invaluable support, especially for the juniors wanting to be the next Gary Ablett.

    For North Queensland, this clash is the pre-cursor to the big match in Round 17 when the Western Bulldogs begin their association with Cazalys Stadium by hosting the Gold Coast Suns, again for premiership points.  The Bulldogs replace the Richmond Tigers who finally managed to enjoy Cairns last season by beating the Gold Coast Suns after having lost the corresponding matches in the previous two seasons.

    Certainly, though, the AFL’s Nab Cup “18 games in 18 days” format for 2014 is a big win for Alice Springs and Townsville as the AFL push to reach regional areas across the country continues in earnest. The northern states will certainly make the most of the opportunity.
      ...


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  • 02/04/14--21:55: Aussie Rules IS for GIRLS!
  • Article courtesy of Anthony Nolan of the Tyne Tees Tigers

    The old saying that “Aussie Rules is a man’s game with no rules” was well and truly kicked over the boundary line by Newcastle based Aussie Rules team Tyne Tees Tigers ARFC when they held a taster session for women in the area at their Shieldfield training base.
     
    A total of eighteen women fronted for the taster session, run by the club on Saturday. Ageing from 13 through to a few 30+ year olds (a women never reveals her age I’ve found!) and displaying skills that led one male player at the club to ask “Do the girls qualify to play in our team?”
     

     

    The skill level was excellent right across the board and the girls really took to both the training drills and the scratch match that was played at the end of training. None of these girls had previously played Aussie Rules however a large portion of the girls came across from the Northumbria University Women’s Gaelic Football team. The taster session came about from an enquiry from Lucy Kavanagh towards the end of 2013 and as a consequence of the success the Tigers will now be holding regular training for the girls every Saturday at 1pm at City, Stadium, Shieldfield.

    Ian Baxter, Tyne Tees Tigers ARFC Club President told us, “We hope to establish the first women’s Aussie Rules Club in England. There’s a women’s team based in Glasgow and women feature at various tournaments around the UK & Europe, but establishing the first women’s team in England would go a long way to showing how keen we are to develop the game.”
     
    Aussie Rules in England is governed by AFL England. If you’re not in the North-East but want to get involved visit www.aflengland.org. and seek out your local team.
     
    Tyne Tees Tigers ARFC hold training every Saturday at City Stadium for men (12 noon) and women (1pm). The training session is open to anyone wanting to have a go at Australian Rules Football. For more information, visit their website http://www.tyneteestigers.co.uk or email tyneteestigers@hotmail.co.uk

    ...


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    The following story is a little late in arriving, but courtesy of AFL Footywild in South Africa we can now share their account of the recent visit late last year (2013) of the newly crowned AFL premiership team, Hawthorn. This follows on from a recent series of stories published by World Footy News concerning the School Sports Australia Under 15’s tour to the nation to play the South African Lions team. In coming weeks we will have further insights into the more recent developments of the game in South Africa.

    AFL South Africa would like to thank the Hawthorn Football Club for their hospitality in allowing us into their sanctum for the day. It was an experience that will stay with the Lions players for many years to come, and motivate them to hopefully play AFL in Australia one day. We wish Hawthorn the best of luck for the rest of their stay in South Africa and for season 2014.

    In a very special event for AFL South Africa, AFL Premiership team Hawthorn invited members of South African Lions players and umpires to visit them during their 12-day preseason training camp in Rustenburg, South Africa.

    In conditions more like a winter’s day in Melbourne, rain did not deter the Hawthorn team as they were put through their paces in an intense 2-hour training session. With the likes of Luke Hodge, Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead and Josh Gibson all present, Lions players were able to see just how hard these professionals train and what it takes to be premiership players.

    Even after arriving in South Africa only two days ago, there was no rest for Hawthorn as they got straight into kicking drills, skill drills and running exercises. The team was then split into three different groups of midfield, forward and defence. The Lions players gathered around the forward group, wanting to catch a glimpse of Rioli with his silky skills and Roughead with his accurate left foot. The fact that Buddy Franklin was missing didn’t even register as the Hawks players present were impressive enough.

    The wet weather and cold winds didn’t stop the Lions players from getting involved in their own training too. Watching the Hawthorn players inspired them to put on their own footy gear and have a kick to kick with each other, as well as copying the running drills that the AFL stars were completing. It’s safe to say, just watching a professional AFL team train gave the Lions players lots to work with as they continue to get better as a team in preparation for 2014 International Cup in Melbourne from 09th – 23rd August.

    Following the training session, Lions players were able to get photos with their favourite stars as well as even have a kick with some of them. Cyril Rioli and Luke Hodge were definite favourites, and even veteran Shaun Burgoyne had his followers. AFL South Africa was then presented with a 2013 Premiership jumper signed by all the Hawthorn players.

    In what was an extremely invaluable experience for everyone involved, AFL South Africa would like to thank the Hawthorn Football Club for their hospitality in allowing us into their sanctum for the day. It was an experience that will stay with the Lions players for many years to come, and motivate them to hopefully play AFL in Australia one day. We wish Hawthorn the best of luck for the rest of their stay in South Africa and for season 20 ...


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    The Asian football year has kicked off with simultaneous games being played around the region in the East Asian Australian Football League (EAAFL) and the South China Australian Football League (SCAFL) for the Australia Day weekend.

    The Vietnam Swans defeated the Cambodian Eagles in a dominant performance, winning 13.15.93 to 3.6.24 at RMIT in Ho Chi Minh City in the first game of the year after the festive break.

    The match was preceded by an AFL 9s game between Reds and Whites, inviting everybody to get involved for the lower contact version, and included a high percentage of women.

    Tony Morwood, former Sydney Swans player and Sydney ‘Team of the Century’ member, was the guest of honour for the match.

    The Thailand Tigers travelled to Vientiane, Laos, to play the Lao National Elephants, a team composed entirely of nationals, and the Lao Falang Elephants, composed of non-Laotians.

    Another triple-header took place in Jakarta, with the Jakarta Bintangs, the Indonesian Garudas and the Borneo Bears playing some promising football ahead of the debut of the Indonesian team at the International Cup later this year.

    The Garudas defeated the Bears 7.10.52 to 4.1.25 in a match played entirely of locals, before going down to the more experienced, mostly expat, Bintangs 13.7.85 to 1.3.9. The Bintangs ended the day undefeated with a 9.8.62 to 3.3.21 win over the Bears, a big relief for new Bintangs coach, Adam Bray.

    The future of Indonesian football looks bright, with about a third of Saturday’s 130 attendees attending their first Bintangs event, and the Bears and Garudas players fighting it out for a spot to play in the first International Cup side.

    On Sunday six teams of the SCAFL - the Hong Kong Typhoons, Hong Kong Cobras, Lantau Lizards, Guangzhou Scorpions, Guangdong Seagulls and the Macau Lightning - met in Hong Kong for the first round of the season.

    This is the first season for the Seagulls in the SCAFL, having just won the premiership in the inaugural season of the Guangdong Australian Football League, a league composed of local university players.

    After two matches each, the debutants went home winless, as did Macau, whilst the Scorpions and Cobras finished the day with a win each and the Lizards and Typhoons finished undefeated.

    The Australia Day weekend in Asia is no longer just about Australian expats, with four entirely local teams contributing to what promises to be an exciting year of Australian Rules football in Asia.

    Below: A Borneo Bears player gets a kick away under pressure from a Jakarta Bintang.

    ...


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    The following article was written by Kym Morgan, published in Adelaide's Sunday Mail and is reproduced below.

    SOME arrive without boots.

    Others are slightly weary after having travelled six hours just to be there.

    But every member of the Jakarta Bintangs Aussie Rules team beams with excitement - and tonight is only training.

    "The level of enthusiasm and the love these kids have for Australian Rules is pretty phenomenal,'' team coach and Adelaide expat Adam Bray says.

    Bray moved to Indonesia with his wife 18 months ago and, as a former amateur level player in Adelaide, decided to join the Bintangs to stay involved in footy.

    Today, he finds himself not only coaching the Bintangs but helping drive the growth of AFL among 12-23-year-old Indonesians.

    On an average Thursday night training, about 40 locals will turnout at a local synthetic hockey pitch - lack ovals are one of many hurdles the game faces in central Jakarta.

    But if a tournament or a match is looming, numbers can swell to 100, and the hockey pitch explodes at the seams.

    Bray has helped recruit many of the current Bintangs players from local schools or orphanages.

    Most are poor and footy quickly becomes an obsession.

    "Some don't have families, some don't know who their families are,'' Bray says.

    "Footy is an outlet for them.

    "It's a form of fun that they would never have had otherwise.

    "Some of the kids we see at the orphanages have posters stuck on their walls of AFL players ...

    "We've got a few kids that are mad Western Bulldogs fans, for example, because one of the coaches here gave them some Western Bulldogs jumpers.''

    Despite the obvious limiting factors, the game of AFL is growing in Indonesia.

    In fact, last year was a breakthrough year for the code right across Asia.

    AFL Asia's Asian Football League, previously an impromptu competition, began to gain structure.

    Games became more regular among the 20 teams - who include the Thailand Tigers, Singapore Sharks, Cambodian Eagles and Osaka Dingoes.

    There is hope a more formal league can be established.

    The Bintangs played about eight matches against other Asian sides. They won all three matches one-off games and were competitive at the Asian Championships in Thailand.

    Bray says there is no obvious AFL level player among his current stocks but believes it is only a matter of time before an Indonesian graces the field at the highest level.

    "Indonesia is a country of 240 million and I can see it happening at some stage,'' he says.

    "There are kids I've seen that are lightening quick.

    "There are kids that are fearless in their attack on the footy."

    This year, will provide another landmark occasion for AFL in Indonesia.

    The Bintangs will combine with the Bali Geckos and the Borneo Bears to form the Indonesia Guradas.

    They will play for the first time at the AFL International Championships in Melbourne this August against teams from around the world.

    Getting there will be a problem because of the expense but Bray is determined to expose the small but fleet-footed Guradas to the world.

    "We'll probably play in the division two competition and I think our speed and our fearless approach will stand us in really good stead.

    "We're looking to send a team of 25 players across. The overall cost will be at least $100,000, so it's a real challenge for us to raise the sponsorship and the money needed, but we're determined to do it."

    SUPER-FAST LUKMAN IS KICKING GOALS

    MEET Lukman.

    Like Brazilian soccer stat Ronaldinho, the Jakarta Bintangs Australian Rules midfielder only needs one name.

    Lukman stands at just 170cm, but let him loose on a wing at any amateur footy ground around Adelaide this winter and his speed would be certain to cause the opposition headaches

    "I am small compared to some of the other players, so I have to learn to run very fast,'' he says.

    Lukman is rated as one of the best players in Indonesia and has toured Singapore among other places with the Bintangs.

    He is expected to win a place in the Indonesia Guradas line-up for the this year's International Cup.

    Exposed to Aussie Rules as 17-year-old, Lukman has now been playing four years and attended an AFL conference in Adelaide this week.

    A North Melbourne supporter, Lukman is one of a small but growing band of Indonesian youngsters who has been exposed to Australian Rules in recent years and loves the game.

    "It is a very fast game, and I love the bumping and the running,'' he says.

    BELOW: Lukman with Adam Bray at the Adelaide Oval. Source: News Limited

    ...


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    The following article, written by Sikhona Vesi , the Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) Provincial Development Manager, has been reproduced courtesy of AFL Footywild. It focuses on the national championships held for the first time in Durban late last year.

    The footyWILD National Championships is by far the most important event in South African footy. It reunites friends, divides teams and is known to conquer our imaginations, as it possesses the opportunity for our provincial teams to battle it out for our ‘holy grail’ which is to win the Championship and the bragging rights to be called the ‘Champs’.

    In both divisions (high school and extreme) the games are highly competitive, as the players are not only playing for the pride of their respective teams, but also for places in the Geminder squad, the South African Lions and also to be part of the team in next year’s International Cup to be held in Australia.

    History was made when the championships where held in Durban, KZN. The opportunity was long overdue, AFL South Africa must be commended for giving KZN the rights to host this event as it will sharpen the event hosting skills across the country. The provincial teams selectors all said they had to make tough choices as all the players were looking forward to be part of history to be part of their provincial teams in the first National Championship to be played outside Western Cape and North West Province, and also the perks of being in Durban which is a place some only see in the television.

    The preparations where challenging because of the facilities of our ground were not so favourable due to the locals vandalizing it, but with the help from the eThekwini municipality the pitch was in good condition and it was ready for the battle.

    Never in my life have I been so nervous, this event is enormous when you have to be the host, and knowing that the AFL South Africa Board members and the Australian High Commissioner Mr. Graeme Wilson where going to be present at the event, took my nerves to greater heights. My reason for being nervous later looked rather silly, because as I would later find out that the Commissioner was easy to converse with and he had an important stakeholder, Mr Eric Apelgren , Head International and Governance Relations of the eThekwini municipality there to introduce me to. This introduction will go a long way to footy in KZN and South Africa, as it will open opportunities to use better facilities and recognition of our sport locally.

    I could sense that everyone involved was enjoying their stay in Durban, some wish the number of days in Durban where longer, but they were still grateful nonetheless.

    The games where highly entertaining, and the level of skill is gradually increasing. One of the senior players Mazizi Sifanelo’s Facebook wall was filled with admiration for the efforts of all the teams involved, and that was the general consensus around the organization at large.

    The inland teams, namely Gauteng and North West Province, won the Extreme and High School titles respectively, they were both underdogs in their respective finals against the mighty Western Province. This was testament that hard work and fearlessness will inspire ‘David’ to knockout ‘Goliath’.

    Guests on the day
    1. Mr Graeme Wilson – Australian High Commissioner
    2. Mr Neels Roodt, Mr Tonie Prins, Mr Regie Mokotedi & Mr Labius Zacharia – AFLSA Board
    3. Mr Eric Apelgren – Head International and Governance Relations (eThekwini Municipality)

    The match summaries follow as:

    HIGH 3rd and 4th
    Gauteng 6.7.43 vs KZN 4.0.24

    EXTREME 3rd and 4th
    North West 8.8.56 vs KZN 4.2.26

    EXTREME Finals
    Gauteng 5.5.36 vs Western Cape 1.6.12

    HIGH Finals
    North West 3.5.23 vs Western Cape 1 ...


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    We welcome Alex as our first dedicated US reporter for some years to WFN.   Alex is a long time servant of the Nashville Kangaroos and in 2014 begins his 10th season as goal umpire including numerous matches officiating at the US National Championships.  2014 is also his 6th season as host of "USAFL Weekly" live webcast which can be seen on Ustream and the 5th season of his footy blog . 

    Recently a number of the USAFL teams gathered for the traditional Australia Day Weekend to celebrate with our Aussie mates.  While some teams gathered at several local establishments for purely social events (the New York Magpies, Boston Demons and Tulsa Buffaloes, among others), other teams took to the streets and the fields for fun. 

    Four of the teams, the Fort Lauderdale Fighting Squids, the Sacramento Suns, Golden Gate Roos and Nashville Kangaroos went for their first games of the year in Metro competition and in the case of the Sacramento Suns and Golden Gate Roos, it was history in the making as well.  

    In Nashville the Nashville Kangaroos joined other runners in the annual tradition of the Zoo Run Run to benefit the Nashville Zoo.  For the first time, the course had a Kangaroo twist as the new addition to the park, the Kangaroo Kickabout, was displayed.  

    Multiple members of the Kangaroos run the race, which marks their 7th year in participation.  There's always a friendly competition among the Roos to see who is the fastest.  This year, that honor went to Daniell "Whippet" Leipply with a time of 25:41 in the 5K race.  The following day, the Kangaroos family celebrated in style near Vanderbilt University for the full Australian Day celebration.

    Our second stop took us to Fort Lauderdale at the Broward County Cricket Stadium for the battle of North vs. South Miami as the first Metro match was played.  Great times were had by all on display as nearly 200 people attending the event. 

    The Baton Rouge Tigers began their season with the first practice and Metro match of the year in temperatures in the middle 40s (Farenheit), very abnormal for them in January.

    The final stop was out west in San Francisco as the first adult AusBall match between Sacramento and Golden Gate took place.  From the reports from the Suns, it was a very well attended game and successful demonstrations of the sport took place during the weekend.

    Please check us out Alex's work online via usaflweeklyreport.com and watch the USAFL Weekly show, Sundays @ 5 pm USA Central Time on UStream.tv.  

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Sometimes we can look at a sport or activity we enjoy and wonder why it doesn’t just automatically catch on and happen elsewhere. In the case of Australian Rules football, many of us see the glam and glitter of the game on television, or take in the atmosphere of a game by being there in the stands and think it’s all too easy.

    But the reality is that it takes incredible amounts of money, time, people, resources and drive to make the game grow, whether that be at the MCG, the local club, or in remote outposts of the game in places like South Africa. This story looks at an account of how difficult it has been to fly the Australian Rules flag in a village called Bodibe.

    It is almost ten years since Victorian club, the Hampton Rovers, donated a set of their footy jumpers to the Bodibe club. The following is an extract of an account of that event, taken from the Hampton Rovers website:

    Rovers making a name in South Africa

    There are many local bayside kids over the years that have played their first game of footy in a Rovers jumper.  These days, there are kids in the unlikely town of Bodibe in South Africa also experiencing their first taste of Australian Football wearing the Green and Gold.  This is thanks to a recent donation of Rovers jumpers to the AFL’s Australian Football program in South Africa [now AFL Footywild].

    The jumpers supplied by Bill Jowett have made their way to the township of Bodibe, 300 km west of Johannesburg in South Africa’s North West Province.  Bodibe and the surrounding towns of Itsoseng and Verdwaal each have an under 13, and an under 16 team, and enough senior players to make one combined side. 

    Most of the teams participating in AFL South Africa’s leagues and carnivals rely on donations of footy uniforms and other equipment.  Many players play in bare feet, some in their school uniforms, and all without mouthguards.  Most fields have no grass, and the players sometimes have to help in removing the larger rocks and stones before the games commence.  Given all that, one can imagine the value these players would place on their own set of “proper” Aussie Rules uniforms.  AFL South Africa [now AFL Footywild] and the players themselves are very thankful to the Rovers for their donation.

    Since the time of this article, AFL Footywild, through their North-West Province offices in Potchefstroom, and volunteers on the ground across the province, have done all in their power to keep growing the game. Sometimes, however, the best laid plans can fall away.

    Joubert Motone was one of the first Bodibe players to pull on one of the donated Hampton Rovers jumpers, and since then has watched the rise and fall of the game. His account presents a cautionary tale of what can stand in the way of the progress of the game, and as such is a useful planning tool for clubs anywhere to learn from. I recently interviewed Joubert about his experiences in developing the game in Bodibe.

    “Bodibe is a village situated five kilometres from our township Itsoseng and has a large population. It is divided into four sections, namely: Rakgole, Phatsima, Shaleng and Kgomola.”

    “It is rich with limestone but the companies that mine it do not contribute a lot to the development of the village. It has four primary schools, two middle schools and a single high school.”

    “The town has a vast talent when coming to sports, but due to limestone [under the ground] it is costly to build sporting parks. We as Aussie Rules players at Itsoseng managed to recruit players and females umpires and they had their own team which was able to play against us: the Itsoseng Kangaroos. However, currently there is no team due to lack of funding and facilities.”

    “Where is Bodibe? It’s in North West Province between Mafikeng and Lichtenburg in South Africa, around 250 kilometres to the west of Johannesburg, not far from the border with neighbouring Botswana.”

    I asked Joubert about the decline of our game in the Itsoseng area and what were the biggest issues facing youth at that time.

    “What are the biggest problems facing youth? We are living in a society [here in Bodibe] whereby sport is no longer an issue. The youngsters of today are being faced by criminal activities such as theft, burglaries, drug abuse and lack of education.”

    “However some of the problems stated above are being caused by [a combination of one of more of these problems, including] lack of parental care or support and the managers of different sporting codes who misuse the funds for their own interests instead of advancing the development of sports. This also affects Aussie Rules footy.”

    “The other issue is the lack of sports facilities and support from the provincial departments of sports. If sport was a prerequisite and priority in our townships and village schools, there would be more involvement in sports than in substance abuse. There are several sporting codes in Itsoseng, including soccer, netball, cricket, rugby, softball, volleyball, basketball, Aussie Rules and a few tennis players.”

    I asked Joubert how he came across the game and how long he had been involved. “In 1997 a group of Australian Navy soldiers came to South Africa, led by Matty Alsford. He (Matty) was the one who arranged the introduction of Australian football in South Africa, but specifically in the North West Province. They ran clinics at schools within disadvantaged communities, namely Ramatlabama, Montshiwa and Itsoseng.

    “The first time i wore that jumper it was like I was representing South Africa.”

    Joubert still believes that he has a great deal to offer the game of Australian Rules football in his home town, and looks forward to the time when the game can be kick started in Itsoseng. Joubert would love nothing more than Bodibe and Itsoseng Kangaroos players out on the fields again.

    “I still have fresh mind and good legs. My goal is to play again and help in coaching. Even now I am not in formal training but i can beat many. I am naturally fit and I have being busy training with the local rugby teams. I am ready to go anytime and see Aussie Rules played again.”

    Joubert embodies the idea of triumphing over adversity. His determination to again see the game of Australian Rules grow in his region exhibits many of the qualities that make our game great. He is also keeping alive the generosity of Hampton Rovers from a decade ago when their gift of jumpers was aimed squarely at growing the game.

    My own club is currently following in the footsteps of the Hampton Rovers by gathering donations of bits and pieces (boots, balls, posts, bibs, markers) to send to Joubert in the hope it may reignite the teams in and around Itsoseng. With the continued help of AFL Footywild we may again see Joubert’s wish come true. If you have anything you may wish to donate, feel free to contact me through this website.

    I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Thabiso (Joubert) Motone, Andries Mangweng and Thibello Mokati for helping me with this story.

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    Mickey Randall writes for The Footy Almanac - a great piece written around the modern international world of Auskick on Australia day with the Singapore Sharks and taking Mickey back to his own junior days in Kapunda, South Australia.

     
    My ears are more alert than my eyes. I hear the song before I see anything.
     
    Meet me down by the jetty landing
    Where the pontoons bump and sway
    I see the others reading, standing
    As the Manly Ferry cuts its way to Circular Quay
     
    Reckless by Australian Crawl takes me back. With a funereal bass line, and a snare drum like gunshot, it’s prominent in the soundtrack to my last year at school. This was also the year I broke my arm playing junior football for Kapunda. June and my season, wrecked.
     
    A fortnight later my arm was to be re-broken, as the locum had not aligned it. Six more weeks in a cast! So with Mum watching I was on a hospital bed as the resident doctor loomed and mumbled.
     
    “Ouch! It’s hurting!” I sensed the subterranean crunching.
    Doc was an absorbed professional. “Be quiet please!”
    I was in distress. “ No, it’s really hurting!” Not just Masters bakery is out of sausage rolls distress. Or even Skyhooks split distress.
    Minutes later the doctor squinted at the drip. He realised. His tone transformed. “Oh! I’m so sorry. I’m very sorry!” There he was, fracturing my arm enthusiastically, but, somehow, having neglected to turn on the anaesthetic. After, the local veterinarian gave me artificial insemination gloves to slide over my cast when showering. Pleasingly, for the district’s young and old bulls and me, these were not pre-loved.
     
    We’re at the Australian School in Singapore. It’s Auskick registration on Australia Day. With blonde mops, the boys now merge. Unlike much of Asia, no one here takes their photo. Ninety-five inches of rain annually means there’s artificial turf. However, they’ll be in the cavernous gym. No footy boots. Not yet.
     

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    The lads from the Great Britain Bulldogs got together with some of the players from Wasps rugby club to talk about the differences and similarities of their chosen sports. And former WFN scribe Adam Bennett gets to shows off his skills.

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    Tomislav Vlaović is the current president of the newly founded Aussie Rules club, the Slavonski Brod Tigers, from Croatia. Hot on the heels of the current drive in Croatia to have a full sized field built at the Zagreb University, the Tigers represent another compelling piece of evidence that Croatian footy is growing.

    Following is Tomislav’s story about his own background and that of the Slavonski Brod Tigers, who will lock horns with the Zagreb Hawks, Zaprude Giants, Velika Gorika Dockers and their Austrian brothers the Styrian DownUnderDogs.

     “I was born and raised in Melbourne until the age of 14 when my family and I permanently moved to Croatia to live. I always preferred [Australian Rules]footy to soccer because simply footy is more dynamic and attractive to play. Where every player is ready to cross that line of no return, where there are no calculations. Where a Collingwood supporter can sit next to a Carlton supporter and not panic. That's why I love this game.”

    The club was founded by Luka Đukic and Zvonimir Marinović, both originally from Slavonski Brod. They both were in involved in footy while studying in Zagreb. After Luka finished his studies, he returned to Slavonski Brod and together with Zvonimir they decided on founding a new footy club. Once you're hooked there's no looking back, that's just footy! Without them, there would be no club. Luka has taken over as the main coach and Zvonimir as the Vice president.”

    “They named the club after the Richmond Tigers mainly to honour Ivan Maric who became the Croatian Ambassador for Aussie rules in 2013.”

     “Our main problems are jumpers and playing grounds. We have tried to contact the Richmond FC regarding old/spare jumpers that they could donate to us, but have no official response till now.”

     Playing grounds are a problem for all clubs in Croatia. Aussie Rules is not a recognized sport in Croatia so we have little or no funding at all. The SANH (Aussie Rules union of Croatia) have initiated a program called "Field of Dreams" in order to build the first Aussie Rules ground in Eastern Europe. The idea is fantastic and would mean a lot to all the boys playing footy in Croatia. It would be the first step of Aussie rules becoming a serious sport in the eyes of all Croatians.”

    “I joined the club a bit later, partly because I live around 50 kilometres from Slavonski Brod and had no idea that a new club was founded. I can't describe the joy when I discovered that a footy club was founded nearby and that I could finally play footy again after 19 long years.”

    The demand has been pretty good so far, there are around 14 of us that regularly train. Given the fact that besides Luka, Zvonimir and I, no one actually knew what footy is and never even seen some footage of a match, the guys are giving it the best and some have even potential to become Croatian national players.”

    It will be very interesting to see how the Tigers develop, but it seems there is still a supply of interested talent finding the game and ensuring the continued growth of the game in the country. World Footy News will stay on top of their progress and hopefully have great things to report in the not too distant future.

    Anybody interested in contacting the club for more information can go to their website at: http://brodtigers.wix.com/brodtigers or contact them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/brodtigers
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    Hawthorn will field a strong team when it takes on Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on Thursday night in the NAB Challenge. Of the 29 player squad, 13 premiership players from 2013 have been selected.

    New Zealand rookie Kurt Heatherley will join his fellow 2013 recruits Ben McEvoy, Ben Ross and Billy Hartung in their first game in the brown and gold. Heatherley was identified as a footballing talent in NZ and played for junior NZ and Oceania/South Pacific representative teams before being awarded an International Scholarship by Hawthorn.

    After relocating to Melbourne to complete his secondary schooling and playing school football and with Sandringham in the TAC Cup, Hawthorn were able to officially add Heatherley to their playing list at the end of 2013. Heatherley has spent plenty of time at the club over the past few years and now will get to join his clubmates in action in this first round of warmup matches leading into the 2014 season.

    Hawthorn v Brisbane Lions NAB Challenge Round 1 Thursday 13 February 7.10pm, Etihad Stadium 

    Hawthorn Squad: Brisbane Lions squad:
    2. Jarryd Roughead 2. Ryan Harwood
    3. Jordan Lewis 4. James Aish
    4. Matt Suckling 5. Jack Crisp
    5. Sam Mitchell 6. Josh Green
    7. Ben McEvoy 8. Rohan Bewick
    8. Taylor Duryea 13. Trent West
    9. Shaun Burgoyne 15. Dayne Zorko
    10. Bradley Hill 18. Nicholas Robertson
    13. Kyle Cheney 19. Jordan Lisle
    16. Isaac Smith 22. Marco Paparone
    18. Jonathon Ceglar 25. Daniel McStay
    19. Jack Gunston  26. Tom Cutle
    20. David Hale  29. Andrew Raines
    21. Ben Ross 31. James Polkinghorne
    22. Luke Breust 32. Sam Mayes
    23. Tim O’Brien 33. Michael Close
    26. Liam Shiels 34. Jonathan Freeman
    28. Paul Puopolo 35. Ryan Lester
    29. Will Langford 36. Matt Maguire
    30. Luke Lowden 37. Patrick Wearden
    31. Angus Litherland 38. Tom Rockliff
    32. Jonathan Simpkin 40. Isaac Conway
    33. Cyril Rioli 41. Mitch Golby
    35. Sam Grimley 42. Justin Clarke
    36. Derick Wanganeen 43. Nicholas Hayes
    38. Mitch Hallahan 44. Archie Smith
    39. Alex Woodward 45. Jordon Bourke
    40. Billy Hartung 46. Sam Michael
    46. Kurt Heatherley 47. Zachary O'Brien

     

     

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    This year a carnival of football will headline the return of Australia’s game as the 2014 NAB Challenge rolls into every Australian state and territory with 18 games in 18 days.

    The 2014 NAB Challenge will kickoff  with Wednesday’s opening match in Geelong where the Cats will host Collingwood at Simonds Stadium (7.10pm local time), the first of 18 consecutive matches to be played over the next three weeks.

    The full international broadcast schedule can be seen below.

    TERRITORY/NETWORK Geelong vs Collingwood Hawthorn vs Brisbane Richmond vs Melbourne North Melb vs Carlton Adelaide vs Pt Adelaide  
    TELEVISION            
    AUSTRALIANETWORK            
    Asia     14/2@1600 HKT (Delay) 15/2@1330 HKT (Delay)    
    Pacific     14/2@2000 FJT (Delay) 15/2@1730 FJT (Delay)    
    India     14/2@1330 IST (Delay) 15/2@1100 IST (Delay)    
    FOX SOCCER PLUS            
    USA 12/2@0300 USET (LIVE) 13/2@0300 USET (LIVE) 14/2@0300 USET (LIVE) 15/2@0200 USET (Delay) 16/2@0200 USET (Delay)  
    OSN            
    Middle East 12/2@1100 KSA (LIVE) 13/2@1100 KSA (LIVE) 14/2@1100 KSA (LIVE) 15/2@0830 KSA (LIVE) 16/2@0830 KSA (LIVE)  
    SOMMETSPORTS            
    New Zealand 12/2@2100 NZT (LIVE) 13/2@2100 NZT (LIVE) 14/2@2100 NZT (LIVE) 15/2@1840 NZT (LIVE) 16/2@1840 NZT (LIVE)  
    ONLINE AFLTV.AFL.AU            
    Worldwide (excl. Aust) 12/2@0800 GMT (LIVE) 13/2@0800 GMT (LIVE) 14/2@0800 GMT (LIVE) 15/2@0530 GMT (LIVE) 16/2@0530 GMT (LIVE)  

     

    The AFL’s new-look pre-season competition will see the game’s biggest names and brightest young stars compete at venues around the country while each region will have the chance to engage in a range of community and grassroots events as part of the carnival of football in each location.

    In addition to 18 games in 18 days, each regional and metro venue will host a number of events including local business networking breakfasts, local coach and umpire forums, NAB AFL Auskick clinics and a range of other community activities.

    Matches will be played in all nine states and territories across the 18 days of competition, with matches again being taken to non-traditional venues that don’t regularly host AFL football during the regular season – Blacktown (NSW), Joondalup (WA), North Ballarat (Vic), Richmond Oval (SA), TIO Traegar Park, Alice Springs (NT), Townsville (Qld), Wagga Wagga (NSW) and Wangaratta (Vic).

    AFL General Manager – Football Operations, Mark Evans, said this year’s new streamlined format and heavy community focus were key components of the revamped pre-season competition.

    “This year’s NAB Challenge really is a carnival of football with the AFL rolling into town right around the country.

    “We think supporters will enjoy 18 games in 18 days and the next three weeks will not only give fans the opportunity to see how their club is shaping up in 2014, it’s also a chance to take the elite competition to many regions that wouldn’t normally get the chance to see their AFL heroes play live.

    “This year’s NAB Challenge isn’t just about the football, it’s about connecting Australia’s game with local communities around the country, which is why we’ve introduced a range of additional local events and activities to complement each match. The backbone of our game is made up of the many local supporters, players, coaches, umpires and administrators who play such a vital role in growing the game, so we’re pleased to be able to engage these communities away from the football field.

    “The revised format supports the view among clubs that two competitive matches provide the appropriate pre-season preparation for the regular season. The format ensures all clubs have a minimum six-day break between their games and every match has been scheduled either as a night game or late-afternoon match to avoid the peak heat in the late summer period

    National Australia Bank’s General Manager, Consumer Marketing, Kevin Ramsdale, said NAB was pleased to continue its support of the game through the NAB Challenge and highlighted how the new competition format epitomised NAB's commitment to Footify Australia.

    “We will continue to focus on Footifying people right around the country in 2014 and the all-new NAB Challenge is the perfect opportunity for us to deliver on this mission," he said.

    "It gives us the chance to take AFL football to regional communities that don’t ordinarily experience the game at this level. Our employees and customers in regional areas such as Townsville, Joondalup, Wangaratta and Ballarat are eagerly awaiting the first bounce – it’s a real treat for them to receive live AFL action in their home town.

    “The NAB Challenge also gives fans the chance to sample what lies ahead for the premiership season; coaches such as Paul Roos and Alan Richardson taking the reins at new clubs, young players such as Tom Boyd, Josh Kelly and Jack Billings debuting on the big stage and established players, such as Lance Franklin taking the field for a new club. It really is an exciting time of year,” Mr Ramsdale said.

    “We’ve been Footifying Australia for more than 10 years through NAB AFL Auskick, the NAB AFL Rising Stars Program and now, the all-new NAB Challenge. Our longstanding partnership with the AFL is one of the many ways we, as an organisation, are committed to giving more, taking less.”

    For the second successive year the AFL is pleased to announce Australian Red Cross as the official charity partner of the 2014 NAB Challenge. Volunteers will be attending a number of matches throughout the competition, collecting donations on behalf of Red Cross with money going to a variety of programs, including Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery which supports those who have been affected by bushfires and natural disasters around the country.

    The NAB Challenge will also see the implementation of rule variations including six interchange players and two substitute players; substitute players can be reset after half time.

    This year’s NAB Challenge will again see nine points awarded for a NAB Supergoal kicked from outside the 50m arc. For every NAB Supergoal kicked, NAB will donate $500 worth of Sherrin footballs to the goal kicker’s junior football club.

    All approved Laws changes for the 2014 Premiership Season will be implemented in the NAB Challenge, including:

    •  Rough Conduct – Head clashes when a player elects to bump. A player may be cited for Rough Conduct for bumping if he causes forceful contact to be made to his opponents head or neck – even if that contact is caused by a clash of heads.
    • High contact – Players leading with the head and ducking into high contact. A player who drives his head into a stationary or near stationary player shall be regarded as having had prior opportunity. The onus of responsibility still lies with the tackler to avoid contact above an opponent’s shoulders. A free kick will be paid against the tackler whenever he makes high contact – unless the player in possession is the sole contributor to that contact occurring by driving his head into a stationary or near stationary player
    •  Forceful contact below the knees - a free kick will be paid for:
    •  Forceful contact below the knees, or
    • Conduct in a manner likely to cause injury – even if there is no contact or the contact is not forceful
    •  Marking - There will still be expectation that players demonstrate they are legitimately attempting to mark the ball, but players can use their body to protect space so long as those actions are incidental to the marking contest.
    • Protected Area – Hands in the air. Umpire will use discretion as to whether the player within the protected area has attempted to delay or impact the player in possession of the ball. Players must remain passive if caught within the protected area and exit the area immediately.
    • Interchange – A cap of 130 rotations per match is in place for the NAB Challenge, 120 rotations for the Premiership Season. Clubs will be allowed to immediately rectify minor interchange infringements without penalty, by making a player return to the interchange box where he interchanges early or from slightly outside of the interchange box.
    • On-field officials
    • Teams will be permitted only one (1) runner, who may deliver coaching messages and then immediately leave the playing arena;
    • Increased sanctions will be applied for runners who remain on the arena for lengthy periods of time or who act as an “on field coach”.

    o  Medical Staff and Trainers

    •  Medical staff and trainers will wear a pink coloured vest to distinguish their uniforms from players;
    •   Teams will be permitted four trainers who may access the playing field at appropriate breaks in play. A 5th trainer will be permitted to attend to hydration and other activities such as massage,   but will only be permitted on the arena to assist with stretcher cases;

     §  Increased sanctions will be applied for medical staff or trainers who deliver coaching messages; trainers are permitted to enter the playing surface from the bench during play

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