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Independent News and Views from the International Aussie Rules Community

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    The AFL Vanuatu 2014 Grand Final was run and won on Saturday by perhaps the underdog in Mele Eagles who overcame the Erakor Golden Star Tigers by at the end a comfortable 33 point margin.

    Ryan Bonga who has represented Vanuatu and the South Pacific in Australia – took out the award for best on ground.

    The final score – as the brand new scoreboard tells the story – was Mele 6.14.50 to Erakor 2.5.17.

    The Olinda Ferny Creek Football/Netball club visit is a major undertaking in itself and sets a high standard for other clubs to aspire to - read more.....

    For the second year running the Olinda Ferny Creek Football Netball Club - from the Dandenongs region on the fringes of Eastern outer Melbourne – have headed to Vanuatu for post season. They visit billed as a “Volunteer Development Program”, and from Septemer 22nd to October 5th the nearly 60 strong touring party has visited communities around Vanuatu.

    The following is from AFL Vanuatu :Over the last 2 weeks, the Olinda Ferny Creek Football Netball Club have been in Vanuatu doing some amazing work with communities in Vila, Nguna, Pele and Santo. On behalf of AFL Vanuatu, we would like to thank you for your ongoing support of not only AFL, but other sporting organisation, schools, hospitals, trades and the wider Vanuatu communities. Your hard work is greatly appreciated! Close to 60 members of the Olinda Ferny Creek Football Netball Club, based in the Dandenong Ranges of Victoria, Australia, are in Vanuatu for two weeks to visit schools and communities around Efate and Santo to deliver sporting clinics in netball and Australian Rules Football. They have worked extremely hard to fundraise for their visit and secured an astounding 51.4 million vatu worth of donations to hand out to schools, communities and organisations. Items include sporting equipment, books, trade tools and medical equipment. The club has been working with AFL Vanuatu and the Vanuatu Netball Association to deliver its program of activities. This is a perfect example of how a small group of ordinary people can rally together to achieve something great. The visit provides a development opportunity for all involved and forges even greater people-to-people links between Australia and Vanuatu. Congratulations to Olinda Ferny Creek Club for your outstanding work.

    The visiting Olinda Ferny Creek Football Netball club touring party - along with Vanuatu locals and the Australian High Commissioner HE Jeremy Breur and AYAD volunteer Blair Mortimer.

    The OFC FNC describes their program as being a part of their commitment to providing personal development opportunities for their young players. The claim being that at a sporting club level that this is such an extensive volunteer program that makes the club unique within Australia. The previously existing partners of Vanuatu Netball and AFL Vanuatu were added to with Port Vila Hospital, Abule Trade School and other local schools. The touring party being made up of members of the club from across the full spectrum, including President, coaches football and netball, trainer/manager/nurse and players.

    The OFC FNC program is outlined here in a pdf, and is worth a read. Along with visits such as this and in Adelaide's Concordia College a couple of years ago (that included a young James Aish fresh off a SANFL GF) - they provide a blue print for other clubs and schools to engage more broadly with our near neighbours. ...

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    As reported earlier this year– 2 representatives from Solomon Islands AFL (SIAFL) were playing the year with AFL Darling Downs side Coolaroo. Francs Ramo and Peter Nuku were afforded a chance of a lifetime to play footy in Australia. And - in what is a relatively young footy region - the Darling Downs having been formed as the Darling Downs Australian Football League in 1971.

    Coolaroo ended the home and away season in 3rd place in a final four structure – however, 2nd and 3rd were separated only by percentage and then again only by half a game from Warwick in top spot. Hosting a home elimination final at Gold Park in Toowoomba – the Roos won comfortably by 36 points over Goondiwindi despite trailing at the first break by 10 pts. However – that was to be the high point for the season as Coolaroo feel short in the preliminary final by 13 points to the University side who themselves came up 17 points short the following week in the Grand Final – going down to Warwick. The Preliminary final loss would be seen as a missed opportunity after leading at every break only to be run over in the last term as Uni came from 8 pts down to bang on 4.5 in the last term to the Roos 1.2. Finishing off their season – Francis was named in the best against Goondiwindi, with both Francis and Peter playing in both finals.

    For the season Francis played 17 Div 1matches, being named in the best 5 times and snaring 5 goals with a best return of 3 against Lockyer Valley back in May. He also played 4 Div 2 matches for 1 goal and 3 times named in the best. Peter played 16 Div 1 matches and likewise named in the best 5 times. A return of 4 goals also against Lockyer Valley on May 31st was his high point – with 6 goals for the season. Peter played 5 Div 2 matches for 5 goals and 4 times in the best. Both have done themselves proud – becoming valued members of the senior side. See this report Footy provides a chance for Solomon Islands players from late June from the (Toowoomba) Chronicle.

    Peter Nuku in action - photo from the Toowoomba Chronicle. ...

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    The provision of grants by AFL Europe to new and emerging football clubs has seen some successes in recent years that have helped to populate national leagues with new clubs, expansion and greater opportunities for players.

    It will be interesting to see which clubs are successful in obtaining grants in 2015. There are always whispers of new clubs coming to fruition across Europe, and there is no doubt that some of these clubs have made it under their own steam. But it is also true that the “Start Up Club Program (SCP)” has helped launch many of these new clubs.

    There have been whispers of new clubs in France for some time now. The ALFA Lions and Nancy Bobcats have arrived, but interest remains over the teams from Toulon and Pau. There has been some talk of a club starting in Zenica (Bosnia & Herzegovina), and there have been overtures in Bergen (Norway) for a possible club to start, though that is not much past conversational stage at the moment. But this short list (and there are others, without doubt, that I have not mentioned) could potentially be the candidates for SCP grants for 2015.

    Last year grants were successfully attained by the Odense Lions and Copenhagen X-Men (Denmark) clubs, which both played in the DAFL - the X-Man only for the 2013 season, and the Lions for the 2014 season. Also receiving grants last year were the Kingdom Kangaroos team which played their first season in Scotland. Grants for a team in Budapest (Hungary), Drekarnir (Iceland) and Averio (Portugal) are still some way from fruition as full time clubs.

    Prior to last year’s grants, other recipients included the Ås Battlers in Norway, Finnish teams the Tampere Bobcats and Lappeenranta Wildmen, the UCC Bombers in Ireland and the Nancy Bobcats in north-east France.

    The class of 2014 will be watched for progress. The Slavonski Brod Tigers in Croatia had a more than capable debut, worrying the life out of most teams. The Wearside Wallabies also came into existence in England as well as a grant to the Exeter College Australian Football team. In Northern Ireland, the Northern Regional College (NRC) team in Magherafelt was kicked along with the assistance of a grant. In Ireland, the Dublin City University team received this assistance to further develop their club.

    According to AFL Europe’s website, “the primary objective of the SCP is to provide resource assistance to start-up clubs across Europe. AFL Europe recognises the challenges with sourcing basic resources cheaply to start a club in Europe. Through this assistance we are trying to minimise one of the major factors in getting a club up and running.”

    There is always a strong argument that there should be access to even more funding for development across the board. But, at the same time, these grants have allowed some teams to start the journey to fully fledged teams.

    It will be interesting to “watch this space” for teams that qualify for grants in 2015. If there are clubs beginning, or readers who are considering taking that step, information on grants can be found on the AFL Europe website at:

    In coming weeks, World Footy News will examine the progress of the 2013 and 2014 recipients ...

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    The 2014 US National Championships kick off this Friday ahead of a big weekend of footy in Dublin, Ohio.  This year's tournament will have four men's divisions and a women's division.  The weekend will also include a coaching course, an umpires clinic, an administrators conference and an alumni match.  Players, officials and fans will travel from all over the country and special guest from overseas will be in attendance. 
    Alex Benjamin gives us his take on how he see the tournament panning out - and details the coverage his USAFL Weekly site will provide over the weekend.
    Below see the full divisions and the predictions for each of the division pools.  The schedules also have the current year's records and ranking (as collated by Alex at USAFL Weekly -  
    Division One Preview
    Key: Team (Record, Points, Current USAFL Weekly Report Standings)

    Pool A
    Pool B
    Austin Crows (12-0, 28, #3)
    Calgary Kangaroos
    Denver Bulldogs (5-3, 11, #12)
    New York Magpies (9-1, 28, #2)
    Orange County Bombers (11-1, 28, #1)
    Dallas Magpies (5-8, 14, #8)
    Minnesota Freeze (8-1, 23, #4)
    Golden Gate Roos (7-2, 12, #9)

    Austin and Calgary are the top seeds, even with a very strong Orange County at 11-1 being ranked #1 for the majority of the season as they are the defending pool champs in their respective pools from the 2013 Nationals.  The toughest pool in the Division One is, of course, Pool A with 3 of the top 4 teams in the USAFL, and the perennial 8-time champs Denver rounding out the pool. The matches to watch during the weekend are:

    ·         Pool A: Austin vs. Orange County (3 pm EDT, Saturday). The winner of that game will win the pool and will be a strong contender to win Division One.
    ·         Pool B: Calgary vs. New York (11 am EDT, Sunday). They save the best of Pool B for Sunday, but I think it will be worth the wait as the winner of that game will win the pool.
    ·         Pool A: Austin vs. Orange County will decide it and I think at this point until Austin gets toppled, they will be the team to beat. Austin.
    ·         Pool B: Calgary vs. New York will decide it and I will go with New York to win it in a close one.
    ·         Grand Final: Austin vs. New York. These two teams have played each other last month with Austin pulling a 16 point win on a neutral Dallas field. I think on this one, unless the champs are knocked down, Austin will take it by less than a goal.
    Division Two Preview
    Pool A
    Pool B
    Los Angeles Dragons (6-4, 15, #8)
    Columbus Jackaroos (11-9, 19, #5)
    Nashville Kangaroos (5-3-1, 17, #6)
    Houston Lonestars (5-5, 16, #7)
    Baltimore/Washington Eagles (1-5, 4, #24)
    Boston Demons (2-2, 6, #19)
    Quebec Saints
    Chicago Swans (2-6, 8, #15)
    Matches To Watch:
    ·         Pool A: The Nashville Kangaroos being seeded #2 and in Division 2 might shock a few but their National’s record of 2-4 in the last 2 years has earnt them this slot. That said, the match to watch will be their match with Los Angeles (Sunday, 10 am EDT). Whoever wins that match will win the Pool.
    ·         Pool B:  The match to watch will be the Houston vs. Chicago at 5 pm EDT. Whoever wins that game may have an outside chance to topple Columbus.
    ·         Pool A: The winner of LA vs. Nashville will win the pool. In my opinion, Nashville with the tougher schedule this year, should beat Los Angeles and wins the pool.
    ·         Pool B: Until someone can topple Columbus, they will be the team to beat. 
    ·         Grand Final: Nashville vs. Columbus. This will be an all-out war as the teams have split the season series. I will go out in a (biased) limb and will say, Nashville, by less than a goal, to win their first Grand Final ever.
    Division Three Preview:
    Pool A
    Pool B
    Sacramento Suns (3-9, 9, #14)
    Fort Lauderdale Fighting Squids (0-3, 0, #29)
    Des Moines Roosters (3-6, 7, #18)
    Philadelphia Hawks (3-3, 10, #13)
    New York Magpies B
    Calgary Kookaburras B
    Cincinnati (Ohio Valley) Dockers (5-4-1, 12, #10)
    Portland Steelheads (2-2, 4, #22)
    Matches To Watch:
    ·         Pool A: With the Houston Lonestars moving to Division Two, Sacramento, as the runners-up, are top seed. The one to watch in could be the biggest toss-up, Sacramento vs. New York Magpies B (Saturday, 3 pm EDT). Whoever wins that game will have the inside track to win the Pool A.
    ·         Pool B: Top seed, the Fort Lauderdale Fighting Squids will have their hands full if they can get through the tougher Pool B and the game to watch will be their final game against Philadelphia (10 am EDT, Sunday). The winner will take the pool.
    ·         Pool A: Both pools will be difficult to predict, but more so in Pool A. In Pool A, I will go with the Sacramento Suns to win the pool, but don’t be surprised to see Des Moines pull off some upsets.
    ·         Pool B: The game between Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale will decide it and with Philadelphia playing the tougher schedule, I will take the Hawks to win the pool.
    ·         Grand Final: Sacramento vs. Philadelphia. These teams faced each other in Pool B last year in Austin, in which I umpired that game to decide that pool. Sacramento won that game and I think they will win the Grand Final to take Division 3. Sacramento by 2 goals.
    Division Four Preview
    Pool A
    Pool B
    Tulsa Buffaloes (4-5, 8, #16)
    North Carolina Tigers (1-3, 4, #23)
    Denver Bulldogs B/Kansas City Power
    Columbus Jackaroos B/Orange County Bombers B
    Houston Lonestars B
    Milwaukee Bombers/Indianapolis Giants
    Minnesota Freeze B/Seattle Grizzlies
    Atlanta Kookaburras B/Baltimore-Washington Eagles B
    Match To Watch:
    ·         Both Pools: With the only two full teams in the Pool, the match of the Division Four will be Tulsa Buffaloes vs. Houston Lonestars B (4 pm EDT Saturday). That match most likely will decide Pool A and have a great chance of winning Division Four.
    ·         Pool A: Tulsa vs. Houston will be the match of the Division and with the stronger schedule for Tulsa, I will go with Tulsa to win.
    ·         Pool B: With 3 other teams being split teams, North Carolina is the class of the field and will win Pool B.
    ·         Grand Final: Tulsa vs. North Carolina. This will be a tight one. Tulsa has played more games in the USAFL this season (9) to North Carolina (4), so I will go with Tulsa to take their first Premiers in only their 2nd Nationals ever. Tulsa by 2 goals.
    Women’s Division Preview
    Pool A
    Pool B
    Denver Bulldogs
    San Francisco Iron Maiden/Portland Banshees
    Calgary Kangaroos
    Sacramento Suns
    Montreal/Baltimore-Washington Eagles
    Minnesota Freeze Blue
    Minnesota Freeze Blue/Columbus/Boston
    New York Magpies/Toronto
    Matches to Watch:
    ·         Pool A: Denver, with all of their power, will have to wait for, in my opinion, the match of the entire Women’s Division as they face Calgary (3 pm EDT Saturday). The winner of this match will likely win the entire tournament. If there’s any chance for the dynasty to end, this will be the game.
    ·         Pool B: San Francisco Iron Maiden/Portland vs. Sacramento Suns (Noon EDT Saturday). Sacramento has absolutely owned San Francisco in the regular season as they taken 3 out of 4 games this season, but this is the Nationals. Does Sacramento have it in them to do 4 out of 5?
    ·         Pool A: Until Denver gets beaten, I have to believe Denver will win Pool A and go for 5 in a row.
    ·         Pool B: The San Francisco/Portland vs. Sacramento will decide who will face Denver. Move over, San Francisco. Sacramento will win Pool B.
    ·         Grand Final: Denver vs. Sacramento. These teams faced each other last year with Denver winning in the Nationals Final by 45. Expect more of the same. Denver to win 5 straight by 6 goals.
    Showtimes This Weekend:
    This year, due to work constraints, I am forced to cover the Nationals from home base Smyrna. Rob De Santos and Brian Reiss from Gem City Sports will be our liaisons in Dublin. We will have 7 shows this weekend.  Here’s our showtimes and what we will cover during those shows (All times USA Eastern Daylight Time):
    9 pm: Our Opening Ceremonies (2 hours): We will preview all 5 Divisions and will have special guests during our 2 hours.
    1 pm: Halftime Report (1 hour): We will be on Darree Fields as we recap the morning session and preview the afternoon session and our games to look ahead.
    4 pm: Special Show (1 hour): During the 4 pm show, we will be interviewing the newest teams in the USAFL and what they are doing to strength the USAFL in new areas and we will recap the first half of the afternoon games.
    7 pm: Day in Review (2 hours): Our Day in Review will recap all of the games and have the standings for each of the divisions and preview Sunday morning’s games. During the show, we will have an open segment to answer questions from our Facebook, Twitter, Chat on UStream and our live audience in Dublin. For those on Twitter and Facebook, use #FootyCentral with your question throughout the day on Saturday and we will answer them during the show.
    1 pm: Grand Final Preview (1 hour): We will be on Darree Fields as we recap the final round robin games and set the stage for the Grand Finals.
    4 pm: Special Show (1 hour): We will recap the Division 4, 3, 2 and Women’s Grand Final during this hour.
    7 pm: Grand Final Day In Review (2 hours): Our Grand Final Day in Review will recap all 5 Divisions and hopefully have interviews of the winning teams during the 2 hour show. Remember, as we did Saturday, we will have a Q and A session as well. Use #FootyCentral with your question throughout Sunday and we will answer on this show.
    Please bookmark our websites during this weekend:
    Video: USAFL Weekly @ The Nationals: : Alex will be hosting the video portion here.
    Audio: Gem Sports Radio Network: : Rob and Brian will lead the audio here.
    I hope everyone makes it to the websites during this weekend. The NATIONALS begin Friday….time to bounce for the titles!


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    Day 1 of the US Nationals is complete with Calgary, New York and Orange County all undefeated in Divison 1.  On today's form Orange County would be expected to beat Minnesota in their match tomorrow morning to go into the final.  New York and Calgary will play each other with the winner headed for the final also and at this stage the likely winner of that match up is too close to call. 

    Division 2 reigning champions Columbus and challenger Houston were both undefeated on Day 1 and will play each other tomorrow morning for a spot in the final.  LA Dragons are also undefeated and are looking good for the final if they can get over Nashville tomorrow.

    In Divison 3 Philadelphia and Sacramento were unbeaten and will play off in the final if they can win their respective matches tomorrow morning.

    North Carolina dominated Division 4 with two big wins and Tulsa were also convincing and undefeated.  The Denver B/KC team also had two convincing wins on Day 1.


    Division 1   Day 1  
    Calgary 7.4.46 Golden Gate 1.0.6
    Denver 3.0.18 Orange County 2.11.23
    Austin 4.1.25 Minnesota 1.1.7
    Denver 3.2.20 Minnesota 4.6.30
    New York 4.7.31 Dallas 1.4.10
    Austin 4.0.24 Orange County 8.6.54
    New York 9.7.61 Golden Gate 0.1.1
    Calgary 8.5.53 Dallas 0.5.5


    Division 4   Day 1  
    Tulsa 4.9.33 Minnesota B/Seattle 2.5.17
    North Carolina 9.7.61 Atlanta/Baltimore-Washington B 1.2.8
    Columbus B/Orange County B 3.2.20 Milwaukee/Indianapolis/Cleveland 5.1.31
    North Carolina 9.7.61 Milwaukee/Indianapolis/Cleveland 1.1.7
    Columbus 2.1.13 Atlanta/Baltimore-Washington B 9.3.57
    Denver B/KC 8.6.54 Houston B 3.0.18
    Tulsa 5.6.36 Houston B 2.3.15
    Denver B/KC 13.3.81 Minnesota B/Seattle 1.3.9


    Division 3   Day 1  
    Ft Lauderdale 3.3.21 Portland 5.6.36
    Sacramento 7.5.47 Cincinatti 1.1.7
    Des Moines 4.3.27 New York B 2.3.15
    Sacramento 4.0.24 New York B 3.4.22
    Des Moines 1.6.12 Cincinatti 4.2.26
    Philadelphia 6.1.37 Calgary B 1.6.12
    Ft Lauderdale 3.0.18 Calgary B 5.8.38
    Philadelphia 4.9.35 Portland 1.2.8


    Division 2   Day 1  
    Houston 5.7.37 Boston 1.1.7
    LA 5.5.35 Quebec 2.2.14
    Nashville 3.3.21 Baltimore-Washington 6.0.36
    Nashville 1.5.11 Quebec 5.6.36
    Columbus 6.4.28 Chicago 1.1.7
    LA 10.2.62 Baltimore-Washington 0.3.3
    Columbus 3.7.25 Boston 0.2.2
    Houston 10.5.65 Chicago 1.3.9



    In the Women's Divison Denver keep their winning streak going with a big win over the Minnesota/Columbus/Boston combine but narrowly defeated Calgary by just four points. Minnesota Blue had solid showings against Sacramento and New York to also be undefeated but tomorrow morning but will have to beat the San Fran/Portland/AZ combine who also managed two wins today if they are to make the final. Here they will almost certainly meet Denver.


    Women's Division  

     Day 1

    Denver 12.9.81 Minnesota White/Columbus/Boston 0.0.0
    Calgary 2.6.20 Montreal/BWE 1.1.7
    New York/Toronto 0.1.1 Minnesota Blue 7.3.45
    Denver 1.6.12 Calgary 1.2.8
    Montreal/BWE 7.15.57 Minnesota White/Columbus/Boston 0.1.1
    Sacramento 0.0.0 San Francisco/Portland/Arizona 3.6.24
    Minnesota Blue 5.6.36 Sacramento 0.2.2
    New York/Toronto 0.0.0 San Francisco/Portland/Arizona 5.3.33



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    “It might not be the biggest of grants, but it was so important when we were only nine guys running around talking about making Odense Lions into a big club. We don't use the footballs we got anymore (we got new real Sherrins now) and we will replace the jumpers next year with new ones. So we are moving on from the first start grant we got, but even that small grant was very important for us. We would have had a hard time without it. It can seem little now with 35 players and two teams (male and female) but it was so important back then.”

    These are the words of the Odense Lions and their gratitude for the Start-Up Club Program grant from AFL Europe. Whilst the grant may seem small compared to the resources that might follow, Odense have succinctly summed up the value of the grant, and this is echoed by other clubs across Europe.

    Since the early days when the grant helped kick-start the Lions, their adventure has been a success story for Australian Rules football in Europe, and particularly their home nation, Denmark.

    “We have had so many great things to happen. We now have the first women’s team in Denmark who participated in the Euro Cup 2014 under the name of theDanish Valkyries. All except two players were from Odense Lions. We won against the Copenhagen Baracudas in the DAFL and a victory that gave Copenhagen Barracudas the first wooden spoon in their club’s history.

    “We have found sponsors to get new jumpers made with our own design for 2015. We have played an international friendly against the Amsterdam Devils: the first footy trip for the lions. We have had training sessions with local schools and gymnasiums. We are having a season closer game against Hamburg Dockers on the 18th of October and the girls are having a season closer on the 25th of October against Malmø Ladies.”

    “The development in girl’s football has also made us change the logo so we could have both Lions and Lionesses in the club logo. Also we are really looking forward to 2015 with new jumpers and hopefully some players, both male and female, who will come out stronger and better.”

    “As a young club we had to buy goal posts. We got the cheapest we could find and that worked for 2013 when we held the Danish Open 9-aside tournament, and for all of the activities in 2014. But the poor quality of the post has shown and two of them have snapped and all of them will need to be replaced for the 2015 DAFL season. We will therefore apply for the AFL Europe Goal Post Grant (GPG) to get some financial help in our mission to get posts for 2015.”

    The story of the Odense Lions – and Lionesses – is inspiring and shows the value of how the grants can be combined with a drive to succeed and produce something very special. We wish the Odense crew continued success and will continue to watch their progress with great interest.

    Left - The Odense Lionesses

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    Myles Treanor from the Dublin College University (DCU) is the current club chairman and has put together the following information regarding the fledgling club from Ireland. DCU were the recipients of a Start-up Club Program grant (SCP) in 2014 which will kick along their progress as they compete on a broader scale and grow.

    “[In] September 2014 aims we received a grant from AFL Europe over the summer with 6 balls. This was our first year of our own gear. We have used it regularly during trainings so far. DCU’s sport staff are currently helping us design jerseys and fund further equipment.”

    Myles goes on to detail the origins and growth of the club.

    “The club was founded in September 2013. Myles Treanor and Caoilte O’ Baoill competed for Ireland in the Euro Cup 9’s in Bordeaux. When we returned we set up the club in DCU with no funding or backing. It was made an official DCU club in September of this year.”

    “A 2013 review saw we had 18 girls & 32 boys training regularly. The equipment was borrowed from the Dublin Demons club. We competed in our first European tournament ‘The Fitzpatrick Cup’ in October 2013, the same day as the International Rules. Oxford University, University College Cork [UCC Bombers] and National Regional College [NRC Eagles] Ulster were competing. This happened to be the first European University tournament in history.”

    “[The] aim for 2013 was to get regular numbers at training and just compete in as many tournaments as we could. We continued mixed training sessions and started planning another tournament in February where it would be mixed.”

    “Matches against Irish clubs [include] in November 2013 we played the Dublin Demons and North Leinster Giants. We narrowly lost to the Demons, who are Ireland’s most experienced club. “

    “[We also played in the] O’ Hara Cup where the Wandsworth Demons of London, North Leinster Giants, South Dublin Swans, Dublin Demons and DCU were competing. This tournament was mixed with at least four girls on each team competing. The tackling was modified for the girls but otherwise it was full on. We eventually made our way to the final losing out by four goals to an experienced Wandsworth Demons’ club.”

    “The girls’ team continued to train in DCU into April and combined with the Irish Banshees squad in preparation for the World Cup in Australia that summer. The squad narrowly lost out in the final.”

    “We aim to compete in the Fitzpatrick Cup again this year along with the O’ Hara Cup. We also aim to hold a tournament this year. UCC Bombers are fixed to play us several times this year along with other Irish clubs.”

    It is still only early days for the DCU team, but already they are taking huge steps to play local tournaments, not only against other university teams, but also against established Australian Rules clubs from both Ireland and England. Again, the grant, combined with resources from the university, has assisted in getting the club to where it is today.

    It will be interesting to see where the next twelve months will take the teams from Dublin College University.

    Left: The gang's all here - Dublin College University family


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    Tomislav Vlaović, current president of the Slavonski Brod Tigers in Croatia, knows his club has benefitted from the AFL Europe grants program. “We received both grants: the Goal Post Grant (GPG) and Start-up Club Program (SCP).”

    “Included in the Start-up Club Program we only received the 6 footballs, but not the coaching board which of course would be of great use. We obtained the Richmond footy kits ourselves, thanks mainly to my dad, Andrija Vlaovic. AFL Europe made first contact with the Richmond Tigers before I came to club but never got past that.”

    “The Goal Post Grant (GPG) included financial assistance in helping erect goal posts on our current playing ground. We applied for 4 x goal posts and 4 x behind posts. Our application was successfully approved and we are very grateful to AFL Europe in helping us to build the first AFL full size ground in Eastern Europe.”

    “While we were successful in receiving both grants, I think that AFL Europe should help countries that have overall lower standards even more. It's not the same financing our club from Slavonski Brod then a team from England, Denmark or Sweden. We finance our clubs (including the other three Zagreb clubs) entirely by ourselves with no help whatsoever from governing bodies. The law in Croatia for amateur clubs is absolutely ridiculous and does not help us one bit.”

    “The Slavonski Brod Tigers in their first season in the HLAN and CEAFL leagues registered two wins against the Styrian DownUderDogs and Zagreb Cvjetno Dockers. We lost two games by under six points while leading both games from start until the last quarter. It's a huge success for the club knowing that just 10 months ago 90% of our players didn't even know what [Australian]footy was, let alone how to play the game.”

    “The most satisfying fact is that three of our players: Zvonimir Marinović, Mišel Lubina and Ivan Liović, and our main coach Luka Đukić as an assistant coach, were called up by the Croatian National Team, the Croatian Knights, and successfully attended the Euro Cup 2014 in London that finished last week. Don't have to say that they won the silver medal which is a huge achievement despite all handicaps we have in Croatia (no grounds/changing rooms, no funding as mentioned). The thing that most hurts me is that practically no-one in Croatia really cares about our achievements. Upon that, one of our players is to be transferred to a club from Canada.”

    “The Croatian Cup 2014 will be taking place on October 19th in Slavonski Brod. We are in contention of actually winning the cup regardless of the capabilities of the Zagreb Hawks who are hot favourites. Next year we hope to increase our playing group and give it a real crack at winning the HLAN/CEAFL league. We also want to start a junior squad, because all of this is useless if we can't transfer our knowledge to the younger generations who can uphold our club in the future.”

    “It's such a shame that the Croatian Knights couldn't attend the IC Cup 2014 in Melbourne. Again it has to do solely with the fact, once again, of finances. The Knights are the most successful team in Europe, winning in total six medals in Euro Cups. Despite this, we aren't able to show the AFL how talented we are.”

    “As an example, our ruck Josip Habljak is easily at this moment in the top two best players in Europe. I know for a fact [and no disrespect here at all to Padraigh, in fact the opposite] that when he competed against Irishman Padraig Lucey in a mixed match of the European Legion and AIS Academy around Easter he completely smashed him to pieces. Padraig is now on the Geelong Cats list as a Catagory B rookie after finishing in the top 4 of the Fox Footy show The Recruit. I am afraid and saddened that Josip may never get an opportunity to show the AFL what he is capable of.”

    The Slavonski Brod Tigers have come an enormous distance in a very short time, and are rightfully very proud of their efforts. Their rate of growth, both in terms of results and the players they are producing, is tremendous. They have had to struggle within their own country for funding, but the AFL Europe grants have certainly played their part.

    We will watch the Tigers’ development over coming years with great interest.

    Left: The lads from the Slavonski Brod Tigers in Cro ...

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    The New York Magpies have taken the 2014 US National Championship title defeating Orange County by just three points in a tight arm wrestle Grand Final Match.

    Grand Finals results of each division in the table below.


    Grand Finals        
    Division 1 Orange County 2.1.13 New York 2.4.16
    Division 2 Columbus 1.0.6 Los Angeles 11.3.69
    Division 3 Sacramento 7.1.43 Philadelphia 0.5.5
    Division 4 Denver B/KC 4.6.25 North Carolina 7.2.44
    Women's Denver 2.3.15 Golden Gate 0.4.4


    Results of the other matches played on Day 2 can be seen below.


    Division 1      
    Dallas 10 Golden Gate 19
    Orange County 36 Minnesota 9
    Calgary 17 New York 29
    Austin 9 Denver 35



    Division 2      
    Boston 13 Chicago 27
    LA 79 Nashville 7
    Columbus 27 Houston 22
    Baltimore-Washington 20 Quebec                    42


    Division 3      
    Calgary B 42 Portland 1
    Ft Lauderdale 9 Philadelphia 72
    Sacramento 7 Des Moines 7
    New York B 19 Ohio Valley 41



    Division 4      
    Houston B 28 Minnesota B/Seattle 34
    North Carolina 62 Columbus B/Orange County B 3
    Tulsa 17 Denver B/KC 31
    Milwaukee/Indy               13 Atlanta/Baltimore Washinton B 43


    Women's Divison      
    Denver 13 Montreal/Baltimore-Washington 8
    Sacramento 8 New York/Toronto 15
    Minnesota Blue 0 San Francisco/Portland/AZ 10
    Calgary 81 Minnnesota White/Columbus/Boston 0

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    The International Cup held in Melbourne sadly lacked a NZ Women’s team but the NZ U 18 Kahu recently completed their two game series for the AFL International Youth Girls’ Cup against the Australian U 18 national side, The Breeze.

    Though the results were totally one-sided it provided the Australian girls with a chance to represent their country and a way for the New Zealanders’ to benchmark their development.

    The first game was played with a fiercely competitive spirit, with both teams playing their hearts out until the final hooter. The result was a large win to Australia, with the talent and class of their players evident throughout the game. At no stage though did the Kahu ease off on the pressure, and they made it clear to the Breeze that they were in a contest.

    Kahu coach Lisa Roper heaped praise on both teams, saying she was fortunate to have been involved with female football and in a position see the rapid and heartening development of both the Australian and New Zealand players.

    For the Kahu, the Schuster sisters were the standout players. Captain Hope Schuster was powerful with ball in hand, and younger sister Rosie was arguably the fastest and most committed player on the field for either team, regardless of being the youngest.

    Returning players from 2013 Dayna Harris, Setareh Brown and Kayla Paniora showed their improvement in the intervening year, with Kayla Paniora especially solid at fullback.

    Aleisha Taylor sparked glimpses of brilliance from the Kahu, with clever leads, impressive marks and clean distribution. Another International debutant, Jessie Parr, showed calmness under pressure and took good options.

    The final score of 24.23 – 0.4 reflected the differences in experience of the two teams, however is a significant improvement for the Kahu on the scoreline recorded last year in the same fixture.

    U18 NZ Kahus vs Austalian Breeze
    0.4:4 – 24.23:167
    Australia goalscorers: Hannah Davidson (6) Courtney Musico (3) Lily Mithen (3) Sarah Allen (3) Jade Ransfield (2) Emma Lynch (2) Shae Gundlach (2) Katherine Smith (2) Rachel Ortlepp, Erin O’Brien

    Best on Ground Winners:
    NZ Kahus: Hope Schuster and Rosie Schuster
    Australian Breeze: Lily Mithen and Jessica Stramandinoli

    The second game saw improvement for the Kahu, particularly in terms of game understanding and ball distribution. The match also saw the Kahu kick a goal, through a combination of persistence, skill and teamwork.

    The performance of the Kahu was lauded by Head Coach Lisa Roper. “I thought our girls started to think like footballers. Not only that you played with pure sportsmanship, pure respect, and still went hard at the contest.”

    The match itself was played in harsh conditions, with gale force winds coming off the Waitakere ranges and periodic bursts of rain.

    Once again, the physicality and commitment at the loose ball was evident in the Kahu performance, with captain Hope Schuster leading the charge, making crunching tackles. Her opposite number Katherine Smith was another standout in this area, with tough tackling and clever shepherding.

    The Kahu goal started with a run from Hope Schuster, followed by a kick into space for Aleisha Taylor to run onto. Taylor slipped past her tagger, and put the ball onto the boot for Tayla Cross, who marked safely. Tayla’s set shot used the wind perfectly, with the ball curving round the corner of the post into the goal.

    Dayna Harris, who was a non-playing member in the 2013 squad, showed promising signs of development, winning a Best on Ground award after making a solid contribution in the first match.
    With the series completed, the Australian Breeze will return home, where they will go on to leadership and development programmes to help build and grow Female AFL. The qualities required for such an undertaking were on full display in New Zealand, with the Breeze taking every opportunity to encourage, inspire and educate their fellow players from New Zealand.

    For the Kahu, their next major event will be the Junior Hawks Cup competition, in which the Kahu will have the opportunity to play for or coach a school representative team. With the squad coming from many different schools, it is likely some teammates will find themselves facing off against each other.

    The next representative matches for the Kahu will be against the U18 Woomeras in December. The Woomeras are Australia’s representative female Indigenous AFL team.

    U18 New Zealand Kahus vs Australian Youth Girls
    1.0:6 – 22.22:154
    Australian Breeze: Mithen (4) R Ortlepp (3) Musico (2) Ransfield (2) Smith (2) Allan (2) Stramandinoli (2) Davidson (2) Lynch, O’Brien
    NZ Kahus: Cross

    Best on Ground Awards:
    Australian Breeze: Shae Gundlach and Courtney Musico
    NZ Kahus: Jessie Parr and Dayna Harris

    For more see:- ...

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    Touring teams provide AFL New Zealand High Performance players with the best opportunity to test and push their skills, and VAFA were certainly effective at that. With the annual two game series this year the Ammos certainly provided some lessons to the Kiwis in how to play footy.

    However, the experience gained by the New Zealand players will be invaluable in their journeys as AFL players and athletes. Many of the players in this side will go on to be Senior New Zealand Hawks representatives, a few already have been. For now, many players within the squad will be returning to club matches around the country, and will be in a fantastic position to apply what they have learnt through regular time on the field.

    In the first game of the series played in slippery wet conditions, the VAFA were unstoppable moving the ball into the attacking area, and were simply too classy despite a valiant effort from the New Zealanders.

    New Zealand Hawks coach Chris Mundell noted that at times all he could see were white jerseys, with VAFA showcasing exceptional skill in maintaining possession and pressuring the Hawks into mistakes while on defence.

    A superb instinct for the goal was also on display, with the creativity, tenacity and accuracy of the Australians rewarded time and again.

    There were bright spots for the Hawks, with Waylon Baker leading the charge defensively, Te Kopa Tipene Thomas distributing the ball with great skill, and the team as a whole fully committing to defensive efforts throughout the game.

    Brian ‘Benny’ Goodman, VAFA tour manager, paid tributes to how both teams went about the game.
    “We were in awe of the way the Hawks threw themselves into this game. For us, it’s been great to see our team bond and grow, and our skipper (Brandon Droessler) has led from the front.”

    Many observers described the VAFA team as exceptionally strong relative to previous touring sides. Head Coach Owen Lalor believes this to be the strongest VAFA touring team ever sent to New Zealand, and thinks they would be very competitive against representative teams from other Australian leagues.

    AFLNZ CEO Robert Vanstam agreed with the assessment, suggesting that apart from the AFL matches featuring St Kilda, this VAFA side probably plays the highest standard of football ever seen in New Zealand.

    U18 NZ Hawks vs U18 Victorian Amateur Football Association
    0.4:4 – 24.15:159

    VAFA Goalscorers: Tabakman (4) Cusack (3) Malt (3) Peele (2) Palleschi (2) Cayhan (2) Droessler (2) O’Halloran (2) Ramsey, Miller, Sterling, Toouli.

    Best on Ground Winners:
    NZ Hawks: Te Kopa Tipene Thomas and Waylon Baker
    VAFA: Ben Dickson and Jordan Tabakman

    The New Zealand Hawks made a strong statement in their 2nd match against the Victorian Amateur Football Association, playing with intensity and passion.

    15 minutes into the first quarter, the scores remained 0.1 – 0.1, with the Hawks kicking the first point of the game, and keeping VAFA quiet with ferocious defence.

    VAFA Coach Owen Lalor lauded the performance of the Hawks.“They came out with a fantastic attitude, and they just need to learn how to sustain that, and that will come with experience.”

    The New Zealand Hawks swarmed over anyone in a blue and white uniform, with crunching tackles and physicality at the loose ball.

    Waylon Baker and Hawthorn international scholarship holder Siope Ngata were instrumental in the Hawks performance. Kieran Brunel was another standout on defence, making brutal tackles and attacking every contest.

    Josh Copeland, Christian Blackie and Carlos Donnell-Brown were also suggested by Head Coach Chris Mundell as players who excelled.

    However the Hawks performance overall was a team effort, with the support play and communication among the team improving dramatically.

    The Victorian Amateur Football Association were again able to dominate the scoreboard with Ben Dickson and Jordan Tabakman again effective at pushing the score out rapidly.

    U18 New Zealand Hawks vs U18 Victorian Amateur Football Association: Game 2
    0.2:2 – 18.15:123

    VAFA Goalscorers: Dickson (3) Tabakman (3) Cayhan (3) Ramsey (2) Toouli (2) Peele (2) Palleschi, Malt, Meadows

    Best and Fairest:
    NZ Hawks: Josh Copeland, Christian Blackie, Waylon Baker, Kieran Brunel, Carlos Donnell-Brown
    VAFA: Ryan Malt, Johnny Ross, John Cayhan, Michael Caven, Jack Toouli, Ben Dickson

    For more see:- ...

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    The following is a press release from the AFLNT detailing the arrival of Hawthorn’s back to back premiership cups for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. For more information please contact Hannah West at:  
    The 2014 AFL Toyota Premiership Cup will be in Darwin this weekend when the formidable Under 18 Katherine Big River Hawks take on Waratahs.


    As part of the greater Hawthorn Hawks family, the Big River Hawks are a part of the 2014 Premiership Cup Tour which will see both the 2013 and 2014 Premiership Cups in Darwin as part of the road show around each capital.


    The public have the opportunity to have a photo with both premiership cups in return for a gold coin donation to support the team’s charity, the Starlight Children’s Foundation, with all funds raised to be donated to the cause.


    Waratah Football club will play host to the Hawks on Saturday night at their home ground, Gardens Oval.



    Information about various entertainment, functions and photo opportunities can be obtained for those interested by contacting Hannah at the link above, or contacting AFLNT direct.


    Title Photo: Former Tiwi Islander and darwin product, Cyril Rioli, holding premiership cup aloft (Photo courtesy: ...

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    The Philippines Australian Football League proudly hosted the 2014 Asian Championships last weekend where teams met to decide which was the best Australian Rules football nation in Asia. Described as “the pinnacle of the AFL Asia calendar”, it was the Singapore Wombats who revelled in the glory of being 2014 champions.


    The event was somewhat sandwiched between the battle for European supremacy (Euro Cup) and North American bragging rights (USAFL Nationals) but drew a strong and enthusiastic following for a great day’s football.



    Following are the results from the 2014 Asian Champs that were held in Clark, Philippines on 11 October 2014. 


    Pool A (Oval 1)


    Macau Lightning 1. 0. (6) def. by Singapore Wombats 7. 3. (45)

    Malaysian Warriors 1. 4. (10) def. by Thailand Tigers 3. 1. (19)

    Macau Lightning 0. 1. (1) def. by Thailand Tigers 5. 9. (39)

    Malaysian Warriors 5. 1. (31) def. Hong Kong Dragons 2. 1. (13)

    Thailand Tigers 2. 4. (16) def. by Hong Kong Dragons 3. 2. 20

    Singapore Wombats 5. 1. (31) def. Malaysian Warriors 2. 3. (15)

    Macau Lightning 2. 0. (12) def. by Hong Kong Dragons 4. 6. (30)

    Thailand Tigers 1. 1. (7) def. by Singapore Wombats 6. 1. (37)

    Macau Lightning 0. 0. (0)  def. by Malaysian Warriors 10. 5. 65

    Hong Kong Dragons 2. 1. (13) def. Singapore Wombats 1. 1. (7)


    Pool B (Oval 2)


    Lao Elephants 0. 0. (0) def. by China Reds 8. 4. (32)

    Philippine Eagles 5. 1. 31 def. Vietnam Swans 1. 0. (6)

    Lao Elephants 1. 3. (9) def. by Vietnam Swans 4. 7. (31)

    Philippine Eagles 2. 2. (14) def. Jakarta Bintangs 3. 1. (19)

    Vietnam Swans 5. 6. (36) def. Jakarta Bintangs 1. 3. (9)

    China Reds 1. 4. (10) def. by Philippine Eagles 5. 0. (30)

    Lao Elephants 3. 1. (19) def. by Jakarta Bintangs 5. 3. (33)

    Vietnam Swans 7. 1. (43) def. China Reds 0. 1. (1)

    Lao Elephants 1. 0. (6) def. by Philippine Eagles 10. 3. (63)

    Jakarta Bintangs 8. 2. (50) def. China Reds 0. 0. (0)


    Semi Finals


    Singapore Wombats def. Vietnam Swans (no score available)

    Hong Kong Dragons 3. 5. (23) def. Philippine Eagles 0.  3. ( 3)


    The following is a brief description of the Grand Final from the AFL Asia website.


    Singapore Wombats V Hong Kong Dragons


    After a humbling day where every team had lost a game, the arch rivals Hong Kong and Singapore meet again. After their hard fought game earlier in the day where Hong Kong had won by one goal in a low scoring game, it was anyone’s game!


    The crowds of spectators lined up their deck chairs, topped up their tinnies, and cheered-on the fast paced but gritty game. Singapore established the early pace but the Dragons fought back with a nail biting game. In the second half the Wombats maintained a narrow lead that was too hard for the Dragons to recover. The “Three-peat” was never mentioned again, and the Wombats felt like it was the Best Victory they’ve ever had!


    Hong Kong Dragons 3  3  21


    Singapore Wombats  4  7  31





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    Who would have thought that an eight week old club could reach the grand final of a long established competition in their maiden outingω Well, that’s exactly what happened in Dubai when the BM Bulls, the newest team in the AFL Middle East competition, reached the Grand Final against the Dubai Dragons. It was a highlight of a great day for AFL Middle East, and a carnival which has fans and organisers alike looking forward to a huge season for 2014/15.



    Congratulations go to the Dubai Dragons. Keen to make a statement after missing their chance at a third consecutive premiership last year, losing to the Doha Kangaroos, the Dragons went through the event undefeated to add more silverware to their collection.



    But the BM Bulls have certainly proved themselves as a capable unit in the AFL Middle East competition, winning two matches against longer established teams, albeit not at full strength, and losing twice – both times to the Dragons, both in the final and by just 2 points in the preliminary matches.


    Scores for the event were:

    Dubai Dragons 10 3 63 d Abu Dhabi Falcons 3 0 18

    Dubai Dingoes 5 5 35 d Doha Kangaroos 1 2 8

    Dubai Dragons 3 3 21 d BM Bulls 3 1 19

    Dubai Dragons 3 2 20 d Dubai Dingoes 1 5 11

    BM Bulls 4 7 31 d Abu Dhabi Falcons 0 0 00

    Dubai Dragons 8 7 55 d Doha Kangaroos 3 6 24

    BM Bulls 9 8 62 d Doha Kangaroos 2 6 18

    Dubai Dingoes 6 2 38 d Abu Dhabi Falcons 2 1 13

    Abu Dhabi Falcons 5 4 34 d Doha Kangaroos 3 5 23

    BM Bulls 6 1 37 d Dubai Dingoes 5 1 31



    Grand Final: Dubai Dragons 3 2 20 d BM Bulls 1 3 9


    After a hot day at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai, teams were feeling the pinch by the end of proceedings, but all seem to agree that the event, sponsored by OSN was a howling success.


    The Muscat Magpies were unable to be at the event, but they will be there when attention turns to the start of the season proper next month.


    Can the Doha Kangaroos repeat the magic of last season’s maiden premiershipω

    Will the Dubai Dragons exact revenge and return to the top of the treeω

    Can the new club, BM Bulls, surprise everyone in the first ever seasonω

    Do the Falcons, Dingoes or Magpies have surprises in store for the other teamsω



    We don’t have to wait long now to find out.



    Left: AFL Middle East action at Sevens Stadium



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    The following article by Thomas Kean appeared in the Myanmar Times in September during the lead up to the Asian Championships in 2014. The work of Julian Clark has become legendary throughout Asia, and elsewhere, and this story examines his background and influence on the game, as well as his latest achievement – bringing the game to the nation of Myanmar.


    “This is my advertisement, mate,” says Julian Clark. He tugs at his Cambodia Eagles polo shirt with one hand, a mug of cold beer recently poured from the tap at Savoy Hotel’s Captain’s Bar in the other. “My job is to use this to recruit people.”



    Julian “Big Rooster” Clark, a veteran of 20 Australian Rules football seasons as an expat, has made something of a career out of nurturing new teams wherever his work as an engineer has taken him. 


    Well, not his day job. But Julian “Big Rooster” Clark, a veteran of 20 Australian Rules football seasons as an expat, has made something of a career out of nurturing new teams wherever his work as an engineer has taken him. He left Australia for Singapore in the mid-1990s, when the tail end of a recession meant there were few jobs at home for graduates and, football in hand, has rarely looked back.


    Fittingly, it was a chance meeting at the Australian embassy in Malaysia while watching the 1995 Carlton-Geelong Grand Final that first got him out onto the field. A man behind the bar was wearing a Malaysian Tigers (now known as the Malaysian Warriors) shirt, and explained the team was playing a couple of weeks later. Clark had no hesitation in pulling on the boots.


    “From then on I was hooked,” he told The Myanmar Times in a recent interview. “The meeting dictated my dress code from that point on ... in the hope that just one bloke in a pub seeing [my polo shirt] might result in another player [for the team].”


    After starting out with Southeast Asian sides, he helped established the first Australian football teams in Finland (Lions, now Icebreakers), Dusseldorf (Lions, now Rheinland Lions) and China (Blues, now Reds).


    November 2013 saw him bring the oval-ball game to Myanmar for the first time, overseeing the creation of a national team, the Fighting Cocks. When Clark ran out with the rest of the Fighting Cocks to play the Thailand Tigers at Pun Hlaing in May for the team’s inaugural game, he was representing his 24th national team – surely a record in a football code that has a limited following outside Australia. The list of Clark’s former sides includes giants of the sport like the Austrian Dingoes, Pakistan Markhors and Belgium Saints.



    To read the rest of this story, click on the following link which will take you to the Myanmar Times story:



    Left: Julian Clark's Myanmar team in action


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    Kevin McSorley, Development Officer for Australian Rules Football League Ireland (ARFLI), has taken the game of Australian Rules football and transformed it from simply a sport to a subject of study, opening the game up to a legion of students. The club he has established in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, has used the Start-up Club Program (SCP) grant to attract interest (and recruitment) to the game through an entirely different medium – education.

    “The NRC Eagles are the college team of North Regional College, a technical college for students aged 16 plus. The team had competed in the Fitzpatrick Cup but my direction is focused more on skill development and game understanding than competition as the other similar teams in Ireland, such as DCU and UCC Bombers, are university teams meaning my students in the 16-20 year old bracket (mostly 16-18 years old) would be competing against much older players.”

    “Since the AFL Europe grant, from which we received seven footys, we have spread the game to local schools that are part of the colleges remit. Essentially the students study the game’s rules, regulations, skills, tactics and techniques as a unit for their diploma in sport. This allows theoretical and practical understanding.”

    “We play in house and cross school games and hope to set up a school competition this year, better suited to the student’s age bracket.”

    “The extra footballs [from the grant] allow better coaching standards.”

    "I see this as another level on the grass roots ladder and hope to have the University of Ulster team from Jordanstown back up & running to have a next step progression and possibly another ARFLI team in Ulster."

    “The NRC Eagles are still active and will continue to be as it is incorporated into the curriculum now which is great for the game’s growth. We have moved into a bracket that allows students to compete at a safe age group and be more easily accessed logistically.”

    “We aim to spread the game further into the grass roots as students can pick up coaching awards as well as bringing it [the game] to primary schools as another section of their diploma.”

    For more information on the development of the NRC Eagles, the following World Footy News story details their beginnings:

    Left: NRC students learning the ...

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  • 10/18/14--06:00: Essendon FC 'embrace' India
  • The Footy players from Bengal had not yet gotten over the festive spirit when they were served up another delightful treat. They got some true Aussie Footy flavour as 4 of the finest Footy players from Essendon Football Club of the AFL came down to have a joint training session with the players at Bongaon, West Bengal. The training was a part of the club’s ‘Embracing India’ initiative and true to its name, Joe Daniher, Dyson Heppell, Zach Merrett and David Zaharakis embraced the occasion in style.

    Around 200 enthusiastic players from Bongaon, Kolkata, Howrah and Khardah turned up for the chance of a lifetime. Some had made a 10hr long round-trip to attend the training and their efforts did not go in vain. A few players had even made the trip from Ranchi, Jharkhand to grab this opportunity. The players were put through their paces Aussie style, and their skills with the Footy impressed even the professionals. “I was really surprised how many young boys and girls turned out for the AFL India super clinic," Daniher said."They had some pretty impressive skills. Zacka and I took them through a few drills and they didn't miss a beat, we might have even met the next Dyson Heppell or Jobe Watson today."


    For the Australian Rules Football Association of India (ARFAI), it was one the biggest moments in their short history and their gratefulness towards the Bombers was unmistakable. "The Essendon Football Club players in India coming to coach us, is the biggest achievement. It is the first time that an AFL club has reached out to help with on ground activities!" Secretary General of ARFAI Sudip Chakraborty said. "Essendon took the first step in coming over and helping us out here, all the boys and girls have never had training from a proper coach, this is a magnificent experience and hopefully we can do this every year. This is like Sachin Tendulkar coming to another country to teach people how to play cricket, to have these players here training us is out of this world."

    As a part of their tour, the Essendon players visited the Mecca of Indian cricket – Eden Gardens, where they introduced the sport to the Chief Curator. They also had a small kick-about with the locals at the Victoria Memorial lawn. The players then headed on to New Delhi where they did local sightseeing and more importantly, attended the screening of ‘Aussie Rules the World’, a movie on the worldwide impact of Footy, at the Australian High Commission. The players also engaged in a youth development session with Catholic School in Delhi. Taking the opportunity to experience the vibrancy on offer, they made a trip to Ranthambore for a safari and Agra to witness some architectural marvels of the Mughal era. All through their trip they connected with the community, visiting SOS Child Village, Faridabad and even managing to play some cricket with locals at Delhi. 

    The ‘Embracing India’ initiative, a brainchild of Cameron Britt, Head of Community at Essendon FC, has helped in building new ties between the Australian Footy community and their Indian counterparts. One hopes Sudip’s vision of having such visits every year materializes and more AFL teams look to India for Footy ties. For ARFAI and the hundreds of Footy players in India, it’s onwards and upwards from here for sure.


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    The Farum Cats have played off in ten of the past eleven Grand Finals in the Danish Australian Football League, for seven premierships, including the last four in a row – the last three of which have not included a single Australian player in the team. One of the club's founders, Ian Hill, takes a look at the history of the club and how their domination of the league has come about.

    The Farum Australian Football club was first formed in the 1994-1995 DAFL off-season. Jim Campion and I had been playing for a few years with Copenhagen-based clubs in the league which was at the time mostly all about the three big-city teams based in the Danish capital. Farum is a regional town of 20,000 people located 20 kilometres north-west of central Copenhagen. Jim was living there (still does) and I was working there and living 12 kms further west in a small village called Slagslunde (still do). The commute to Copenhagen for training and games was not unreasonable, but in that off-season, Jim and I thought we would have a go at starting a new club in Farum (the actual reason behind it all is another story in itself).

    The team was originally called the Farum Lions. There was a soccer team in Farum wearing red, yellow and blue at the time. That, and the FFC logo amounted to a synergy which led us to select the Fitzroy jumper and emblem, ignoring the fact that the AFL Lions were in their death throes at the time.

    Initially Jim and I were the only Australian players on the list. We had been successful in recruiting more than enough Danes, but with few Australians, it was going to be a struggle against the other clubs whose locals had four years of experience behind them.

    We managed to tap into a group of four Australians who were living in southern Jutland at a time when there was no club based over there. It was a three-hour train journey for them but at least it meant they could play footy. And they were better than average – one had even played VFL reserves and represented Western Australia in a senior interstate game.

    This enhanced the list and kick-started the club to the point where we made the Grand Final in each of our first four seasons and even managed to pinch a premiership in 1996 when we were clearly not the best performed side throughout the season.

    By the late 1990s, a club had been formed in Århus and so there was no more bringing in experienced players from outside. The club would have to get by with what we could muster from Farum. We quickly learned that almost any Australian living in Copenhagen or even its suburbs would prefer to commute into the city to play for one of the three founder clubs, than commute out and play for Farum.

    Jim saw the writing on the wall and realized that something would need to be done for the club to be successful and thrive. For him, it was not just about having a competitive team in the DAFL, he wanted a real club like the ones he was used to being a member of in Australia. A club where not only the players but family and friends would be welcome and enjoy socializing. And he wanted a club that would continue to thrive beyond his own involvement. Having said that, he was also known to have mentioned that he had a stated ambition of winning a DAFL premiership with no Australians in the team. More of that later.

    So in 1999, he decided to get seriously into coaching kids in the local area. He had two sons of his own who at the time were seven and ten years old. With the two of them and their friends and classmates, he had a ready-made starting point.

    Australian Football, even outside Australia, is for the most part, not a difficult sell. As we know, the sport truly is a fast and exciting game to play, and even Australia itself, the country, has always had somewhat of a novelty and appeal about it that foreigners are easily drawn to. It has never been difficult to get young children and even their parents and teachers interested in the idea of at least giving footy a go. The hard part was keeping them interested and to do that it had to be presented in an environment that was well-organized and looked professionally run, even if it wasn't technically professional.

    The program was an unqualified success from the outset. The club ran regular trainings, matches, lightning premierships. Jim, a die-hard Geelong supporter, also got Geelong College on board for a three-yearly exchange of visits, which included visits to Denmark by a team from the College, and also visits to Geelong by a team of Farum juniors. This was nothing new as prior to all of this, in 1998, Jim had even managed to get the senior team to go on a three-week tour of Australia, which included among others, a game at Victoria Park against Scotch College.

    Although the primary focus of the program was in getting kids involved from a very young age, the club has also run an annual tournament for 10th, 11th and 12th graders from some of the local schools in the area. This was an attempt to involve older juniors, in the hope that it would be an instant source of players for the senior DAFL competition.

    The parents of the kids playing were always willing to get involved off field. They have readily taken on roles such as club administrators, running food stalls at matches, and coaching the kids themselves. One father even played a few games for the senior team after his son had already started playing in the juniors – a unique recruitment path indeed.

    It may sound like it was a bed of roses from day one, but it must be said that it was not always easy. When trying to promote a foreign sport, it is important to maintain the utmost enthusiastic and positive outlook at all times, regardless of how one really feels about how things are progressing. There were times when the work-load would become excessive to the point where the folks who were coaching kids would have to take vacation days from their full-time jobs to fulfil some of the requirements.

    One of Jim's greatest achievements was not only in the coaching of the kids himself, but he managed to get many of the senior Danish players sold on the idea of doing it as well. AFL clubs talk about ”buy-in” from the players, and this is what was achieved here. There has always been a tremendous amount of buy-in from the club's Danish players. Even now, you see senior players who started as juniors themselves coaching the new generation. They understand that there were people who went before them and made sacrifices to allow them to get so much enjoyment out of the club and the sport, and if that is to continue it has to be passed on.

    In the early 2000's, the senior club endured some lean years while the first bunch of juniors were learning. By the mid 2000's, the first batch of juniors had graduated to the age where they could play seniors. And by 2004, we were back in the Grand Final, losing by only four points to North Copenhagen despite a six goal last quarter comeback.

    By this time the club had also recognized the strategic link with Geelong and changed its moniker from Lions to Cats. The AFL had also come on board. In the early years of the league, they had always been granting a modest amount of financial support. As the junior program got going, development managers at the AFL became convinced of its authenticity and allocated a much more significant amount, with the strict proviso that it all be used for junior development.

    One of the problems we had was that there was no real opposition to play and the Farum kids always had to be divided up and play matches against their friends. There were sporadic attempts by the other DAFL clubs to do something similar but nothing that ever took hold. In desperation, I managed to get my son and some of his friends interested and for a number of years we even had our own team, the Tigers (guess who I barrack for), training and playing home games in Slagslunde, Not a bad achievement in a village with a population of 1,000.

    This was also alot of work but I can safely say the years spent coaching a small team of kids in this little town amounted to the most rewarding part of all of the involvement I have had in footy in Denmark. From a personal perspective, it also helped me get to know alot of the other parents better.

    From 2005, Farum benefited from a ”scholarship” program where two senior Australian players would move to Denmark for the season to help out with coaching the juniors and they would also play for the senior team. This was the icing on the cake with the juniors now coming through, and the club's (and the league's) first three-peat was achieved with premierships in 2005-06-07.

    Then a combination of factors saw fortunes dip somewhat. The scholarship visits from Australian players lapsed, the influx of juniors slowed after the first generation had come through, and a period of excellence from North Copenhagen and Port Malmö had to be endured.

    But by 2011, a second wave of juniors was coming through and the first wave had filled out and become seasoned open-age players. The team had now reached the point where the majority of the players had started playing football as kids. And it began to show on the field. The other clubs of course had older and physically stronger players, some of whom were better. But footy outside Australia is a vastly different look as kicking and handball styles give away the fact that a player is not Australian, no matter how good he is. The Cats started to look like a team full of Australians. This was starting to become extremely difficult for the other clubs to combat, particularly when the Cats had a full team to choose from, as regularly happens on Grand Final day.

    The 2011 Grand Final saw Farum claim its fifth premiership. It was Jim's last game as a player and also the last time the club benefited from the scholarship program. From then on it has been pretty much Danes-only for the senior Cats team.

    The 2012 Grand Final, at the time, was viewed internally as the club's crowning achievement. It finished on top, and won the second semi final in order to host the Grand Final. The club's Grand Final team had no Australians in it, and they would take on a North Copenhagen with no fewer than eight (limited to seven on the field at a time). That they won was at the time unprecedented in the league's history, and Jim had achieved one his major ambitions.

    In the 2012-13 off-season, there was a political shake-up within the league. It's a long story, but the main points for the purposes of this discussion are that the league decided to go to a 9-to-12 aside model. It was felt that the smaller team size and a more flexible fixturing system would make it easier for new teams to start up and for all teams to find grounds. A result of this was that the established Danish clubs fielded two teams. The two Swedish clubs continued to field one team each. Many people involved in the league were thus considering it a fait-accompli that the Grand Final would be between the two Swedish clubs, Helsingborg and Port Malmö.

    Farum, for their part, had spawned a new team called FC Demons. The basis for the split was primarily along the lines of those older Farum players who had since left home and moved into Copenhagen would be Demons, while the younger ones still based in Farum would remain as Cats. The Demons would train in Copenhagen but play their home games in Farum – providing a basis for double-headers in Farum.

    Both of the 2013 and 2014 Grand Finals ended up being Port Malmö v Farum Cats in Malmö, both with Port Malmö as red hot favourites, both being won by the Cats - 2013 in a thrilling match which went down to the wire and 2014 in a surprising cake-walk. There were several times during the seasons where availability would be a problem for the Cats, but on Grand Final day, everyone was available and it shows in the results.

    DAFL's clubs are spread across a wide spectrum of cultures, some based in a large capital, some in large regional cities, some in small towns. This has meant that the natural access to experienced Australian players has varied greatly. To keep the competition even, the league has always imposed some sort of restriction on how many Australians each team could use. But with one club now starting to field almost a full team of local players with the ability similar to your average experienced Australian, there is a growing inequality against which it may be difficult to legislate.

    The other concern for DAFL at this point is that the FC Demons also contains about five or six very useful players who started as Farum juniors and no longer play for the Cats. So it is conceivable that their domination of the league could have been even more profound without the events of 2012-13. The FC Demons struggled for numbers at times this year and forfeited several games, but the club sees that the split has to be maintained and so a re-alignment of players may be taking place which will hopefully shore up the Demons and bring the Cats back to the pack somewhat.

    The journey of the Farum Football Club has at times been a frustrating one for me, Jim and the other coaches (he has been known recently to say that if he had his time over, he's not sure he'd go through it all again), but it has borne fruit in a big way. It would be fair to say that while we may have achieved most of our aims, no-one would have dreamed that the club would come to dominate the league to the extent that it has.

    Jim and I have both stepped away from close roles within the club. The junior development is not as intense as it once was, but the club recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, and even now there is still another generation of young Danish players coaching those who will hopefully take their place one day.

    For those who have seen the developments first hand, it has been an eye-opener to witness the difference that exposing players to the sport at a young age makes.


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    The Madrid Bears Australian Football Club has hosted an international match over the weekend with the Manchester Mosquitoes headed south for a visit to Spain. The match was played at the Rugby fields at the Autonomous University of Madrid (AUM – Universidad Autonoma de Madrid).

    For the Madrid team, the opportunity for some of their players to play another competitive match so soon after the Euro Cup in London would be invaluable for the game’s progress in the country. For the Mozzies, they would still be riding on the crest of a wave after winning the AFLCNE premiership just a couple of months ago.

    On the day it was the Manchester Mosquitoes that were far too accomplished for their Spanish rivals.

    Final Score: Manchester Mosquitoes 17 12 114 d Madrid Bears AFC 2 7 19

    (Left: Madrid Bulls and Manchester Mosquitoes players get together)

    It has been a big weekend of footy on the Iberian Peninsula. Not only did the Madrid Bears host this match in the nation’s capital, but in neighbouring Portugal the second instalment of the AFL Europe Algarve 9’s was played in Vilamoura. Details of this event will be reported at a later date.

    (Left: Madrid Bears)


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    The Irish Independent newspaper reports that Kildare product, Sean Hurley, will join the club for the 2015 season. Almost buried under the activity of Free Agency and Trade Week, the news is welcomed by the Dockers’ community.


    According to the Independent, “Kildare footballer Sean Hurley is the latest footballer to try his luck Down Under by signing for AFL side Fremantle. Kildare manager Jason Ryan confirmed that the Johnstownbridge player will not be part of the senior panel next season.”



    “Hurley made his debut for the Lilywhites in 2011 and participated in the draft combine two years ago. He had a trial with the Dockers at the end of 2013 but is now hoping it will be a case of second time lucky.”


    “Sean has a contract with Fremantle so he is due to go in a few weeks' time,” Ryan told the Kildare Nationalist.


    “I suppose it’s a shame for Kildare GAA to have guys that you know are extremely talented who you know would be able to help (not being available). The thought of them not being around is disappointing."


    Daniel Flynn, a Johnstownbridge club mate, is currently with Port Adelaide while Paddy Brophy has been in Australia since last Saturday and visited six clubs ahead of this week’s draft.


    “You have Daniel Flynn, Kevin Feely (a professional soccer player with Newport County), Sean Hurley and maybe Paddy Brophy as well. To lose four guys from around the same age bracket would be hard to take," Ryan admitted.


    The Fremantle Dockers’ website goes on to add that,“Kildare Gaelic footballer Sean Hurley will begin pre-season training with the Fremantle Dockers in mid-November after initially trialling with the AFL club last year.


    “Hurley is a towering midfielder for Kildare, standing at 196cm. The 22-year-old Irishman will join Fremantle as a Category B rookie. Clubs are allowed one Irish player under this category.”


    “Hurley will arrive in Perth in early November and start pre-season with the 1-4 year group on Monday 17 November. Documentation confirming Hurley’s addition to Fremantle’s list is due to be signed off by the AFL at the end of the month.”




    Left and below: Sean Hurley in action at home in Ireland



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