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Independent News and Views from the International Aussie Rules Community

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    Essendon players have been found guilty in the Court of Arbitration for Sport for their part in the use  banned substance Thymosin Beta-4 after nearly three years of investigations and hearings. It looks as though the 34 players who were at the time of the alleged offences with Essendon are going to be forced to miss the 2016 season. There is suspected to be some appeals which means that the saga may drag out longer yet.

    Essendon Football Club have released the following statement

    Regrettably we can confirm the Court of Arbitration for Sport has found 34 past and present players guilty of committing an anti-doping rule violation. As a result, the players - including 12 currently listed with Essendon - have been suspended for the 2016 season. The Club is currently digesting the decision and we will provide a further update later today.

    Lindsay Tanner Chairman

    Statement from the CAS

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has today issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and 34 current and former players of Essendon

    The appeal filed by WADA against the Australian Football League (AFL) Anti-Doping Tribunal's decision of 31 March 2015 is upheld and the appealed decision is set aside. The 34 players concerned are sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on 31 March 2015, with credit given for any individual period of ineligibility already served. Thus, most of the suspensions will come to an end in November 2016.

    The arbitration procedure was conducted by a panel of CAS arbitrators: the Hon. Michael J. Beloff QC, barrister in London, United Kingdom (President), Mr. Romano Subiotto QC, SolicitorAdvocate in Brussels, Belgium, and the Hon. James Spigelman AC QC, barrister in Sydney, Australia and London, United Kingdom. 

    The Panel held a hearing with the parties in Sydney, Australia from 16 to 20 November 2015. In its Arbitral Award, the Panel found to its comfortable satisfaction that Clause 11.2 of the 2010 AFL Doping Code (use of a prohibited substance) has been violated and found by a majority that all players were significantly at fault. ...


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    The AFL was today notified by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) of the sanctions imposed on 34 past and present Essendon Football Club players for breaches of the AFL’s Anti-Doping Policy.

    The 34 players were sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on 31 March 2015, with credit given for any individual period of ineligibility already served.
    The sanctions effectively exclude the players who currently remain on an AFL list, or are currently working in a support or coaching capacity with an AFL club, from participating in the 2016 season.



    AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan today addressed the media and their complete statements are attached.



    In summary, Mr Fitzpatrick said the AFL accepted the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision and the serious implications for the 34 players sanctioned and the entire competition.



    “As tough as this sanction feels, the AFL accepts the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. We feel very disappointed for the players.


    “The program at the Essendon Football Club in 2012 was a stain on our game - and it has had a terrible impact on the players, the Club, and the reputation of the AFL.



    “It has struck at the very heart of our game – the integrity of the competition, and the health and safety of the players.



    “We look forward to working with ASADA and WADA, and with Government to keep sport clean and to protect the health and safety of players,” he said.



    The AFL Commission held a phone hook-up today to consider the implications for the Essendon Football Club’s ability to field a team during the upcoming 2016 Toyota AFL Premiership Season.



    AFL CEO Gill McLachlan said the AFL had initially considered potential scenarios at its meeting last December and had today decided on the following measures for Essendon, to ensure it could continue to field a team:



    “The measures I am announcing today followed discussions at an AFL Commission Meeting in December 2015 and again this morning,” Mr McLachlan said.



    He said the AFL had determined:



    · Essendon may upgrade all of its five rookie listed players to the senior list as a 1-1 replacement, as though the suspended players they were replacing were long term injuries.

    · Essendon will be granted the ability to sign up to 10 extra players to its list, by powers granted by the Commission to General Counsel Andrew Dillon:

    · Melbourne (one player), St Kilda (one player), the Western Bulldogs (one player) and Port Adelaide (two players) also have players now on their lists that have been suspended. It was the Commission's ruling that each club may immediately upgrade a rookie to the senior list as a replacement for any suspended player.



    Separately, Mr McLachlan said a decision on the Brownlow Medal won by Jobe Watson in 2012 would be discussed at an AFL Commission Meeting in February to allow for submissions from all parties.




    Mike Fitzpatrick Statement, January 12, 2016



    As tough as this sanction feels, the AFL accepts the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. We feel very disappointed for the players.



    The program at the Essendon Football Club in 2012 was a stain on our game - and it has had a terrible impact on the players, the Club, and the reputation of the AFL.



    It has struck at the very heart of our game – the integrity of the competition, and the health and safety of the players.



    The players have received a very harsh punishment today in having a doping violation recorded, and a suspension until November 2016. We feel for the players, and will be offering whatever support we can through the Players Association in the coming months.



    The Club too has paid a very high price.



    The Club was punished in 2013, with historic sanctions not seen before in our code.



    The Club accepted this punishment and agreed that they put their players in a position of unacceptable risk of being doped. The Club has also recently acknowledged serious breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in Victoria.



    The officials involved all received sanctions. Stephen Dank has been given a life ban by the AFL, which excludes him from all sport, forever.



    Port ADELAIDE, Melbourne, St Kilda and The Western Bulldogs also have players suspended and supporters of those clubs will rightly feel aggrieved.



    This has been a very dark period, but the last four years will not define the Essendon Football Club.



    It will not define Australian football.



    Essendon’s history is too important…and its future is owned by the members and supporters, and not by the last four years.



    The Club has two very respected people in the new Chairman, Lindsay Tanner and new Coach, John Worsfold, and the AFL is committed to doing what we can to assist the club in moving forward.



    Our competition is stronger when Essendon is strong, and all of our clubs want to see Essendon recover and rebuild, and be the fierce and passionate competitors they are.



    I want to make a few points about the AFL and the process over the last few years.



    The integrity of the competition, and the health of players are the most important things for our game – and we must fight to protect both.



    Every decision we have made has been driven by these two pillars.



    At every stage of this process, we acted within our rules and our powers, and we have assisted and cooperated with the Anti-doping authorities – as we should.



    Every sport in the world faces the threat of doping, and new forms of doping. Fighting performance-enhancing drugs in sport is more important than ever.



    We strongly believe our players are committed to anti-doping and that they want us to stand up and fight against performance-enhancing drugs.



    Since 2012, the AFL has introduced several measures in response to the matters raised in the investigation:



    · We immediately conducted a review of the supplementation practices at all AFL Clubs.



    · We also conducted detailed background checks on all sports-science and medical staff in the industry.

    · We significantly increased the size and powers of the AFL Integrity Department.

    · We enhanced the AFL Anti-Doping Code to include Treatment Rules that govern supplementation and medical treatments that go beyond the WADA Code.

    · And finally, we introduced new rules that prohibit anyone other than the appropriate medical doctor giving injections.


    This Essendon process has taken too long, and CAS’s judgment today invites a discussion about the way the code applies to team sports in future.



    We look forward to working with ASADA and WADA, and with Government to keep sport clean and to protect the health and safety of players.



    Gill McLachlan Statement, Tuesday January 12, 2016.



    The AFL Commission met this morning via telephone hook-up to consider the decision announced today by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.



    The AFL accepts and acknowledges the decision of CAS and its ruling has significant implications for the Essendon Football Club and its ability to field a side during the 2016 Toyota Premiership Season, due to the number of players that have been suspended, as well as implications for four other clubs in our competition that have had players suspended.



    Firstly, I wish to reiterate what our Chairman has said - the AFL is fully committed to clean sport, for the sake of all players from all clubs in our competition.



    This is a devastating decision for the past and present players of the Essendon Football Club, and the AFL feels deeply for them.



    It is our view they have been horribly let down by the administration of the time but the club has sought to acknowledge what has happened and to move on from these events.



    The welfare of the 34 affected players is paramount and we will be working with the AFLPA, the club, and all players and their representatives to get them through this extraordinarily tough period.



    Essendon has given generations of its fans a reason to combine around a shared love of the game – providing the equal-most flags in our history and three of our Hall of Fame Legends - and now needs its supporters to be with them at their lowest time.



    The AFL will support the players and the club through this period but these suspensions must stand as part of our commitment to clean sport.



    The AFL Commission considered possible suspensions at the Commission's meeting last December, and confirmed the decisions we will take around our rules this morning.



    The AFL had consulted with the Essendon FC and AFLPA and our decisions are as follows:



    • Essendon may upgrade all of its five rookie listed players to the senior list as a 1-1 replacement, as though the suspended players they were replacing had long-term injuries.



    • Essendon will be granted the ability to sign up to 10 extra players to its list, by powers granted by the Commission to our General Counsel Andrew Dillon:



    • Existing contract values for the listed players who have been suspended shall be included in the cap.



    • Extra payments to supplementary players will be included in the club's salary cap but Essendon will receive an allowance for payments to supplementary players over the cap limit.



    In summary, it is the AFL's view that Essendon must be able to field a competitive team, to provide a safe working environment for both their own players and opposition players, and these rules around replacement players are necessary for the club to be able to field a side, around these doping bans.



    I would note that the WADA code does allow for action to be taken against a club that has two or more players suspended within a 12-month period. The AFL has already acted against the Essendon Football Club with the penalties handed down in 2013, and there will be no further action against the Essendon Football Club by the AFL on this matter.



    The AFL also considered the case of former Essendon-listed players now playing with other AFL clubs.



    Melbourne (one player), St Kilda (one player), the Western Bulldogs (one player) and Port Adelaide (two players) also have players now on their lists that have been suspended. It was the Commission's ruling that each club may immediately upgrade a rookie to the senior list as a replacement for any suspended player.



    The AFL Commission also discussed this morning the matter of the Brownlow Medal, which was won by Jobe Watson for the 2012 season, the period in which these infractions were judged to have occurred.



    The Commission determined that the awarding of this medal needs to be reviewed in light of today’s decision. It is the AFL's view that due process must apply in this matter. Therefore it was determined that the full Commission must hear this issue, and that the February meeting would provide the appropriate level of time for parties to get prepared. Jobe Watson will be invited to address the Commission, as potentially will other relevant parties.



    It is our understanding that this is now the conclusion to this matter, after some three years, although limited appeal rights do exist through the Federal Court of Switzerland in some instances. I am not in any position to comment on what the players may consider in this area.



    I repeat Mike's points this has been a sorry stain on our game but it will not define the Essendon club ...

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  • 01/12/16--00:46: Davey & Jetta Feel The Pain


  • Whilst it is clear that events today will have a devastating impact on the Essendon Football Club in the wake of the CAS/WADA decision to ban players for the 2016 season after a guilty verdict was reached on the use of illegal supplements at the club in 2012, the Bombers will not be the only club hit hard. Port Adelaide, St Kilda, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs each have former Essendon players that they have recruited post-2012 who will also be banned. Additionally, clubs around metropolitan, country and interstate leagues will be impacted.

    One of these is the Palmerston Magpies club in Darwin playing in the NTFL. Former Bombers, Alwyn Davey and Leroy Jetta have been instrumental in helping the Magpies rise to become a potential finalist in 2016. Both are part of the original "Essendon 34" and face lengthy sanctions that will see them miss the remainder of the 2015 /16 season as well as most of the 2016/17 season.

    To make matters worse for Palmerston, Alwyn Davey is their playing coach, meaning that the club loses more than just his playing skills, but his direction on and off field as well.

    The NTFL has long been a league where former AFL players have taken up playing or coaching roles when their AFL days are over. Currently former players are scattered across most teams with former Lion, Jared Brennan, newly retired Cats, James Kelly and Matthew Stokes, former Demons Aaron Davey, Brent Moloney and Mark Jamar amongst a host of ex-AFL players on NTFL club lists. Not only do theses players add to the club's talent and experience, but they are also instrumental in marketing the game, especially outside of Darwin.

    Davey was appointed as co-coach of the Magpies and so far the club has remained in the mix for finals action this season. The Davey family has been an integral part of the club's history. Davey has been consistent on the field, as has Jetta who has been a consistently good player and goal kicker since his arrival. Their loss through the Essendon suspensions today will have a damaging impact on the Magpies and could seriously harm their finals aspirations for this season as well as their momentum for next season.

    Because both players had left Essendon prior to the provisional suspensions handed to Essendon players at the end of the 2014 season, which saw the club seek top-up players to compete in the NAB Challenge last year, Davey and Jetta do not receive the same reduction in suspension that others still in the AFL received as they left the club prior to the completion of that ban. Where most current Essendon and AFL players can resume after November 2016, the suspension for Davey and Jetta runs until February 2017 unless any subsequent appeals on behalf of players can succeed in reducing the existing bans.

    The AFLNT will monitor the progress of the bans and Palmerston will be listening closely to any whispers of appeals against today's bans which could potentially see Davey and Jetta return earlier. But that seems a long shot at the moment.

    The same situation will be played out across Australian leagues in a decision which will have a huge impact beyond Essendon and the A ...

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    The following article from The 42 website by Finlan O’Toole looks at the movement of potential Irish Gaelic footballers and Hurling stars headed to the AFL Training Camp to be held in Florida.

    Players from Galway, Kilkenny and Westmeath are amongst the 33 players heading to Florida today for the start of the NAB AFL Academy’s training camp in America.

    Galway’s Cillian McDaid, Kilkenny’s Darragh Joyce and Westmeath’s Ray Connellan are all partaking in the camp where leading Australian clubs will run the rule over the players present.

     

    The players fly to Orlando before travelling to Sarasota in Florida for eight days on a high-intensity camp at the IMG Academy.

     

    The tour will then finish with four days in Santa Monica. It marks the second successive year that the Academy has travelled to the United States.

    “From our point of view we’re looking to expose our boys to a level of training load that they haven’t emotionally or physically experienced before,” head coach Brenton Sanderson told the official AFL website.

    “We’re also looking to get as much information as we can from them, including fitness testing, nutrition, leadership, resilience and as much data as possible so we can prepare them for the season ahead.”

    Joyce is the Irish player most familiar with Australian Rules having featured at the AFL Draft Combine last November. However concerns over homesickness for the Rower-Inistioge club man – a brother of Kilkenny senior Kieran Joyce – resulted in him not securing an AFL contract.

    Joyce. who captained Kilkenny to the 2014 All-Ireland minor hurling title, remains on the radar of AFL clubs. He first came to prominence with his Gaelic football performances at schools level for Good Counsel (New Ross).

    Connellan caught the eye at last year’s AFL Europe talent combine in Dublin. The Athlone player made his senior championship debut for Westmeath against Louth in 2014 and also was on the scoresheet during Westmeath’s famous Leinster championship win against Meath last summer.

    McDaid, a native of Craughwell, was another to impress at the Europe talent combine in Dublin. He shone for Galway in both codes at minor level last year, winning an All-Ireland medal in hurling when the Tribesmen saw off Tipperary and a Connacht football medal.

     

    To visit the website, go to: http://www.the42.ie/afl-florida-camp-2543672-Jan2016/

    Images: TOP - Westmeath's Ray Connellan (James Crombie - INPHO), BOTTOM - Darren Joyce Holding Kilkenny's All-Ireland Cup (Cathal Noonan - INPHO)

    ...


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    The 2016 School Sport Australia tour of South Africa is underway with highly talented Australian school footballers taking their wares to towns and villages across South Africa as well as experiencing cultural, social and scenic delights as they mingle footy and travel.

    Amid the excitement, the touring team will play in three matches against the South African Lions and possibly another team. The players will also be heavily involved in clinics with school kids across the Johannesburg-Pretoria-Potchefstroom triumvirate as well as later in the journey across Cape Town and Khayelitsha.

    The itinerary is exciting, and for many of the players may forever be a highlight of their personal lives as well as footy career. But the opportunity for these players to work with AFL South Africa to grow the game across the nation might be the most valuable legacy of the journey.


    The squad is already in South Africa, after having assembled prior to departure for a two day training camp where they were hosted by the Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles, attending talks and being involved in some skills testing.

    The players are Australian school boys, fifteen years and under, selected as the best in the nation after having progressed in their selections from school boy competitions at district and state level before gaining national representative selection. Many students from previous excursions over the years have gone on to AFL careers at the highest level.

    The itinerary for these lads commenced in Johannesburg before heading to Pretoria the next day and conducting an AFL Footywild clinic in the Thembisa Township.

    The first match of the trip was played (scores below) after a visit to Soweto, with the South African Lions their prey. The Australia High Commissioner to South Africa was invited to attend.

    The itinerary this weekend sees the players in Pilanesberg National Park and visiting Sun City. The will also be conducting another clinic in conjunction with AFL South Africa in the town of Ledig before their second match on Sunday.

    Monday and Tuesday will see the crew heading to Potchefstroom and conducting another clinic in Ikageng township before heading to the villages of Thakaneng and Tshwarangang where they will play their third and final match against the South African Lions.

    The tour then heads south by plane to Cape Town where the players get to relax and take in the sights of Table Mountain, Robben Island, Cape Peninsular and Boulder Beach. They will also be involved in another clinic with Under 14 kids in Khayelitsha, an outer suburban part of Cape Town, where the game is growing rapidly.

    This proves to be an amazing tour with tremendous opportunities for all involved, both the touring students and the people of the villages and teams they will meet with.

    World Footy News will updates scores from the matches, including the result of Game 1 yesterday in Johannesburg.

    School Sports Australia 20 11 131 d South African Lions 5 4 34

    Pictures courtesy of School Sport Australia


    ...

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    Recently, World Footy News published an interview with Croatian journeyman, Josip Habljack, who has become a beacon, if you will, for other European players seeking a dream to follow in A Pilgrimage From Zagreb To Adelaide. Following is an excerpt from a new interview with Josip for the Savez Australskog Nogometa Hrvatske (SANH – Australian Union Of Croatian Football) looking at his journey since his arrival.

     

    The 24-year-old from Velika Gorica, Josip Habljak was a Zagreb Hawks player, but now he is in Australia. He is the first Croatian footy player who became a pro and signed one-year contract in Adelaide for Sturt FC. Read this interesting interview and find out more about his life in Australia.

     

     How did you manage to sign one-year contract for Sturt FC and to play footy in Australia.  What is the key of your successω

     

    It’s all thanks to the good performances for the Croatian national team „Croatian Knights“ at the European Championship in Dublin 2013 and the European Cup in Bordeaux 2013, London in 2014 and in Umag 2015. I was regularly selected  in the team of the tournament and I had an opportunity to play for a young European team „European legion“ against the Australian sports academy, AIS-AFL where I  was re-elected as one of the best players in the field. For this reason, Australian scouts were interested in me and I received several offers for lower leagues in eastern Australia.

    However, my friend and coach of the Croatian national team, Ante Lončar, gave me an advice to wait with my decision. Meanwhile, Ante contacted his childhood friend who is  president of my current club and he decided to give me an opportunity. A year after I got visa and I finally went to Australia.

     How the footy in Australia looksω Are there any differences between training in Croatia and in Australiaω

    First of all, one training here reaches more fans than people in Croatia play actively. There is no big difference with excercise but it’s all on a higher level. Most of the guys grew up playing this sport. The biggest difference compared to Croatia are training conditions. There is also a head coach and a few assistant coaches. Once a week, we have 3 club trainings on the field and two in the gym. Most of the players go to the gym and run more often  because they want to be fully prepared for the season.

     Your club competes in one of the strongest leagues of Australian football. Tell me more about your relationship with the rest of the team.

    Sturt FC, the club where I train, competes in SANF that starts at the end of March and lasts until October, where after playoffs follows the final match. AFL is the strongest league, but next to it are SANFL and VFL, so I play for one of the strongest leagues of Australian football.

    In the team with whom I train, mostly are guys in their early twenties and they accepted me very well. We support each other, but sometimes I have feeling that they give me a little more support because I’m from other country where footy is not developed as in Australia.

     

     

    To see the rest of this article, go to the SANH website at: http://www.sanh.hr/thepaintrain-i-njegovi-prvi-dani-u-australiji/ωlang=en ...


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    If enthusiasm is one of the criteria on which success is based then the new Croatian footy team, the Ploče Eagles, is in great hands. A chat with the fledgling club’s president, Johnny Roncevic, tells the story so far, but also tells a story of a larrikin who may have exactly what it takes to bring together another successful Croatian footy team.

    The town of Ploče is not large – approximately ten thousand people – but it important as port on the Adriatic, or Dalmatian Coast, and is used heavily as a port for the neighbouring nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The reference to a port adds to the irony of a president of a new club who is from Fremantle in Australia.


    According to Johnny, “we are [located] in Ploče, halfway between Split and Dubrovnik. As for players, I have just got the team off the ground. It was a long and difficult procedure with the Grad Ploče [city of Ploče] organising things and still is. I think all up we have got about 20 boys that come to training but a solid 10-12 are under 18. We train at the Vojarna for now while I’m still in talks with the local soccer club to get to use their pomočna igrališta.”

    Johnny’s story itself is interesting. “I moved here about a year ago. English is my first language so I am learning as much as i can. I am from Fremantle, Australia, so playing with an Eagles’ jumper isn’t exactly a dream come true because I live and die for the mighty Dockers. My coffee mug in the morning is a Dockers’ cup. To put it in comparison it is like being born in [the city of] Split being a crazed Torcida boy [Torcida Split football fans], moving to Australia and making a Futsal team wearing Dynamo shirts, if that helps that perspective.”

    Johnny is already grateful for the assistance he has received getting this new team together. “Josip Kravar [President SANH – AFL Croatia] is an absolute lad! The bloke has helped me here a lot with everything. As you could imagine, it would be like moving to Australia and in your first year there starting your own club. There a few bumps in the road getting everything organised but what I’ve learned here is that everything in Croatia is polako [moving slowly].”

    It will be a tough road to travel yet, but Johnny is already a long way down the track. He certainly has many people across the clubs in Croatia who will do all they can to offer assistance and the opportunity for vital matches to develop experience and clarify direction.

    One wonders how Johnny will cope if his first rival is the Velika Gorica Dockers.



    Picture: the lovely port town of P ...

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    Last year Wanderers pulled off the fairy-tale finish that clubs dream of. From sitting outside the top five to premiers in just a matter of weeks was a remarkable footy story. But lightning rarely strikes the same place twice, and as the NTFL season went to the recent summer break, Wanderers again sat outside the top five and had to rely on another barnstorming finish to see finals action.

    Last week they took out the second placed St Mary’s, squeaking home by just three points. This weekend they took yet another step towards the unlikely when they brought down the relentless Nightcliff Tigers by just two points. The pair of post-break wins has Wanderers right back in the action, but more importantly they are back in form. They are also back into the top five, leapfrogging both the Tiwi Bombers and Darwin Buffaloes.

    Final Score: Wanderers Eagles 15 7 97 d Nightcliff Tigers 14 11 95


    The Palmerston Magpies had endured a horrid week in the wake of the Essendon doping scandal CAS findings which saw former Bomber and magpies coach Alwyn Davey and star former Essendon recruit Leroy Jetta suspended until early 2017. But they replied in the best possible fashion by downing the Tiwi Bombers comfortably by 40 points. The win saw them leap into third place on the ladder and mount a strong case for finals action. The loss for the Bombers was costly as it dropped them back to sixth place and a tough remaining draw with no more home games on Bathurst Island and only two more matches at every club’s “home” ground at TIO Stadium.

    Final Score: Palmerston Magpies 16 11 107 d Tiwi Bombers 10 7 67

    The Darwin Buffaloes are now in a dangerous place after losing their match against the Southern Districts Crocs. After losing their two opening games of the season, the Buffaloes went on a seven game winning spree, raising hopes of some long overdue finals action. But recent matches have seen four consecutive losses and the Buffaloes now hold fifth place by the skin of their teeth, equal on points with both Palmerston and Wanderers but with a receding percentage. Next weekend’s clash against second place St Mary’s might yet be an early finals match for the Buffaloes. The win for Southern Districts keeps them on top of the ladder by a narrow percentage margin over the Saints.

    Final Score: Southern Districts Crocs 19 13 127 d Darwin Buffaloes 8 18 66

    St Mary’s kept their eyes on another possible minor premiership when they hammered the bottom side, Waratah. The win keeps them in a neck and neck race for top spot with the Crocs and the big win improved their percentage further, which could be invaluable closer to the finals. Once again Waratah showed great spirit and trailed by just 28 points at the main break – a trait they have often shown this season. But they couldn’t maintain the pressure as Saints ran away with the match in the second half.

    Final Score: St Mary’s Saints 19 9 123 d Waratah Warriors 8 5 53

    Next weekend’s matches will see the Nightcliff Tigers battle the Tiwi Bombers, St Mary’s will clash with the Darwin Buffaloes, Palmerston Magpies meet the Southern District Crocs and Waratah will play the rejuvenated Wanderers ...

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    A number of hopefuls from Fiji, PNG, Tonga, Nauru, South Africa, NZ and even Denmark have been part of the AFL's International Scholarship scheme over the past eight years without the ultimate success of playing in the AFL.  Now there are just two Kiwi's at St Kilda holding that torch of what seems to be a fading light for international development.

    The signing of an International Scholarship player is usually heralded with a feature article on the AFL club's website, perhaps an article on the AFL website and even sometimes some local press in the home town or country. But when their time is up they seem to quietly disappear. 

    The latest to 'disappear' from AFL clubs are Siope Ngata who was a scholarship holder at Hawthorn and Giovanni Mountain-Silbery who was a scholarship holder at St Kilda.

    Ngata seems likely to have a solid rugby career ahead of him playing with the Auckland Blues Under 20 team this year. In the footy he played he looked like a physical powerhouse with potential to develop his skills to AFL level but in the end to play rugby for New Zealand was probably his ultimate dream. His departure from Hawthorn was noted in a Twitter Q&A session with Graham Wright.  When asked if Ngata would follow in the footsteps of Heatherley and Tatupu at Hawthorn the answer was "Hi @jasonpan81, unfortunately we decided not to offer Siope an international rookie spot"

    In 2015 when St Kilda signed New Zealander Barclay Miller and later in the year the feature article on him mentioned that he would be moving to Australia to attend Mentone Grammar and continue his footy education, it also mentioned Joe Baker-Thomas being at the club again in 2016.  But it did not mention Mountain-Silbery, so without actually noting his departure to that point the assumption has to be that he was no longer with the club.  This week in response to our direct query on this St Kilda confirmed this to be so.

    It is great that clubs are willing to take a risk and try to identify and bring these guys (from overseas) along, but it would also be right to farewell them at least in a brief statement just as they usually do when any players on the regular or rookie lists finish up with the club.  Many club supporters follow the progress of these guys in the hope an unlikely destiny can be fulfilled, and then they are left wondering "whatever happened to that guyω"

    So this leaves just those two New Zealanders, Miller and Baker-Thomas as the only International Scholarship holders left at any AFL clubs (Heatherley and Tatupu the only former International Scholarship holders at AFL clubs).  It seems to indicate that the scheme is not attractive to AFL clubs, and may be set to disappear altogether due to lack of interest. Even Hawthorn now have not signed a new scholarship holder for three years (when St Kilda seemed to take over the NZ territory from the Hawks). 

    Success in terms of not just playing but excelling at Hawthorn for Heatherley and Tatupu (or at St Kilda for Baker-Thomas and Miller) may be the only thing that changes the minds of AFL list managers to use the scheme more widely and spread the international considerations beyond the GAA codehoppers and American ruckmen currently being signed as International rookies.

    Beyond that perhaps the whole scheme needs a revamp to make it more attractive to AFL clubs or at least some better internal promotion and funding of the scheme by the AFL to get it back on track. ...


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    Irish recruit Conor Glass has completed his first two weeks on the track as a Hawthorn player. He did spend time in Melbourne with the Hawks in January 2014 and 2015, but this time he was officially on the list having been drafted as an international rookie in the 2015 National Draft. 
     
    At that time it was made quite clear that he would not join the Hawks full time until his studies were completed around mid-year 2016. But he did have time to fit in a few training sessions and attend the AFL’s induction annual AFL Players’ Association/AFL Induction Camp.

    The two-day camp will saw all 110 attendees, from all 18 clubs, briefed on a number of topics including the importance of wellbeing, career development, financial education, personal brand and respectful relationships, as well as rules around illicit drugs, match fixing and anti-doping.
     
    Back at Waverley, Glass was easily spotted on the track with by his bright red locks, observers were impressed by his running ability and his skills with the oval ball given most of his playing experience in Ireland has come with the round GAA football.
     
    The club will be quite keen for his timely return mid-year given the history of a number of Irish recruits in the past being homesick after initial stints in Australia and seeming reluctant to return once on home soil. ...

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    The AFL and Australia Post today announced its Multicultural Program will expand to 18 player ambassadors in 2016 and for the first time will include two female players.

    Female footballers Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Darcy Vescio will be joined in promoting some of the many diverse backgrounds in Australia’s Game by Brisbane Lions Vice Captain Dayne Zorko, Geelong’s Tom Hawkins, Fremantle’s Tendai Mzundu, Gold Coast SUNS players Adam Saad and Tom Nicholls, Sydney Swan Aliir Aliir and Western Bulldogs player Jason Johannisen.

    The new additions in 2016 join existing Australia Post AFL Multicultural Player Ambassadors David Zaharakis (Essendon), Stephen Coniglio (GWS GIANTS), Paul Puopolo (Hawthorn), Shem Tatupu (Hawthorn), Alipate Carlile (Port Adelaide), Jimmy Toumpas (Port Adelaide), Bachar Houli (Richmond), Nic Naitanui (West Coast) and Lin Jong (Western Bulldogs).

     

     

    AFL General Manager Game and Market Development Simon Lethlean said this season’s ambassadors were chosen to reflect the diverse cultures continuing to emerge in Australian society and the AFL’s commitment to growing the game in all communities.


    “Expanding our multicultural player ambassadors to include two female footballers allows Australian Football to continue its commitment in reflecting Australian society and ensuring it’s an inclusive environment for all to enjoy our game, whether that’s as a fan, player or official,” Mr Lethlean said.


    “We’re excited to add two female players to the list of multicultural ambassadors this year, whose talents were showcased in the female exhibition matches of 2015 and who are fast becoming well respected role models within their respective communities.


    “The expanded list of 18 ambassadors, representing 13 AFL Clubs and two female Clubs, will play a crucial role in raising cultural understanding, inclusion and participation at all levels of Australian Football,” he said.


    In 2016, multicultural players make up 15 per cent of the AFL player lists across the 18 AFL Clubs.


    The 2016 ambassadors will begin their duties during the Australia Post AFL Community Camps next month where they will meet fans during school visits, community receptions and super clinics in both regional and metropolitan centres.


    The Australia Post AFL Multicultural Player Ambassadors will be at the forefront of AFL Multicultural Round to be held this year in Round 16 of the Toyota AFL Premiership Season.


    With the support of Australia Post, the round will continue to celebrate ‘Many Cultures One Game’ and will highlight the community engagement initiatives being undertaken by the ambassadors and the entire Australian Football industry.


    Australia Post Managing Director & CEO, Ahmed Fahour, said Australia Post’s ongoing commitment to celebrating diversity is a vision they shared with the AFL.


    “Australia Post directly employs 37,000 people from 137 nations and almost a quarter of our employees are from non-English speaking backgrounds,” said Mr Fahour.


    “We recognise how migration has enriched Australian neighbourhoods and we’re proud of our connection with the AFL, who represent a sport that unites so many cultures under the one banner.


    “This year, we are thrilled to be partnering with some of the biggest names in the AFL to spread the word message on inclusion, acceptance and diversity within the Australian community,” he said.


    Australia Post is the official community inclusion partner of the AFL and delivers a number of grassroots community activities under the Australia Post Our Neighbourhood community program. Our Neighbourhood aims to build healthier, more vibrant and more inclusive communities throughout Australia.


    Australia Post AFL Multicultural Ambassadors information:

     

     

     

    Nic Naitanui (West Coast - Fijian) works one day per week at the WAFC supporting the ongoing development of the West Australian multicultural strategy and the Naitanui Talent Academy.  

     

    ·         Bachar Houli (Richmond - Lebanese) works one day per week at AFL House developing the Bachar Houli Islamic Schools Program in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, the Bachar Houli Academy nationally and Ramadan dinners. He will work on consolidating and expanding these programs further in 2016.

     

    ·         Adam Saad (Gold Coast SUNS - Lebanese) will work on developing the Bachar Houli Islamic Schools Program in Queensland, mentor participants at the National Bachar Houli Academy and provide support to the Queensland Ramadan dinner. He will also support the AFL’s World Team at the NAB Under-16 National Championships as well as helping drive the Queensland multicultural strategy through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

     

    ·         Tom Nicholls(Gold Coast SUNS - Fijian) will support the Queensland multicultural strategy through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round. Tom will also work with the AFL’s World Team at the NAB Under-16 National Championships.

     

    ·         David Zaharakis(Essendon - Greek) will continue working on AFL Victoria’s talent programs, mentoring young multicultural footballers and will attend key multicultural events.

     

    ·         Paul Puopolo (Hawthorn - Italian) will assist in the management of the AFL Multicultural talent camps and National All Nations Cup, as well as attend key multicultural events.

     

    ·         Shem Tatupu (Hawthorn - Kiwi) will assist in the management of the AFL Multicultural talent camps and National All Nations Cup, as well as attend key multicultural events.

     

    ·         Tom Hawkins (Geelong)is passionate about uniting diverse communities through Australian Football and will support the AFL multicultural strategy through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

     

    ·         Alipate Carlile (Port Adelaide - Fijian) works one day per week with the SANFL supporting the ongoing development of the South Australian multicultural strategy, AFL Multicultural Round, Alipate Carlile Talent Academy and facilitate cultural education sessions with community football clubs.  

     

    ·         Jimmy Toumpas (Port Adelaide - Greek) will facilitate cultural education sessions with community leagues and community football clubs as well as assist with multicultural talent programs in South Australia.

     

    ·         Stephen Coniglio (GWS GIANTS - Italian) will work with the New South Wales Multicultural Talent Academy, help drive AFL Multicultural Round, as well as be a Talent Mentor to multicultural participants in the talent pathway.

     

    ·         Aliir Aliir(Sydney - Sudanese) will support the New South Wales multicultural strategy through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

     

    ·         Lin Jong (Western Bulldogs - Taiwanese and East Timorese) will work on participation programs in the Western suburbs of Melbourne including an umpiring academy focusing on the Asian community and will facilitate cultural education sessions with community football clubs.

     

    ·         Jason Johannisen (Western Bulldogs - South African) will support the Victorian multicultural strategy through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

     

    ·         Tendai Mzungu (Fremantle - Zimbabwean) will work on the Multicultural programs in West Australia through key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

     

    ·         Dayne Zorko (Brisbane Lions - Yugoslavian)in conjunction with his role as a NAB AFL Auskick Ambassador, will support the ongoing development of the Queensland multicultural strategy to help unite diverse communities through Australian Football and will assist in programs including the Queensland All Nations Cup.

     

    ·         Darcy Vescio (Western Bulldogs - Chinese & Italian) will support the AFL’s female multicultural talent strategy through development programs and will also make key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.  

     

    ·         Sabrina Frederick-Traub (Melbourne - English) will support the AFL’s female multicultural talent strategy through development programs and will also make key appearances at multicultural events, including AFL Multicultural Round.   ...


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    The tour of South Africa by the School Sport Australia Under 15's squad has come to an end with a domination across three games against the South African Lions. But the scores are secondary to the developmental value of the tour as the players shred their skills with their South African counterparts as well as giving assistance and advice to young kids at clinics across the country.

    The team won their first match of the series, played in Johannesburg, downing the South African Lions 20 11 131 to 5 4 34. The report of that part of the itinerary can be found here: Sawubona! – South Africa Welcomes School Sport Australia

    The second game of the series was played at Rustenburg, to the west of Pretoria. Once again the schoolboys team was too strong, though the South Africans certainly learned from the opening game, closing the gap and going down by just 55 points. The final score in Game 2: School Sport Australia 16 18 114 d South African Lions 9 5 59.


    In the final official match of the tour saw the School Sport Australia team return again to dominance with a comprehensive performance, downing the Lions this time 17 20 122 to 4 4 28.

    Whilst the team were too good across the three scheduled matches, it might be their last "unofficial" match that lasts longest in their minds. On their Cape Town part of the itinerary, the school boys visited the Drakenstein Prison where they listened to the testimonies off 20 young soccer players in the 18-25 Juvenile medium security prison. After this the team played a game of soccer with the young men of the prison.

    Without doubt these young players have had their eyes opened on many fronts to life in other parts of the world as well as getting to represent their country. They have also contributed enormously to the game in South Africa - something they may never for ...

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  • 01/22/16--02:49: Hope Of The Irish
  • The following article from Ben Guthrie at the www.afl.com.au website looks at the hopes of another Irish talent and their quest to reach the highest levels of AFL football in Australia as the drive to find the finest women’s talent gathers speed.

     

    SINEAD O'Mahony hopes she can follow in the footsteps of fellow Irish products Tadgh Kennelly and Jim Stynes and become a trailblazer for the national women's AFL competition.

     

    The 26-year-old primary school teacher, a 2015 Gaelic Athletic Association Dublin County team member, recently moved to Australia and turned her attention to tackling a new sport.

     

     

    O'Mahony will join around 140 other players trying out in the inaugural female football national talent search at the Whitten Oval in Melbourne's west. 

     

    Those identified during the talent search will be offered places in female state academies as the AFL moves closer to establishing a national competition in 2017.

     

    "Any player who is quite serious about their sport wants to get to the highest standard they can," O'Mahony told AFL.com.au.

     

    "I can't believe there's been this push for a female competition in 2017 and if the (talent scouts) like what they see tomorrow (Saturday) I would definitely be up for it."

     

    O'Mahony's father hails from Kerry, a county she jokingly refers to as the kingdom of GAA football, so she is well aware of Kennelly's exploits.

     

    The champion Irishman played 197 games for the Sydney Swans and was a key part of the club's 2005 drought-breaking premiership.

     

    After putting his AFL career on hold, Kennelly returned home to Kerry in 2009 and helped his county win that year's All-Ireland final.

     

    Kennelly is the only player to win both an AFL premiership and an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

     

    "Tadgh came over with a similar skill set and he obviously brought something new and something different, and I hope I can do that too," O'Mahony said.

     

    "It is great to see there have been guys from Ireland who have come over and played and done so well.

     

    "If he (Kennelly) can do it, I can do it."

     

     

    To read the rest of this article, visit the AFL’s website at: http://www.afl.com.au/news/2016-01-22/irishwoman-hopes-to-emulate-stynes-kennelly ...


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    We are reproducing Matt Zurbo’s training manual for those that are challenged by small numbers out on the footy track. This series first appeared in The Footy Almanac.

    While this can happen anywhere in Australia, it is especially relevant to footy clubs around the world that may be starting up or may have small groups that train together remotely from the rest of the team in a nearby city. Sure everyone can go for a run, or knock off and head to the pub and talk about the training session that might have been. 
     
    But Matt will offer action, structure, variety and something for your small training group to achieve. As many clubs around the world are just starting their pre-season we hope this is a useful resource even if it is just for those nights when the numbers are a little low.
     
    Training for six: Introduction by Matt Zurbo
     
    I’m barely working in the bush, so need the run, but running on its own is just too boring for me. A teammate and I have been having a regular kick. With drills and stuff. Now two or three other local boys have been joining in. It feels good. Like a footy club. Even if we haven’t appointed a coach yet. It’s a brilliant mix of sun, hard work, a casualness of summer and teammates.
     
    But, as always, I’m thinking of winter. And of turning negatives into positives.
     
    The biggest hate I have in football, a game I love, is not being tested. And that comes down to coaching. It’s easy to crack the whip and strut like a peacock when you have 30-plus blokes at training each week. Big deal. I’m sick of reading coaching manuals that cater to full lists. Of AFL framework directed at strong clubs.
     
    Bush footy is struggling. A lot of suburban clubs are struggling. I played for many years for several clubs that would only get 10 or 12 to training on cold, wet, foggy Tuesdays.
     
    Us 10 or 12, the coaches would always go easy on. “I don’t want to lose ‘em, too, Old Dog.” I’d be ropable! Where was his spine? We were there, in the cold and rain, despite no success – we were the rusted on! Coaches like that taught kids to not try if others didn’t. To waste entire years if we weren’t winning. To have no pride. To not push yourself no matter what. To not care. To have lack of intensity, a lack of passion. To not test themselves.
     
    To. Not. Learn.
     
    There are always things to learn. There are always things to teach. There are always ways to train. Even if the message only gets through to one young player, that’s a life you’ve changed.
     
    Hard work is addictive. By taking the easy path, the coach was taking away from those 10 or 12 players the chance to feel like footballers. To form the backbone of a strong side one day. Each year we were not successful, the players who did show up learnt only a fraction of what they could have, and, when we got top-up players, were not as good as they should have been.
     
    Those ten or twelve, they form dynasties.
     
    You may lose one or two, but the rest will be hardened. Will be leaders, if only given the chance.
     
    So. Back to the positives. I’m going to do a series, TRAINING FOR SIX. And run through drills for as few as one player, to as many as twelve.
    If you are reading this and you are a player, or parent of a player, who has a coach who says, “There are only ………….. (fill in number of players) of us tonight, there’s nothing I can do.” Do not stand for it. Demand more of them. Or give them the flick.
     
    A career is such a short thing, yet it can add to a life, give a young player so many life lessons. Each training run is important. Even when you make it fun. There is character at stake.
     
    So, over the next however long, I am going to put down my coach’s manual for teams that are NOT a part of the AFL system. Yet that are vital to the AFL. They are it’s grassroots. That are vital to their local communities. They are often its centre, its heartbeat. That are vital to the players and helpers involved.
     
    That are a home.
     
    You would be amazed at just how many AFL players started in teams like this. I know of two running around now that I played with in teams like this. You’d be amazed at how many more there could, and should be.
     
    Tomorrow, we start at the start. Training For One. ...

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  • 01/23/16--13:52: Northern Storm Rolling In

  • Last year the AFLCNE (Central & Northern England) announced that the 2016 season would see the creation of a new representative team. The new entity would be designed as an 18 per side team, preparing the AFLCNE players for 18 a side formats, particularly at representative level.

    The new team has announced that it will be called the Northern Storm.

    According to the AFLCNE website, “the Central and Northern England League will be forming a League representative side with a view to playing 18 a-side games as opposed to the leagues 9s format. The aim behind this is to give our top British talent more experience of the 18s game and help them to prepare for national team selection and hopefully playing for the British Bulldogs.

    All clubs have been asked to put forward the names of their players who they feel would be suited to playing in this representative team. The final selections will be made by Ian Mitchell (Wolverhampton Wolverines) and Will Sykes (Merseyside Saints).

    The Northern Storm will hit the ground running and will “join a training session/friendly fixture with the English Dragonslayers in Huddersfield on April 2nd before taking part in the AFL London Pre-season tournament on April 16th.”

    The squads for the upcoming clashes against the England Dragonslayers and the AFL London pre-season tournament will be announced on the AFLCNE website on January 31st. To visit the website, go to: http://wwws.aflcne.com

    The AFLCNE 2016 season will commence with the first of three scheduled Lightning Rounds on April 23rd in Merseyside where the new Merseyside Saints will play their first official scheduled AFLCNE match, followed by the Round One fixtures on April 30th in both Birmingham and Gosforth, the new home of the Tyne Tees Tiger ...

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    The third instalment if the Fitzpatrick Cup Australian Rules football tournament was played this weekend at the University Of Birmingham fields. The tournament commenced in 2013 with the University College Cork (UCC) winning the inaugural event against Oxford University. The event was won in 2015 by University Of Birmingham and this time they had the task of defending their title.

    (Picture: 2015 Winners University Of Birmingham defend title – Courtesy AFL England)

    The teams this year consisted of University Of Birmingham, Oxford University (the oldest Australian Rules club in Europe), their arch rivals Cambridge University, two teams entered by University College Cork (UCC) and for the first time a team from the National University Of Ireland, equally known as Maynooth University.

    The tournament, named after the current AFL Commission Chairman and former Rhodes Scolarship graduate from Oxford University, Mike Fitzpatrick, is open to any European university teams. Each year the tournament has grown in numbers and stature.

    This year it was the University Of Birmingham being too good for all others and winning back to back titles. After winning their two round matches against UCC Team 1 and Cambridge University, they went on to defeat the UCC Team 2 in the semi-final before downing the UCC Team 1 team in the final.

    Scores for the tournament were:

    Game 1- University Of Birmingham 3 3 21 d UCC (Team 1) 1 4 10
    Game 2- UCC (Team 2) 6 4 28 d Maynooth University 2 2 14
    Game 3- UCC (Team 1) 5 3 33 d Cambridge University 0 1 1
    Game 4- Oxford University 5 5 35 d Maynooth University 2 1 13
    Game 5- University of Birmingham 7 5 47 d Cambridge University 4 4 28
    Game 6- Oxford University 3 4 22 drew with UCC (Team 2) 3 4 22

    Semi Final 1 – University Of Birmingham 10.10.70 d UCC (Team 2) 1 2 8
    Semi Final 2 – UCC (Team 1) 3 4 22 d Oxford University 3 2 20

    Grand Final – University of Birmingham 6 6 42 defeated UCC (Team 1) 0 7 7

    The win for the Birmingham team gives them a huge chance to chase a rare three-peat when the 2017 tournament comes along. But it also gives the other universities plenty of time to plan for a Birmingham demise in what is sure to be a fascinating fourth instalment of the Fitzpatrick Cup. ...

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    Whether or not Cairns Muslim kids ever take up Australian Rules footy is a question that can’t yet be answered one way or the other. It’s too early. But one certainty is that the chances of them giving the game a go have grown after the AFL Diversity unit, in conjunction with AFL Cairns Juniors, Footys4all, Ross Faulkner and the Pyramid Power junior club met with the Cairns Muslim community on the weekend.

    With donated giveaways for the kids and time to chat with parents and interested parties, AFL Cairns made great strides in connecting with the local Islamic community. With the tremendous support of the Mosque’s Imaam Abdul Aziz the community and the football code came together. The first seeds were planted for Muslim kids to perhaps pursue our indigenous game.


    The gulf between dream and reality is wide. Quite apart from the cultural and religious considerations that must be respected when bringing sport, community and religion together, there is the question of number. As the Imaam points out, the Cairns Muslim community is small, numbering around 200 people. The Mosque in Mareeba, to the west of Cairns has roughly the same number. The amount of children within that is small. The amount of children not already linked to sports like soccer, basketball or the rugby codes is smaller still.

    The dreams of the AFL Diversity unit, and local football, would begin with Muslim kids joining local clubs and perhaps coming together to conduct a Cairns based version of the Bachar Houli Cup. To see the next Bachar Houli or Adem Saad come from Cairns would be the zenith of the dream.

    But the reality will be much more humble. It will start with a special AFL Gala Day, planned for March, where activities will be held for kids to get a taste of the game. Handball targets, small kicking and marking drills and other fun games will be laid out to encourage a “have a go” feel to the event. With the support of parents, and AFL Cairns staff, the more immediate goal is for some of these kids to like what they see and possibly take the first plunge by joining their school footy teams. From there, who knows.

    Should enough kids consider taking the game on, there is a very real possibility to expand interest west to Mareeba and possibly explore options to link with Islamic communities in other North Queensland centres such as Townsville or Mackay. These dreams can remain in place, as long as the reality is not forgotten. The visit this weekend was simply a starting point and much work, patience, commitment and understanding needs to take place over time.

    Nevertheless, the seeds have been planted and it will be interesting to see what will grow.

    The one certainty is that the weekend’s visit stands as the first concrete step. It is the building of a foundation that now needs to be carefully and respectfully developed on the basis of community, understanding, involvement and above all – fun.

    As the Imaam said so eloquently, this is about the children and giving them every possibility to have fun and be involved in community. If this AFL enterprise can succeed in that small goal then it will already be a success. Anything beyond that will be a bonus for all concerned.
    ...

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    It had been ten years since the Darwin Buffaloes had beaten St Mary’s. In between the Buffaloes had experienced some lean times whilst the saints continued to set the bar high year in year out. To make this weekend’s round interesting, Saints sat in second place, needing to keep winning to have a chance at the minor premiership and a great position for the finals. The Buffaloes were on a horror streak of four consecutive losses. Their finals ambitions were unravelling fast.

    The four goal to one first quarter was the difference in the end as the Buffaloes jumper early to make a stand and held that advantage for most of the game, running out 16 point winners but more importantly securing third place again and playing the bottom three sides in the run to the finals. The Buffaloes now have a say in their destiny.

    Final Score: Darwin Buffaloes 14 15 99 d St Mary’s Saints 12 11 83


    The Nightcliff Tigers sat in second last place and win behind the log jam for a top five place. But their courageous win against the Tiwi Bombers has kept them in the hunt. They are still a game out of the five, but with four rounds remaining, a young, enthusiastic team and a determination to prove doubters wrong, the Tigers could still, remarkably, make it.

    Nightcliff set the game up in the first quarter with eight goals to two. From there the Tiwi Bombers kept fighting back but could never bridge the gap. The loss saw them fall a game outside the top five, equal now with Nightcliff, and will really need to fire again quickly to see finals action.

    Final Score: Nightcliff Tigers 21 6 132 d Tiwi Bombers 18 14 122

    Southern Districts Crocs secured top spot a month out from the finals with a solid win over the Palmerston Magpies. Once again it was the first quarter which set the tone for the match with the Crocs kicking five goals to two by quarter time. From there the Magpies, desperate to strengthen their finals claims, kept nagging the Crocs and clawing back. But the Crocs flexed their muscle in the final quarter to run out 30 point winners. Palmerston are now in a shaky position in the top five and will have to keep winning to keep others at bay.

    Final Score: Southern Districts Crocs 12 13 85 d Palmerston Magpies 8 7 55

    In the Australia Day match at Gardens Oval, Wanderers kept their finals assault going with a big win against Waratah. Their third win from three games since the season break sees Wanderers now in fifth place a game clear of rivals and a huge chance to repeat last year’s efforts of a fairy tale finish to defend their title. The 104 point win also helps their percentage, which will become extremely important as finals near with seven clubs still in the finals race.

    Final Score: Wanderers Eagles 18 18 126 d Waratah Warriors 3 4 22

    Next weekend’s round sees the top of the table clash as Southern Districts Crocs clash with St Mary’s. The Nightcliff Tigers take on the Darwin Buffaloes in an important match for both teams. Tiwi Bombers meet Wanderers and the Palmerston Magpies will do battle with the Waratah boys. ...

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    It had been ten years since the Darwin Buffaloes had beaten St Mary’s. In between the Buffaloes had experienced some lean times whilst the Saints continued to set the bar high year in year out. To make this weekend’s round interesting, Saints sat in second place, needing to keep winning to have a chance at the minor premiership and a great position for the finals. The Buffaloes were on a horror streak of four consecutive losses. Their finals ambitions were unravelling fast.

    The four goal to one first quarter was the difference in the end as the Buffaloes jumper early to make a stand and held that advantage for most of the game, running out 16 point winners but more importantly securing third place again and playing the bottom three sides in the run to the finals. The Buffaloes now have a say in their destiny.

    Final Score: Darwin Buffaloes 14 15 99 d St Mary’s Saints 12 11 83

    The Nightcliff Tigers sat in second last place and win behind the log jam for a top five place. But their courageous win against the Tiwi Bombers has kept them in the hunt. They are still a game out of the five, but with four rounds remaining, a young, enthusiastic team and a determination to prove doubters wrong, the Tigers could still, remarkably, make it.

    Nightcliff set the game up in the first quarter with eight goals to two. From there the Tiwi Bombers kept fighting back but could never bridge the gap. The loss saw them fall a game outside the top five, equal now with Nightcliff, and will really need to fire again quickly to see finals action.

    Final Score: Nightcliff Tigers 21 6 132 d Tiwi Bombers 18 14 122

    Southern Districts Crocs secured top spot a month out from the finals with a solid win over the Palmerston Magpies. Once again it was the first quarter which set the tone for the match with the Crocs kicking five goals to two by quarter time. From there the Magpies, desperate to strengthen their finals claims, kept nagging the Crocs and clawing back. But the Crocs flexed their muscle in the final quarter to run out 30 point winners. Palmerston are now in a shaky position in the top five and will have to keep winning to keep others at bay.

    Final Score: Southern Districts Crocs 12 13 85 d Palmerston Magpies 8 7 55

    In the Australia Day match at Gardens Oval, Wanderers kept their finals assault going with a big win against Waratah. Their third win from three games since the season break sees Wanderers now in fifth place a game clear of rivals and a huge chance to repeat last year’s efforts of a fairy tale finish to defend their title. The 104 point win also helps their percentage, which will become extremely important as finals near with seven clubs still in the finals race.

    Final Score: Wanderers Eagles 18 18 126 d Waratah Warriors 3 4 22

    Next weekend’s round sees the top of the table clash as Southern Districts Crocs clash with St Mary’s. The Nightcliff Tigers take on the Darwin Buffaloes in an important match for both teams. Tiwi Bombers meet Wanderers and the Palmerston Magpies will do battle with the Waratah boys. ...

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    By Matt Zurbo this originally appeared on The Footy Almanac website here.
     
    I love Malcolm Blight. He is an absolute hero of mine. Because he’s a corker bloke, first and foremost. Because his is smart. Because had what all good coaches need. Imagination.
     
    Imagination!
     
    It’s so up there in important coaching skills. Yet no-one pays it heed. Sometimes the people who pick or coach coaches are just as lacking in it. Malcolm once told me, “Don’t get me wrong, mostly, I’m very conventional, but you need that 5% out of the box.”
     
    So you don’t have the numbers? So bloody what? Are you that pathetic as a coach, a leader and a person you just lay down? Are you only good at what you read in an AFL manual? The beauty of our game lies in the oval ball. It is unpredictable. Players often have to invent, so should you. Invent!
    That hardest of all… Training for One.
     
    There was a bloke at one of our clubs who was borderline seniors, but had no left foot. For two months, every Tuesday night he would duct tape a tennis ball to his right boot, forcing him to use is left all night. The morons gave him s#*t. By the end of that two months he was a senior player for the rest of his career, using both feet to kick on the wing. He didn’t read that, he invented it. So many of the great players do.
     
    Bradman had his golf ball and cricket stump story. Barry Richardson would kick the ball onto the roof of wheat silos practicing marking high as it rolled off the roof. Ken Fraser used to mark over bushes, landing in them, Thorold Merritt would practice his kicking by leaving the cattle dog at home and rounding the cows by aiming at their moving arses with a footy… Malcolm told me of kids learning how to mark using balloons. Being alone is no excuse. Who cares what others think as they watch. If you are hungry, and you don’t just want to run, there are always ways. Who cares what others think.
     
    Warm Up l
     
    This is not running, this is football training. So touch the football. To warm up, take your ball and simply roll and pick up and hand-ball it along the ground and pick it up, and chip and scoop it up again as you jog up and down the middle of the ground and back a few times, rather than around it. It both warms up almost all muscles, not just the running ones, and gives you an extra 50 touches start to your night.
     
    Warm Up ll
     
    Half pace, jog for ten metres, handball back over your head, turn, gather, stride for ten metres, handball back over your head, repeat until warm. Again, will warm up almost every muscle group.
     
    Warm Up lll
     
    Now do your various stride throughs, squats, open the gates, groin lunges, sumos grapevine, hammies, etc… There is no point doing them cold. The body needs to be warm to stretch. You haven’t started yet and you have already touched the footy 60-70 times.
     
    Drill No.1 Striding It Out.
     
    Simply kick the ball 30-40 meters, giving it a bit of air, jog as it flies through the air, then, the second it hits the ground, run flat stick to gather it before it stops bouncing, gather it, taking those three hard steps, steady and kick. Jog and breath while it is in flight, and repeat. Do this for the length of an oval, each kick a bit to the left, a bit to the right, finishing with a goal. Then repeat back. Suck in air when you have gone up and back, then go again.
     
    Football is not a marathon. You run hard, you ease up, you sprint again. This drill will get you football fit, as opposed to running fit.
     
    Always imagine you are aiming for a bloke on the run. Pick a spot, hit it. See how close you get. That is all putting it out in front is doing. A straight kick to where the person is moving to.
     
    Drill No.2 The Figure Eight.
     
    Find an oval without a fence hugging it. On the run, kick from the boundary on the left, sprint, gather, turn and kick on the run from the boundary on the right, run, gather, kick from the boundary on the left… Do this for ten shots.
     
    As you get tired the quality of the kicks often drops, so be very conscious of that. See if you can work up to eight out of ten shots.
     
    If there is only an oval with close fences near you, make your own goals with clothing, on the fifty arch, using it as a boundary. Or, being summer, the cricket boundary is usually in from the fence a fair bit.
     
    Drill No.3 One, Two, Three.
     
    Kick the ball straight up in the air, leap at it, taking it at it’s highest point, take off flat stick, running hard for three steps, deviating your path as you go, give those steps absolutely everything, steady, still running, handball into the ground on an angle, read the awkward bounce, gather, go hard for three steps, steady, kick the ball up in the air, repeat without stopping for five goes. You will be knackered.
     
    Learning: acceleration while ball handling, reading the ball through the air. High gather and low gather/running onto bouncing ball.
     
    Drill No.4 The Wall.
     
    Find a wall. Kick your footy at it. If your kick is straight, the ball will bounce back towards you, gather/mark, push backwards, as if pushing back from a mark, repeat. Try to do ten in a row. If your kick is not straight, you will have to do a lot of fetching. Work and reward. Your footy will wear out a bit quicker, but omelettes and eggs. Cricket sight screens are gold for this! (on grass and far softer than brick).
     
    Drill No.5 The Wall ll.
     
    Then, get in close enough to do the same with handballs. Left hand and right. Start far out, and with each repetition of ten, move in a step.
    Once in close, it’s straight reflexes. Do not even handball. Just practice throwing it at the wall, like a volleyball throw, and catching it crisp. I’m told Dermie used to do this before a game.
     
    Drill No.6 Agility.
     
    Put a cone, or better yet, a bin, in the middle of the oval. Or have a pole in a park to aim for. Or even a shopping trolley. For thirty seconds constantly fire hard handballs into its side. As they ricochet off, you gather, spin, and fire again. Turning and aiming at speed. Constantly. If you are fit, have a spell and go again.
     
    Drill No.7 Agility ll.
     
    One of the things where imagination comes in is adding to drills. It is always good to practice kicking goals. Especially when you’re tired. It is a huge flaw in modern football – players who have great kicks yet are missing goals because they are knackered.
     
    Do the Agility drill just 30 meters out from goal. Each time you have hit the cone/bin/trolley three times without missing, gather, steady and shoot for goal. Jog to get the ball/breath back, then go again.
     
    If you want to get very fit, each time you do a handball do a roll when you pick it up, return to your feet and fire off the next handball. Never handball off the back foot. You should be charging towards where the ball is going as it is leaving your hand.
     
    Drill No.8 All Angles.
     
    Put some fake goals in the middle of the ground. Cones, jumpers, anything. No matter where the ball lands on Side B, run to get it and play on to shoot at goals from that side. It will go through or miss, but be on Side A now. Jog over, recovering, and have a set shot from wherever you pick it up. When it goes through to Side B, sprint and repeat. So, sprint for each shot onto Side B, practicing your running shots, jog and recover and have set shots from Side A. The nature of the bouncing ball is, you do this for ten minutes you will have had a shot from just about every angle and distance there is.
     
    One of the big mistakes people make when practicing their goal kicking, they only put enough pepper on their kick to get it over the line, because they do not want to fetch it. Make the effort. Practice as you play. Kick real goals. Ones that would go over the fullback’s outstretched hands.
     
    Sometimes you are stiff and sore, or your hammies are tight. Here is a good drill. Or a good warm-down drill, to do at half pace.
     
    Drill No.9 Figure Eight Point One.
     
    It’s Figure Eight goal-kicking, but with a twist. You shoot for goal from 30 out deep in the left pocket, no more. The ball will finish behind the goals on the right. You jog after it. When you gather it, you chip it back onto the field about thirty out, deep in the right forward pocket. You jog ten metres past it, turn, jog straight towards goal, gathering the ball, steady and shoot. It is all about straight lines. Again, gather ball, chip out to 30 out, deep in left pocket, run ten meters past it, turn, run straight at goals, gather ball, shoot, repeat according to fitness.
     
    Warm Down.
     
    Repeat Warm Up l.
     
    Next, the easy bit. Training for Two.
     
     

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