Croatian Josip Habljak has received a boost in his journey to play Australian Rules football at a semi-professional level with Sturt Football Club (Double Blues) in the SANFL in South Australia by being presented with Guernsey No 50.
Saturday 12th March, the SANFL 2016 Season Guide published by The Advertiser, (Adelaide and South Australia's major newspaper) has Josip listed with # 50 Guernsey for Sturt.
Possibly, unfortunately for Josip, Sturt has some more "tall timber" with AFL and SANFL experience listed. Namely Jack Osborn (205 cm 32 games) from the Crows and Kory Beard (195cm 102 games) whom Josip will have to battle against as first choice players. Josip does have one thing going for him in that there are 28 other players on the Sturt list with 0 matches 0 goals stats.
I would expect Josip to play his first games in the "seconds" at Sturt. Sturt play Woodville/West Torrens Eagles first up on Monday 28th March and then after a bye round play Central District Bulldogs on Sunday 10th April. Although I'll be "barracking" for the Bulldogs I am still looking forward to seeing Josip front up for Sturt and wish him well. ...
Canada are the reigning women's footy International Champions, and they show it proudly in this new promo video released this week as they look to take the game further in their homeland. Make sure you watch it.
While Myk Aussie's countrymen back in South Australia are sleeping, the Canadian based expat is out doing his bit to promote the Aussie football code across North America. Appearing on the Fantasy Sports cable TV Network with host Gabriel Morency this week, Myk previews the 2016 AFL season, does the best bets and picks for Round 1.
If you are in North America look out for Myk on your TV or on UStream with Gabriel on Friday nights. For now you can watch him on the clip below.
The 2nd Annual AFL Europe Champions League is taking place this Saturday in Amsterdam. Sportpark de Eendracht will be graced by 13 Men’s teams and 5 Women’s teams as they battle it out for the title of Champion of Europe.
The teams participating in this year’s tournament are:
North London Lions
South Dublin Swans
West London Wildcats
The men’s draw is made up of 4 pools, 3 with 3 teams and 1 with 4 teams, the pool stage will see everyone play the others teams in their pool once before the top of each pool moving onto finals. The remaining teams will play place matches to determine the final standing while the top four battle it out for the silverware.
The women’s draw will see all 5 teams play each other once and the top two on the ladder will go into the Grand Final to determine the Champion.
With the first matches commencing at 10am the day will run right through to the Men’s final at 5.30pm. A one hour break for lunch will also have the Men’s 13th place from the pool stage play the Wildcat’s second team and a European Crusaders team made up from the other teams.
With so many games decided by less than a goal throughout the 2015/16 NTFL season, most involving Wanderers, it was fitting that the biggest day of the season follow the same script. At TIO Stadium in Darwin last night, the St Mary’s Saints held on in a staggeringly breathless final quarter to win the premiership by two points in one of the tightest finales in recent years.
The opening quarter was a matter of which team would calm their Grand Final nerves the quickest. After a willing start by both teams, where a soccer score was threatening, Saints managed the only goal of the quarter courtesy of a free kick and 50 metre penalty and held the lead at the first break by seven points. Quarter time: St Mary’s 1 2 8 v Wanderers 0 1 1
The second quarter belonged to the Eagles, and after a tight defensive first stanza, Wanderers found some extra space to run and set up play. Their four goals for the quarter had their fans ecstatic and momentum going their way. Wanderers reversed the quarter time advantage, going in to the main break with a six point lead. Half Time: Wanderers 4 1 25 v St Mary’s 2 7 19
The game had already been tense, tight and unyielding, and the same pattern carried into the third quarter. Wanderers tried to make space and get their running game going to pull away, but St Mary’s would have none of it, playing a tight defensive game to keep the Eagles restrained. The Eagles narrowly won the quarter, but not by enough to shake off the Saints. Three-Quarter Time: Wanderers 6 4 40 v St Mary’s 4 8 32
The question was always which team would find the extra legs on a warm night under the greatest pressure a game can produce. After a whole season had been played out, which team would have the talent, energy and composure to play out the final half hour or so to hold up the premiership cup. Saints’ coach, Rick Nolan, suggested to his players at Three-Quarter Time that if they pulled off a remarkable victory coming from behind in the last quarter it would rank this win as one of the Saint’s finest premierships. As fate would have it, that’s just what occurred as Saints kicked the first three goals of the final quarter to grab a lead in the pulsating final moments.
Wanderers played out a season with more results decided by less than a goal than any other type of result. What might have been a statistic that gave them the experience to survive yet another close game also became the heartbreak that is the other side of that coin. Wanderers has their chances, but when push came to shove in the dying minutes it was St Mary’s that found enough composure to grad the lead and hold on.
Final Score: St Mary’s Saints 7 8 50 d Wanderers Eagles 7 6 48
For St Mary’s it is an incredible 31st premiership in 64 years since they joined the NTFL in 1952. They are just short of a phenomenal average of a flag every two years over well more than half a century. It is a record that deserves wider recognition for a club that sets the bar high and continues to leap over it.
Wanderers could not add to their 12 flags, but should still be applauded widely for their efforts, two years in a row, of coming from positions of possibly missing finals altogether to turning a season around and reaching the ultimate match. It doesn’t make the paid of a Grand Final loss go away, but it does acknowledge what a wonderful performance it was by the club to reach their third successive flag tilt.
But today the Saints are in heaven. They are the 2015/16 NTFL champions and deserve to revel in their celebrations as all other clubs now use their off season’s to plot their own assault on next year’s fla ...
The battle for the south of France – the Coupe Du Sud – has been won by the ever improving Perpignan Tigers this weekend in the annual tournament, this year held in Perpignan. The tournament featured teams from the Toulouse Hawks, the Bordeaux Bombers and the Spanish team the Tarragona Llops from the Catalonia region.
Since returning to the CNFA, the Tigers have continued to improve. This victory and accompanying silverware is a just reward for the determination shown by the club to not just return to battle, but strive to succeed.
The results of the round matches were:
Toulouse Hawks 94 d Tarragona Llops 1
Perpignan Tigers 43 d Bordeaux Bombers 30
Bordeaux Bombers 62 d Tarragona Llops 20
Toulouse Hawks 43 d Perpignan Tigers 23
Toulouse Hawks 38 d Bordeaux Bombers 15
Perpignan Tigers 48 d Tarragona Llops 35
3rd Place Playoff – Bordeaux Bombers 63 d Tarragona Llops 8
Grand Final – Perpignan Tigers 54 d Toulouse Hawks 33
With the Coupe Du Sud, and the participation of the Paris Cockerels at the Champions League tournament in Amsterdam, there were no CNFA matches this weekend. Round 7 kicks off on April 9th when the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes meet the Bordeaux Bombers and the ALFA Lions host the Paris Cockatoos. The rest of the round will be played the following week when the Toulouse Hawks meet the Perpignan Tigers and the Strasbourg Kangourous host the Paris Cockerel ...
"Power Invests in China" Port Adelaide Power has this week signed its first Chinese born recruit, Team China captain Chen Shaoliang, 23, on an International Scholarship for the club's academy at Alberton, South Australia.
Chen Shaoliang arrived on Tuesday 15th March, to join the Port Adelaide Magpies (Port Adelaide Powers' reserves side that plays in the SANFL) and is expected to be selected to play in the next couple of months.
He joins Croatian International, Josip Habljak (at Sturt) in attempting to break in to footy at SANFL level in season 2016. Ultimately he hopes to become an AFL listed rookie. He expects to become a trailblazer in the untapped Chinese market while playing football in the SANFL and studying English at UniSA in Adelaide.
He is quoted as saying "Now that I'm here, China's Australian Rules footballers will look out for me on TV and search on the internet." "I'm not sure what I can achieve just yet. First, I need to get stronger, work on my skills and earn the trust of my team-mates. But I am very excited that I can follow my dream here at Port Adelaide."
Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas said the club was looking beyond sponsorship deals and a long planned preseason game to more emphasis on game development and player recruitment.
"Until now, I've not seen our China strategy as a talent identification play" Thomas said, "But every time I go to China and see Chinese kids playing Australian Rules football with real enthusiasm and love of the game, I ask, 'why not'?"
From Chaozhou in South China, a forward with an impressive scoring record with Guangzhou Scorpions in the South China League (played at 12-a-side) and Guangdong AFL (played at 9-a-side), Chen Shaoliang said "From the first time I played footy I loved it .... it is more passionate, it has more team work and demands more skills than other sports." "I really do love it. And I do hope to one day play AFL. That would be unbelievable."
Just to become a regular player for the Port Magpies would be a huge boost for China's fledgling but growing Australian Rules football leagues and competitions, to make it into the AFL it would be truly unbelievable and the value to international footy, immeasurable.
"GO! YOU CHINA DRAGON!"
More of this story and images at "The Advertiser" ...
AFANA’s Rob de Santos gives his US Footy viewing “State of the nation” address in the following article. A great read on how the US telecast situation has evolved and an evaluation of the options going forward. As always for any up to date information relating to the North American TV coverage of AFL footy you should visit the AFANA website.
(This is the first in a series of long form editorials on the state of footy on TV in 2016 and the future outlook.) A long time ago in TV world far, far away, a small group of passionate AFL fans managed to get the AFL and ESPN together and save the weekly highlights coverage on US and Canadian television. It was an early and largely unnoticed accomplishment of the internet age as e-mail and newsgroups were the media used to launch coordinated action. Looking back, it was an amazing achievement in 1995-1996. It also was the catalyst for the formation of AFANA.
Over the past 20 years we’ve evolved from lobbying by fans to more sophisticated ways of attempting to drive the AFL’s TV strategy (with varying degrees of success). We’ve successfully helped steer them to new TV homes for the sport when old ones blew up on us. We’ve succeeded in keeping it on the air for 21 seasons without fail. Now, we have to decide what we do in 2016 and beyond. The answers for 1996 and 2006 no longer are the right ones. The TV market has changed. The fan base has changed.
The AFL is far more media savvy than before and nominally, has an “international” strategy (although fans and marketing seem not to be a big part of that). We must change our tactics and strategy to deal with the AFL, TV networks, and fan development to match the world as it is in 2016.
Let’s take a look at the US landscape today (we’ll deal with Canada and Mexico in a future article):
Fox is in the last year of the AFL contract in the US. Fox has been tight-lipped about whether they will continue in 2017 but history tells us that we shouldn’t be surprised either way. We believe the AFL and Fox are in communication but we can’t say more than that at present. Last year the two Fox networks provided more than 430 separate telecasts of footy including over 135 live matches (preseason, in-season and post-season). Coverage reached the astonishing level of just under 1,200 hours! (Back in 1996, we were thrilled to get less than 24 hours and just 3 hours live.) By the way this exceeds the number of hours of coverage of many better known sports and is on a par with UFC.
Awesome news from Australia and the South China AFL. Chen Shao Ling the Captain of TEAM CHINA and Best & Fairest for SCAFL’s Guangzhou Scorpions and has been snapped up by Port Adelaide FC to play in Australia.
At 183cms/6ft tall and 23 years of age Chen has a real chance of playing at the sports highest level the AFL. The star forward will start playing with Port Adelaide in their Academy squad to quickly move to the SANFL’s Magpies (in the State league) then hopefully the AFL National league! Chen will have access to PAFC’s amazing coaching and fitness teams and is expected to thrive being immersed in the Footy environment.
Chen has played in the International Cup representing and Captaining TEAM CHINA at IC14, and represented China Reds in the AFL Asian Championships in the past 3 years. Previously a basketball player Chen has played Footy for 4 years, in the local Guangdong AFL and South China AFL and has also achieved top goal scorer for the South China AFL and Best Player of the league which also includes many of Hong Kong’s Aussie expat players.
Back in China he has recently graduated form the Guangzhou Sports University where he has studied Physical Education, and was until last week coaching Junior players the new Auskick Centres in Guangzhou that he helped set up.
Please see the stories from the Adelaide Advertiser and Today tonight video below:
Massive thanks got to everyone in his home team the Guangzhou Scorpions, South China AFL, Port Adelaide Football Club, The AFL, The China Reds, ZhangHao, Bill and all of his coaches and fellow teammates and Darren Flannigan who first set up the schools AFL Academy in 2012.
Story and Photos: Darren Whitfield and AFL Asia. ...
After winning the inaugural AFL Europe Champions League title in Amsterdam in 2015, the West London Wildcats have returned to the city of that success to successfully defend their title and remain the only winners of the Champions League. The AFL London powerhouse showed again why they have been revered for many years as arguably the best Australian Rules football club in Europe.
Whilst one event is hardly conclusive proof, their record of success in winning eight flags back home in London since 2000, eight Brit Cups between 2002 and 2010 and now consecutive AFL Europe Champions League trophies makes it difficult to argue their place at the top of European clubs.
The Wildcats downed a brave Manchester Mozzies outfit from the AFLCNE in the final by thirty points. In the battle for third place, the Hamburg Dockers from the AFLG defeated the South Dublin Swans by 15 points.
In the women’s final, the GB Swans held on to defeat a valiant Swedish Ravens team by 13 points
Results (in game order) are below. Women’s matches are shown in italics.
Game 1 – South Dublin Swans 67 d Lazy Koalas (AFL Russia) 7
Game 2 – Sodermalm Blues (Sweden) 44 d Zagreb Dockers (Croatia) 24
Game 3 – GB Swans 26 d Swedish Ravens 21
Game 4 – GB Swans 23 d Wandsworth Demons 13
Game 5 – Sodermalm Blues 72 d Lazy Koalas 15
Game 6 – Odense Lionesses (Denmark) 27 d France 7
Game 7 – South Dublin Swans 29 d Zagreb 14
Game 8 – Zagreb Dockers 58 d Lazy Koalas 10
Game 9 – Zagreb Hawks 36 d Edinburgh Bloods 28
Game 10 – Manchester Mozzies 30 d Amsterdam Devils 26
Game 11 – West London Wildcats 63 d Odense Lions (Denmark) 28
Game 12 – Hamburg Dockers 41 d Zagreb Hawks 7
Game 13 – Manchester Mozzies 28 d North London Lions 19
Game 14 – South Dublin Swans 28 d Sodermalm Blues 26
Game 15 – Swedish Ravens 13 d Wandsworth Demons 6
Game 16 – West London Wildcats 39 d Paris Cockerels 22
Game 17 – France 10 d GB Swans 3
Game 18 – Amsterdam Devils 82 d North London Lions 7
Game 19 – Hamburg Dockers 47 d Edinburgh Bloods 12
Game 20 – Paris Cockerels 34 d Odense Lions 27
Game 21 – GB Swans 40 d Odense Lionesses 10
Game 22 – Wandsworth Demons 13 Drew France 13
Game 23 – Odense Lionesses 31 d Wandsworth Demons 0
Game 24 – Swedish Ravens 39 d France 13
Game 25 – Swedish Ravens 19 d Wandsworth Demons 2
Bottom 4 Playoffs (Men’s)
North London Lions 39 d Edinburgh Bloods 28
Zagreb Dockers 40 d Odense Lions 22
Middle 4 Playoffs (Men’s)
Amsterdam Devils 58 d Zagreb Hawks 13
Paris Cockerels 56 d Sodermalm Blues 33
Semi Finals (Men’s)
West London Wildcats 76 d South Dublin Swans 6
Manchster Mozzies 24 d Hamburg Dockers 20
3rd Place Playoff (Men’s)
Hamburg Dockers 38 d South Dublin Swans 23
GB Swans 26 d Swedish Ravens 13
West London Wildcats 43 d Manchester Mozzies 13
West London Wildcats
South Dublin Swans
North London Lions
France (Les Gauloises)
Results and standings believed correct at time of publication, but corrections welcomed. ...
South Dublin Swans were the Irish representatives in the second running of the AFL Europe European Champions League held last Saturday March 19th. This very efficiently run tournament organised by AFL Europe and the Amsterdam Devils was held at the impressive Dutch national rugby centre in suburban Amsterdam. The tournament has grown since last year with 13 men’s teams and 5 women’s teams participating. The calibre of the competition was high with teams being their league’s champions and each team also allowed four Australians on the pitch at any one time in this 9-a-side format.
The Swans had the earliest start of the day at 10am in their four team group. First up was the Russian representatives, the Lazy Koalas on the show pitch in the facility. This was a good opener for the Swans to find their rhythm and they won comfortably by a margin of 62 to 7 in the 24 minute game. The next game was more difficult against the Zagreb Dockers who featured one of the strongest players playing in Europe, Tomislav Cvetko. Although Cvertko did some damage the Swans won again 24 to 14. The final group game turned into the pool decider for a place in the competition semi-finals. This was against the dominant team in Sweden, Sodermalm. This was a very close encounter with nothing between the teams and goals being traded back and forward. The Swans showed great determination to win this one by the slim margin of 28 to 26.
Having topped the group the Swans had the difficult task to playing reigning Champions League holders, the West London Wildcats in the semi-final. At this stage they had lost full back Peter Ross to injury and others were licking their wounds. Although the Swans opened well, scoring the first goal they could not match the impressive Wildcats who soon took control on the scoreboard and ran out comfortable winners 76 to 6. The Swans didn’t have long to think about that disappointing result as they then played the other beaten semi-finalists, the Hamburg Dockers in the third place playoff. This was a better performance from a tiring Swans team, but they just feel short of another win going down 38 to 23.
The West London Wildcats won the tournament for the second year in a row beating the Manchester Mosquitoes in the Grand Final 43 to 13. In the women’s tournament the GB Swans won the Grand Final beating the Swedish Ravens. Overall it was a great experience for the Swans and it was impressive to see the calibre of club teams from all over Europe. Swans small forward Kevin Brennan was the Swans best and fairest over the competition and got onto the team of the tournament.
Kevin Brennan with his Team of the Tournament jumper
The 2016 AFL season kicks off tonight in Melbourne with Carlton and Richmond doing battle at the MCG. If you want to know when you can see the footy on TV in your part of the world, check out the schedule below.
As always schedules are subject to change at the discretion of the local broadcaster so please check local guides for updates.
Port Adelaide's Chinese International recruit, Chen Shaoliang has suffered a serious injury during training with the Port Adelaide Magpies this week.
The 23-year old Team China captain, damaged the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while being tackled at his second only training session with the Magpies. "While the injury will sideline Chen for 12 months," said Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas, "Chen will remain in Adelaide and he will be immersed in our club for the next two years."
"He will be living with a host family, rehabilitating and training with the Magpies academy squad, studying at UniSA and helping us to promote our game to the large Chinese community here in Adelaide and around Australia."
Chen Shaoliang is expected to under-go traditional reconstructive surgery rather than the quick-fix Lars surgery, but the Power is ruling out finding a replacement Chinese player so Chen will complete the other off-field objectives planned with his two year stay at Alberton. The Advertiser (Adelaide and South Australia's major newspaper) reports that those duties included having a role in the Magpie's SANFL season-opener against Norwood at The Parade last night.(Thursday 24th March)
Meanwhile Josip Habljak, the Croatian International training at Sturt SANFL club has been named in the "seconds" (reserves team) for the clash against West Torrens-Woodville Eagles on Monday at Peter Motley Oval. (on Sturt FC website.) I will try to keep everybody posted on his pending debut, but information can be very short-coming at reserves level for me.
Sadly, Chen Shaoliang's injury news could be described as a 'World Footy News lament' in that 'international' player representation in the SANFL is back to just one before the season even starts.
Main story courtesy 'The Advertiser' Friday 25th Ma ...
In this terrific story from The Guardian, written by Jonathan Drennan in Behind The Lines, the remarkable journey of Englishman Sam Willatt from experimenting with Australian Rules football in England to lining up in a VFL team in Australia is chronicled. Sam’s journey hasn’t has the fanfare of many AFL Irish, Sudanese or American recruits, yet is no less remarkable.
The Brit Who Went From Aussie Rules Novice To The Verge Of An AFL Career
Sam Willatt arrived in Melbourne in November after graduating from university. The 21-year-old from Peterborough slept on a friend’s sofa, managed to find part-time work as a lifeguard and also started training with an Australian Rules team after playing in England. That fairly well trodden path deviated radically after he was recruited into the Footscray Bulldogs VFL side, partnered to the AFL’s top flight Western Bulldogs side. In layman’s terms, this is the equivalent of an Australian playing Sunday League football in Melbourne, flying to London and getting picked up by West Ham’s reserves.
Four years ago Willatt arrived at Birmingham University in search of a new sport at freshers week. He had played football and rugby at school without distinguishing himself in either and wanted a change. A poster for the Australian Rules team caught his eye and he found himself on a rutted rugby field trying to get to grips with the game. “I fell in love with the sport instantly. It was this amazing range of so many things, a different range of skills and speed, but I really was terrible initially. I was just trying to survive in all honesty.”
The sport held his attention completely between lectures. He spoke to his friends about AFL being played half the world away and watched recorded games to build his knowledge. Willatt was captivated by the game and studied its intricacies in his university bedroom. He trained alone to build muscle and fitness, and progressed to the Great Britain squad that played an international competition in Melbourne in 2014. After a run of games against a variety of countries, he was noticed as one of the top amateur players outside Australia and realised that he could take the sport further.
An invite to a select European team to play the Australian Institute of Sport gave him a further indication of his progress. “You are playing these guys who have been kicking an Australian football since very early childhood and sometimes you are just marvelling at their skills, but equally, at times in the game, I realised that I could absolutely hold my own, and it gave me confidence that I could do well in this game if I really pushed myself.”
After achieving everything he could playing for Birmingham University, Willatt went in search of the best level of Australian Football within England and found it at Regent’s Park in London, where there has been a longstanding Aussie Rules league filled with skilled Australian expats and British enthusiasts. “I wanted to play the best Aussie Rules I could, so I went to the North London Lions, and commuted from my home in Peterborough. I worked as a lifeguard during the week and travelled to London for games. They gave me extra coaching and really looked after me. The standard was so much higher than what I was used to. You’re playing with some Australians who are exceptional and I was on a constant learning curve.”
After winning the AFL London Premiership with the North London Lions, Willatt boarded a plane to Melbourne. He had no team interested, simply a vague dream to play at the highest possible level and the promise of a friend’s sofa for as long as he needed it. Jet lagged and tired, Willatt opened his laptop in Melbourne and emailed every coach in the Victoria Football League. He told his story, writing about his insatiable desire to play in the AFL, and hoped that someone would reply. His email inbox stayed empty for days until he received a reply from Footscray Bulldogs coach Ashley Hansen.
The following article by Ben Lisson at the ABC News website explores the TAC Cup team the Western Jets and their desire to recognise the cultural diversity of the players coming through their ranks. The role of the AFL Multicultural Program is to promote the game of Australian Rules football within diverse communities across the nation, and to promote the opportunities for diverse cultural and ethnic groups to embrace the game. This story clearly shows one of the success stories, of many.
The cultural make-up of Australia's youth is changing, and the AFL wants to make the most of it.
Weeks out from the start of the AFL season, the league carved up the country for an academy zone system.
Its aim was simple: to provide an elite pathway for the best Indigenous and multi-cultural talent.
The Western Jets, in Altona North in Melbourne's west, already boasts a multi-cultural squad and are not surprised the AFL is zeroing in on the growing talent pool.
"We've been running a multicultural program now for probably the last eight years," Jets talent manager Shane Sexton said.
"We had Majak Daw, he was the first person to come through that program.
"I think everybody is going to get a surprise and I'm surprised how rapidly it's moving at the moment."
North Melbourne's Daw was the pioneer for the Sudanese community in the sport, but he has since been joined at the elite level by others from the African region.
"The ability that they've got, the athleticism that they have, they sort of take to our game really well, even though it's not a round ball," Sexton said.
Known as a distinctly Australian game, the growing participation rates among African and Asian youngsters has given clubs cause for optimism
"We're just touching the tip of the iceberg really with the diversity program, and with multicultural kids," Sexton said.
"What these academies mean ... is that we've got the AFL brand over this."
Young player credits football for change in attitude
Buku Khamis, 15, moved to Australia 10 years ago with his family from South Sudan.
He believes AFL paved the way for his successful integration into Australian society.
"Ever since [I started playing] I've enjoyed footy, making new friends and getting different experiences," he said.
"I was a bit of a smart kid and was causing trouble. But ever since I found football I stopped doing that and just became a better kid, a better person."
While the AFL's academy program is in its infancy, the Kangaroos will have some access to the Western Jets region in the years to come.
Stories like that of Khamis have been encouraging for North Melbourne chief executive, Carl Dilena.
"I think if we can harness some of that with football talent programs, it's a great opportunity for these young kids to get engaged in Australian society," Dilena said.
"Beyond pure football, just the social inclusion element is really important for these young men that come into Australian society to be able to blend in and to feel a part of society. Football is a perfect platform for that."
The code looks set for a distinctly different cultural make-up in years to come.
It has been two weeks since the Dubai Dragons completed their fourth premiership win in five years. Most of the time has been spent either celebrating, recovering or returning to a balance of home and work life minus the demands of footy.
The Dragons won the grand final against the BM Bulls in comprehensive fashion despite the Bulls being first out of the blocks within seconds of the first bounce. The final scores saw a 72 point victory:
But the Dragons kindly provided the finer points that were left out of that report.
“Nathan Seal (Ex-Port Magpies SANFL) opened the game with a fierce (but fair) tackle that forced the umpire to ball up again. But such was his aggression that three Bulls players jumped on him and tried to rip his head off! That set the tone for the day. Lachie De Morton played a fantastic game for the Dragons in attack and then in the ruck, replacing Coby Reynolds who suffered a large gash above his eye.
Ryan Perkins kicked six goals for the winners, including four in the 3rd quarter where the game was broken open. He was awarded man of the match. Will Cox (carrying a groin injury) and Matt Burn dominated in the backline for us, not letting much past.
The Dragons squad depth was a key part of their win, with their forward subs Hugh Ragg, Byron Lewis and Jake Jackson all contributing when they came on with some important marks and goals. Brian Harrington and Bindy Campbell – the duo from Perth - were excellent at getting the ball out of the centre for the Dragons.
Dalton Tucker won both the Umpires and the Players MVP Awards for the season – presented after the match. He joined us from South Adelaide SANFL this year.
And finally, retiring veteran and outgoing President…HUWY JONES signed off with a 3rd quarter goal. He ran 70 metres from the back pocket to find space, marking the ball 10 metres out from goal.”
If the Dragons had not already created their dynasty after three flags, then this latest effort to win the 2015/16 flag places them well and truly at the forefront of Middle East football both in practical and historical terms. They are now the stuff of legends and deservedly so.
For now, footy will take a back seat as the Dragons rest and consider how to chase a three peat, and all other clubs consider how to bring down this AFL Middle East powerhouse.
Picture: The 2015/16 Premiers, Dubai Dragons (Credit: Sport 36 ...
Just a week after the Perpignan Tigers took out the Coupe Du Sud for the best team in southern France, the Paris Cockerels have won the inaugural Coupe Du Nord to be crowned the best team in northern France.
The southern tournament has been a part of the CNFA landscape since first held in Perpignan in 2009. But in a bold move to create even more competitive opportunities for clubs, players and supporters, the Coupe Du Nord was started this year to be a co-tournament with the Coupe Du Sud, allowing a healthy north/south rivalry to be developed further with bragging rights for the best teams in both the north and south of France.
In a tournament which had a number of positives for all teams, the contesting teams were the Paris Cockerels, hosts the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes, the ALFA Lions from Lyon and new team the Brittany Griffins featuring as part of the “All Stars” team which also included some Cockerels and Coyotes players.
Brittany’s appearance in any capacity is another boost for the CNFA as the tentacles of Australian Rules football spread further across the nation. The ALFA Lions would also be well pleased with their efforts, coming away with one win, one loss and a draw against the Cockerels.
The Grand Final of the event was played between the Paris Cockerels and the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes with the Cockerels marching to a 25 point win.
Final Score: Paris Cockerels 46 d Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes 21
Time will tell, but this new competition might yet be a means for other newer developing clubs, such as the Brittany Griffins, to compete initially in a smaller capacity as a pathway to becoming fully fledged clubs in the national competition in the future. The success of the southern competition this year saw the Perpignan Tigers grab their first silverware and the Tarragona Llops team from the Catalonia region of Spain compete, further developing the game.
But for now, the Paris Cockerels have another piece of silverware to place in their ever-filling trophy cabine ...
Croatian international Josip Habljak played his first game for Sturt in the SANFL on Easter Monday and following are his raw stats from that game. He played in the reserves team which lost to the West Torrens-Woodville Eagles 16-11 (107) to 7-7 (49).
Champion Data records he had 3 kicks, 5 effective handballs, for a total of 8 disposals and 1 contested mark. 3 contested possessions and 6 uncontested possessions, and he also had a hand in the ruck duties for his team with 7 hit-outs. Josip had only one free kick paid against him (one Sturt player had 6 frees against), but more importantly for Josip he also scored one goal and recorded one score assist.
In a losing side a player's raw stats can only tell us a very little about the player's contribution to the team. Comparing a player's stats with the team mates can tell us a little more. Josip's stats do not figure amongst what could be considered the best players but alternatively there were players in his side with less disposals and less possessions.
As the reserves games are not broadcast on TV or radio it is not possible for me (over 300kms from the game) to make any judgement on how he really went in the game, but to say looking at the stats he certainly has not anything to be "ashamed" of, and should be pretty satisfied with his first game at this level of footy when considering where he has come from. (all the other players have been playing footy since knee high to a grasshopper)
I think he has probably kept his place in the side for next match on Sunday 10th April against Central District Bulldogs, again at home (Peter Motley Oval). Sturt reserves have bye next weekend.
The 2016 National Diversity Championships get under way at Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville next Sunday 3rd April. The tournament will again feature both the U15 Kickstart and the U15 All Nations Cup. Each year the event attracts the best indigenous and multicultural talent from across Australia, with all players vying to impress on their journey towards AFL stardom.
Past players that have come through this important component of the AFL talent pathway over the years include current players Steve May (Gold Coast Suns), Curtly Hampton (Adelaide), Callum Ah Chee (Gold Coast), Jade Gresham (St Kilda), Jay Kennedy-Harris (Melbourne), Karl Amon (Port Adelaide), Jarman Impey (Port Adelaide), Jake Long (Essendon) and a host of others across the AFL.
AFL Queensland Regional Manager, Kathleen Newman, stated in 2013 when Townsville last hosted the event that “there is every chance spectators will see the next Cyril Rioli, Lewis Jetta, or Chris Yarran, running around.”
The All Nations Cup has also increased in importance in recent years with the calibre of players from multicultural backgrounds reaching greater heights. Mabior Chol (Richmond), Reuben William (Brisbane Lions) and Gach Nyuon (Essendon) are all from Sudan and have reached AFL lists via the All Nations Cup.
The event gets under way on Sunday 3rd April with the opening ceremony at Tony Ireland Stadium. Then the battles commence with matches played from Monday 4th to Friday 8th April, culminating with the finals on Friday morning. The Kickstart and All Nations matches will be played on the main Tony Ireland Stadium and adjacent Riverway Oval.
Western Australia won the Kickstart title in 2015 in Cairns. Queensland took out the All Nations Cup for their inaugural title. The Victoria/Tasmania team was runner up in both and will be itching for a chance to reverse those results in 2016 adding spice to the tournament.
With 300 players arriving in the northern city for the event, Townsville will again be the focus of youth footy for the week. The best players in the Kickstart tournament will be selected in the Flying Boomerangs national indigenous team, whilst the best All Nations players will be selected for the World Team…great honours to achieve on the road to the highest levels of the game.
If you are travelling to Townsville next week it might be worth a drive out to Tony Ireland Stadium to catch some of the action. For more information, follow the contacts on the poster below.
The AFL’s US Combine is back in 2016 and back in LA. After the 2015 Combine was held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida, the venue for previous Combines in Los Angeles will again host athletes from around the US. The Combine will be held in just under a month from April 24-27.
This year's video promoting the Combine to US athletes can be seen below and has been updated with clips of Combine graduates Jason Holmes (2015 AFL debut) at St Kilda and Mason Cox (2016 NAB Cup footage) at Collingwood.
The AFL will be hoping to unearth some more crossover talent and a number of clubs will be present to identify suitable recruits. We know the Gold Coast Suns are on the lookout for a big American so would expect them to be keen participants.