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Independent News and Views from the International Aussie Rules Community
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    The AFL's All Australian team was announced back in September this year.  State of Origin football is in a long hiatus - but theoretical State teams are announced each year - a number of media outlets still name theoretical state teams.  They generally take in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia as well as an Allies team (NT, Tasmania, ACT, Queensland and NSW). 

    But what about the rest of the worldω If the Rest of the World were to play against any of the teams above, what is the best team they could musterω  We have determined eligibility for our theoretical world selection along the line of the International Cup eligibility rules and we have named the 2018 World Team (so this does not include foreign born but Australian raised players).

    This year we have again named Irishman Zach Tuohy as captain of the team after another sucessful year at Geelong where he was a key part of the Cat's defence and featuring in finals footy.

    As with the International Cup the coach can be Australian but should have a strong link with international football. This year we have again selected David Lake the coach of the PNG Mosquitoes and assistant coach of the Brisbane Lions AFLW team.  Lake led the Mozzies to their second consecutive International Cup title in 2017.  

     As well as players now on full AFL lists, International Rookies (Cat B) and International Scholarship players this team includes;

    • Mykelti Lefau who is selected in the AFLNZ wider squad ahead of IC20 and played at Casey in the VFL this year including the Grand Final.
    • Alex Aurrichio who departed Carlton and chased further chances in the SANFL and the NTFL.
    • Chen Shaoliang who continues to be the face of Australian football in China, based at the Port Adelaide Football Club.
    • Paul "Ace" Hewago Oea the PNG young gun awarded best on ground in the IC17 Grand Final and following his Under 16 Championships performances for Queensland is now part of the AFL Academy Squad and has been listed as scholarship player with the Gold Coast Suns 
    • Kiwis Joe Baker-Thomas and Barclay Miller who have spent time with the Sandringham/St Kilda.
    • Former Box Hill and Hawthorn listed Shem Tatupu returned to Australian football after a stint with the Melbourne Storm to play for St Kilda City and has been announced as part of the 2019 Frankson Dolphins VFL list.
    • American Jason Holmes played in the ruck for Premier A VAFA team Old Xaverians in the 2018 season.
    • Sam Willatt  who was on the list at Sandringham at the start of this year but did not play a senior game at Sandringham.

    This team is intended to be an annual announcement, you can see last year's team here

      ...


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    Round 12 was played in the NTFL last weekend, the first round back after the Christmas/New Year break. Whilst fans were delighted to see the footy back again, the round has seen a tightening of ladder positions with top spot, top five and wooden spoon well and truly undecided and set for big finishes from all clubs over the remaining six rounds.

    The Southern Districts Crocs are locked in a battle with the Nightcliff Tigers for top spot, both teams on ten wins. In third place, four games behind the leaders, the Darwin Buffaloes sit level with Waratah. Just outside the five on five wins are Palmerston, followed by the Tiwi Bombers on four wins and Wanderers on three.

    On Saturday, the Tigers downed the Buffaloes by 14 points. The teams kept up a tight match to three-quarter time, with the final quarter set for one of the other side to break the game open. However, neither team goaled in the last quarter leaving the Tigers victors.


    Again, Wanderers remained competitive for the first half against Crocs, both teams with three goals at the main break. But an eleven goal to three second half – including a seven goal final quarter – saw the Crocs storm away to a big 56-point win.

    St Mary’s led waratah at every change in terms of scoring shots, but woeful kicking saw them well behind by the final break. Saints trailed by two goals at the final break, but can only blame themselves having kicked three goals and thirteen behinds. In the final term, Waratah took advantage of the situation with a strong five goal term to win by 30 points.

    Sunday’s match saw the Tiwi Bombers back on the winner’s list at the expense of the Palmerston Magpies. The Bombers led all day, though they had to withstand a Palmerston revival late in the game. However, the Bombers were too good in the end, winning the match by 32 points and keeping their slim finals hopes alive.

    Next round will see Wanderers take on the Tiwi Bombers. The winner will improve their finals dreams, whilst a loss will be almost a fatal blow. St Mary’s will take on the in-form Tigers whilst first plays third when the Crocs meet the Buffaloes. Sunday will see the Palmerston Magpies hosting Waratah in a vital match for both teams.

    Final Scores:
    Nightcliff Tigers 9 12 66 d Darwin Buffaloes 7 10 52
    Waratah 11 9 75 d St Mary’s 5 15 45
    Southern Districts Crocs 14 16 100 d Wanderers 6 8 44
    Tiwi Bombers 19 14 128 d Palmerston Magpies 14 12 ...

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     Half way through the AFL off-season and fans are now counting down to the 2019 season. Media is reporting on how teams have recovered from their breaks. Injury lists are being finalised to get players back for Round One. New recruits are being paraded on the training tracks in their new colours and teams are bringing them into their revised game plans – or building game plans around them.

    It is an exciting time, but the best part is that supporters of 18 teams know that there is a new dawn arriving with – potentially – greatness around the corner. A premiership this year might be the start of something greater – a dynasty, perhaps.  

    The following is a purely personal point of view about which clubs might be on the cusp of something great. By great I am referring to sustained success. Hawthorn claimed three flags from four grand finals between 2012 and 2015. Before that, Geelong took three flags from 2007 to 2011 from four grand finals. Sydney and West Coast dominated 2005/6 and the Brisbane Lions also had four grand finals for three flags between 2001 and 2004.

     You can then go back to other era…North Melbourne 96 to 99. Hawthorn across the 1980’s. Essendon 83-85. The list goes on. But we have now had three flags in three years since the last Hawk dynasty. Maybe it is time for the next. 

    So, in order of their most recent flags, here are my predictions. 

    West Coast– Premiers in 2018 and the logical starting point for this argument. They have one flag in the bank and would be drooling for more. If 2018 taught us anything it was that the Eagles now have the best line-up from the west since the days of Judd, Cousins, Kerr and company. With a smart coach (Simpson), a powerhouse forward line (Kennedy, Darling), arguably the best athletic ruckman in the league (when fit) in Naitanui and excellent midfielders in Yeo, Shuey, Gaff, the Eagles are capable of challenging again this year. Another flag and we have a dynasty happening. 

    Richmond– Blew a chance at greatness when falling to Collingwood in last year’s preliminary final. They will be furious and want another chance this year. They have not really lost any best 22 players. They have, however, added Tom Lynch who could revolutionise their forward structure and give greater flexibility. Another flag in 2019 gives them a true dynastical opportunity. However, another miss and some will wonder if they missed their window of greatness. 

    Western Bulldogs– Their flag broke a drought that had lasted 62 years, but it could be argued that it cost them a backbone of a team. They got there, but the Dogs of 2018 are a far cry from the 2016 Dogs. Names like Hamling, Boyd, Stringer, Dalhaus, Smith, Biggs and Roughead are no longer there and Liam Picken’s future after concussion issues is a grey area. An aging list that saw glory has been rebuilt with youth and it may be a while before they can challenge again for a flag – though finals are on the cards sooner rather than later. 

    Hawthorn– It is unwise to ever suggest the Hawks are done, though stats are not on their side. Having the oldest list links to being the most experienced team. However, the additions of Tom Mitchell, O’Meara, Wingard, Impey and Scully just isn’t the same as Hodge, Mitchell, Rioli, Lewis, Gibson and Lake. Additionally, Roughead, Burgoyne, Stratton, Smith, Puopolo, Frawley and Birchall start the year well into their 30’s. That isn’t the stuff of a new dynasty, though Hawthorn being Hawthorn, they will still be a nuisance to all teams. 

    Sydney Swans– Like Hawthorn, the Swans never seem dead and buried. But last season saw a team that had Franklin and didn’t quite know how to use him. Age is catching up with Kennedy, Franklin, McVeigh, Jack, Grundy and Smith. They have talented youth coming through, but like the Hawks they seem a few years away from their next big challenge. 

    Geelong– The three flags in 2007, 2009 and 2011 were built on some of the best drafting seen by an AFL team. The era of Ablett, Bartel, Chapman, Enright, Corey, Rooke, Scarlett came from some smart youth development. However, the 2019 cats are built on the recruiting of bona fide stars in Dangerfield, Ablett, Tuohy, Dalhaus as well as Menegola, Selwood (Scott), Henderson and Rohan. I do believe the next big Cat era relies on the next venture into youth and they will tread water for a few years yet.

    Collingwood– Watch this space. Collingwood were unlucky to lose the flag last year. A great development year for a club with the second oldest (and second most experienced) list. But their young players are the key – De Goey, Stephenson, Langdon, Moore, Phillips – combined with an impressive mid-twenties list that includes Grundy, Treloar, Elliott (when fit), Adams, Hoskin-Elliott, Mihocek and more. The Magpie premiership window is wide open with the ability to last a couple of years given that Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Howe, Cox and Beams have more years in them. Big dynasty potential.

    Port Adelaide– The past couple of years have seen a changing of the guard in terms of list management at Alberton. The result is a competitive team that isn’t quite ready for a flag yet. Losing Wingard will hurt further along with Polec, but Mayes, Lycett and even draftee Rozee will keep them on an even keel. A little while to go for another flag yet, but once on a roll the Power have a massive history and supporter base that will demand sustained success. 

    Brisbane Lions– The rebuild under Chris Fagan is impressive and the club is attracting the kind of player list that will become the envy of others in time. But a new dynasty is a long way off – they have to win another flag first and despite positive signs it won’t be while Luke Hodge is playing, nor Zorko, Martin or Robinson. But a list that will one day boast McLuggage, Berry, Rayner, Neale, Witherdon, Andrews, Cameron, Hipwood and now Ely Smith (watch this space also) could form a dynasty somewhere over the next decade. 

    Essendon– The unknown. The recent off-field issues at the club placed them in completely unchartered waters in terms of rebuilding. Yet, whilst their list demographic shows a higher average age with a very low experience level (the result of remedial work over the past few years), beneath that is a treasure trove of talent which is definitely capable is a flag and sustained success. Led by Heppell, Hurley, Daniher (when fit), Stringer, Shiel, Smith, Saad and supported by young stars like McGrath, Merrett, Langford, Parish, Francis, McKenna, Fantasia and McDonald-Tipungwuti, a flag soon is a definite possibility and with that list they won’t want to stop at one like their 2000 season aftermath. A big chance at a dynasty. 

    North Melbourne– One of the hardest clubs to track. They are revamping their list, through youth and experience in equal measure. They boast some serios “A” list talent in Brown, Cunnington, Higgins, Ziebell and Thompson as well as reliable troops in Goldstein, Tarrant, Polec and Jacobs. But the question is with their depth beneath that top dozen or so. They need a flag before a dynasty can happen and that appears to be a couple more list purges away. 

    Adelaide – Their defeat at the hands of Richmond in 2017 grand final was, in retrospect a warning. NOT READY YET. They have been a strong, competitive team since their inception, but this list isn’t yet in the class of 97/98. There is great talent in Sloane, Laird, Crouch, Walker, Betts and Gibbs. But this isn’t a list that boasts McLeod, Riccuito, Bickley, Goodwin, Rehn, Smart, Hart or Jarman. They will build still, but cannot see a dynasty yet.

    Carlton – Not yet. They have taken a “Ground Zero” approach to a rebuild under Bolton and will be some way away from challenging for flags. With a list that is gradually gathering class in Cripps, Curnow, Docherty (when fit), Dow, McGovern, Setterfield, Weitering, the Blues are heading in the right direction. However, Murphy, Simpson, Kreuzer, Thomas and Casboult will all be long gone and the new breed of Sam Walsh, Petrevski-Seton, McKay and Silvagni will have had to step up. 

    St Kilda– In the post-Reiwoldt era, the Saints are undergoing a massive rebuild whether they like to admit is of not. Gone are their inspirational skipper, along with Hayes, Goddard, Dal Santo, Montagna, Milne, Baker and Jones. In their place, Gresham, Ross, Steven, Armitage, Geary and now Hanneberry lead an honest list of hard workers, but they are a long way from a flag, much less a dynasty. 

    Melbourne– Way back in 1964, Melbourne won flag number twelve and were boating a dynasty that view with Collingwood as the greatest ever – and still does. But then Norm Smith left and the glory years stopped. In 1988 and 2000 they reached grand finals only to be defeated heavily in each. But, last year’s Demons were good. Ask the teams they defeated. Melbourne has arrived again and with good coaching, player lists, luck and determination a flag may be on the horizon – and then, maybe another dynasty next decade. 

    Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast Suns are all some way away from a first flag. Talk of dynasties might be decades down the track – they have to reach base camp first (a flag) before going on to the summit. The Giants and the Dockers have tasted finals within the past six seasons – Fremantle to a grand final – but that is part of the learning curve they are still experiencing. 

    So, in short, West Coast have a great opportunity to carry on from where they left off in 2018. A dynasty beckons as it does for all premiership winners. Behind them, Richmond, Collingwood and Essendon appear best placed to reach dynastic levels of success. Brisbane and Melbourne may do so a little later. 

    Finally, this argument should also inspire players, fans, teams and leagues across the world to consider their own potential success in years to come. In the Middle East, the Dragons are seeking their fifth consecutive flag this year. In England, the Manchester Mozzies are after a sixth in a row. Dynasties are everywhere, you just hope that it is your team.

     

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    You start by heading north from Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, towards the border with China. Eventually you link up with the Karakorum Highway, passing through never ending vistas of amazing mountain scenery. It isn’t the Himalayas, but a magical land in its own right. Then you arrive at the village of Gilgit Baltistan.

    Here, Saliha Baig Jaturi is running Aussie Rules footy clinics. Not only does she face the challenges of being a woman in a Muslim country, where particular expectations on women can restrict what a woman can do, she is also selling Australia’s national game to kids and older villagers who know little or nothing about the game.

    The other big challenge is snow. The mountains on the Pakistan/China border zone rank amongst the highest in the world and have the cold to prove it.


    What Saliha is delivering here, on behalf of, ostensibly, the AFL, is a sport that should probably be promoted with bigger budgets, more people from the AFL and more equipment. Yet, none of this phases Saliha and her companions as they take the game they fell in love with at the IC17 tournament in Melbourne as members of the Pakistan Shaheens women’s team.

    Michael Gallus, her coach at the Shaheens and the founder of the Footys4all Foundation said that “I was Saliha’s football coach at Pakistan AFLIC17. I am extremely proud of her in the way she has been inspired by her trip to Australia to play AFL and represent Pakistan to provide sporting and AFL opportunities in the face of great difficulties to children and youth of her country in remote areas. It is one thing to experience representation of your country in a sport - it is another thing to represent your country by improving it through your experience which is what Saliha is doing here with these sporting clinics.”

    “We talk about being cold playing football in winter here in Australia, but we have nothing to whinge about compared to the inspiring boys and girls of Pakistan attending the Al shams sports club for women-5 day winter camp for boys and girls in sub zero freezing [conditions] and snowing conditions at the Hunza Altit ground at the small Pakistani village in Gilgit Baltistan.”

    “I am so proud of these inspiring Pakistani AFLIC17 female footballers who have returned to their home country and through their own experience here in Australia playing football are now being the leaders in providing sporting opportunities for their fellow countrywomen and children no matter where they are or what the conditions.”

    Saliha herself is humble, and possibly surprised by the interest in the amazing things she is achieving.


    “I belong to one of the backward [meaning remote] villages of Pakistan. I started my career in sports from the age of 12. My brother is playing sports in the Pakistani military force. I learnt from him to play football and volleyball. I am a player of volleyball but I play all the games including footy, squash cricket ,football [soccer], badminton and more. I have a supporting family who helped me throughout my life. Currently, I am working on Australian footy in my village. I want to promote [Australian] footy and make it an international game of my country.”

    “Besides this I am also working as a professional coach with the special Olympics of Pakistan. I am also giving training to children with and without disabilities in my village. I try my level best to keep the gender balance but I have no more facilities to train them. I have only one footy which was given by Michael [Gallus] on my best performance in a game in Melbourne.”

    “The Shaheens footy club taught me how to do team work it gave me good platform through which I [could] introduce footy in my village. I had a very good experience with the people of Melbourne.”

    “I faced many problems [gender, funding, equipment, location] at the beginning but now I involve those people who are the hurdles in my pathway. I involve both girls and boys as well as senior citizens.”

    “I teach them that sports are not only all about playing game. It is all about team work, patience and physical fitness.”

    “I have a very supportive family and I want to continue my struggles for my dad into the future. My dad is no longer with me but I want to complete the desires of my father.”

    What Saliha is achieving is nothing short of inspirational. She has not allowed distance, geography, gender, cultural and religious beliefs, socio-economics or lack of equipment stop her from giving to kids and older people something new, something fun and something active.

    From here the message should be passed on to those who can make a difference. Follow the directions at the beginning of this story and get some footballs to her in northern Pakistan. She is an incredible ambassador and deserves our support because what Saliha is doing transcends sport – it is about humanity.

    Thank-you, Saliha. Not just for the footy, but the inspiration and determination you have shown us all and the bravery that goes with it.










    ...

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    Recently, an interesting football conversation commenced nearby. It involved the concept of whether or not scoring should be removed from games of AFL Masters to reduce the amount of aggressive competiveness amongst players whose glory days are behind them and should possibly just be playing for fun.

    Footy is many things to many people. Therefore, there will not be a consensus on whether this (at this stage unofficial) idea has merit. But what is compelling is the link between this potential expectation for our oldest players and the arguments for our youngest players – kids.

    For a moment, let’s assume that the idea has merit and one day we have AFL Masters playing for no scores – just enjoyment. We have already seen AFL Victoria introduce no scores for junior grades from the 2015 season where grades up to Under 10 would play with no scores and develop “an enjoyment philosophy rather than a winning philosophy’’ (Herald Sun, 2014). Since then most states and territories have more or less adopted the same policies.


    It is not highly likely that Masters’ players, who have usually been through the grind of wholly competitive footy, could adapt so quickly.

    However, what we now have is like a bell curve. Next to no competitiveness score-wise at the youngest ages, growing relative to age group through local, state then elite levels and dropping back to nothing as we get “too” old for regular competition.

    Before going any further, I am not a passive fence-sitter here for the balance of a story. I am firmly in the camp that competition should exist at all levels and it is the people creating unnecessary pressure on and off the field that need to change – not the game. But, more of that later. I should also add that I have played junior, senior, Nines and Masters footy myself, as well as coaching, so have seen much of this first hand.

    But, enough of personal opinions. The T. H Chan School Of Public Health at Harvard University identified many reasons why sport is good for kids. They cite health benefits, getting kids active, learning discipline and dedication, social values and learning how to get along with others, mental health and preparation for futures as key values of sport – competitive or non-competitive. This information was based on interviews with over 2500 families through their 2015 interviews.

    That weight of evidence should be compelling, but there is another demon in the closet. A study by Mills, Butt, Maynard and Harwood (2012) in the U.K argues that there is pressure brought on kids in sport by adults through “coaches also [acknowledging] detrimental characteristics that some parents display, for example ‘over-inflating player’s ego’, ‘providing inappropriate coaching advice’, ‘living vicariously through son’, ‘mollycoddling their son’, and ‘putting pressure on son’.” These quotes should now include daughters also.

    Further to this line of thought, the Washington Post reported the findings of the National Alliance of Youth Sports (U.S.A) in 2016 which suggested many young people felt that sport is, “just not fun anymore.”

    In this survey, the interviewers found a range of reasons why this idea may be valid including: “It’s not fun anymore because it’s not designed to be”, “Our culture no longer supports older kids playing for the fun of it”, “There is a clear push for kids to specialize and achieve at the highest possible level”, “There is a cost to be competitive and not everyone is willing or able to pay it”. There is also the argument that the social pull of technology and social media is drawing more kids away.

    So, now we can add the other elephant in the room – the pressure of parents/adults/coaches on kids that leads to so many dropping out of sport (according to the University of Wollongong, 250 000 kids a year are dropping out of organised sport in Australia). In 2015, University of Queensland professor Matt Sanders told The Australian “that parents should be aware of other spectators and object when they get too emotional. The parents have got very high expectations of their own kids, and when things don’t go to plan they become emotionally distressed.”

    This is identified through innumerable sources as a key reason for kids leaving sport, or at least enjoying it less. It is also a source for the “win at all costs” type of mentality that is changing the face of junior sport – and by extension all ages through to potentially AFL Masters level.

    The above research does not exist (yet) for AFL Masters. I should also point out here that whilst the weight of discussion revolves around boy’s and men’s sport, the same is largely true for women’s sport – with a number of other considerations as well.

    The most fundamental nucleus of any sport – however far back into history you care to delve – sees sport and competition intertwined almost as one. To set yourself against another the expected outcome is victory – individual or team. I see no problem with the concept of winning. It teaches us to strive and give our best. But the problem lies in the methods. Winning has to involve fairness, respect, empathy, motivation and a desire to give you all. It should never involve alienation, disrespect, degradation, anger or a desire to create an unhealthy environment for any participant.

    This now leads back to the argument about AFL Masters. If looked at on the bell curve of less competitiveness at the most junior levels, increasingly more through the pre-teens, teens to adult levels and a lessening (not stopping) at older levels, then sport can be enjoyable and desirable. To get older players to dust off their boots again is just as difficult as getting kids to put boots on in the first place.

    Just as junior levels should be about fun and participation, so too should the oldest levels. But to achieve this, education is the key. Teach old and young the core values of sport and stamp out the negative actions which repel people from the game.

    I hope what I heard is just noise. I truly hope that AFL Masters keeps scoreboards. But at the same time, at my age I don’t need a coach or a fan yelling at me to do better, be better, be faster. To me, getting out of bed successfully in the morning is a major victory. I just want the fun.

    Because unless a sport is fun, it has a limited future. That should be the aim of the footy bell curve as it starts at very low competitive levels, grows in relation to age and experience and settles again in later years.

    At least, that’s the theory.
    ...

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    The following article from Kavisha Di Pietro on the AFL Players website www.aflplayers.com.au explores the journey of another young Sudanese footballer making his way onto an AFL list and hoping to emulate the deeds of Aliir Aliir and Majak Daw. 

    Western Bulldogs draftee Buku Khamis’ memories of his childhood in South Sudan are hazy. 

    He can recall how the sand would burn his feet as he played outside in the heat but he doesn’t remember much more from back home. 

    The 18-year-old was only six when he migrated to Australia with his parents and siblings. 

    His journey across the globe would be his first time on a plane. 

    “I don’t remember too much from living there but I do remember coming on the plane to Australia not knowing where we were going or what was going on,” he told AFLPlayers.com.au during his first AFL pre-season.

     “When we landed at the airport it was dark so I couldn’t get a view of Melbourne. I kind of freaked out because it was all new to me.”

    Khamis faced challenges as his family settled into life in Australia. 

    The language barrier made assimilating difficult but once he learnt English things changed and Khamis felt he adapted well to Australian culture. 

    The Western Jets product didn’t start playing football until he was 12, joining his local club St Albans after attending a Western Bulldogs game as part of a school excursion. 

    “Playing football really helped me open up to other people and make friends,” he said. 

    “It gave me something that I enjoyed which helped me to express myself more. Football made me feel involved and like I was a part of something.” 

    After joining St Albans in under-12s, Khamis’ athleticism attracted the attention of TAC Cup recruiters and he was invited to participate in Western Jets development squad. 

    He then joined the Western Jets program, playing in the National Championships at both under-16 and under-18 level, earning All-Australian selection in his top-age year.

    His link to the Western Bulldogs has existed long before being drafted. 

    Khamis was part of the Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (NGA) the club’s affiliation with the Western Jets and was also part of the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation’s Ready Settle Go program, which supports newly arrived migrants in Melbourne’s western suburbs. 

    Despite his involvement with the Bulldogs and growing up as an Essendon supporter, Khamis’ football heroes are those from multicultural backgrounds with the defender admiring North Melbourne’s Majak Daw and the West Coast Eagles’ Nic Naitanui. 

    “When I started playing the game they inspired me because they were different. I can relate especially to Majak because our backgrounds are the same.” 

    When his status as a Bulldogs player was confirmed, Daw reached out to Khamis sending him a congratulatory text message and letting him know the young player would have his full support as he navigated the AFL system. 

    “He’s been through it all and knows what I am about to go through. I just can’t wait to see how everything pans out.” 

    Although he spent time training with the Bulldogs during the 2017 pre-season as part of the NGA program, becoming an AFL player was beyond his wildest dreams. 

    From a South Sudan refugee camp to pulling on the Western Bulldogs jumper, the journey has been long and arduous, but it’s one he can’t wait to see unfold. 

    “When I started in under-12s I was just playing because it was fun but I never thought it could actually happen. It’s pretty crazy.” 

    To read the original article and others on the AFL Players website, go to: http://www.aflplayers.com.au/article/khamis-football-made-me-feel-involved/

      ...


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    A thunderstorm and cloudburst, and a rampant Crocs outfit, were not enough to stop the Darwin Buffaloes from taking the four points in their match at TIO Stadium on Saturday. It was part of another exciting round that saw The Buffaloes grab a one point win, Palmerston held off Waratah by four points, The Tigers shook of a desperate Saints by 20 points and the Tiwi Bombers romped home by over 100 points against Wanderers.

    Perhaps the match of the round, however, was the Buffaloes/Crocs clash. After a solid first half, where Darwin held a three-goal lead over Crocs at the main break, Southern Districts started to fight back in the second half to get to within seven points by the final change. But with a storm close, the final quarter was delayed until the all clear was given to resume. After the enforced break, Crocs kept coming, but Buffaloes held them off by just a solitary point.


    It is the second time in less than a year that Mother Nature has been less than kind to Crocs. Last January their top of the table clash against Nightcliff was called off after lightning took out the light towers. Points were shared that night – but this time they were less lucky.

    The loss for Crocs opened the door for Nightcliff to leap to the top of the ladder. Their opponents, St Mary’s, struggled in the opening quarter to fall behind by 33 points. However, Saints unleased a huge second quarter to keep Nightcliff scoreless and grab a four point lead. It was a huge chance for Saints to turn their season around heading towards finals, but not much went right for them after that. They kicked just one more goal for the match as Nightcliff regained composure and ran away to a 20-point win.

    The Tiwi Bombers stayed well and truly in the finals race with four points and a big percentage boost when they walloped Wanderers. Celebrating Austin Wonaeamirri’s 150th game, the Bombers enjoyed a ten goals to one first half and would never be headed from there. Despite a lift from Wanderers in the third quarter, the Tiwi crew ran the game out with a seven-goal final quarter to win by 102 points.

    On Sunday, Palmerston knew they had to win to hold their place in the top five, with the Tiwi Bombers now equal on points but with a much better percentage. Little separated the teams all day. Waratah lead by seven points at the first break, Palmerston by two points at half time and again by four points at the final change. The final quarter was tight, with the spoils even seeing Palmerston win by just four points.

    Nightcliff now sit a game clear of second placed Crocs at the top of the ladder. The Buffaloes’ win sees them in third place ahead of a shaky Waratah and Palmerston both on six wins. Just outside the top five, the Tiwi Bombers are a game behind but with a healthy percentage. St Mary’s need to win all remaining games to reach the finals from seventh and Wanderers are the only team that is realistically out of the finals race. Winning all games from here would still leave them with just eight wins which likely won’t be enough.

    Next weekend will see Southern Districts Crocs host the Tiwi Bombers, Wanderers take on St Mary’s with the loser likely to be out of the finals race for good, Waratah taking on Nightcliff and the Palmerston Magpies up against the Darwin Buffaloes.

    Final Scores:
    Tiwi Bombers 22 11 143 d Wanderers 6 5 41
    Nightcliff Tigers 12 3 75 d St Marys 8 7 55
    Darwin Buffaloes 15 10 100 d Southern Districts Crocs 15 9 99
    Palmerston Magpies 11 5 71 d Waratah 9 13 67
    ...

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    In this extraordinary story from Lucy Murray at ABC North West Queensland, the team from Lake Nash in the Northern Territory, their trials to simply get to a footy match are explored. If you like, it ould be called extreme car-pooling to get to a match each week. It is an amazing snapshot into what it takes to play footy in one of the most remote parts of Australia. 

    The Lake Nash Young Guns footy team struggles for money to travel the 600km to their games, and if they do not get a kangaroo on the way to the game, they most likely play on empty stomachs. 

    Alpurrurulam, or Lake Nash, as it is commonly known, is an Indigenous community on the Queensland–Northern Territory border. 

    In the centre of town is a red dirt Australian Rules Football Oval, where the Lake Nash Young Guns can be seen training every evening. 

    As they run, often barefoot, or in socks, they leave a trail of red dust behind them.

     "When they grew up as children, they always had a ball in their hand and it has just never stopped," club president Renee Larkins said.

    "It is not just a game to these fellas, that's their life, it's love, they are very committed, and it is a different love for the sports that they have."

    This love of football has also helped keep the players out of trouble.

    "When they are there on the field and when they are at training, they are not drinking, breaking-in or running amok, they are doing something that they love," Ms Larkins said. 

    "The sniffing has stopped heaps, there's not a lot of sniffing anymore, there's no breaking in anymore, the fellas are doing really, really well." 

    Every weekend the team travels a 600-kilometre round trip on a rough dirt road to Mount Isa in North West Queensland for the game. 

    Since their bus broke down two years ago the team has had to take their own cars to town. 

    "It is very hard on the cars, sometimes we have to take little cars in, like Commodores and stuff, and you have to drive so slow because the roads are that messed up," Ms Larkins said. 

    "Sometimes there is no room in the car and most of us get left behind," player Gregory Wilde said. 

    To get to Mount Isa each car will use a full tank of fuel, and more, for the way home. 

    "If we are taking three or four cars, that's about $100 or something for each car to fill up," Ms Larkins said. 

    "Then you're filling up more cars to come back again, so that is another $400, so about $800 a week, depending on how many cars we take in. 

    "That's half of their wage each, they struggle a lot, they hardly have any money as it is." 

    Lake Nash has only one store and no other businesses, so sponsorship is very hard to come by.

    This means the money for fuel, registration and jerseys all comes out of the players pockets, which does not leave them with much spending money. 

    "We are also struggling for money to feed them, so hopefully, fingers-crossed they get a kangaroo going in on Friday, then that's their dinner," Ms Larkins said. 

    "Then on Saturdays, if they are not lucky enough, they don't get any money, they will just go to the game hungry." 

    Renee Larkins said the players often come off the field sick, feeling faint and shaking. 

    "It's not very nice to stand on the sidelines and see these boys love something so much and they struggle every week to get into town," she said. 

    "They go without things, they go without money, they go without food, just for the love of football.

    English is a second language in the community — the players mostly speak Alyawarre to each other. 

    This gives them an on-field advantage as the other teams do not know what they are saying, but it also means they are very shy. 

    In a heartfelt letter to the ABC they have explained the challenges they face each week. 

    Despite the challenges, the Young Guns have made it into the grand final three years in a row, but are yet to win it.

    So the players are looking for sponsors to help get them over the line. 

    "We need a bus, we need a bit of money coming our way, they need money for food and fuel, the fellas, they are still playing with their same boots from two years ago, because they can't buy new boots," Ms Larkins said. 

    "I wanted to start up a bank account for the Young Guns club, we'll definitely keep the receipts, and everything will be done professionally." 

    To read the original article and view the video also, go to the original ABC story at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-19/young-guns-struggle-for-food-and-fuel/

    If you know of anyone who might be able to assist the club through sponsorship, contact the club, the ABC or ourselves. 

     

    Picture Credit: Lucy Murray, ABC North West Queensland

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    This weekend in Birmingham, the National University league for men’s and women’s fixtures returns after their break. It will be the second last round in the competition’s inaugural season before a final round to be played in Wales (venue to be advised).

    Going into the round, Oxford University has the bye. Their men’s team sits on top of the ladder, whilst their women’s team is second, but this round they can only watch as the other teams chase them. It is a huge opportunity for the host team, University of Birmingham, to seek two wins each in both men’s and women’s matches to chase top spot in both.

    The matches this weekend will see:


    11.30: Birmingham v Cambridge (Men’s)
    12.20: Cambridge v Universities of South Wales (Women’s)
    1.10: Cambridge v Universities Of South Wales (Men’s)
    2.00: Birmingham v Cambridge (Women’s)
    2.50: Birmingham v Universities of South Wales (Men’s)
    3.40: Universities of South Wales v Birmingham (Women’s)

    As the competition draws towards its close, planning for the next season is well under way with prospects such as additional teams, additional rounds and almost anything else that might see further progress to be discussed. There is much to consider with planning, the competition built as it is around other events (Movember Cup, Fitzpatrick Cup) and potential clashes with other competitions in England and Wales.

    The competition sits within the off-season of the AFL London, AFLCNE and AFL Wales competitions.

    Already a success, the competition is headed for a grand finale over the remaining rounds. Both Birmingham and Wales have completed their bye and have a great chance of winning all four of their matches over the remaining round to provide a grandstand finish.

    The final round will be played in Wales on 16th February before a grand final day on March 16th where first and second placed teams in both men’s and women’s competitions will chase the honour of inaugural premiers.





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    Nicola Barr, the inaugural number one draft pick for the AFLW has made a name for herself not only on the footy field but also off field too.

    “I have recently graduated from the degree and am now working at Starlight Children’s foundation as well as taking a couple of spin classes each week,” Barr said.

    “Balancing these things in addition to AFLW training can be quite a challenge at times! For me the best way to juggle these commitments is to ensure that while I am doing something to be completely focused on it," Barr said.

    “To do this I practice mindfulness and being present – this really helps me to stay focused on the task at hand.”

    Barr began playing football when she was 17 years old, and is now in her fifth year of playing football.

    Lots of people have influenced Barr’s football and sporting career but the person who has influenced her career the most was her sports director at high school.

    “I was convinced that I wanted to stick to soccer but he told me I had what it takes to be a footballer and that women’s football was going to grow,” Barr said.

    “If he wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be playing AFL today.” Barr’s main strengths in football include running with the football and getting into a position to get a handball receive.

    “Definitely need to improve on beating my direct opponent (one versus one) and improve my tackling pressure,” Barr said.

    “This isn’t a side of footy that comes very naturally to me so I need to work on this.”

    Barr believes new GWS Giant Delma Gisu will be the player to watch.

    “Delma Gisu is brand new to our team this year, and so far she has impressed at training,” Barr said.

    “She is extremely quick and speedy but also has an amazing leap – she will be a surprise factor for sure.”

    Since being at the GWS Giants, Barr has learnt a lot from several players.

    Image (Right) Source: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images AsiaPac

    “I have learnt to be a good leader and to have care for my teammates from Fridge (Captain Amanda Faruggia), to be calm under pressure from Cora Staunton, and to understand much more about the game itself from Alicia Eva (who I was lucky enough to coach alongside at the under 18s carnival this year),” Barr said.

    The coach who has the biggest impact on her football career has been the Giants current head coach Alan McConnell.

    “He has simplified footy for me and I feel a lot more confident in the decisions that I make when playing,” Barr said.

    “He generally doesn’t like to give too much a way, which is good most of the time because I don’t like to overthink the game.”

    The player Barr models her game on is Sydney Swans men’s half back Jake Lloyd.

    “He defends, but the best part of his game is linking up with the midfielders and forwards to create some attack from the backline which I like to do as well,” Barr said.

    Barr loves to play for the Giants and to be part of the club.

    “The Giants is a really family orientated club and they are really inclusive of everyone,” Barr said.

    “People from all walks of life are welcomed to the club and that makes it feel really special.”

    In her third season at the Giants, Barr is most looking forward to being in a professional sporting environment as she has two years experience.

    “I’m looking forward to being more comfortable in a professional sporting environment,” Barr said.

    “The first couple of years playing AFLW have been fairly big and new because I haven’t played elite sport before this, and so going in this season I feel much more relaxed and comfortable which means that I’ll be able to develop as a footballer much more easily without worrying about external pressures.”

    Heading into the third AFLW season the Giants have a learnt a lot from their previous two seasons that have them in good stead moving forward.

    Barr believes the Giants can win the competition this season, as they have been improving on the areas that have let them down in previous seasons.

    “We have built a team full of trust and that is key to playing good football,” Barr said.

    To get ready for a match, Barr listens to disco music her favourite pre-match pump up music.

    Some other fun facts about Barr is her favourite movie is Dirty Dancing and something she cannot live without is peanut butter. 

     

    Image (Left) Source: Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images AsiaPac ...