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Tuesday, January 27 2015 @ 12:52 AM ACDT

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The Future of Talent Academies and International Talent

Australia
There is an interesting argument swaying back and forth within the AFL concerning the fairness or otherwise of the various talent academies. The following link http://www.afl.com.au/news/2015-01-26...tem-unfair describes the pros and cons of having them and whether their very existence undermines the integrity of the AFL national draft.

Of interest to those who look at the game on a more global scale is the idea of whether or not clubs will still be able to rookie international players at will and restriction free compared to indigenous talent in Australia. Will there come a day when AFL clubs will actually need to bid for players, or more dramatically use a high draft selection to obtain international players?

(Left: Isaac Heeney, Picture: Sydney Swans)

There will be some who see this as folly and a flawed way of looking at the issue. Many believe that the amount of, and impact of, international players will never reach that point, therefore it is a moot argument.

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Fitzpatrick Cup Comes To Birmingham - and stays.

Europe
The second Fitzpatrick Cup for Australian Rules football playing university teams in England and Ireland takes place today at the University of Birmingham. The previous inaugural event was held in Dublin late in 2013. It was contested by the NRC Eagles from Northern Ireland, DCU from Dublin, the visiting Oxford University team and was won on the day by the UCC Bombers from Cork.

The second incarnation of the event will see the defending champions, UCC, and fellow Irish team the DCU, up against a larger field which includes the host team, University of Birmingham and the teams from both Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The event is fast becoming an important fixture in the calendar of university based teams, not just for the bragging rights that go with victory against other fellow teams, but for the experience that players can gain and the prestige and confidence that go with victory.
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Through The Looking Glass – AFL Italia Rebuilding For The Future

Europe
Cristiano Colizzi has played since 2009 for Roma Football Club in Italy, as well as handling media and a host of other things for AFL Italia. Also known as “Pint” (as in a pint of beer), he has provided World Footy News with a rundown of footy in Italy for the second of our “Through The Looking Glass” stories examining how footy has been going, and where to next for the game in countries and leagues across the world.

“As you remember AFL in Italy started in 2010 with four teams: Roma Football Club, Milano Footy Eagles, Genova Dockers and Lugano Bankers. Unfortunately in 2012 we lost Lugano Bankers (they quit playing AFL 9 per side) and in 2014 we also lost Genova Dockers who had just 5 or 6 players remaining.”

“So the Milano Footy Eagles acquired a few players from both Lugano and Genova. They have a great team for now! But the history says....not enough!”
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Cairns To Host 2015 AFL Diversity Cup

Australia
The tropical North Queensland city of Cairns will play host to this year’s Kickstart Championships and All Nations Cup, which together comprise the AFL Diversity Cup. Last year’s event was held in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. The North Queensland city of Townsville held the event in 2013.

The event presents the opportunity for Cairns to further establish its credentials as a regional venue for high calibre AFL events, following on from hosting AFL Premierships matches and other key national events such as the Women’s Championships in 2013.

According to the press release from AFL Queensland:

“AFL Cairns will host the 2015 Kickstart Championships and All Nations Cup (AFL Diversity Cup) at Cazalys Stadium from Friday 10th to Wednesday 15th April. The U15 Kickstart Championships is in its 5th year and the structure has been developed to provide a supported, talented player pathway that compliments the National U16 Championships. It aims to expose indigenous and multicultural players, coaches and umpires to an elite AFL program environment.”

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New Polish Team in Bydgoszcz Gathers Interest

Europe
With previous attempts stumbling, Poland may soon see a new team (or two) if Gareth Smith can bring his project to fruition. Most recently the Polish Bisons were put together in Poznan, but after recent contact the only remaining Bison admits that the club is now inactive.

Gareth, however, has the love of the game and the drive to kickstart the game in a nation which he believes has the latent talent to take on the game and excel.

“I have lived in Bydgoszcz for over eight years now but still love footy! I am a massive Cats fan and have been since I was a kid. I kick the footy in the park almost every day with my kids in summer and I still feel the old competitive juices flowing, so I tried to find an Australian football team here in Poland.”

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ANZAC Day Clash at Villers Bretonneaux seeking players

Europe
AFL Europe has commenced the call to action for players to compete in this year’s ANZAC Cup in France. The match will again be played in the now historically linked venue at Villers Bretonneaux, part of the Somme Department in northern France, some 20 kilometres from the city of Amiens.

As reported on the AFL Europe website, “2015 sees the 7th edition of the ANZAC Cup on the battlefields of Villers Bretonneux in France. Thanks to the work of previous organisers the CNFA and ABA this event continues to grow into a real highlight on the European calendar. This year’s event will be held on the 25th April.”

“Playing abilities are not the focus, we are more interested in personal connections to the area or the armed forces and the ANZAC’s special history. In the tradition of the ANZAC spirit Kiwi’s are more than welcome to apply.”

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Bachar Has A View To The Future

General News
“Just give it [Australian Rules football] a go. Have a try, give it a taste and get a feel for the game.”

Such is the overriding message that Bachar Houli, Richmond footballer and Multicultural Ambassador for the game, delivers to his charges wherever he is visiting. In his role as ambassador, or through his own Bachar Houli Academy or any of his other community involvements, Bachar is in a unique position to convert young people to our game.

In a chat today with Bachar it was clear that he is passionate about the game, and equally passionate about the opportunities the game can give to young people. “I say to the kids I work with, especially in the Islamic schools, that if you give it a go you will understand and grow the game. The kids give it a try, from soccer or rugby backgrounds, and see that they already have many of the skills needed to play. From there it’s easy.”
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St Petersburg Cats Now Purring

Europe
The Russian city of St Petersburg is the nations second largest city behind Moscow. With a population of close to five million people, the city sits on the Neva River where the water flows gently into Neva Bay, then the Gulf of Finland and eventually the Baltic Sea.

The city, previously known as both Petrograd and Leningrad, has a rich history. It is also the new home of Australian Rules football in Russia with the inception of the mighty St Petersburg Cats football club.

Viacheslav (Slava) Belov is one of the driving forces behind the new club. According to Slava, "Our club was founded on the 10th June 2014 sitting at a pub on the banks of the Neva River at our IGM. We elected our president, treasurer and secretary." And so, the club was formed.
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AFL Europe Champions League Amsterdam - The Field Grows

Europe

The field for the upcoming AFL Europe Champions League tournament in March continues to grow in both men's and women's competitions. AFL Europe have released the following short update on the tournament, including an extension of the tournament registration period. 
 
AFL Europe reports: "Inaugural AFL Europe Champions League looking like a strong field. So far confirmed Mens: Manchester Mosquitoes, Malmo Red-Eyes, Zagreb Hawks, Toulouse Hawks, Roma Blues, Rheinland Lions, West London Wildcats, Amsterdam Devils and Bristol Dockers. Womens: Odense Lionesses and Malmo Red-Eyes. Closing date extended to 14th January for team registrations."  
 
All details at: http: //www.afleurope.org/champions-league-amsterdam2015/
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Footy Dreams - American Hoopsters Give Aussie Rules A Go

North America

The following article is written by Gil Griffin, a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has had a long relationship with the game of Australian Rules football through his writing for the Frematle Dockers website and The AFL Record as well as his podcasts for Big Footy Dockers.


This article explores the journey of American players in Australia and the decisions they made, and journeys taken, to turn their backs on an Anerican basketball dream and give Australian Rules football a go.


Following is an extract from his article, and whilst it is lengthy, it is also highly rewarding with the deeper insights into how and why American athletes are prepared to make the quantum leap in sport and lifestyle to play Australian Rules football.

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The New Wave Of Footy Followers Is Coming

General News
Maybe, just maybe, Tijs Lejeune represents a new era of Australian Rules football followers. Since the beginning of the game in the mid-nineteenth century Australian Rules football has been adored and accepted as our own “Australian game”. Even in more recent times with the onset of international matches, recruiting, multicultural acceptance and general interest there was still a strong belief by many that the game might occasionally spark outside of home, but will forever remain an Australian product for Australian people.

But Tijs offers one tiny shred of evidence that a new generation is being born into the existing international push over the past couple of decades and are seeing the game in a more global way.

When talking about the game, Tijs admits “I've always loved viewing the international expansion articles of AFL in Europe, NZ, USA and love following the progress of the combines and the introduction of AFL footy players in America.”

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Moscow’s Koala Kingdom On The Rise

Europe
With the news of another Australian Rules football club coming to life in St Petersburg, Russia, another club has also emerged closer to the current Russian “heartland” of the game in Moscow. The Lazy Koalas are the latest addition to the footy scene and their co-founder, Mikhail Artemyev, was kind enough to answer some questions about the club’s creation.


Mikhail began by saying that “the second in August 2014 is considered to be the founding date of the new Australian Rules football club the "Lazy Koalas". In Moscow there are 5 or 6 teams and there is also one team (we know of) in St. Petersburg. From the moment we created our team, we were able to take part in two cups under the auspices of AFL Russia.”

The team is always looking for opportunities to play, but sometimes the weather or other factors intervene. “Competitions are held in Moscow every 2 to 3 months, but due to adverse weather conditions during the period from December to April, the team only trains on individual plans of each team.”

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