In recent years footy has continued to gather momentum in Russia. Due in no small part to the growth in St Petersburg, Moscow is also growing. Not only are there now three teams to compete in the next St Petersburg Cup next weekend, the national team had a terrific Euro Cup – their best yet.
Despite losing all of their pool games, the Russian Bears caught fire in the finals. They downed both Israel and Czech Republic in the finals matches before going down in a tough game to Scotland to finish in overall 10th places – a wonderful achievement.
That performance may not have happened if not for the improvement in competitions, recruitment and overall development of the game across the two Russian cities.
After the completion of Round 7 in the AFLG competition, the Hamburg Dockers sit comfortably in the penthouse. It would take some sort of minor miracle for them to NOT win the minor premiership with just two matches to play and they are two games and percentage clear in first place.
The view from there is awesome. In the not too blurry distance is the chance at back-to-back premierships. On the lower floors, the other teams jostle for their final finishing places. The top four is decided, if not the order. Fifth place (Dresden Wolves) is a lock. They will finish fifth almost regardless of what happens from here. The only real change is if the Zuffenhausen Giants can win a game and leapfrog the Rheinland Lions to get off the bottom of the ladder, or, if you like, the basement.
It is wrong to say that the influx of players from African countries is an “experiment” in the same way that the influx of Irish is sometimes referred to as the “Irish Experiment”. It certainly isn’t. The increase in players of African descent is a result of Australian Rules football embracing the changing nature of our population and more players with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds will continue to grow.
That said, it is very interesting to see what is occurring with players in the AFL/VFL environment who come from Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and other African nations. For the purpose of this story, players who were born in Australia but parents were born in their African country of origin are included – but not an exhaustive list.
There is s small but growing thread of evidence to say that players from African nations could become the archetypal ruckman of the future. Here is some proof.
With just six rounds left of the AFL season, then finals, the time for trade, drafts and all other recruiting is fast approaching. Marc McGowan from the www.afl.com.au website reports on another battle looming as Essendon and Richmond lead the charge to access some exciting Irish talent.
Essendon and Richmond are in a two-way race for the pick of this year's Irish crop.
Ross McQuillan has emerged as the most coveted Irishman from the 2018 AFL Europe Combine, and joined countrymen Ronan Devereux, Peadar Mogan and Luke Towey in trialling with clubs in April.
The 20-year-old is a good athlete, clocked a blistering 2.77sec in winning the 20m sprint at the combine, thrives on physicality and is already showing promise with his kicking on both sides.
In 2017, AFL Scotland’s newest team – the West Lothian Eagles – played a full season of development games against all other league teams. Not for points, but to develop their skills and plans against their future rivals. Last year was their first season as a fully integrated team and they enjoyed a winless but competitive season.
This season they have waited, developed and learned further and finally broken through for their first win as a fully-fledged AFL Scotland team – downing the Kingdom Kangaroos by 30 points. The excitement was palpable, even on the club’s Facebook page.
“What a day for the club. Our first ever league victory.”
“It's been a tough year so far being on the wrong side of a few thumpings from teams at the level we aspire to be. A couple of narrow defeats as well which sometimes can hurt more.”
Earlier this year World Footy News released a story looking at how the northern city would cope, in a footy sense, having lost their annual AFL match which they had held since 2011. Over that time, eight matches were played at Cazalys Stadium featuring the Gold Coast Suns, Richmond, Western Bulldogs and most recently North Melbourne.
This was in addition to a VFL match between the Suns and Bendigo Bombers in 2010 and pre-season cup matches stretching back to the turn of the century.
Our story featured interviews with past players from VFL/AFL days who either played, coached or officiated in Cairns – former Blue and Bulldog, Max O’Halloran, Collingwood great Ronnie Wearmouth, recent Essendon player Courtenay Dempsey and current Suns’ star Jack Bowes. (See Cairns Footy Still A Shining Light)
The following article from Josh Roche at www.afl.com.au looks a little deeper at the lead-up to the recent Euro Cup played in Norrtälje, Sweden. People involved appreciate how much work goes into staging an event of this size and scale. But this story highlights to what lengths some people have gone to in ensuring everything needed was found.
“No goalposts - No problem, our captain is a lumberjack”. Four footy ovals, no goalposts, one Swedish lumberjack. Game on.
AFL Europe held its annual nine-a-side tournament in Norrtälje, Sweden last weekend, and a couple of weeks out, four of the ovals were missing goalposts.
Enter Buster Sund, the Swedish Elks captain and a handy axeman off the field (he also hunts moose in his spare time, because Sweden).
Marc McGowan from www.afl.com.au reports here on the measures being employed by AFL clubs to keep the performances of prospective Irish AFL recruits under tabs. With players like Zac Tuohy, Conor McKenna and Pearce Hanley well established on AFL club lists, and many others in the earlier stages of their careers, Irish recruiting is becoming a far more scientific and targeted enterprise.
AFL SCOUTS in Australia are remotely watching Irish prospects train as international recruiting becomes increasingly sophisticated.
The preference is for them to use Gaelic footballs in 'small-sided' games, which involve four players against four, with recruiters most interested in everything but how they kick a Sherrin.
Ex-Magpie Marty Clarke, who accepted a part-time role with the AFL last year, spearheads Ireland's development program, which sees about 30 young Gaelic footballers meet monthly.
The first AFLW signing of an American player has finally been made. Today the Western Bulldogs officially signed American Dani Marshall. Marshall who has played in the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Arizona Lady Hawks made her way to Melbourne earlier this year to play with the Aberfeldie club in the Essendon Districts Football League.
After showing good form there and quickly making her way from a trial at the Western Bulldogs to playing their VFLW team Marshall quickly convinced the club she had what they needed at AFLW level.
Marshall also trialled and spoke with a number of other clubs in Melbourne but the Bulldogs have secured her services for the 2020 ALFW season.
While a number of other Americans have trialled and up until now failed to be signed to an AFLW contract, the hurdle has now been cleared and hopefully we will see other clubs willing to take on other talented players from the USAFL.
The club also announced today they have signed Katy Herron from Donegal, another Irish Gaelic footballer to join compatriot Aisling McCarthty. This comes despite the departure of head coach Paul Groves who was a strong proponent of the CrossCoders program that originally brought McCarthy to the club from Ireland.
The full statement from the Western Bulldogs below:
The following story from Rob Forsaith at AAP appeared on the www.7news.com.au website this week looking at the very real prospects of an AFL match being held in the USA for premiership points – most likely in California. Should this match occur in coming seasons, it would be a massive boost to the game in the States and a huge promotional opportunity for all USAFL clubs.
The United States might host a star-studded, stand-alone start to the AFL season if GWS's bid to play a game for premiership points in America gets off the ground.
The Giants and the AFL are in the early stages of discussions on the prospect of taking a regular-season match to the US.
Finding a suitable ground in a country full of rectangular stadiums is among the most challenging of several hurdles.
Officials are following with interest Philadelphia-based businessman Jignesh Pandya's $2.4-billion vision to spread cricket across his homeland, by constructing new oval stadiums in eight cities.
With just one round to be played before the AFL London finals series begins, teams are doing their final jostling. Whilst the Men’s Conference division is still up in the air with multiple teams sharing realistic flag hopes, the Men’s Premier and Women’s Premier divisions see one team each that sits ahead of the rest.
The weekend was again special as “Pride Round” with AFL London stating on their Facebook page that “AFL London and its teams are excited for this week's Pride Round. Ensuring we're a league inclusive and welcoming of all people is very important to us.”
The matches coincided with the Pride in London parade, described by the Pride in London organisers as “Celebration, diversity, activism, a demonstration — whatever it means to you, Pride in London is back and set to be our biggest yet. Lesbian, trans, genderqueer or otherwise; wherever you identify, Pride in London is about the people, for the people. This year we’re celebrating 50 years since the birth of the modern LGBT+ rights movement.” Players from all clubs and AFL London joined the parade as a showing of solidarity and support.
Mid-July marks the point furthest away from the footy season – the middle of the off-season. Recovery from the previous season is largely complete and the first stirrings of the new pre-season are evident. Post-mortems on the previous season are done.
It is time to be looking forward to a new season.
Each team would be quietly going through the mental exercises of what needs to be done for the new season. One thing that remains eternally true is that new seasons bring new hope, new expectations and new opportunities. Each team is at a different stage in their journey and making plans for the next step.