Contributed by: Aaron Richard Wednesday, June 23 2010 @ 04:40 pm ACST
The Bali Geckos Australian Rules team topped off hosting a very successful Powerade Bali Masters 9’s tournament by winning the championship. The Geckos defeated a team made up of Darwin firefighters in a fairly one-sided final of the cup division.
With 13 teams participating, this year’s tournament saw the largest number of teams to compete in an AFL tournament anywhere in Asia. The eleven teams from last year’s event all returned, and were joined by debutants the Motley Men from Victoria and the eventual runners-up the Darwin Firies.
The large number of teams, seven from Australia and six from Asia, saw the event split into two separate divisions, the Cup and the Plate competitions. The growing size of the tournament forced organisers to hold the event over two days at Bali’s leading sporting facility, the Canggu Club.
9’s football is a unique version of Aussie Rules that has been developed by the Geckos to accommodate the smaller playing fields in Bali. Teams are made up of three forwards and three backs who must start the game within the 35 metre arcs at the respective ends of the ground, and three mid fielders who start in the middle. Any score must occur from a kick originating inside the attacking 35 metre arc. The action is fast and furious in this condensed form of Australian Rules Football.
After the preliminary games in the Cup division, the Darwin Waratahs, who had won the event for the past three years, were looking strong and firmed themselves as favourites. However injuries and game time caught up with the Tahs, who were overrun by their Darwin counterparts the Firies in the first semi-final.
In the second semi-final, the Geckos took on the South Coast Buccaneers. The Buccaneers went into the game confident after easily accounting for the Geckos in their preliminary encounter. However the Geckos were strengthened with an additional four players who were unable to play in the Friday evening game and ended up too strong for the Buccaneers, winning by 10 points. The Geckos then went on to defeat the Firies by four goals in the final.
In the Plate division, the final was held between WA’s Vic Park Pigs and the Castlemaine Magpies from Victoria. Both teams had a number of convincing wins during the preliminary games and the final was certainly the close encounter that was expected. With the last kick of the day the Pigs snuck in front to defeat the magpies by one solitary point.
One of the highlights of the Plate division was the ‘indigenous’ players from Indonesian and East Timorese teams joining to represent the Balikpapan Bears in their semi-final. The expatriate players in the Bears team gave their positions to the eager national players from East Timor and the Bali Geckos to join their already large number of Indonesian players. The game was a great representation of the efforts that Asian teams have been putting into development of the game in their respective countries. Although the team was competitive, the experience of the Pigs put them ahead on the scoreboard.