Contributed by: Wesley Hull Saturday, November 09 2019 @ 09:56 pm ACDT
On face value, the Bogota Bulldogs failed to meet one of their three key objectives for 2019. They wanted to win more matches, but lost all three international matches. A harsh look at that result suggests failure. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
According to their newly released annual report, the Bulldogs had two other key objectives that they passed with flying colours. They also wanted to grow the club and grow the game – on both counts the club has set a new standard for the future. That future could be bigger than ever anticipated happened quicker than anyone thought.
The visits from two USAFL clubs – the Austin Crows and Denver Bulldogs – resulted in heavy, though brave, losses, but the experience gained by the club was far more valuable than a scoreboard. Going down to the Austin Crows in April (22 8 140 to 6 7 43) and to the Denver Bulldogs in May (11 6 72 to 5 9 39) gave the Bogota Bulldogs the confidence and drive to commence talks with the USAFL to compete at the USAFL nationals as soon as possible. That option would not have occurred as quickly had it not been for the Bulldogs extending the invitation to the North American clubs.
Similarly, the loss to the Santiago Saints in Lima in the Andes Cup was a massive step towards the gradual addition of other South American national teams. Should a team appear in Peru, the opportunity for further international matches will increase interest and opportunity in the game.
Instead of a focus on the scoreboard, the club more than got it’s wish to grow the game by going beyond theoretical connections to other international teams. Expansion into the United States and Peru can only enhance future opportunities.
One match that did see an historic victory, however, was the clash between the Bogota women’s team and a combined USA/EU team. As mentioned in the report, “our ‘Wujeres’ won an historic match as the first women’s game held in Latin America against a US/EU composite team.” This bodes extremely well for the growth of the women’s game in Colombia with similar possible links to matches against USA women’s teams.
The report also details how the growth of the game has benefited by the growth of the club. The development of local youth was highlighted, with the report stating that, “over 30 young people at Aldeas tried the game at least once, with 15 graduating as ‘Kanguritos’ having participated in at least 20 hours of training sessions.”
Additionally, “We have also identified and recruited excellent women leaders to help grow our game beyond our men’s team, with a list of 20+ women having been involved at some point. This is a strong foundation for the club going forward.”
The Bogota Bulldogs have aimed at their USAFL Nationals debut being as soon as 2020. Other goals for the club include the possible visit of an Australian team (of yet to be determined makeup), clinics outside of Bogota commencing with Santa Marta and further fundraising endeavours to stabilise the club further.
The fact that the local AFL Colombia three-team competition between the Aguilas, Bullants and Bombers enjoyed a successful second season is further testament to the exciting growth of the game at all levels.
Yes, it is true that their goal of winning games in 2019 fell short. However, the massive successes of their other stated goals make the winning almost irrelevant. It was, in so many ways, the Bulldogs’ best season yet.
You can’t blame the footy community in Colombia for being excited about 2020 and beyond.
Clearly, data can only tell you a part of the story.