The AFL International Cup
In the lead up to the 2008 (3rd) Australian Football International Cup, to be held in Melbourne and Warrnambool this August, I want to dispel some misconceptions around the event.
Firstly, it is full ground, full numbers Australian Football and it is not International Rules.
That is a very distinct hybrid game that facilitates national competition for the Gaelic (GAA) competition in Ireland and the AFL competition in Australia where, otherwise, the players would otherwise not have the opportunity.
But back to the International Cup.
It is not inclusive of ex-pat Australians.
This is a very important distinction. For example, the recent Asian Championships was effectively all ex-pat Aussies, such that the China team at that event is completely unrelated to the Chinese International Cup team that it is hoped will attend this August.
Another important factor is that the eligibility criteria is such that parentage does not apply.
Unlike some international tournaments, whereby players with parents or even grandparents from a particular nation might be able to seek to play for that nation.
This gets to the crux of the competition.
It is a development tournament.
It is aimed at being a reward of sorts for those who are new to the game and have learned it outside of Australia. Initially, suggestions for such an event from outside of the AFL were for a ‘World Cup’.
The AFL came on board, but insisted that it be titled an ‘International Cup’.
This makes the tournament more comparable for example to the ICC Trophy tournament (although, without a World Cup place at stake).
By this comparison, I mean that it is a tournament aimed at the affiliate nation members of a sport, primarily to encourage development.
The ICC trophy over the years has produced graduates to the ‘open pool’, such as Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
Other nations to have made the final over the years include Canada, Netherlands, Scotland, Kenya, UAE, Ireland and Namibia.
Only so many of those could seriously have a crack at the higher levels.
So, a level of competition for the Affiliate nations is entirely appropriate.
The fact that Australian football only has one country at the ‘top tier’ should not at all be relevant when reviewing the role of the International Cup as this second tier has an absolute right to recognition and competition.
THE FIRST IC (2002)
Ireland (Warriors) – first
Papua New Guinea (Mosquitos) – 2nd
New Zealand (Falcons) – 3rd
Denmark (Vikings) – 4th
USA (Revolution) – 5th
Great Britain (Bulldogs) – 6th
Samoa (Bulldogs) – 7th
Nauru (Chiefs) – 8th
Canada (Northwind) – 9th
Japan (Samurais) – 10th
South Africa (Buffalos) – 11th
THE SECOND IC 2005
New Zealand – first
PNG – 2nd
USA – 3rd
Ireland – 4th
Samoa – 5th
Great Britain – 6th
Canada – 7th
South Africa – 8th
Japan – 9th
Spain (Bulls) – 10th
Denmark and Nauru were late withdrawals for the 2005 IC. Spain was the only debutant.
It must be noted that the competing teams carry a huge financial burden.
The event has been underfunded and undersponsored, and thus the late withdrawals in 2005, where finances couldn’t be arranged.
This obviously means that in some cases selection is less of an issue as compared to those able to afford both the time and the money to come down. It’s a big task.