The USAFL Freedoms tilt at the 2020 International Cup in Melbourne Australia goes into full swing this week with a 4 day camp in Racine Wisconsin.
Earlier in the year at an Arizona camp with 75 players in attendance the USA Freedom selection panel lead by head coach Christina Licata, selected 54 players from 125 available to remain in IC2020 tour contention. In Racine this week from Thursday 14th through to Sunday 18th, over 40 of those players will be striving for selection in the 28 player squad to head to Australia in 2020. That squad may also include players currently playing outside the USA with ten squad players playing overseas in 2019, mainly in Australia, but also in Ireland.
This week USFootyNews heard from Coach Licata who related "While selection for the squad that will ultimately compete at the International Cup in 2020 won't occur until the Nationals Championships in Sarasota, performance at the 4-day camp will factor heavily into the coaching team's decisions."
Licata with all the assistant coaches this weekend will put all the players to the test, the 4-day camp will feature;
Skills and fitness assessments
Full sided games
Small sided games
Team goal setting and self assessments
At the 2017 IC the USA Freedom did not live up to their own expectations after several set backs through injuries and finished with a 2-3 record. Leading Great Britain in the last game at 3/4 time, the Freedom team saw that game slip away in the final minutes to finish a disappointing 2017 campaign in 4th place.
For 2020 however we see a far greater preparation through well attended and stronger Regional Championship games, Freedom camps and initial squad selections allowing a far greater pool of players prepare for selection. Also with several players having valuable match and training experience in Australia since 2017, all other teams better watch out in 2020.
That Freedom roster will be announced at the 2019 National Championships in Sarasota FL however we are sure there are 40 or so women footy players getting ready for a massive 4 days in Racine Wisconsin this week.
Recently the USAFL released their Australian Football Development Handbook. The handbook is primarily the work of Katie Klatt who developed the handbook as a project of the USAFL Development Committee's Safety Group. Katie was the Vice Captain of the USAFL Freedom at the International Cup in 2017.
"I thought this handbook could just be a good resource for those little specifics of footy we all take for granted, but are actually not as straight-forward as we see it!" Katie told USFootyNews this week.
The 25 page handbook covers many areas of player development with sections on learning skills, playing the game and safety, just to name a few. There are excellent reference links to videos, documents and other important resources contained in the handbook. Everything is covered that a new or recent player to the game of Aussie Rules Football would need to improve their footy and become a more knowledgeable and better skilled player.
You can download the Handbook here. USAFL Development Handbook
Katie Klatt herself is a much traveled footy player having just spent three years playing Aussie Rules in Melbourne Australia and now is back in San Francisco playing for the Golden Gate Iron Maidens.
Originally a player for the Sacramento Suns, Katie went down to Melbourne and played VFLW with the Melbourne Uni Mugars for three seasons. The Mugars are one of the strongest and most successful women's teams in Melbourne. There was some adjustment and hard work needed in Melbourne, Katie told USFootyNews.
"I had to work my way from their Div 3 team to the Reserves, then to VFLW each season as I got more experience."
"It was quite different playing in Australia. The knowledge of the game is significantly higher, and the skills much more silky and natural. The hits are harder and the speed is so much faster. It was definitely an adjustment." Katie went on to say.
We asked Katie what did she think was different now back in USA footy after 3 years away?
"I'm really excited by the growth I've seen in the US women's football scene since I've been gone, and the fact that so many women are starting to be interested in playing in Australia. And with so many new players coming out the Handbook was developed as I was hoping to encourage people to learn to tackle and play safely. We want this spread out to as many people as possible."
Finally, the travels may not over for Katie. Katie told USFootyNews she will be on the move again after this year's national championships in Sarasota Florida.
Where will Katie play in 2020? That might be a story to be covered at another time, for sure she will be a huge part of the USA Freedom's IC2020 campaign. For now thought Katie is officially a Golden Gate Iron Maiden! Congratulations Katie on your contribution to USA footy from USFootyNews and all your footy family.
The AFL recently announced that it will cease running the AFLX tournament after two years of experimenting with it as a preseason competition. To many fans, this was an expected development and a welcome one at that. But what does it mean for the hybrid sport and its future?
When AFLX was first announced, many people were skeptical. Hardcore, traditional footy fans would frequently decry the idea of the sport being played on a rectangular field, with different rules and less excitement than watching the "real deal" during the premiership season. Who would want to play footy on a soccer field anyway?
Other fans were more open-minded to the idea, and footy fans outside of Australia believed it to be a good way to grow the game in big countries that lack high-quality cricket ovals, such as China or the US. Still others tuned it out altogether, preferring to bring back State of Origin or continue the International Rules Series.
Optimists pointed to the success and relative longevity of Twenty20 cricket or rugby sevens: formats that are fast-paced and visually stimulating, but still keep the heart and soul of their respective sports. Frankly, with AFLX, I didn't particularly feel like it improved upon the format of regular Aussie rules -- apart from the fact that it's easier to play with smaller numbers and less congestion on a smaller field.
Skeptics would say that it was a failed marketing gimmick from the get-go and clubs bemoaned the fact that it left its players open to injury. A lack of enthusiasm from the clubs and players, plus diminishing returns on the financial side of things, led the AFL to close the door on the tournament. I don't think that State of Origin should automatically replace it, but there's certainly room for something different as long the AFL administration takes it seriously.
Personally, my experiences with metro footy in Southern California have led me to believe that it's the most effective way to bring Americans into the game. With a 9-on-9 game in an informal preseason setting, it can really help relax rookies' nerves and help their development. I joined the LA Dragons halfway through the 2016 season and didn't have the benefit of learning the game slowly. Therefore, my first preseason and metro competition the following year was invaluable. As for AFLX, I played it at the inaugural Rob Dollar Cup in 2018, but didn't really care for it that much (for the record, event organizers have since changed it to a metro footy tournament). As far as recruiting and retaining American players, I believe that metro footy is a great and effective way to bring new players along slowly and getting them used to the pace of the game.
Should AFLX die an unmourned death? Perhaps, but I would welcome anything that can spread the word about Aussie rules worldwide. What type of format is takes is relatively insignificant, as long as the skills and passion are there.
It was a clear, warm day in Westminster, Colorado earlier this month as the USAFL's Central Regionals Championship rolled into town. The usual suspects -- the Austin Crows -- took home the goods at this year's Centrals, but the rest of the day was filled with some exciting games and surprising finishes.
The action started at 9 AM, with two D2 matches played concurrently. The hosting Denver Bulldogs' reserves squad overcome an inaccurate day in front of goal (4.11.35) to start off with a nice win over the Oklahoma Footy Club, while the Nashville Kangaroos scored an upset win over D2 stalwart Chicago.
Up next at 10 AM, the Bulldogs' D1 side, led by Lachie Fleet and Anthony Grippa, took on the Minnesota Freeze, who were coming off a nice showing at the 80/35 Tournament in Des Moines back in June. But the Doggies were too strong and used their home ground to their advantage, winning by a score of 12.9.81 to 3.5.23 to start Centrals off on a high note. Unfortunately for Denver, their run would end at the hands of the Crows, who methodically sent the Dogs packing, 8.8.56 to 3.2.20.
The newly-rebranded Dallas Dingoes (formerly the Magpies) started their day off at 11:30, combining with several Ohio Valley players for Centrals. The Dingoes started off hot, taking down Oklahoma by six goals. On the adjacent oval, the Roos of Nashville slugged it out in a defensive battle with the Houston Lonestars, with the former taking out the latter by only four points.
After the kids' clinic at noon, Centrals resumed at 1 PM with a comprehensive thrashing of Minnesota at the hands of Austin. The Crows were just too good and too fast for the Freeze, winning in a shutout. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs continued their strong form with a hard-fought win over the Dingoes, 7.2.44 to 2.2.14.
As the afternoon crawled on and the weather began to turn, the Chicago Swans squeezed out another victory, defeating the Dingoes on the back of a strong defensive performance. In the final for D2 Pool A, the Lonestars battled Oklahoma in yet another close finish, taking home a 1-2 record for the tourney.
Concurrently, the Doggies' reserves battled it out with the Roos in what turned out to be an old-school chess match of a D2 title. Ultimately, the Kangas were within striking distance every step of the way, but Denver escaped with a 3.1.19 to 2.2.14 victory.
As for the women's tourney, it was a small, but quality, sample of what we can expect at Nationals. There's plenty of rising talent in the women's game, as exemplified by the creation of a North/South rivalry specifically for Centrals. In addition to the hosting Lady Bulldogs, the North/South contingency had women from Texas, Nashville, Chicago, Minnesota and others. The teams had a round-robin style tourney, with games scattered throughout the day, in addition to a women's clinic in the morning.
While the Lady Bulldogs opened the day with a win over South, overall, they had a tough time. Both North and South were hungry to upset the Doggies on their home turf, and they responded with two impressive wins apiece before the day was over. The South was largely composed of members of the Texas Heat, who have been looking stronger at each tournament they've attended since their debut last season.
Austin Crows - D1 Men's Champions
Denver Bulldogs reserves - D2 Men's Champions
North (Minnesota Freeze/Chicago Swans/Des Moines Roosters/Ohio Valley River Rats) - Women's Champions
Austin Crows - 3-0
Denver Bulldogs - 1-1
Minnesota Freeze - 1-2
D2 Ladder (Pool A)
Chicago Swans/Wisconsin Wombats - 2-1
Nashville Kangaroos/Wisconsin Wombats/Arizona Hawks - 1-2
Houston Lonestars - 1-2
D2 Ladder (Pool B)
Denver Bulldogs - 3-0
Dallas Dingoes/Ohio Valley River Rats - 1-2
Oklahoma FC - 0-3
North (Minnesota Freeze/Chicago Swans/Des Moines Roosters/Ohio Valley River Rats) - 3-0
Denver Lady Bulldogs (Red) - 1-1
South (Texas Heat/Nashville Kangaroos) - 1-2
Denver Lady Bulldogs (Blue) - 0-2