Thursday, March 24, 2011

Women's Aussie Rules IC 2011 has no clear favourite

Six nations will compete for the coveted 2011 women's crown.
The fourth International Cup of Aussie Rules football will also be the first to feature a women’s division (to be played from the 15th – 27th August, 2011). The AFL has recently released the fixture currently showing six competing teams: Canada, United States, Italy, Ireland, Papua New Guinea and a Multicultural/Indigenous team. It’s a giant step for international women’s footy and adds an exciting new aspect to the cup. The six nations will play four round-robin matches, with the top two placed teams playing off for the cup.

The real question now is who is going to win? While the European entrants are relative newcomers - thanks to well over a hundred years of Gaelic football - Irish talent has always been pretty strong ‘straight out of the box’ and on recent form the Team Italia squad aren’t too far behind. The North American contingent boast a healthy talent pool to pick from with the United States home to no fewer than thirteen women’s clubs and Canada five – both countries growing new teams all the time. Canada, on home soil, took home the points last time out against the U.S – yet again there wasn’t much between the two teams. PNG’s women’s program started in 2006 with an U/16 development squad, fast forward five years and their national team may very well be full of women in the early 20’s who have experience playing against Australian talent and around five years of footy under their belt. The PNG men have made every International Cup final, their women will be out to continue that stellar record. The final entry is the biggest mystery, the combined team could very well be a powerhouse, until they take the field it’s anyone’s guess. The fixture will also play a big role, each team plays only four others meaning it isn’t a perfectly level playing field. It’s a real possibility that a grand final spot could be won or lost on the number drawn out of the fixture hat. It’s a stab in the dark and based on paper thin knowledge, but I’ll have a dabble at ranking the squads.

Champions – Canada: Would be aiming to at the very least make the final, change of coach for 2011, recent form gives them the edge.
Runner-up – United States: Parallel Cup loss will have the team hungry, all preparations have been geared for IC2011 for some time. If everything goes to plan may be flying home with the silverware.
3rd – Papua New Guinea: Will probably make a fool out of my prediction and be much stronger, if the program started in 2006 has achieved its goals – IC11 was made for this team.
4th – Ireland: No team will get an easy time of the girls in green. Fast, hard running and long-kicking, with a little luck who knows?
5th – Italy: Seem to have put together an incredible program in an extremely short amount of time. If it improves at the rate it started Italy will finish much higher than fifth.
6th – Multi: Unknowns, combine teams have the difficulty of learning to adapt to each other and gel. Of course if the team is talent laden that may be easy, but for now the unknowns have to be ranked sixth.
The uneven fixture has been a hot topic.

Most Recent results:
Ireland 6.14 (50) defeated Italy 6.4 (40) in Italy October 2nd, 2010.
Canada 10.6 (66) defeated United States 6.7 (43) in Toronto, Canada August 7th, 2010.