MTUTU BRINGS AUSTRALIAN GAME FULL CIRCLE
“It combines the sublime kicking skills of soccer, the speed and agility of athletics, the power tackling of rugby and the aerial grace of basketball making it a really attractive option for young South Africans who love the freedom of movement the sport provides”, said Mtutuzeli Hlomela, who also happens to captain the National team, the South African Lions.
Ten years ago a bright eyed 17 year old soccer prodigy named Mtutuzeli Hlomela from Nyanga township in Cape Town, accepted a scholarship to Sturt Football Club in Adelaide, South Australia. Mtutu arrived at the club to be greeted by a cricket oval with funny goal posts at either end and was kicked a leather ball just as alien in shape.
“Where’s the soccer goal?”, he asked innocently.
It wasn’t long at all before Mtutu realized that he had actually accepted an “Australian football” scholarship ‘down under’ rather than a chance to impress with his beloved soccer. Most others would have packed their bags and headed straight home but not this plucky young man – he stayed in Australia and set about learning the game in the Under 19’s before impressing enough to earn selection in the Reserve grade that same year – not a bad achievement for a young lad who had never seen a ‘footy’ before.
Fast-forward a decade and Mtutu has come full circle. He now works for AFL South Africa developing the game in his home country and last week joined with key Executives from the Australian Football League (AFL) to tell the story of the codes expansion in his native land.
“In Australia we call our game ‘footy’, in South Africa we are calling it ‘footyWILD’ – the new game that roars,” said General Manager of AFL Game Development Mr David Matthews.
Matthews and fellow AFL Executive Andrew Dillon were in Cape Town for the annual Mining Indaba to help explain this relatively new game to potential partners from the corporate, government and non-government sector. “We were pleased to partner with the Australian Government through Austrade in support of the 2009 Mining Indaba. This visit was about increasing awareness around AFL activity in South Africa and also investigating the possibility of playing an AFL pre-season game in Cape Town next February”, he added.
As most Aussies would know, the code was first introduced to Australia 150 years ago as a winter alternative for cricketers and is now the country’s largest sport, attracting over 7 million paying spectators per annum to AFL games (second only to the NFL in America). Some 700,000 Australians play the game on a regular basis with a further 35,000 players established in International competitions in over 30 countries worldwide.
“There is a view in Australia that we have a great game that is simply too good to keep to ourselves and so we are busy exploring new markets as the world stage becomes increasingly smaller,” said Matthews.
“The AFL has been seeding interest in the North West Province of South Africa since 1997 but 2 years ago we increased our investment by expanding to four Provinces including the Western Cape – we now have over 17,000 footyWILD participants nationally with the majority of those 8-13 year olds from South African townships. Four AFL Clubs in Collingwood, Fremantle, West Coast and Carlton have joined the AFL’s push into exciting new territory with Collingwood joining us in Cape Town last week to search for Provincial partners”, said Matthews.
The introductory footyWILD BIG 5 program, sponsored by Costa Logistics, an Australian company with interests in South Africa, teaches young South Africans the BIG 5 skills of football Aussie style.
Youngsters learn how to ‘take a speccie’ (Marking), ‘kick a supergoal’ (Kicking), ‘use their hands to create’ (Handball), ‘chase, tackle’ (Defensive Skills) and ‘dummy, weave and bounce’ (Evasive Skills) in a fun and safe environment.
The program is for boys and girls, runs every week between April and September and is run by local community volunteers who are trained as coaches and centre managers, with the support of the Australian Government, through AusAID.
Secondary and Open age players have also been engaged in structured competitions across the country with a clearly defined talent pathway now in place.
The program is complimented by footyWILD PRIDE, AFL South Africa’s community development initiative aimed at addressing health, education and employment issues.
“South Africans love the Aussie game” said Mtutu. “It combines the sublime kicking skills of soccer, the speed and agility of athletics, the power tackling of rugby and the aerial grace of basketball making it a really attractive option for young South Africans who love the freedom of movement the sport provides”, said Mtutu, who also happens to captain the National team, the South African Lions.
“We finished third from 16 foreign teams at last year’s AFL International Cup in Melbourne, losing our only game to eventual winner Papua New Guinea, which shows how far we have come since I first started out – I can see a day not too far away when a young South African will be recruited by an AFL Club in Australia”, he added.
Last week’s promotion of the game at Mining Indaba 2009 included a footyWILD tour to Cape Town township Khayelitsha where 50 volunteers put 350 local youngster through the BIG 5 skills as well as sponsorship of the Australia Lounge where the mining fraternity downed tools to have a go at a handball competition Australian style.
footyWILD and AFL South Africa are proudly supported by the AFL, Costa Logistics, AusAID (Australian Government), Grandslots, the Harm Reduction Association (HRA), the North West Government, Fremantle Football Club and their partners NKWE Platinum and the Continental Capital Group (North West), Collingwood FC (Western Cape), The West Coast Eagles (Kwa Zulu Natal) and Carlton Football Club (Gauteng)
|Up There, Down Under||view|
|South Africa's Youth Shine||view|
|The Organisation Is Heading To The Right Direction||view|
|2013 footyWILD Season Launch ‚Äď Bigger & Better||view|
|Help South African Lions Get To 2014 International Cup||view|
|AFLTV to AFL fans located outside Australia or New Zealand||view|
|A local perspective on Geminder Scholarships to World XVIII||view|
|POSITION VACANT: footyWILD Development Coordinator - Gauteng||view|
|Congratulations from AFL South Africa||view|
|AFL South Africa Joins Social Network||view|
|Position Vacant - National Operations Manager||view|
|Flying Boomerans Game 1 results||view|
|South Africa Youth Squad Announced||view|
|Best Wishes from AFL South Africa Team||view|
|AFL Grand Finals||view|
|AFL - African Style||view|
|Western Cape Magpies Too Strong For Gauteng Blues||view|
|The World Is An Oyster For Geminder Youth||view|
|National Championships Round 1 kicked-off with a bang||view|
|Geminder Youth Academy||view|
|Good luck from South Africa||view|
|Australian rules in South Africa||view|
|Lions stop Chiefs with late goal||view|
|Lions Regain Pride||view|
|SA Lions Stake Claim||view|
|Footy is the real winner||view|
|Swan Districts Help Lions Roar||view|
|North West Upset the Cape||view|
|Magpies chance three in a row||view|
|South Africa Through Aussie Eyes (by AAFC U23's Jack Watts)||view|
|Western Cape Magpies Go Back-to-Back||view|
|Think Global, Kick Local||view|
|Western Cape Defend National Title||view|
|AFL Legend Barassi Goes footyWILD||view|
|AFL tries Cricket||view|
|Kids of Steel||view|
|July Rises To The Top||view|
|BlueScope & Youngman Roofing Expand Competition||view|
|Tumi‚??s a footyWILD Future Star||view|
|Bayanda‚??s Dreaming No Longer||view|
|Field of Dreams ‚?? Sahara Park||view|
|60 Minutes with Sheeds & Dipper in Africa||view|
|Boomerangs Fly High||view|
|Aussie Adventure for SA Young Guns||view|
|Bayanda's taste of AFL||view|
|Potch 'MCG' Hosts footyWILD Nationals||view|
|Pathway To Success||view|
|Our First Time Hosting Experience....||view|
|Dhino Up For Tassie Adventure||view|
|BlueScope Steel Support Geminder Youth Championships||view|
|USA Tame Lions Roar||view|
|Lions Overcome Gusty Japanese||view|
|Geminder Youth Shine||view|
|New Look Lions On Prowl at IC11||view|
|Captain Kirk‚??s South African Odyssey||view|
|Sobetwa earns VFL spot||view|
|Aussie Amateur Tour Of Duty||view|
|Aussies Make A Difference||view|
|AFL Grand Final Live On ESPN||view|
|Phindi‚??s Star Shines||view|
|Mtutu Moves On||view|
|Character Determines Success‚?¶.||view|
|AIS / AFL Academy ‚??Legacy of Learning‚??||view|
|Bayanda's Dream Comes True||view|
|O'Loughlin's Boomerangs Too Strong||view|
|O'Loughlin jumping out of his skin||view|
|ROAR Talent Unearthed||view|
|Western Cape Magpies Victorious||view|
|Nyanga BlueBirds premiers||view|
|BlueScope Steel add strength to Western Cape footyWILD||view|
|New Development Manager for Gauteng Province||view|
|ESPN AFL coverage for South Africa||view|
|Australia U17 v South Africa Lions||view|
|AFL young guns set foot in the Lions Den||view|
|Who wants to be a sporting millionaire?||view|
|Mtutu brings Australian game full circle||view|
|Dockers Legacy in the North West||view|
|Purple army to North West||view|
|Girls can have fun too!||view|
|Proteas take to football Australian style||view|
|AFL defers plans for South Africa NAB Cup to 2010||view|
|Costa Logistics‚?? footyWILD adventure!||view|
|Magpie Army to Cape Town||view|
|Where Eagles Dare||view|
|Healthy Future for footyWILD||view|
|The AFL roars into Africa||view|
|Best of the best: International Cup World Team named||view|
|SA's victory against Ireland and USA||view|
|Match Report - South Africa v Denmark||view|
|South Africa wild about International Cup||view|
|South Africans, PNG warm up for Cup||view|
|Flying Boomerangs keep coming back||view|
|Welcome to our team||view|
|SA Lions players reap ‚??reward for effort‚??||view|
|Allison‚??s Adventure Continues||view|
|Flying Boomerangs Return to Africa||view|
|Another footyWILD volunteer makes the grade||view|
|"North West Dockers" 2008 Champs||view|
|Aussies have Lions measure||view|
|Provincial showdown in Zulu Kingdom||view|
|AIS/AFL Academy return to the Lions Den||view|
|South African big 5 to Australia||view|
|footyWILD BIG 5 Roars||view|
|Aussie Back in the Lions Den||view|
|Mfanafuthi fell in love with footy||view|
|footyWILD Futures ‚?? Squads Named||view|
|'The Dish' - AFL Beams LIVE into Africa||view|
|Julian builds bridges in Potch||view|
|Have a wild kick in Africa||view|
|Aussie Cricketers get a taste of AFL in Africa||view|
|footyWILD changed my life||view|
|Rugby talent tries AFL||view|
|footyWILD PRIDE ‚?? HRA put health first||view|
|Bongani Mhlongo thinking positive||view|
|An Australian Dreamtime||view|
|Eagles flying high in the Zulu kingdom||view|
|School‚??s Out but footyWILD still roars in the North West||view|
|Monash South Africa Take PRIDE in Education||view|
|ROAR Talent ‚?? The hunt continues||view|
|North West Provincials||view|