Those girls were georgous
Were they refugees from South Sydney?
Anyway, back to the topic, heres a relevant article which gives a couple of insights as to why some South Africans are choosing Australian Football over other codes -
Finding AFL champions out of Africa
February 10, 2007
"You have ability. I know that, you know that, God knows that." Such language is not traditional to the Australian game. The speaker, Mtutu Hlomela, is the coach of the South African AFL team. He was speaking at quarter-time in the South African's match against the Indigenous All-Star under-16 team, a game played this week at Jabiru, deep inside Kakadu National Park.
The South Africans seem to understand intuitively and immediately the spirit of our game. They lack the precise skills of the indigenous team and the artful ways of making space, but from the outset, they played with pride and purpose. The indigenous team kicked four quick goals but that was about as far ahead as it would get for the whole of the game. The South Africans kept coming and the next day's back-page headline in the Northern Territory News read: "Tourists Have Come A Long Way In Football."
The player who took my eye was J.B. van Zyl, a slight, blond-haired 15-year-old Afrikaner who plays in the midfield. J.B., as he is known, goes to an Afrikaans school. He and his mate, Ernie Strydom, are said to be the two best athletes at their school. Ernie, who has a ton of personality and is a very intelligent young man, is a high jumper, a hurdler and the captain of the school under 16 rugby union team. J.B. is a middle distance runner, a five-eighth and the vice-captain of the school under-16 rugby team
Rugby is enormously important to their school. Indeed, school fees can vary according to a student's ability at the game
. JB.'s and Ernie's rugby coach took much the same view of them coming to Australia to play AFL as Sydney took of Adam Goodes and Michael O'Loughlin playing in the All-Stars game in Darwin. Nonetheless, the pair, who are inseparable, came. They prefer the Australian game. Ernie, who does most of the talking for them, says Australian football is "smoother" than rugby; less structured, more spontaneous. More fun.
J.B. looks as if he has been playing Australian football all his life. Most of the South Africans bear traces of soccer and rugby in their kicking actions. Not J.B. His is neat and free, his use of the ball copybook — always to space, always in front of the leading player.
At half-time, former Hawthorn coach Peter Schwab, acting as assistant coach to the South Africans, said he wanted them to work on one aspect of their game — the principle of front and square. Every time a South African player was stationary over the ball, Schwab said, he wanted his teammates to try to get to a position one or two metres off him facing the South African goal. Then, with a quick handpass, momentum could be maintained. "Who understands?" he asks. J.B. did. In the second half, Schwab gave J.B. the task of reading the opposition ruckman's taps and cutting off the supply to the midfielders. He did it. He can read the play. In the team bus, he is often holding an Australian football. He has been playing our game for less than a year.
Hlomela was anxious that I speak to black defender Steven Matshane. "He is a real footballer," he said. "He takes a footy wherever he goes — to the shop, to school." As a result, for the first time, I conducted a football interview in which the answers were given in Setswana (there are six different language groups in the South African team).
Eighteen-year-old Steven, who copped two stitches above his right eye in the game at Jabiru, said the pathway to the top in South African soccer was too cluttered
. "In this game, no one is ahead of me because we are all learning." Last year, playing an AFL indigenous youth team in Cape Town, he realised he could "really play this game". Asked the best player he had seen, he replied immediately, in English: "Jonathan Brown, Brisbane Lions, No. 16."
No one was more intent watching Essendon train at Marrara Oval on Wednesday evening than Matshane. "I have now seen the standard I have to attain," he said through an interpreter. His hope was that he would be noticed by an AFL scout in last night's curtain raiser to the Essendon versus All-Stars game. Matshane wants to play in the AFL. On Thursday, the team was addressed by Kevin Sheedy, whose message was later summarised by one of the Africans as follows: "If you love a game and have dreams, your dreams can come true. His did."
The problems with expanding Australian football in South Africa are — as they say of the problems associated with crocodiles in Kakadu — "clear and present". Nonetheless, I believe the AFL has to persist with its experiment. Soccer is conquering the globe as surely as McDonald's and Coca-Cola
David James, the former English goalkeeper, wrote an interesting article in The Guardian the other week in which he said the search for the next Wayne Rooney and the enormous sums of money now involved in soccer were helping to throttle British athletics. Kids as young as eight are being targeted by recruiters and warned off other sports.
To go to South Africa is to appreciate what a truly dynamic society it is in all manner of ways. There is also an immense pool of sporting talent waiting to be tapped
. Former Swans vice-captain Mark Browning is now the AFL's Queensland talent manager. In December, he visited South Africa and reported he was clear-eyed about the difficulties but concluded that with a "consistent, well-managed and resourced program", South Africa could produce AFL players in the future.