The AFL today unveiled its newest and potentially brightest tournament yet. The Foxtel Cup – a league that according to some people is in the same vain as soccer/footballs FA Cup – is a tournament made up of second-tier teams from all across Australia.
The teams are – Swan Districts (WA), Claremont (WA), East Perth (WA), North Ballarat (Vic), Northern Bullants (Vic), Williamstown (Vic), West Adelaide (SA), North Adelaide (SA), Port Adelaide Magpies (SA), Morningside (Qld), Labrador (Qld), NT Thunder (NT), Clarence (Tasmania), Ainslie (ACT) and East Coast Eagles (NSW).
The other team involved is the AFL’s second expansion project, the Greater Western Sydney Giants, who will be entering the AFL in 2012.
The tournament is made up of three knockout style rounds, the majority of the games to be played as curtain raisers to the AFL matches. Below is a summary of each round, courtesy of www.afl.com.au –
Eight round one knockout matches to be played in the period between March 26-May 21. Each match to be played on a Saturday afternoon, with seven of the games to played as curtain-raisers to an AFL match, and one match as a stand-alone match at a state-league venue.
Four round two knockout matches to be played in the period between May 28-June 18. One game would be played per week on a Saturday afternoon, with the aim to play each match as a curtain-raiser to an AFL match or as a stand-alone match at a state-league venue.
Two knockout semi-final matches to be played over the weekends of July 9 and July 16. One game would be played per week on a Saturday afternoon, with the aim to play each match as a curtain-raiser to an AFL match or as a stand-alone match at a state-league venue.
Grand Final to be played on Saturday August 6. Venue to be determined dependent on the competing teams.
The length of quarters for this league will be shorter, much like the NAB Cup format, going for 18mins with an extra 3mins possible making each quarter approximately 20mins.
Now that I have the formal discussion points out of the way, let me explain to you why I love this idea.
Firstly, as other sites have reported, it is the perfect opportunity for mature-age players to show their skills or for players that have been discarded by another club or by players that simply did not get drafted. When it comes to these points you only need to look so far as Michael Barlow and James Podsiadly, or from this years draft, Peter Faulks. This ensures that the state competitions remain the highest quality and gives every player another strand of hope that they may join the elite ranks.
Secondly, the league is built upon the standings of each state league. If you look at the VFL teams and WAFL teams entered for next year you will notice that they were the top teams in their respective leagues, each year the teams will be different and again the leaders from each league will be chosen to participate. This again further enhances the quality of the state leagues. Purely and simply because they will be able to test themselves against the best from elsewhere in Australia. So improving and keeping the quality of the state leagues is definitely in the forefront of the mind with this league.
My third point is about the games being played as curtain raisers to AFL games. I remember the days when the reserve teams used to play before their respective AFL teams, granted I was fairly young at the time, I nonetheless enjoyed the games. By allowing the games to be curtain raisers to the main stage they are gaining more exposure and again enhancing their respective state leagues. While the state leagues are very popular amongst their local communities they aren’t well known or well supported elsewhere. I challenge anyone to name more than 10 players in their respective state league.
In summary this league will be nothing but successful for the state football associations, as long as it is marketed properly and there is enough time spent on building the league within the regions.
The matches will be shown exclusively on Fox Sports.