Jharkhand emerges double champions at the 9th National Championship

Jharkhand emerges double champions at the 9th National Championship

Posted on Sunday, January 28, 2024 by ARFAI,

Jharkhand Crows Senior team with the Trophy

The 9th Australian Football national championship in India, the ARFAI National Championship 2024, hosted by Australian Rules Football Association of India (ARFAI) in association with Odisha Footy Association (OFA), made a triumphant return after a hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with Jharkhand emerging as double champions. With over a decade-long tradition, this annual tournament has become a cornerstone in the Indian Australian Football calendar, and the 2024 edition was a testament to the resilience and passion for the sport in India.

In an exciting showdown, Jharkhand Crows emerged victorious in both the junior and senior divisions. The junior team’s record-breaking win of 16-9-105 to 0-0-00 against Maharashtra Giants showcased their longstanding dominance in the junior division, while the senior Crows secured a commendable victory with a score line of 8-6-54 to 2-3-15 against the West Bengal Tigers.

The tournament, which couldn’t be organised in 2021-22 due to the pandemic, found its way back with the initiation of two regional events in 2023 – the East-North Zonal in Ranchi, Jharkhand and the West-South Zonal in Secunderabad, Telangana. These events paved the way for the grand revival of the National Championship in the small city of Baripada, Odisha. Taking place on the grounds of M.P.C. Autonomous College, Baripada between January 20th to 22nd, the championship saw participation from 10 states, fielding 10 senior teams and 8 junior teams, comprising over 250 players and officials. The participating states, including debutants Uttar Pradesh Hawks, added to the diverse and competitive landscape of the tournament, while Tamil Nadu Kangaroos had to withdraw their participation at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances.

Day one saw a mix of competitive league matches alongside a few games where some of the more experienced state teams dominated over some of the newer states. The Maharashtra Giants, Odisha Swans and Kerala Bombers played some quality footy, improving their performance form previous tournaments. Uttar Pradesh Hawks, making their debut at the national competition, brought enthusiasm and spirit to the championship.

Day two saw the remaining league matches in the morning, deciding the finalists for the junior division and semi-finalists for the senior divisions. The West Bengal Tigers defeated Maharashtra Giants and Jharkhand Crows defeated Odisha Swans to enter the Senior Grand Final.

The junior Grand Final saw a clean sweep led by the dominating Crows whereas the senior Grand Final saw the arch-rivals battle it out once again for the championship with Jharkhand emerging as comfortable winners in the end. The championship also served as a platform for the selection of the senior ‘All Star 30’ team, who will stand a chance to represent India at the AFL Asia Cup 2024 later this year.

Jharkhand Crows Junior team with their Trophy

The awards were handed out by a number of special guests attending the tournament, including the Chief Guest – Rowan Ainsworth, Australian Consul General, Kolkata; Sarojini Hembram – Former Minister and Rajya Sabha MP, Odisha, Debashish Marandi, SDC Chairman, Mayurbhanj, Odisha and Rakesh Singh, Indian National Congress leader; the 13 Australian volunteers from Bendigo, Victoria and Port Pirie, South Australia; alongside ARFAI senior leadership P.M. Chokshi, Rakesh Ghosh and Sudip Chakraborty.

The return of the tournament after three years resonated with joy and camaraderie among the states. Shane Sayner, volunteer from South Australia praised the Jharkhand Crows for their impressive coordination, going as far as suggesting that they could challenge local club teams in Australia! Indian captain Mahesh Tirkey who represents the Crows at the nationals attributed their success to the training session held by the Australian volunteers, emphasizing the importance of on-field communication. Noteworthy were the outstanding performances of first-year senior division Jharkhand players Deepak Oraon and Bansi Naik, with Bansi Naik earning a coveted spot in the All Star 30 team.

ARFAI is highly grateful to the supporters for the event including Stake.com, AFL Asia, SEED, PNZ Express, Bendigo Umpires Association (BUA), Golden Square Football Club and M.P.C Autonomous College, Baripada, Odisha.

The tournament concluded on a high with a lively awards ceremony post both the Grand Finals, followed by the winning team’s jubilant celebration, dancing to the tunes of their folk music. It was more than just a sporting event; it was a celebration of resilience, sportsmanship, and the shared love for Australian Football. The 2024 National Championship, with its unforgettable moments and remarkable achievements, etched a new chapter in the annals of Australian Football in India

National Championship set to return – 19-21 Jan 2024

Posted on Monday, January 8, 2024 by ARFAI,

Maharashtra State Championships return

Posted on Thursday, November 2, 2023 by ARFAI,

The 4th edition of FAM Cup (Maharashtra State Championship) was held at Shivaji Park Maidan, Dadar on the October 23rd, 2023, showcased the process of Maharashtra’s young footy talent. Eight teams representing four districts of the state participated, including the Mumbai Cats, Pune Hawks, Thane Tigers and Navi Mumbai Bombers with a total of 120 players representing their districts in the junior and senior divisions.

In the senior division, the Mumbai Cats and Pune Hawks clashed in the finals with the Mumbai Cats clinching the trophy in the end. Rohan Hindlekar was awarded the Best Player title in the senior division.

The junior division finals saw an intense battle between the Navi Mumbai Bombers and Pune Hawks, with the former emerging victorious. Faiz Hashmi was awarded the Best Player in the junior division.

The event concluded with a grand award ceremony presided over by state association leader and former Team India player Zuber Baig. As the players bask in their victories, they are now gearing up for the National Championship scheduled for January 2024, poised to represent the state footy team prowess at the national level competition.

Maharashtra Giants win both divisions at South-West Zonal Championship 2023

Posted on Monday, February 20, 2023 by ARFAI,

The victorious Maharashtra Giants (Sr) team with former India captain Sudip Chakraborty and current India captain Mahesh Tirkey
Maharashtra Giants (Sr) champions with Indian Captain Mahesh Tirkey and former Indian Captain Sudip Chakraborty

The Maharashtra Giants emerged victorious in both the senior and junior divisions at the joint South-West Zonal Championship 2023 organised by ARFAI is association with Telangana Footy Association (TFA) on 26th February 2023 at the Gymkhana Maidan, Secunderabad, Telangana.

The tournament saw 150 players and officials from across the south and western region state teams including senior and junior divisions, return to playing Australian Rules Football after a long gap due to Covid. States that participated were Maharashtra Giants (Sr & Jr), Andhra Pradesh Magpies (Sr & Jr), Tamil Nadu Kangaroos (Sr & Jr), Telangana Saints (Sr & Jr) and Kerela Bombers (Sr).

The tournament was won by the experienced Maharashtra Giants teams in both senior and junior division. While the senior division Grand Final saw a very tough competition put in by the debutant Kangaroos senior team, the Giants defeated the Saints quite convincingly in the junior division.

The Fair play award was won by the Maharashtra Giants team, who displayed great sporting spirit on and off field. One of the major highlights of the tournament was the ‘Best Player – Junior Division’ award won by Maksood from the Giants, representing his state and participating at any inter-state level competition for the very first time.

Maharashtra Giants senior division captain and former Team India player Zuber Baig said, “The tournament was great and a special thanks to all the teams who have participated post Covid and played really well. Hope to see everyone grow each year with more energy and talent to showcase. A huge thank you to ARFAI and the Telangana state organising committee for the warm welcome and hosting a great tournament for us all”.

The zonal has now brought back the players together from different states after a long gap. This will motivate them to now start with regular practice and also grow in numbers in new districts in their own states. All players and leaders across the country would now be awaiting eagerly for the return of the biggest Footy tournament in the country, the ARFAI National Championship.

The tournament very importantly also marks the launch of a yearlong program to restart Footy activities in south-western states of India and bring back participants to the sport post pandemic, supported by the AFL and AFL Asia. ARFAI is grateful to all its supporters who contributed to the success of the tournament including AFL Asia and the Australian Consulate, Chennai.

Bengal Tigers (Sr) & Jharkhand Crows (Jr) win EN Zonals 2023

Posted on Thursday, February 2, 2023 by ARFAI,

Bengal Tigers – winner of the East-North Zonal Championship 2023 (senior division)

ARFAI in partnership with Jharkhand Footy Association (JFA) as the local organising committee, organised the joint East-North Zonal Championship 2023 on 29 January at the Morabadi Mandir Ground in Ranchi, Jharkhand. The junior division title was won by the Jharkhand Crows defeating West Bengal (1-3-9 to 0-3-3) in a closely contested match, where both the teams did not give a chance to the opponent to score much in the game. In the senior division, the West Bengal Tigers won the title against the Jharkhand Crows with a good margin (6-4-28 to 0-5–5).

Returning to competitive football post Covid after a gap of nearly 3 years, ARFAI organised this inter-state championship comprising 6 states from the Eastern and Northern part of the country, a step away from the annual National Championship organised in the past and the slowly starting zonal championships in India. The 6 states comprising West Bengal Tigers, Odisha Swans, Rajasthan Eagles, Bihar Bulldogs, host state Jharkhand Crows and the debutant Uttar Pradesh Hawks, competed in junior and senior divisions with 178 players participating.

Jharkhand Crows – Winners of the junior division

In the senior division, the ‘Player of the Tournament’ award went to Amaresh Mondal from the Tigers who scored 3 goals in the Grand Final to seal the victory for his state team. (POT award not given) The ‘Best Goal’ was taken by Indian Captain Mahesh Tirkey playing for his home state Jharkhand. Mahesh who was also the leader of the local organising committee, balanced his organising responsibilities extremely well with his on field-performance, coupled with a knee injury as well. The ‘Best Defender’ was awarded to Shiba Marndi from the Odisha Swans team and the ‘Best Mark’ by Rajesh Rana from the Rajasthan Eagles. In the junior division the ‘Player of the Tournament’ was Niket Khalko from the Jaharkhand team. (Award not given).  The ‘Best Goal’ was scored by Sushil Kumar, the Vice Captain on the Eagles team, the ‘Best Mark’ was taken by Shubhash Bilung from the Crows while the ‘Best Defender’ trophy was awarded to Alok Kumar from the Bihar Bulldogs. The ‘Sayner’s Fair Play’ awards, supported by long-time supporters of ARFAI, the Sayner family led by Shane Sayner from Adelaide, Australia were won by the debutant Uttar Pradesh Hawks in senior division and Bihar Bulldogs in junior division.

ARFAI was honoured to host the Hon. Australian Consul General from Kolkata, Ms. Rowan Ainsworth who travelled over to Ranchi specially for the tournament and graced the event by her presence. A welcome dance by the indigenous community from the state was preformed to welcome her and she actively joined the group to shake a leg.  Among many other guests who attended the event to support the development of Footy in the state, ARFAI was pleased to host Mr. Madhukant Pathak, President of Jharkhand Athletic Association and Mr. Rajinder Prasad, President of Jharkhand Netball Association.

Girls from Ranchi and Khunti district of Jharkhand in action

Before the senior division semi-finals, Hon. Rowan Ainsworth thoroughly enjoyed the girls’ exhibition match that was organised between Ranchi and Khunti districts, two district teams of Jharkhand. The Grand Finals were both highly enjoyable as both the junior and senior teams tried to put in their best performances to win the Cup for their states. ARFAI executive committee member Mr. Priyank Choksi said “After spending more than 2 years in Covid without any action on the ground, I am glad to see the skill improvement of the players in this tournament. As per the conversations with the participants, they are keen to take Aussie Rules football to the next level in India, which I am delighted to be a part of”.

7th West Bengal State Championship – 2023

Posted on Wednesday, February 1, 2023 by ARFAI,

Footy Association of Bengal (FAB) organised their 7th annual state championship at the Angrail Vidya Mandir Ground, Bangaon, West Bengal on the 23rd January 2023. The Murshidabad district team took home both the senior and junior division Champions trophies, defeating the North 24 Parganas district teams in both the Grand Finals.

Six districts participated in the tournament that marked the return of competitive Footy in the state of West Bengal post Covid. Other district teams that participated were Purulia, Paschim Medinipur, Jhargram and Purba Medinipur, with a total of 160 boys and girls participating on the day. The senior Murshidabad team won by a score of 46-20 while the juniors scored 26-19 to win the title. In the junior division the ‘Best Player’ was Ejaj Ahammed from Murshidabad district, ‘Best Mark’ award was won by Nobel Islam from Murshidabad district and the ‘Best Goal’ prize went to Dwip Mondal from North 24 Parganas district. In the senior division, the ‘Best Player’ trophy was awarded to Soyeb Ali from Murshidabad district, ‘Best Mark’ to Abu Bakir from Murshidabad district and ‘Best Goal’ trophy was won by Sk Rakesh from North 24 Parganas.

The Captain of Murshidabad Shaikh Shamim seemed very happy with the performance of his team (Murshidabad district), as he made sure to get the best out of every player in his team and this showed in the team’s performance on field.

An exhibition match was organised between two girls’s teams, who displayed various footy drills taught by their coach and former Team India player, Bishwajit Das. They play a very keen role in the footy development for the North 24 Parganas district. They aim to continue the training in their district and grow the sports with the youngsters.

The event was graced by the presence of The Director of Angrail Vidya Mandir – Mr. Shubad Kumar Vasu and also the Secretary of Angrail sporting club Mr. Debashish Gosh. They watched every match with great interest and also learned a few drills. ARFAI supported the event along with AFL Asia and FAB is grateful for the constant support.

A cultural program was conducted by the locals who penned and recited a poem based on the history of Footy in West Bengal – a delight to listen to in the local language – Bengali. There were around 800 locals who joined in to watch the matches all day. We can say, it was a great day of Footy festival organised by the Footy Association of Bengal (FAB).

Media Report

Jharkhand State Championship 2023

Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 by ARFAI,

Jharkhand Footy Association (JFA) organised their 3rd state championship at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Ranchi on 22nd January 2023, marking the return for participants to Footy in the state after more than a two and half years gap. While the ‘Dhanbad’ district team won the senior division title defeating Bokaro district, while the ‘Ranchi’ district teams emerged winners for both the junior s and girls’ division, defeating Khunti district teams in both the games.

4 districts participated at the tournament including 120 boys and girls who played all day to win the trophies in their respective divisions. While many players displayed great skills in the game, in senior division the ‘Player of the Tournament’ trophy was awarded to Amar Roshan Bara from Dhanbad district and the ‘Best Mark’ was taken by Deepak Oraon from Bokaro district. In the junior division, the ‘Player of the Tournament’ award was won by Shubhas Bilung from Ranchi district and the ‘Best Mark’ award went to Rohit Khalko from Khunti district. In the girl’s division, the ‘Player of the Tournament’ was Alisha Tigga from Ranchi district and ‘Best Mark’ trophy went to Manisha Kachhap from Khunti district.

Shubhas was the best player in the junior division voted by all officials unanimously. He kept his personal practice continued even during Covid which is the secret to his fitness. Bansi Nayak and Nimay Tigga, former Jharkhand Crows junior team members have progressed from junior to senior division, where they are the youngest players in the team. They displayed excellent body technique and footy skills in the game and are looking forward to win the upcoming ARFAI Zonal Championship in Ranchi. Alisha Tigga has shown tremendous improvement in the game and looks like she will be ready to train the new players.

The locals did enjoy watching the match all day long. Few senior citizens also came forward enquiring about the rules of the sport to understand the game better. Hoping to see some senior citizens bring their grandchildren to introduce the game soon. The Chief Guest for the event Mr. Ajay Nath Shah Deo, former Deputy Mayor of Ranchi and Currently Vice-President of Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA), encouraged the boys to play the game with full enthusiasm and be an inspiration to the youth. Local media was also present at the venue to live telecast the final match on their prime-time news.

Going forward, the state association are looking forward to focus on introducing Indi-kick (under 14s) programs in a few schools that can inculcate Footy in their curriculum so that the sport starts growing form the grassroot level in Jharkhand.

Media report

ARFAI joint East – North Zonal Championship 2023

Posted on Friday, January 13, 2023 by ARFAI,

Australian Football in India returns with the ARFAI East – North Zonal 2023

Inter-state Australian Rules Football competition in India returns after a long break due to the Covid pandemic with 6 states of Northern and Eastern India getting together for the joint East – North Zonal Championship.

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