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National Championship 2018

Posted on Monday, January 15, 2018 by ARFAI,


The victorious Jharkhand Crows Senior team with Chief Guest Mr. G.V. Subramanium – Director of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Kolkata and ARFAI Secretary General Sudip Chakraborty

The sixth edition of the annual national Championship of Australian Rules Football in India, organised by Australian Rules Football Association of India (ARFAI) was once again won by the Jharkhand Crows in style in both the senior and junior divisions. While the Crows seniors won their second national title in a row by defeating the four time premiers Bengal Tigers 6-5-41 to 3-2-20, the Crows juniors won their fourth consecutive national trophy over their arch rivals Bengal Tigers 4-3-27 to 3-5-23 after a nail biting finish.

ARFAI National Championship 2018 was organised at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan School ground in Salt Lake, West Bengal, thanks to the long term sponsor and supporter Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan – one of India’s oldest and biggest educational trusts. The tournament saw itself improve like every year with an organising committee working from days in advance to run a smooth and exciting three days for the best Footy players from across the country. The committee was strongly supported by the visiting delegation from Bendigo, Australia, including the Bendigo Umpires’Association (BUA) umpires Dale Caldwell, Mark Snell, Matthew Vitiritti and the BUA vice chairman Paula Shay.

A Bengal Tigers (Jr) Vs Odisha Swans (Jr) match in action

The tournament saw a new state team making their debut in the senior division – the Bihar Bulldogs along with the Jhrakhand Crows, Bengal Tigers, Maharashtra Giants, Kerala Bombers, Rajasthan Eagles and Odisha Swans.

Day one saw increased number of league matches this year for every state team to get more chances to compete, with the Maharashtra Giants impressing everyone with their fresh new team with brilliant and improved skills on display, probably the best the Giants have put up in the nationals so far. The Bulldogs on the other hand impressed everyone with their approach and fitness on their debut, although they might need to get their basic skills better before their next appearance.

Maharashtra Giants (Jr) Vs Tamil Nadu Kangaroos (Jr) match under way

While all the teams impressed the spectators over the weekend, a big highlight for ARFAI was getting covered by the national television of India – Doordarshan (DD News & DD Bangla), which potentially exposed the sport to millions of viewers across the country.

Day two saw qualifying rounds for Grand Finals being played for the first time at the nationals adapting to the new schedule for the tournament this year making the competition more interesting. Both Jharkhand Crows and Bengal Tigers emerged victorious in the qualifying rounds to face each other in the Grand Finals for both junior and senior divisions.

The Bengal Tigers juniors returned to play in the Grand Final after a gap last year to face arch rivals Jharkhand Crows and what a closely contested match it was. After a nail biting finish the Jharkhand boys led by Captain Sachin Kachhap emerged victorious four times in a row to break into their traditional tribal dance from Jharkhand.

Jharkhand Crows (Sr) Captain Mahesh Tirkey in action against Bihar Bulldogs

The Senior division Grand Final saw the same two teams once again locking horns to clinch the ultimate title. The Crows were dominant from the start with parts of the game going in favour of the Tigers. With Crows winning the game quite convincingly in the end, it was time for some jubilant celebrations in true Jharkhand style with their local music and dance setting the final mood of the tournament to a very happy one for all present. The Australian delegates and officials wasted to time to either join in the group dance or to record the memories on their cameras.

AFL Chaplain Bruce Claridge the man who has been leading the support team from Bendigo, Victoria, every year to India thought “NC18 showcased the passion and ever growing skills of all states represented. The Jharkhand Crows (Sr) under the inspirational leadership of Mahesh Tirkey once again demonstrated their superiority by developing a cohesive flow in their game not seen in other teams. Constructive handpassing was a feature of their game. All teams showed a marked improvement in all areas of the game when compared to other years”.

ARFAI acknowledges the brilliant support of our sponsors for the event, including Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Essendon Football Club, The Golden Square Football & Netball Club, Bendigo Umpires Association (BUA) The Telegraph – t2 and of course Essendon Football Club and the AFL Victoria who helped make this tournament successful.