International Cup treats Victorian students to footy feast

Thousands of students were treated to a footy feast as the AFL International Cup headed to school grounds in – and out of – metropolitan Melbourne on Wednesday, with 26 teams battling it out from Mount Eliza to Ballarat.


Team banners, charity sausage sizzles, face painting and player Q&As were organised for kids across Victoria, from three-year-olds in kindergarten through to those preparing for the last stages of year 12.

Indeed, those at The Peninsula School had spent the week preparing banners for women’s teams, the Fiji Vonu and Great Britain Swans, who contested a hard-fought war of attrition, with the Swans claiming their second win of the tournament, by nine points.

Among the impressive crowd was year 9 student Saige Bayne, who has just returned from Western Australia, where she helped Victoria to a grand final triumph over New South Wales in the School Sport Australia 15 and Under Australian Rules Football Championship.

“You don’t really hear much about footy outside of Australia so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Bayne.

“But it’s awesome to have international players on our ground. Girls footy is still a new thing, so we can look up to these women. If you watch how tough they are, it inspires you to go harder at the footy.”

Elsewhere in the women’s competition, Canada put 186 points on Pakistan, Ireland batted the European Crusaders away 61 to nil and the USA recovered from its round one loss to beat Papua New Guinea at Wesley College in Glen Waverley.

In men’s division one action, New Zealand performed an impressive Haka to the delight of the crowd at Linen House in Seaford, before the Fiji Tribe responded with their own war dance, the ‘Bole’. After laying down the challenge, the Kiwis football spoke the loudest as they romped to a 70-point win. New Zealand birthday boy Samuel McKenzie took his competition goal tally to three by adding a second with two minutes to go.

Students from Belvedere Park Primary and Seaford Park Primary came down to support New Zealand.

Watching were year 6 pupils, Ethan and Cooper, from Belvedere Park Primary School in Seaford, who said: “The Haka and the war cry were pretty cool – we would love to see our team do that one day.”

After the game, the New Zealand Players acknowledged the support from the local schools by handing out AFL KiwiKick backpacks to the students.

At Mount Clear College in Ballarat, the Papua New Guinea Mosquitoes put a round-one loss behind them and overcame Nauru, while Ireland and the USA continued their flying starts with victories over France and South Africa respectively. Canada comfortably defeated Great Britain at St Francis Xavier in Officer in Melbourne’s south-east.

The contest was far closer at Mentone Grammar, where China came from two goals down in the fourth quarter to take advantage of a stiff breeze and break the strong-spirited Sri Lankans in division two.

Year 10 Chinese students, who are bayside on a foreign exchange program with Patterson River Secondary College, celebrated with the team after taking the game in. “We are very proud of the Chinese team,” one said.

“This was the first game of football we saw live and we are very curious to learn more. We will tell people about it at home and maybe play one day.”

Mentone Grammar students at the school’s Keysborough campus watched Germany account for India in other division two action.

New Zealand’s next game will see them come up against a confident Canada team this Saturday after the North American’s defeated Great Britain during the second round on Wednesday. The game will be played at the Waverley Blues Football Club, Charles St, Mount Waverley. First bounce at 12.30pm and entry is free if you show a NZ passport.