1999 CanAm Game

Treats from Oz

The first international game played by the American Revolution. After trailing at half time, the Revolution fought back to win under the guidance of coach and ex-AFL player Paul Roos.

Honorary Coach: Paul Roos
Assistant Coach: Craig Jones
Assistant Coach: Chris Olsen
USAFL President: Paul O’Keeffe
Captains: Deron Lien, Rich Mann & Ron Miller

Opponent: Canadian Northwind
Location: Chicago
Date: 1 August 1999
Result: Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
G.P G.P G.P G.P.T
Revolution 3.3 4.10 8 .13 10.15.75
Northwind 3.2 5.2 6.6 8.7.55

Best on Ground: Rich Mann (Revolution)
Coaches Awards: Aaron Whitham (Revolution) & Chris Cunning (Canada)

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[LINKS TO THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES]

AFL Record Article
Sky Is The Limit
AFL Record, Round 21, August 20-22, 1999

By Paul Roos

Our intrepid reporter put on his coach’s hat in the United States recently and came away with one conclusion: the game is taking off.

My involvement with the United States Australian Football Association has been tremendously rewarding over the past six months, culminating in my appointment as coach of the American national side.

Yes, the United States picked a national team to take on Canada in Chicago for North American bragging rights.

Each of the individual clubs throughout the US was asked to pick three players to be considered for the national team. To be eligible, you had to be a green card holder or an American citizen.

Eventually the squad was cut to 25 players and of those only six were green card holders. Therefore, 19 Americans, most who had only recently picked up the game in the last 12 to 24 months, would represent their country against arch rival Canada.

My aim as coach was to prepare the team as Rodney Eade would the Sydney Swans and to give the players an insider’s look at what goes on at AFL level.

The players were expected at the team hotel no later than noon Saturday, With the game the be played at 1pm on Sunday. There was a selection meeting at 11am on Saturday for the coaching panel, a team meeting at 1pm, training at 3pm, team dinner at 7:30pm and a final meeting at 9:30 on the morning of the game.

Before the game, the Chicago Swans played a curtain-raiser followed by an exhibition match put on by the boys and girls of Komarek Junior High School.

It was amazing watching a group of American kids playing Australian Football with the passion and skill of their Australian counterparts. What a great thrill it was for everyone at the game to see the junior development program in the US starting to pay dividends.

At the completion of their game, the kids formed a guard of honor for the American team.

The Americans were really pumped up for the game. In fact, one player told me later he had tears in his eyes as he ran past the kids and on the ground.

The match was very physical but played in great spirit. The tackling, passion and enthusiasm of both teams was first class and every player gave 100 percent in the warm conditions.

The game was close all day with the Americans winning by some 20 points.

While the skill level was varied, due largely to the pressure both teams applied, there were several memorable highlights.

Brian Nichol, an American who has been playing for about 12 months, kicked a goal Peter Matera would have been proud of. He picked the ball up in the center ran probably 40 meters bouncing twice and kicked a goal from the boundary line.

Donnie Lucero (an American with seven games of football behind him) marked a ball running directly back towards Canada’s 203-centimeter, 130-kilogram ruckman and then kicked a goal from 35 meters out to inspire his team in the last quarter.

It was a honor to coach such a committed and passionate group of players who have taken to footy in such a committed and passionate group scary to think how good some of these players could have been in they had picked up the game at an early age.

The sky in the Limit in the United States.

Paul Roos retired from the AFL last year after 356 games with Fitzroy and the Sydney Swans. He writes occasional articles for the AFL Record from the United States.

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afl.com.au Article
PAUL Roos coaching a United States team in an international Aussie rules football championship? I'd like to see that.

By Chris McAsey, www.afl.com.au - Reprinted with permission of 7NewsAFL.

The former Fitzroy and Sydney champion, who is living with his family in California after retiring from football last season, is fast becoming the unofficial footy ambassador to the United States. It started with Roos agreeing to act as coaching consultant to teams in the Californian Australian Football League (CAFL), which was formed last year with teams from San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange County and Santa Cruz. Roos' involvement in the Californian competition came after an approach from an organisation promoting football in America, the United States Australian Football Association (USAFA). USAFA officials were scouting for a new coach for the only all-American team in the Californian competition, the Inland Empire Eagles, runners-up in the league's first premiership season.

It was the Eagles' lucky day. Roos, who is doing special reports for Channel Seven's Sportsworld and MMM radio from his base in Saratoga, was looking for a way to help promote footy in the States. 'I'd already spoken to the AFL about helping out with development of the game over here. I said if I could do anything to help to let me know,' Roos said. 'After the Eagles approached me I said I'd help out and made the trip down to Riverside for their first game of the season last weekend.' Roos initiated a 'crash course' in skills and positional play for the Americans, who, after one twelve-game season, boast less games' experience between them than their coach. Even so, he was surprised at the level of skills shown by the locals. 'I was surprised at how good they were, especially how well some of them kicked. 'The impressive part is they are all very good athletes. Being Americans they've got a good sporting background and they tend to pick things up quickly. 'Certainly once they get the skills down pat, with their athleticism they could play some very good footy.'

After two solid training hitouts, Roos coached the Eagles to a win in their first game of the season against the San Diego Lions. It's not every day that a 356-game AFL legend agrees to coach a self described 'talentless bunch of seppos' based in a small inland community in southern California, for free. Inland Empire president Chris Olson said the players were very excited about the opportunity to learn from one of the masters of the game. 'A few of us knew who Paul was, but the majority didn't,' Olson said. 'However, after explaining his place in Aussie rules history the guys couldn't believe someone like him would be working with our club.'

Eagles captain Deron Lien said some of the players were apprehensive they wouldn't shape up in the presence of such a highly-decorated AFL footballer. 'If that's what they were thinking, it didn't last long because from the moment he stepped onto our training field, he was one of the guys. 'Some of us had dinner with Roosy after training and between bites of his fajita, he told us stories of the AFL and some of his teammates. 'I was laughing so hard I nearly choked on my burger!'

Roos ongoing involvement with the Eagles will be restricted by distance and other commitments, but CAFL and USAFA officials are also keen for him to take on a broader role developing and promoting the game in the States.

'It's escalated a bit since I first got here. We're trying to put together some coaching clinics throughout the whole country, and CAFL officials have talked to me about working with some other clubs too,' Roos said. 'Hopefully I can get around and teach the Americans about the game and help the Aussies and locals who are trying to set the competition up over here.'

One of the clubs that may benefit from Roos' footy knowledge is CAFL newcomer the Santa Cruz Roos, based close to Roos' home base in northern California. Could the Roos be the first franchise footy team in the States?

'They're just over the hill from where we live and (former Fitzroy and Sydney ruckman) Johnny Ironmonger is playing with them,' Roos said. 'Johnny rang me when I first arrived and asked if I was going to play! I said I'm not playing again but I'm happy to come down to train with them and help out on the game days.'

The idea of being a footy ambassador in the States appeals to Roos, and there would be few players, past or present, who could equal his credentials. The fourth highest number of games played at AFL level, twice named All-Australian captain, seven times All-Australian amd five times Fitzroy best and fairest, Roos is widely regarded as having one of the finest football brains in the history of the game. Add to that stints on television and radio towards the end of his career that have polished his skills as a presenter and communicator and you have an impressive CV. 'We've talked to the AFL about developing the role a little bit and what we're trying to achieve,' Roos said. 'They've been pretty supportive with the league, so we're hoping with their help to get something good happening over here. 'If I can also help when I get back to Australia in providing a link between the AFL and the teams over here, I'd love to do it.'

Roos believes a combination of television coverage, football clinics throughout the country, AFL exhibition games and 'international' competition - whether it be local 'American' and 'Australian' teams playing curtain raisers to AFL exhibitions, or an American team competing at the International Australian Football Championship played in Darwin - are some of the keys to developing the sport in the States. 'I think it would be great if the American guys could go to Darwin for the tournament to show that the game's being played over here,' Roos said. 'If that happens somewhere down the track I could get involved with the team myself.'

For the moment, Aussie rules is still very much at a grass roots level in the States, but Roos believes it has great potential based on the athleticism and energy of Americans and their love of sport. He was amazed at the passion of both players and supporters during the game between the Inland Empire Eagles and San Diego Lions last weekend. 'It was incredible. It was like going to a game at a county footy ground in Australia. 'People were on the sidelines watching, there was a timekeeper, a little scoreboard and goals posts at either end. The atmosphere was fantastic.'

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The Australian Article
By Warwick Hadfield, The Australian.
Thursday, March 04, 1999

THE United States is on the verge of becoming a legitimate recruiting ground for AFL players, Paul Roos said yesterday.

Roos, who retired last year after a monumental 356 games for Fitzroy and Sydney, is now living in San Jose, California. `I could never have imagined how well the game is established here,` Roos said. `I don`t think anyone has any idea back in Australia.

`There are proper administrative structures in place and the athleticism of the players can`t be questioned. The only place they fall down is strategies, which is not surprising considering they haven`t played anywhere near as many games as we have in Australia. `I`ve already seen a couple of blokes with the potential to play in the AFL and I honestly believe it will become a recruiting area in the near future.

`I spoke with Colin Seary at the Swans just the other day and he told me he was off to Ireland to look at a couple of players there. I told him he`d do just as well to come here.` Ireland produced one of the game`s legends, Jim Stynes, who was recruited to Melbourne and eventually set an AFL record for most successive games -244, Seary, the Swans football general manager, has now asked Roos to keep an eye out for possible recruits.

One of the players to impress Roos reminded him of his Sydney team-mate, Brownlow Medallist Paul Kelly. `He had everything Paul`s got except his great tactical ability,` Roos said.

Other players from the 24 American AFL clubs, including the Kansas City Power and the Milwaukee Bombers, will come under Roos` keen eye in the next few months, when he tours the country conducting coaching clinics.

The United States Australian Football Association has just received a $45,000 grant from the AFL to help develop the game, $30,000 of which will go to the association. The other $15,000 will cover Roos` expenses.

`I`m going to Chicago in May to coach the Chicago Swans,` he said. `But the day before I am going to a junior high school were 200 students are playing Australian football. And that`s the key, if we can start getting the players young enough then we can develop them into AFL players.` Inspired by his experiences since moving to California, Roos said he now supported the idea first floated by Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy of eventually having an AFL team based in Los Angeles.

`It`s a long plane trip, but no longer than say what the rugby union players are doing in the Super 12 when they go to South Africa,` he said.

Roos hasn`t been tempted out of retirement, but he will umpire a game this weekend in the Californian league between Orange County and Santa Cruz, which features another former Sydney Swan, John Ironmonger.

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