East vs West game

The inaugural East vs. West tournament weekend was a fantastic success. Players from all over the U.S. gathered in sunny, Long Beach California to play in the first USFooty representative football tournament of its kind.

Most of the East Coast players arrived during the day on Friday and got settled into the affordable, Seaport Marina Hotel. After "carbo loading" down the road at a local Burrito joint, the players reconvened at the Hotel's executive center for part one of the three day coaching course intertwined into the tournament play. This was a fantastic way to raise the level of awareness of the games rules, strategies and tactics. Robert Oliver, Dennis Ryan and Brian Green all spoke as experts in their topics of coaching techniques, match preparation and umpiring, respectively.

After the three hour course, the East held a team meeting to announce the team line-ups for the 1sts and 2nds at 10:30PM PST (1:30 EDT). After a short 30min meeting, the East shuffled off to get a good night's rest. With a majority of the West team being made up of Southern California players with only a handful of players traveling from Dallas, Denver, and Arizona, the West chose to meet in the morning when everyone was together.

The morning came quickly and the coaching course attendees met back in the executive center for a two hour classroom course, led in part by Revolution veteran and Essendon Scholarship recipient, Josh Loring. After adjourning from the classroom, the players suited up and carpooled over to University of California, Long Beach to finish the coaching course on the field and prepare for the games.

The field was arguably the nicest field that the majority of the players had played on in the U.S. After a morning of overcast weather, the sun started peaking through the clouds and it promised to be a beautiful day for footy. After the field was setup with boundary flags and the eight goal posts, the games were ready to commence.

The East and West 2nds took the field and the tournament began with a bang. Play was aggressive yet skilled and a fantastic match for the spectators. High flying marks, great ruck work, and some handy goal kicking had many surprised that this was the 2nds. At the end of the match, the East walked off the field victorious; the first winners of the inaugural match.

After a short break, the home town, Orange County Bombers and the traveling San Diego Lions took the field for the 2003 California Australian Football League (CAFL) Grand Final. It was a match to be remembered with great play from both sides. A back and forth tug of war between these formidable rivals was what everyone expected but in the end, the Bombers were too much for the Lions to handle. For the first time since 1998, the CAFL Grand Final Cup resides in Orange County. Hats off to both teams for a fantastic match.

It was now time for the deciding match between the East and West 1sts. Both teams' line-ups were made up of Aussies who had played at very high levels back home and Revolution veterans and hopefuls. The first quarter ended with the East well on top and clearly dominating the middle taps. Shortly into the second quarter it looked as if the West were going to make a run but after a couple of quick goals the day was pretty much over for the boys. In the end, the East was far too strong and fresh for the West. A big congratulation to Coach Robert Oliver and Captain Alan Nugent for winning the inaugural, East-West Cup.

After a compulsory shower, the players from both coasts and the CAFL teams met back at the hotel for the Grand Final Banquet. Awards were exchanged while enjoying a cold Coopers or two, or eight in some cases. The East boys all drank a few from the cup and then it was clearly time to hit the town.

Good times were had by all while after a fantastic drinking contest revealed "piercing" results to the winning team in the first pub. The second pub was less eventful but the boys made the best of it and closed it down like champions. BOG (best off ground) honors would have to be awarded to the Denver boys.

Sunday morning revealed a slightly dilapidated attendance to the coaching course due to early flights out for most of the Eastern players. None the less, the course finished up shortly before noon and the U.S. welcomed a couple of dozen Level 1 certified coaches from the weekend.

Revolution Coach, Scott Nicholas, and USFooty Kids National Coordinator, Denis Ryan have much to be proud of from the success of the weekend. The inaugural tournament commenced without incident and an exciting new crop of young, skillful players, received an opportunity to show why they deserve to represent the U.S. in international play.

Brad Rinklin

Secretary, USFooty

- Secretary - USFooty

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