AUSTRALIA HOSTS NEW ZEALAND; BAHAMAS TRAVELS TO PANAMA FOR
IFAF JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL QUALIFIERS
Saturday, January 24: New Zealand at Australia (5pm local time) / Bahamas at Panama (2.30pm)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2009 – One more nation will qualify for the inaugural 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship of American Football (ages 19 and under) this weekend and one will move a step closer to joining the eight team field that will assemble in Canton, Ohio, USA, this summer.
Two qualifying games will take place on Saturday, January 24, in the Australian capital of Canberra between Australia and New Zealand and in Panama City between Panama and the Bahamas.
Six countries – USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, Sweden and France – have already booked a berth at the summer tournament, which will kick off at Fawcett Stadium at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on June 27 and play through to July 5. They will be joined by either Australia or New Zealand, who meet at the West Belconnen Leagues Club in Holt, a suburb of Canberra, at 5pm local time (1am EST).
Panama and the Bahamas meet at Balboa Stadium in Panama City at 2.30pm local time (2.30pm EST) for the right to then travel to take on Mexico on February 14 for the last remaining qualifying spot at the 2009 IFAF JWC.
“It is testament to the growth of the game of American football internationally that we have such a diverse group of countries from across the world who are determined to compete at the highest level of our sport,” said IFAF President Tommy Wiking. “Only a few years ago it would have been almost unthinkable that these countries would be meeting in qualifiers of such magnitude.”
New Zealand at Australia, Saturday, January 24, 5pm, Canberra: The New Zealand ‘Ironblacks’ triumphed 14-8 over the Australian Junior Outback team the last time the two rival nations met at junior level in 2003.
The 45-man New Zealand squad was selected from a total of 248 players who were invited to attend a series of training camps held to test and assess the country’s junior football talent. A preliminary squad of 80 was invited to two separate trial weekends in October, held in New Zealand’s capital Wellington and in its largest city Auckland, which saw the talented kiwis compete for final selection.
More than 90 of the best young gridiron players in Australia were invited to attend a camp at the country's peak training facility, the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. A group of 45 of were then selected to begin a pregame training camp on Tuesday, January 20, under direction of Head Coach John Ludvigson to prepare for the visit of New Zealand.
Bahamas at Panama, Saturday, January 24, 2.30pm, Panama City: The Bahamas will make history by playing the nation’s first-ever junior national team game when a 45-man roster travels to Panama City. Youth players have only been playing organized games under the Bahamas American Football Federation (BAFF) for two seasons and in the fall of 2008 eight community-based high school tackle football teams were established and totaled 320 players. Panama’s last venture into international competition resulted in a 14-6 win over France in the 2007 NFL Global Junior Championship in South Florida.
Visit the official 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship website at www.JWCFootball.com