Australian football has been played in South Africa since 1997, and is now an officially recognised sport of the North West Academy of Sport, a partner of the high performance institute at Potchefstroom University.
Clubs including St Kilda and West Coast, and most recently Carlton, Collingwood and Fremantle have established ties to AFL South Africa and made use of the world-class university facilities during the pre-season.
A successful partnership between Australian football and cricket has seen both sports grow together. In April, 200, AFL South Africa launched Footy Wild – the South African version of Auskick.
In the first 12 months, the program has grown to include around 8,000 Footy Wild players and over 500 volunteer coaches, umpires and administrators.
Over the past two years, several U17 Australian teams have toured South Africa as part of the AFL AIS Academy, playing against local South African sides.
As their fourth consecutive outing to the International Cup, the South Africans were looking to improve on their 2008 bronze finish and challenge teams to win the Cup.
However, an upset loss to the US at ANZ Stadium and too many close calls saw them fall short on percentage and the Lions slipped to finish fifth overall.