Well it’s finally arrived. WIth only 2 competitive hit-outs in 2020 vs the Hanoi Swans contingent and no international travel on the horizon AND the emergence of the HAFL the Saigon Swans committee have gone to work and come up with the SAFL.
Round 1 of the Saigon AFL will be fittingly held right in the guts of Ho Chi Minh City at pretty much Vietnam’s biggest cities MCG Hoa Lu Stadium. If you’re in town stroll down, grab a Halida and take in the action. The heat will be on both metaphorically on the field and atmospherically with a balmy 34 degrees predicted by midday and a 33% chance of rain in the middle of the day.
Teams will be merged to maximize player numbers which will have a 2 fold impact – quality of the squads will increase and some extra numbers around the contested ball are sure to ensue. The Tigers will join the Crocs and the Bears will join the Vipers. The season schedule is structured so that when needed teams can merge yet keep their own results on the overall ladder across the season.
Domestic footy is BACK in Saigon
Saigon domestic footy isn’t new, going back to the 20-teens the infamous Reds vs Whites matches reached spectacular heights with incredible rivalries emerging between players on either side and umpire Rocket send offs becoming a weekly occurrence. Eventually this was squashed with internal club unity considered to be under risk. A few years later the club’s connection with the Saigon Gaels Women’s Gaelic club saw an off season 4 team league get up and running with great games happening at RMIT during the off season. Lately the Saigon Cup saw 3 of the current franchises emerge (Ben Thanh Bears, Thu Thiem Tigers and Cho Lon Crocs) joined by the Khmer Cobras with the Cobras winning the first edition in 2018 and the Tigers taking out the 2019 edition. These were 1 day tournaments but the seeds of internal teams in Saigon were planted, Covid’s ongoing influence turning out to be the watering those seeds needed to sprout!
The Vipers make 4
In 2021 with the SAFL being confirmed the structure was decided to fit with the HAFL (4 teams in 2020) and form a VFL which was unveiled in Vung Tau on the ANZAC Friendship Weekend. It was only fitting that the spiritual home of AFL footy in Vietnam, Vung Tau, was represented in this final team. The Vipers took to the field in Round 1 of the VFL and have already positioned themselves as the team to beat keeping a clean sheet and putting up an incredible percentage of %! With high flying stars like Nathan Milner, Matty Barton and Angus McEwin the rest of the league are going to be hunting the Vipers through the early rounds.
Engine Room Clashes
The engine room is where it’ll start and perhaps be decided. As every good Swans domestic game should, the Milner Bagel Bros will be pitted against one another with Nath looking to scrap the Vipers/Bears to a victory whilst Sean will be trying to get that silky long left foot pumping the Crocs/Tigers forward to kick a winning score. Alongside them will be the 2 new on ball bulls of the Saigon scene. Ryan Tishler didn’t take a backward step all day in Vung Tau raising many eyebrows and Wayne McMahon has been named Tigers captain and will be hoping to harness his stand up comedy game to stand up in round 1 and get the Tigers/Crocs the 4 points. Beside the Bros and the Bulls will be the 2 Stalwarts of the Lady Swans. Long term skipper and coach Naomi and Chia will be locked in a fierce battle all day. With the 12 point women’s goals on offer perhaps whoever and hit the scoreboard hardest here could make the difference?
The Gun Show – Weapons for the Shootout
In this space the teams take a big divergence. The Tigers/Crocs have a distinct ‘experience’ approach with Rooster and Andy G perhaps some of the most experienced attacking footballers on earth! The Bears/Vipers on the other hand have serious points of difference as their secret weapons with big Jonno ready to impact at either CHF or in the ruck and Sharpshooting Will like all good americans citing his 2nd Amendment right to bear arms and shoot at will – luckily he’s a deadly accurate shot!
On the female side some of the most athletic new talent to hit the ever Swans will be moving freely across the Hoa Lu surface with Ella and Claudine fresh from great games in Vung Tau ready to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Both girls have the pace and endurance to impact all 4 quarters and could swing it either way.
As we all know the Covid situation at the moment is sensitive so please keep an eye on Sport Easy to make sure the game goes ahead. Playmakers is unfortunately closed so Saturday afternoon football will need to be watched at home. Bring your own water, some Halida beers will be available at the end of the game. Please do not be late, with 1 main game happening we need players on time ready to roll to get the best hit out possible. If you can’t make it make sure your team captains know!