The 2017 Aquarius Bali Masters AFL 9’s was held over the weekend of June 9 – 11 at Finns Recreation Club in Canggu, Bali. Teams competed in two age divisions, the over 47s and the over 35s. There were 33 teams in total, making this the greatest number of teams to ever compete in an Australian football event in Asia.
The action was fast and furious, despite the advanced age of the participants. This 9’s version of football has been developed by the Bali Geckos to accommodate the smaller soccer-sized fields. This results in much faster action and scoring on these grounds but tests the stamina. 35 metre arcs are painted on the field where a team must kick within to have a score registered.
With so many teams in attendance, the starts were early and the days were long, but crowds were strong throughout. The 7am daily bounce-down presented its own set of challenges for traveling teams used to sampling the famous Bali night life. Quite a few bleary eyed footballers and support crew were spotted each morning. Players were often sweating Bintang!
Teams were ranked from their qualifying games into top 4, next 4, third 4 and bottom 4, playing for the Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield respectively. In the 47+ division the Cup was taken out by the Darwin Waratah Warriors in their first year in this age group. The Waratah Warriors have been regular champions in the 35+ division in the past, but with their squad ageing, they brought their guile and experience to the older division and were the stand-outs of the competition. A gallant runner-up was host club, the Bali Geckos. A notable player was Sydney Swans Team of the Century wingman David Murphy. The winners:
- Cup – Waratah Warriors (NT)
- Plate – Wembley Vets (WA)
- Bowl – Noonamah Crocs (NT)
- Shield – Melbourne Dingoes
- Player of the Tournament – Chappy (Northern Warriors)
The 35’s division held their finals on the Sunday and the level of competition was extremely high. A number of ex AFL, VFL, WAFL and SANFL players played across the teams adding to the standard. The Grand Final was a star-studded contest. Notable names included former #1 draft pick, Des Headland, along with team mates Kevin Caton and Adrian McAdam for the Noonamah Crocs. Ricky Olarenshaw, Steven Baker, Troy Luff and Sam Cranage lined up for the Bali Geckos.
- Cup – Bali Geckos
- Plate – North Beach Whalers (WA)
- Bowl – Jakarta Bintangs
- Shield – Whitsunday Bal Eagles (QLD)
- Player of the Tournament – Des Headland (Noonamah Crocs)
For the first time, the host team Bali Geckos held a Sportsman Lunch on the eve of the Masters, which was a sellout. It was a great afternoon of football tales, hosted by Bali Geckos coach Ricky Olarenshaw and headlined by Wayne Carey, Nathan Bock, Dean Wallis, Stevie Baker and Paul Hawke. The Duck even made a 1 minute cameo appearance for the Geckos on the Saturday, delighting the crowd. Money raised from the luncheon is assisting the Indonesian indigenous team, The Garudas, travel to Melbourne in August to participate in the AFL International Challenge.
A big thank you to the umpires from NTAFL for adjudicating for the duration, the sponsors of the event, Aquarius, Spear Wear, and Finns, and all the volunteers. 2018 Bali Masters is shaping up to be massive!
Greg Hinchliffe – President Bali Geckos
Editor’s note – at the Sportsman Lunch, Geckos current President Greg Hinchliffe was surprised by his team-mates and awarded the inaugural Geckos Life Membership for his services to the club. The much loved personality, “Hinchy” founded the Geckos 20 years ago, has been a tremendous influence on AFL football throughout the entire Asian region, and does an amazing job of putting together and running the Bali Masters. He doesn’t look like slowing down on the field either, representing both the Geckos 35s and 47s side with poise and courage.
Check out all the photos from the 2017 Bali Masters at the Geckos Facebook page.
AFL Asia apologises for the delay in getting this report up!