Australia v. Korea; Nations from Other Side of Globe Meet in IFAF World Championship Opener

Tourney opens with IFAF Oceania’s Australia (#5) v.  IFAF Asia’s Korea (#6)

This will be the first ever meeting between these two nations in World Championship play although they did play each other in 2007 in a qualifier for the World Championship tournament that year. Korea won that contest 22-13 and went on to finish fifth in the 2007 IFAF World Championship held in Tokyo.

Australia is an original WC participant from the inaugural 1999 World Championship in Palermo, where they finished fifth. They participated again in the 2011 IFAF World Championship in Austria leaving in eighth place.

Team Outback, as the Australian team is called arrived in the USA in time to hold a week long camp at Ashland University prior to heading to Canton a couple of days ago. Head coach John Leijten, who coached the team in 2011, is a veteran coach having spent many years on staffs in NFL Europe and is currently the head coach of the Dresden Monarchs of the German Football League.

“Camp has been really good. We had 11 practices with guys coming together for the first time in an environment like this. We had great facilities and great meeting rooms and the best football experience Australia has ever had. We feel we’ve put our best coaching staff together so we’re confident that we’re the best possible team that we could be.”

Safety Damien Donaldson plays for Leijten in Dresden and is playing in his second IFAF World Championships:

“At the last World Championship, we only had four or five veteran guys, but this year we have 15 or 16. We’ve got a lot more guys who have seen it before and know what to do, so our leadership group has been better this time around. Hopefully that translates into a few more victories.”

Several of Australia’s players traveled to the United States ahead of camp, meaning they will be away from home for almost a month.  The Australian capital Canberra is 14 hours ahead of Canton, Ohio.

Korea has not played in any IFAF World Championship tournaments since they finished fifth in the 2007 event held in Japan in 1999. The team played a tuneup game in June  and lost but they do have some talent on the squad. The Koreans have four players returning from the 2007 team that beat France 3-0 to finish fifth. In addition, offensive lineman Seung Jung Oh played in seven games for the North Carolina Central University Eagles (NCAA FCS) in his senior season in 2012. He was good enough to take part in the 2013 NFL Regional Combine at the Baltimore Ravens facility. Jung Oh moved to the United States in 2005 along with his brother, defensive lineman Dong Jung Oh. 

South Korea head coach Sun-Il Beak:

“After our first official practice, we feel confident. Our players are definitely in sync. The main challenge for both us and for Australia is that we are from different continents. Australia has been here for a week and is able to cope with the time difference. We just arrived two days ago, so are struggling with the time difference a little. Our players and staff knew they would have to face this and so far almost everybody has caught up. I think we’re going to have a pretty good game tomorrow.”

Offensive lineman Seung Jung Oh:

“The football IQ of our team is less than players in the U.S., so because of my experience playing at college here, I have been teaching some of the players a little. When they make a mistake on a play, some players have a tendency to stop playing, but I tell them to keep playing and stay focused on the ball game.”

Kick off is Thursday July 9. 12 noon EDT, 6 PM CET, 2 AM Brisbane, Australia, 1 AM Seoul, South Korea

All twelve games will be broadcast live and streamed globally on ESPN3 in the United States, on ESPN International broadband channels where available, and at

Australia v. Korea 2

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.