Six nations have confirmed their participation at the 2009 IFAF (International Federation of American Football) Junior World Championship to be played in Canton, Ohio, in July of next year.
(2008-09-17) IFAF has also accepted applications from five countries that will take part in the latest round of international qualifiers for the tournament’s remaining two places. The qualification process has already seen Europe produce three teams that will travel to Canton and now it is the turn of countries from Pan America and Oceania.
The deadline to apply to enter the historic inaugural IFAF Junior World Championship (JWC) expired at midnight on Monday, September 15.
JWC games between the world’s eight best high school-aged (19 and under) national teams from four continents will be played at Canton’s historic Fawcett Stadium, home of the NFL’s annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, adjacent to the Hall. The action will kick off on Saturday, June 27 and continue on Wednesday, July 1 and Saturday, July 4, before the Championship Game on Sunday, July 5. “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.
Representing Pan America, the United States qualified automatically as host along with number one seed Canada, whose junior national team has consistently impressed on an international platform. The region’s third representative will come from the Bahamas, Mexico or Panama. The Bahamas will enter international competition for the first time and travel to Panama for a qualifier on Saturday, January 24 in Panama City. The winner will then visit Mexico on Saturday, February 14 in Mexico City for the right to join the eight-team field in Canton.
Oceania will be represented by either Australia or New Zealand, who will meet in Canberra during the Australia Day weekend national holiday on Saturday January 24.
Wiking added: “Only a few years ago it would have been almost unthinkable that countries such as the Bahamas and Panama would be meeting in Central America in a qualifier of such magnitude, or that a battle for Antipodean pride would take place with the prize of playing in the world championship at stake.”
Three representatives from Europe were determined at the eight-team 2008 European Junior Championship held in Spain in July. The top three nations – champion Germany, runner up Sweden and third place France – won the right to take part next summer. Japan will fly the flag for Asia after the continent’s other IFAF member countries in the process of developing their junior programs declined the entry invitation.
“Hosting the world's best American Football junior national teams next-door to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will stand among the most significant international events in this sport's rich history,” said USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck. “On behalf of the United States, the Northeast Ohio region and the city of Canton, USA Football is proud to welcome players, coaches and families from four continents. Our languages and cultures may differentiate us, but we're united through our passion for American Football and the team-oriented values that it inspires."
2009 IFAF Junior World Championship Entries and Qualification Games
Pan America - Canada, United States
Europe – Germany, Sweden, France
Asia – Japan
Pan America- Bahamas at Panama, Saturday, January 24, Panama City, venue to be confirmed
Winner at Mexico, Saturday, February 14, Mexico City, venue to be confirmed
Oceania - New Zealand at Australia, Saturday, January 24, Canberra, venue to be confirmed
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