Aksel’s Diary Day 1:
After serving with the Danish Army for 3 months and a long flight from Afghanistan to Denmark (home) I didn’t really want to spend the next 24 hours on a plane to Sydney. Then I started to think about why I was undertaking this journey: A 17 day international scholarship with the GSW Giants. All of a sudden the long flight didn’t bother me at all, and I was really excited to have a great experience and be a part of a real AFL club.
After a night in Sydney I got picked up by Ady one of the staff members of the club and he drove me out to one of the many Sydney suburbs where I was going to live during my stay. The house was owned by Adam Kennedy and Dylan Shine, and they had a spare room I was able to move into.
They are really great blokes and we had a relaxing Sunday on the couch with Fifa and Footy on the television.
The boys were a bit worn out after the match against the Gold Coast Suns which they unfortunately lost 104 – 148.
Especially Dylan who’s direct opponent was Gary Ablett.
Monday I had my first day down at the club and met a lot of people. I’m trying to remember everyone’s name and face but it’s pretty hard. My housemates did a really good job looking out for me and helping me during the whole day.
We started the day with a pool session and then we had a light weight session. All good fun! After lunch we had a review of the match against Gold Coast Suns where they pointed out what they had to keep doing as a team and what they had to improve. A lot of statistics and a lot different from what I’m used to with soccer. Every move on the footy field is noticed and analysed.
We then went for a 5 min drive to a field where we had a light session with handballs, kicks and a soccer match before we returned to the club for massages. A really great first day with the GWS Giants.
In what can only be described as an amazing experience AFL Europe’s Chairman and General Manager, Chris Dow and Ben MacCormack recently attended the 5th edition of the ANZAC Cup played in historic Villers-Bretonneux, France. This event has been built by the French league and a proud bunch of Australian Ex-Pats with a deep connection to the area and the Australian Armed Forces.
From the moment of arrival on Friday night at the organised dinner the spirit amongst both the French and Australians was obvious. Hearing the stories of why people from both sides had made the journey to represent their countries was emotional and inspiring.
Early on the Saturday morning both teams attended a wreath laying service at the Australian War Memorial dedicated to nearly 11,000 departed Australian soliders on the battlefields of France during WW1. In the graves at the site lay brothers at arm’s from our neighbours New Zealand and allies from the UK, Canada and Ireland. This is a truely special place.
After hearing stories of bravery and sheer determination to take the town of Villers-Bretonneux in a fierce battle three years after the bloodshed of Gallipoli on ANZAC Day it was time for a group of Australian’s to pull on the national jumper and play our indigenous game against the French national team.
The game was physical and the contest willing as both sides worked hard to gain the early advantage. A strong mark and goal by Albury native Reece Tanner got the Aussies started and this was celebrated with earnest. It was to prove the only time the team lead a well drilled and much fitter French team. They certainly grow them tall in France as the Australian team was undersized and looking outmatched.
After revisiting the values of the ANZAC’s the Aussies came out hard in the 2nd quarter and fought back strongly to get within 2 goals at half time. This certainly felt like a game to go to the wire.
With a stiffening breeze blowing straight down the short ground the French piled on the pain in the 3rd quarter kicking 7 goals to 2 in what proved to be the decisive blow. The French bigs were dominant around the ground while the smalls run out the game strongly.
The last quarter saw an early fightback by the Aussies to draw within 3 goals with plenty of time to spare. Fitness proved the difference as the quarter continued the Aussies were out on their feet. To their credit they never gave up and tried right until the siren which certainly honoured the past heroes of this area.
Q1: France 6.7.43 – 2.2.14 Australia
Q2: France 10.10.70 – 8.6.54 Australia
Q3: France 17.13.115 – 10.8.68 Australia
Q4: France 21.16.142 – 15.11.101 Australia
France: James-Robert Theis 4 / Wilfried Houvion 3 / Grégoire Patacq 3 / Emilien Martinez 3 / Valentin Mendoza 3 / Loïc Besnard 2 / Julien Bonnefoi 1 / Nicolas Vautrin 1 / Guillaume Lautré 1
Australia: Reece Tanner 4 / Jamie Wilson 4 / Joe Durling 2 / Ben MacCormack 2 / Nathan O’Neill 2 / Huw Ryan 1
Best on ground : Grégoire Patacq & Reece Tanner
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By Thomas Urban
For many years, the city of Villers-Bretonneux has organized a whole week of festivities around the ANZAC Day (historic movies, photos exposition, visit of memorials). In 2009, some Australians with strong connections with the Villers-Bretonneux battle contacted CNFA (governing body of Australian Football in France) to organize a game between French and Australian expats in Europe, with the Australian team to be known as the Aussie Spirit. After 2 years playing on a soccer field, the city of Villers-Bretonneux and CNFA hired a farmers field in front the Memorial. Those involved in the event love to think that this site is where the first Australians played football in France, in 1916. Unfortunately this year the event has reverted back to the towns pitch because of increased cost to rent the field, however we hope that for the centenary we will be able to return to the oval looking up and the hill and memorial.
CNFA continue to promote Australian Football in France and develop the game in as many cities as possible. France has a relative lack of commemorative sports games except the ANZAC Cup. This provides them the opportunity to make some waves and let people know what Australian Football is and that it is not just an Australian sport but also a French one.
Villers-Bretonneux is a part of Australia: Melbourne Café, Victoria Street, Victoria School… When you arrive in VB there is an unusual feeling you are in France but also in Australia. It is natural that CNFA continue to play a role in the events of the week. As Australia has the MGC, CNFA dreams that VB oval will be the national ground and maybe one day the Essendon v Collingwood game will be played over at the foothills of the memorial.
The score of the game doesn’t matter, the friendship between our 2 countries is the most important. That’s why together we created the ANZAC: to keep the Spirit. Lest we forget.
In the 2nd leg of the 2013 Easter Series there were some very unique challenges that a very long European winter decided to throw at us. With 48 hours until game-time there was the real prospect of the game being called off due the a recent 25cm snow fall and the frozen soil that was taking it’s time to thaw.
After the council ticked off the ground as safe for use only two days before the game, and AFL representatives Kevin Sheehan and Tony Woods checked the surface on Tuesday and announced the game would go ahead as planned in icy cold conditions on the outskirts of Copenhagen.
The Academy and European players were split into two teams coached by Sydney Swans premiership teammates Michael O’Loughlin and Tadhg Kennelly. Kennelly’s side held O’Loughlin’s goalless for the first half, before running out 22-point winners.
Of the Australians, Matt Crouch followed his strong performance against the European Legion last Saturday in Surrey with another excellent showing, along with South Australian Luke Dunstan and energetic midfielder Lewis Taylor.
Leading forward Darcy Hourigan chipped in with three goals and made things happen in his forward half and Kade Kolodjashnij was clever and calm with the ball tucked under his arm.
Midfielders Dom Sheed and Lloyd Perris tried hard for Kennelly’s side, while the versatility of Northern Territory’s Errin Wasley-Black were also there to see off half-back and the wing.
Excitingly the Europeans didn’t look out of place playing amongst these future stars with some of the best passages of play being through the hands of the local boys. Mikkel Kjoege (Den) showed his continued improvement regularly putting his head over the ball and emerging to handball out to a teammate.
Martyn Hinchey (Eng) was great with his tap work while opposition ruckman and mobile utility Niccolo Di Giorgi (Ita) thrilled the big crowd and club recruiters with some soaring leaps and an on9 the run, left foot banana from 45m out directly in front. Other Europeans with impressive games were Kilheeny (Eng) and the Lauritzen (Den) brothers.
Niccolo Di Giorgi and Martyn Hinchey were respectively named the best players for the European contingent.
Tadhg Kennelly’s side 2.6 5.7 8.10 9.12 (66)
Michael O’Loughlin’s side 0.0 0.2 2.4 6.8 (44)
Kennelly: Hourigan 3, Campion 2 (Denmark), Tsitas 2, Cutler, Kolodjashnij
O’Loughlin: Boyd, J. Secher (Denmark), Sheed, Spina, Di Giorgi (Italy), Smith (Scotland)
Kennelly: Crouch, Taylor, Hourigan, Dunstan, Kolodjashnij, Bontempelli, Robertson, Hinchey
O’Loughlin: Sheed, Perris, Dumont, Wasley-Black, Di Giorgi
View the videos below for all match highlights.
View the videos below for all match highlights.
Australian Football stars at Svanholm Park, Copenhagen
The AFL’s Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Academy Program team, as part of their European tour, will visit Copenhagen on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th of April.
From 9.30am on Wednesday 10th April up to 500 local school children will join junior clinics to learn about Australian Football from a number of AFL legends including Dipper, Tadhg Kennelly and Michael O’Loughlin. (pending the teacher lock-out/ strike).
From 11.30am the Australian U18’s team will be mixed with 16 of the best European players to form two exciting teams to take on each other in the highest level of football ever seen on the European Continent. This is an extension of the Easter Series with the game sure to be highly contested as the best junior players in the world take on each other for the first time.
Opvarmningskampe fra 9.30 (warm-up games from 9.30) Brøndby Strand vs Brøndbyvester vs Brøndbyøster skoler (the local schools involved) SE AUSTRALSK FODBOLD LIVE PÅ SVANHOLM PARK ONSDAG DEN 10. APRIL (WATCH AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL LIVE AT SVANHOLM PARK, WEDNESDAY APRIL 10) EUROPA VS AUSTRALIEN U18 (EUROPE vs AUSTRALIA U18) Kampstart: 11.30 – 10. April 2013 (Match start: 11.30 – April 10) Svanholm Alle 2, 2660 Brøndby Strand (Adress) Kun 800m fra Brøndby Strand Station (S-tog) (Only 800m from Brøndby Strand train station)
There will also be a training session at Farum Football Club at 5.30pm on Tuesday 9th of April. If you are interested in learning more about Austrailan Football and the league in Denmark you are welcome to attend and meet many ex-AFL stars.
It is hoped that Her Royal Highness, Mary The Crown Princess of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat, who was born and raised in Tasmania, Australia will attend the game to support the young Australians.
About AFL Europe’s junior program – it provides boys and girls with a fun and safe Australian Football experience that serves as an introduction to a lifetime of involvement in the game.
The program is not just about introducing children to Australian Football – it activates and develops within each child the desire for a healthy lifestyle and an association with this great game.
This is achieved through activities and programs for individuals, small groups and teams, and aims to assist development of personal and social skills.
If you are interested in starting up AFL at your school please get in touch with the Danish Australian Football League at email@example.com
Europeans playing in the match:
Thore Lauritzen – Denmark
Bjarke Lauritzen – Denmark
Nicolai Secher – Denmark
Joakim Secher – Denmark
Joost Van Der Hulst – Holland
Johan Lantz – Sweden
Troels Ottesen – Denmark
Martin Hinchey – England
Natis Johansson – Sweden
Kevin McSorley – Ireland
Benny McDevitt – Ireland
Matthew Kilheeny – England
Chris Martensson – Sweden
Mikkel Kjoege – Denmark
Victor Petersen – Denmark
Nicolo Di Giorgio – Italy
Andy Smith – Scotland