2019 Champions League Team Previews: Part Two

The annual AFL Europe Champions League is returning to Amsterdam once again for what is set to be a competitive day of football as the best club teams from around Europe battle it out.

This will be the fifth time the tournament has taken place, as this year will see all the games take place on Saturday the 6th of April. As part of the buildup, AFL Europe will be previewing all the teams competing. For this part two of articles we will be previewing the Paris Cockerels and the Winterthur Lions in the Men’s side of the draw, and the Amsterdam Devils in the Women’s.

Men’s Competition:

Paris Cockerels

Alexandre Dulchain – Secretary

How did you qualify for this year’s Champions League?

We got our ticket to Champions League by winning the French 2017-2018 championship. The level of the French championship is increasing every year and we were really proud to win the premiership having overcome our sister team, the Paris Cockatoos, in the semi-final and then running out winners against a strong Cergy Coyotes team in the grand final.

Have you been involved with any pre-season tournaments? If so, how did that go? If not, have you had the chance to play any other teams recently in preparation?

The French season runs from October to June (with a winter break), so the Champions League tournament falls part way through the second half of our season. The start of our season has been rough with a few top players injured or unavailable, but we had a great year of recruitment in Paris and were happy to incorporate fresh blood in our teams – everyone will be back for the Champions League though!

Outside of the French league, we also invited the Wandsworth Demons in October for a small men’s tournament as well as a full women game; the development of women’s footy is a one of our focuses this year, with the co-hosting of the Gallia Cup (to take place in Paris on the 9th of March) among other planned events.

The Amsterdam Devils also came down to Paris to play in the French ‘North Cup’ in February. The North Cup is a one-day tournament, in the same format as the Champions League, played by the four teams from the north of France (Cergy Coyotes, ALFA Lions, Paris Cockatoos and Paris Cockerels). Cergy Coyotes hosted this year and kindly proposed to the Devils to play as a guest team. They are a very strong team and it was a great pleasure to have them involved on the day!

What can we expect to see from your team this Champions League?

We are hoping to finish top of the group in the group phase. Having run into eventual champions West London in the group stages of our last two times participating at the Champions League, and being competitive against them on both occasions, we are hoping that with a slightly more favourable draw we can at least make the semi-finals.

Where do you rank competing in the CL in the AFL Europe calendar and what does it mean to the team?

We are really excited to be part of the 2019 Champions League! It’s a great additional reward for the efforts made last season and provides a great opportunity to test ourselves against a variety of high-quality teams. Amsterdam is also a great city to visit!

Do you have any extra bits of information about the club, like past years funny/interesting stories?

Back in our first participation in 2016, our coaches managed to lose a number of our magnets from the coaching board during the lunch break. Whilst most of the lost magnets were found scattered on the main field, one of the magnets was lost and the unfortunate player ended up with limited playing time during the afternoon session as a result.

 

 

Winterthur Lions

Stefan Burgener – AFL Switzerland President

How did you qualify for this year’s Champions League?

We were given a wildcard as our Swiss League didn’t exist yet last season. We aim to qualify for next year’s Champions League by winning the inaugural Swiss League.

Have you been involved with any pre-season tournaments? If so, how did that go? If not, have you had the chance to play any other teams recently in preparation?

We had a come and try session on Sunday. 24 men and women showed up including many new players. We played a scratch match at the end.

We plan on playing a friendly against the Zuffenhausen Giants at the end of March to have some much-needed practice against a really solid side.

What can we expect to see from your team this Champions League?

A stronger, more experienced team compared to our first appearance last year. Having some similar players throughout games leading up to this we are becoming closer as a team and since last year have a lot more experienced players.

Where do you rank competing in the CL in the AFL Europe calendar and what does it mean to the team?

Very highly. It is an honour to be invited and we expect it be an amazing experience for all involved, as it was last year.

The Champions League is right up there with the Euro Cup and the upcoming inaugural Swiss League.

Do you have any extra bits of information about the club, like past years funny/interesting stories?

We’ve been training and playing whenever we can since August 2016, but only officially founded the club in February 2018. In January 2019 AFL Switzerland was officially founded and welcomed us, the Basel Dragons and the Geneva Jets as its founding member clubs.

 

 

Women’s Competition:

Amsterdam Devils

Bridgette Allen – Coach

What will your team bring to the Champions League in 2019? 

We are a very new team, with a large mixture of nationalities, and will be bringing a lot of enthusiasm and excitement with us into the Champions League. It’s also really exciting to be the host women’s team for this tournament and to be able to play at home here in Amsterdam.

What are you hoping to get out of the experience as first-time participants at the Champions League? 

As previously mentioned, we are an extremely new team so will be taking this opportunity to learn as much a possible about the game and soak up the experience of playing some of the best sides in Europe!

Where will the opportunity to play in the Champions League take the team in the upcoming season/s?

We have some more games lined up for the rest of the year against various women’s teams across Europe and are wanting to keep providing opportunities for women to play footy here in Amsterdam regardless of precious experience levels. It’s just all about getting girls playing footy!

How has the club promoted playing in the Champions League to help its growth? 

This is the pinnacle of the first season for the Amsterdam Devils women so has been a major focus for us and will be a real challenge which we are greatly looking forward to. The main aim has been to be able to field a full team at this tournament and so we have been promoting this to attract as many new players as possible.