2019 Champions League Team Previews: Part Seven

It’s only 11 days until the 2019 AFL Europe Champions League, with the tournament 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 part seven of our team previews, we will be taking a closer look at the Bristol Dockers and the Hamburg Dockers from the Men’s side of the draw, and the Paris Cockerelles in the Women’s.

 

Men’s Competition

Bristol Dockers

Sam Stevenson – Bristol Dockers President

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

We retained our Welsh Australian Rules Football League (WARFL) title from last year against our rivals from across the River Severn – the Cardiff Panthers.

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?

Yes, we hosted the Sussex Swans and London Swans in Bristol for a men’s and women’s tournament. It was the first ever match for our women’s side and a good chance for some of our newcomers to try out AFL for the first time.

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

Our target is to improve on last year and win two matches, which would be a massive achievement for us. We’re bringing a mixture of experienced and inexperienced players so we’re also looking to benefit again from the exposure to a high level of footy and a variation in styles.

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

Its really big for us as a chance to push ourselves against stronger teams before our season – and also fantastic to be part of keeping the focus on club sides outside of London in the UK.

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

Some of our women’s team will be travelling with us on the trip to see how the women’s competition stacks up. Most of the players will also be coming out a day earlier this year, as we had too much fun on Friday last time! It was a tough first fixture against the Wildcats…

 

Hamburg Dockers

Oliver Kelsey – Hamburg Dockers team manager

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

The Hamburg Dockers won the Australian Football League Germany (ALFG) Premiership last year, beating the Berlin Crocodiles 14.9.93 to 6.2.38.

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 have not yet played in any pre-season matches, although we do have some coming up before the Champions League. We will be playing friendlies against the North London Lions from England and the Odense Lions from Denmark. Obviously we are hoping to come away with some good wins, but more importantly, we are excited to have some proper match time to help the experience of our players.

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

I believe we have a solid outfit this year and we are hoping to be strong competitors. Despite the experience gap between teams in the CL, I don’t think it’s beyond us by any means to come away with a cup.

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

The Champions League is obviously a great way to share our love for footy with teams from across Europe, and the Hamburg men are proud to be the ones to represent Germany in the event. As if being premiers wasn’t enough, it’s a real confidence (read: ego?) boost for the players.

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

Maybe one of the highlights of the 2018 season was our impressive return to arms in our season fixtures against the Berlin Crocodiles. We went down 64-65 at home when we first met last year which was a really painful loss. I knew, and the players knew, that we had much more in us and were keen to prove it. Upon speaking with some of the Berlin players after the game, there was some talk of our next encounter where some of the Berlin players believed that at home they would have a much stronger side and thought that Hamburg didn’t really have a chance of winning – that we would likely sustain a flogging. After the drive over and some solid training and games in between, we ended up giving Berlin a thumping (45-152) despite them being able to field the strongest side they had all year. I think this really highlighted the determination and dedication of the Hamburg team who ultimately became unstoppable for the rest of the season. I, for one, would be thrilled to see that continue!

Women’s Competition

Paris Cockerelles 

Berengere Portal – CNFA President

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

At various competitions between the women’s teams of France. Paris and Bordeaux are the only two women’s clubs in France, and we had several meetings during the season, often at the same time as the men’s games.

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 the opportunity to make some preparatory matches against London teams as well as friendly matches between girls of all teams in France. Lately, the Cockerelles took part in the Gallia Cup in Antony (Paris). They finished 2nd and showed great things. Also, we take advantage of the matches of the men’s championship to make matches 100% feminine or mixed matches if we are short of players. 

What can we expect from your team this Champions League?

Novelty! We had the pleasure of welcoming a lot of new recruits this year who will be able to prove themselves during Champions League! We have some new blood that will reserve some surprises during the matches. 

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

We hope to be able to reach the top of the table this year, even if the task will be tough against the other beautiful teams present this year.

It is a chance that the team can evolve at this level, it allows us not only to evaluate our skills but also to gauge the technical improvements to be expected.

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

One of our superstar Cockerelles has gone to Australia to play footy, and we want to make her proud!! 

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe