The 2019 European Championships are just around the corner and as part of the build-up, AFL Europe will be previewing all nine teams involved in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s premier 18-a-side tournament, played every three years, and this year will see teams from across the continent travel to London to see who comes out on top.
Our second preview will look at the German Eagles women’s team, who are attending the 2019 tournament for their first-ever time. In fact, the German Eagles women’s side only played at their first national tournament at last years Euro Cup. This year, at that same tournament, they took home the bronze medal after defeating the hosting Swedish Ravens in the third-place match.
That result highlights the substantial and impressive growth of women’s football in Germany. It also highlights the quality of football being played across the country, with a number of standout stars in the team such as Jennifer Englisch, Tinna Meißner and Marie Winkler, who all showed their class at the Euro Cup.
“This is a massive achievement for us… Female football has grown so quickly here in Germany, and we are excited to have enough players to compete in this tournament,” said coach Emily McKie.
With the first opportunity to play 18-a-side on a full-sized field, there have been some adjustments that the side has had to make, including learning new positions and adapting to new tactics.
While 9-a-side is fast, free-flowing and contains very few stoppages, 18-a-side may come as a surprise to some of the players as it’s generally more congested with more battles for contested footy and more stoppages around the ground.
“Most of our focus has been on learning the new positions and what the roles and expectations are for each player on the field,” McKie said.
To illustrate how new this format is to the German side, Emily said most of their team are new to 18-a-side football, but with that comes the opportunity to develop quickly that will help the team in the long run.
Overall, the squad has nine new debutants, with teams being represented from all over Germany – Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich.
The German side is looking forward to their first Euro Champs but in terms of game style, they are going to back themselves with a system they have developed over time and trust.
“Of course, it’s a completely different game but we will have a very familiar focus on game style and teamwork that we had for the Euro Cup,” McKie said.
Coming off their success at Euro Cup, the Eagles are aiming for another positive result for the team.
“Keeping in line with our teams’ goal for the European Cup – we want to come home with a medal… We (also) want to prove that we are worthy of qualifying for the International Cup in Australia in 2020,” McKie said.
“We were pretty excited about coming third in the Euro Cup, so the girls have a lot of confidence heading into the European Championships to see what we are capable of.”
The German Eagles will back themselves to challenge the ever-strong Great Britain and Ireland women’s team, but one of the highlights of the tournament could potentially be seeing how they evolve to a new format on a full-sized field.
They have lots of momentum from their success at the Euro Cup and combined with a tight-knit group where teamwork is a key attribute in part thanks to the coaching group, the German Eagles are giving themselves every opportunity to reach their goal for this European Championships. They will certainly be a team to keep an eye on.