Festival of Football – Finland

PREPARATION for Finland’s participation in AFL Europe’s Festival of Football is officially underway.

The tournament is set to take place approximately 30km out from Turku, in a small town named Paimio.

Attending will be the Helsinki Heatseekers, Turku Dockers and Waasa Wombats, each hoping to field a 9-a-side team.

A usual AFL season in Finland would consist of three round robins, held in the three cities listed above.

At each round robin, teams play each other once, with the two overall leading teams then going head-to-head in a grand final.

Held on a separate day to the round robins, the location of the grand final operates on a yearly rotation basis, which led to the decision of the venue for the upcoming tournament.

“This year the grand final was meant to be held in Turku, but due to the current situation we haven’t been able to play any of our round robins,” said Chairman of Finland AFL, Anton Salmi.

“There are very many football clubs in Turku, which makes it hard to find fields.

“Now that we’ve moved the date to coincide with the Festival of Football, we can confirm the tournament will be held in Paimio.”

Finland's Festival of Football venue in Paimio.

Finland’s Festival of Football venue in Paimio.

The tournament will follow the usual structure of a Finland AFL round robin, however now differentiating with a grand final being played on the same day.

The games in the round robin are currently scheduled for two 15-minute halves, with a five-minute break. The final time structure of the matches will be confirmed on the day, based on the weather and total participation.

Finland also plan to play the grand final with 10-minute quarters; 5-minute quarter breaks and an 8-minute half time break.

To keep the excitement and momentum rolling throughout the day, there will only be a short break between the round robin games and the grand final.

Premiers of the FAFL 2019; Turku Dockers.

Premiers of the FAFL 2019; Turku Dockers.

All three teams are very much looking forward to participating in the Festival of Football in which the coverage of the tournament may even make it onto your devices at home.

“It’s nice to be a part of something bigger, and we’re hoping it will bring some interest to Australian Football in Finland,” said Salmi.

“We hope to live stream it on Finland AFL’s Facebook page which could bring some more ‘viewers’ to the game.

“Hopefully people will find the game online which might mean we get more people in Finland playing the sport.”

A ‘mixed team day’ in Nokia back in July has attributed to six women actively training with the Finnish clubs. Salmi was excited to share that some of them are likely to play in the tournament too.

“This year we are going to do a mixed competition, the women who are interested in coming said they don’t mind playing ‘against the boys’.

Finland's 'mixed team day' in July.

Finland’s ‘mixed team day’ in July.

“We have a few female players in the Helsinki and Turku areas… we have about six actively training in Finland at the moment so there might be one or two in each team.”

Due to the large distance between the three teams, Salmi said it’s unrealistic for any of the teams to meet up for a practice match in the lead up to the tournament.

That being said, all three teams are very excited for the tournament and are likely to share players with one another to make sure each team is filled the best they can be.

“There may be loans from each team to help fill out the squad to get the 9-a-side. We’re quite flexible in that sense,” said Salmi.

Joni Kinnari from the Waasa Wombats said it wasn’t necessarily about bringing glory back to your city, but more about making sure teams get out onto the pitch.

Joni Quote.

Kinnari is captain of the Wombats who notably is an all Finnish team.

Despite Turku winning the cup last year and heading into the tournament as favourites, Kinnari is most looking forward to the Wombats match against the Heatseekers.

“We (Wombats) have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Helsinki, we always want to beat them,” said Kinnari.

“They have a lot of talented guys, they’re a strong team.

“They have a good connection with a fellow Gaelic football team too… it gives them a strong base.”

Salmi (left) and Kinnari (right) at training earlier this year.

Salmi (left) and Kinnari (right) at training earlier this year.

Should the live stream of the tournament go as planned on Finland AFL’s Facebook, Kinnari mentioned there’d be a few players to watch out for.

“From Turku, there’s their ruckman, Alex. He’s been playing for quite a long time and is a force to be reckoned with.

“From Helsinki, they’ve got a Colombian called Leon who has just come back to Finland after a couple years.

“He’s always been skilled… those are the two guys I’d be looking out for.”

Maybe the Wombats will be able to recruit some new talent before the tournament begins to help them with these match ups, as they plan to hold a 90-minute ‘taster session’ at a local school on September 3rd.

For now, the three teams look forward to their first official matches to be played this year and ultimately becoming champions of FAFL 2020.

If you’d like to get involved or participate in the #FestivalofFootball in Finland, follow and message them via their Facebook.

On the 26th of September AFL Europe’s Festival of Football, in partnership with National Australia Bank, will see a number of countries around Europe host an Australian Football tournament with local teams in a city of their choice.

The format and rules of each one-day tournament may differ from country to country, and matches will only be played if they comply with the appropriate government guidelines.

AFL Europe and the event committees around Europe participating in this event will continue to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 right up until matchday.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

Race to the MCG – Week Eleven Review

AFL Europe’s Race to the MCG has officially ended with Germany leading the women’s competition right from the get-go and becoming the first women’s team to run the distance from London to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The team required just over 484km last week to reach the finish line of 16,900km.

Germany gave it their absolute all throughout the entirety of the competition. With almost a complete 30 runners every week, the team did not once drop below 1,500km for weekly distance covered.

Assistant Coach of the German Eagles, Marijka Bright, was the driving force behind Germany’s efforts. Creating spreadsheets, keeping awake past midnight to record team results and continually encouraging all runners throughout the race whilst covering some incredible kilometres herself.

“The Race to the MCG was definitely a challenge, but after having all of the training camps, Euro Cup and IC ’20 cancelled or postponed, it gave us something to focus our energy on and bring us together as a team,” Bright said.

“At times it was not easy – we had a couple of weeks where we were very close to not hitting the benchmark – but it was great to see everybody putting their shoes back on, on the Sunday afternoon/evening and reaching the kilometres that we needed.”

In week four, Germany had put in their best effort notching 1,905km and becoming almost 2,000km clear of second place. Showing off their competitive spirit, their second best weekly effort came almost at the end of the competition, completing over 1,700km in week ten.

“In our first week we managed to reach 1,519.5 km. What we didn’t know was that the benchmark rule would come into place. Whilst it made our journey at times difficult, it gave us the motivation to hit our kilometres every single week.”

Germany boasted six Performances of the Week, three of them coming from one of the competition’s top runners, Jane. E.

“The healthy competition at the top of our kilometre table each week between Jana. E and Leila. M was always something to behold,” Bright said.

“Our captain Theresa. K went specifically on a hiking holiday to ensure she continued to contribute to our total. Her 40km mountain hike during this trip was our biggest singular effort and extremely impressive.

“But it wasn’t just the participants who were able to get the big numbers who were impressive. We put in a great team effort and we had those with full-time, stressful jobs, as well as those who were carrying injuries, who were still able to contribute meaningfully to the race every single week.”

For finishing first, Germany will now receive an entire playing kit, thanks to Race to the MCG major sponsor, O’Neills.

“During these uncertain times, it has been great to be able to have the Race to the MCG,” Bright said.

“In a time where we were unable to get together as a team and execute the plans that we had made in the lead up to the International Cup, it was a great team building tool and managed to give us a focus and a common goal to work towards.

“We would like to thank AFL Europe for putting on and managing the competition – a great concept and something that we as a team will remember well into the future.”

See below for the final leaderboard in the women’s competition.

Switzerland were one of five remaining teams to beat their week one benchmark, regularly impressing with their weekly efforts.

Head of Women Development and Secretary for AFL Switzerland (and Swiss player herself) Effie Senti was delighted with the team’s finish.

“Our team was rather small, however, we had some very motivated girls in the competition,” Senti said.

“It helped us to strengthen our AFL Switzerland family spirit as we got to know other players’ skills from different clubs even better.”

Motivation for the Swiss team to push through to the end came from working as a team, encouraging and checking in on each other as the week’s went by.

“(Motivation) was mainly through encouraging others to track every single walk and run. Some even did more than they wanted originally to keep the momentum going,” Senti said.

Whilst it was very much a team effort, there was one particular individual named Norina from the Zurich Giants that Senti was very impressed by.

“She (Norina) hasn’t been able to participate in any footy activities due to her change of home, however, she was the one who pushed hard and did lots of running and walking.

“Replying once to my message about how well she’s doing, she mentioned ‘although I can’t be there for the team at the moment, I want to contribute with running’.”

Despite being one of the smaller teams in the competition, the Swiss very much enjoyed the Race to the MCG and would even like to see the competition turn into a yearly thing.

“It was an awesome idea and I think it motivated people to keep moving although the COVID-19 was a setback for lots of sporting people around Switzerland and Europe.

“I think such a competition might be even worth having each year to keep the players fit and motivate them to do more physical activity.

“Some people, who are not playing footy due to their age or whatever reason, participated and felt the team spirit, which is an awesome thing! Well done!”

AFL Switzerland now look forward to completing their shortened 2020 season, with the grand final to be held on the 19th of September.

“Besides that, lots of training sessions and ‘come & try’ events/recruitment work is going on in Switzerland. We are excited,” Senti said.

Congratulations to the nine remaining teams who exceeded their week one benchmark totals right until the end of the competition.

In the women’s, the remaining teams were Germany, Scotland, Switzerland, Sweden and Wales. In the men’s, we had Austria, Germany, Poland and Wales.

We would now like to announce that the two teams that were randomly drawn to win free entry into the 2021 Euro Cup were Scotland’s women’s and Wales’ men’s.

It was great to see all teams embrace the challenge over the eleven weeks, and it has been incredible to see both the personal and team distances that have been accomplished.

We hope the competition brought an increase in motivation, engagement and fitness within all of our AFL community’s around Europe.

A final thanks to who this competition would not have been made possible without, AFL Europe’s Apparel Partner and Race to the MCG major sponsor, O’Neills.

Any teams looking to purchase on-field or off-field kit for 2021 please contact AFL Europe for an introduction to the amazing team at O’Neills.

O’Neills was founded in 1918 as a manufacturer of Gaelic Footballs and is now the largest and leading sportswear manufacturing company in Ireland. O’Neills are an 100% Irish owned organisation, specialising in the design, manufacture, personalisation and supply of performance multi-sportswear, leisurewear and sports equipment globally.

2020 marks O’Neills fifth consecutive year as the official Apparel Partner of AFL Europe. Over the five years, the entire team at O’Neills have been extremely supportive of AFL Europe and contributed to promoting the game by ensuring teams are provided with quality playing gear and equipment.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

Festival of Football

AFL Europe’s Festival of Football invites the governing bodies of AFL in Europe to host matches with their local teams in a city of their choice, all to occur on the same day.

The inaugural event, held on September 26th, 2020 was introduced to give teams around Europe a chance to play competitive footy after many leagues faced cancelled or interrupted seasons.

The event was again held in 2021, this time on August 14th and saw even more countries and teams participate.

Location: Around Europe

Previous Events: 

September 26th, 2020 – Europe unites for a spectacular day of footy

August 14th, 2021 – Ten hours separate first and final matches in jam-packed 2021 Festival of Football

PSS Presents: Around the Grounds – Socials Edition #22

Featuring the best online posts from the AFL Europe community, PSS International Removals Presents: Around the Grounds – Socials Edition.

The Bayonne Toreadors have been doing their bit to promote Australian Football!

Last weekend a few of the Toreadors members set up shop at the Ametzondo Shopping Centre to attract new players to the sport.

They even got interviewed! Check it out here.

Il pleut, ce n'est pas un problème, passez au Forum des sports, organisé par l'Agence Hondarra dans les galeries du…

Posted by Bayonne Toreadors Football Australien on Saturday, August 29, 2020

A new men’s and women’s team is getting ready to join AFL Germany.

The Heidelberg Knights will become the tenth team to join the competition and are preparing for their first ‘taster session’.

The German Women’s national team have given the training grounds in Heidelberg a tick of approval thanks to a training camp with Craig Starcevich.

The Styrian DownUnderDogs travelled north on the weekend to face off against the Vienna Galahs.

The DownUnderDogs led for most of the afternoon but in the end could not hold off the opposition, losing to the Galahs 47-55.

Check out some snaps from the match below.

The Greater Glasgow Giants have returned to Glasgow Green!

The Giants are one of the latest teams to announce a return to training which will combine both their men’s and women’s teams on Wednesday nights.

Let them know if you’re interested in attending so that they can continue to ensure safe training guidelines.

Last Sunday, the Helsinki Heatseekers joined forces with GAA side, Helsinki Harps.

The two clubs came together and merged sporting codes to create an International Rules tournament.

Check out some photos from the tournament on Instagram thanks to the Heatseekers.

Photos from Aarhus Bombers’ match against Odense in the Danish AFL have been shared on Facebook.

The Bombers unfortunately couldn’t get the win, but will be looking to turn things around against the Cats this Saturday.

Aarhus are the newest team in Denmark after forming in 2019.

The photos from Saturday's game in odense keep rolling in.Next up for the bombers is Farum Cats at home Saturday 5…

Posted by Aarhus Australsk Fodbold on Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Get to know the players at the Nottingham Scorpions thanks to their new ‘meet the players’ series!

The Scorpions men’s and women’s teams train on Saturday morning’s and are always welcoming new players.

Make sure to get in touch with them below if you’d like to get involved.

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Jackson Jones – AFL Europe