Footy in Czech Republic returns, two teams ready for the 2021 Czech Cup

After months of training and plenty of patience, the Czech Republic is looking forward to commencing the 2021 Czech Cup this Saturday, May 29th.

Round one comes with plenty of excitement for the growing number of participating men and women in the country, as Prague welcomes the return of competitive footy with two teams.

Credit to all involved with AFL Czech Republic, who have recently grown the Prague Dragons to be able to separate into the two teams of Prague Devils and Prague Golems.

The two clubs will form the 9-a-side, mixed competition which currently has two rounds scheduled.

National Head Coach, Paul Briedis, shared his excitement for the upcoming weekend and cannot wait to see the two teams go head-to-head in the country’s capital.

“Round one of the Czech Cup is going to be great for the players and club administrators to finally get some reward for all of the trainings and work they’ve put in through the winter and spring,” said Briedis.

“We’ve had some really good growth and momentum over these past six months, which has allowed us to expand the Prague Dragons into two seperate teams; Devils and Golems.

“This weekend will also see about a third of our players play their first-ever game of Australian Football, which makes the return of footy on Saturday all the more special.”

It has indeed been many months of patiently waiting for all involved with Australian Football in Europe, however some teams were fortunate to get a few games underway last year where local and travel restrictions had lifted.

The Dragons were one of those teams and in late-July, visited Vienna, Austria to face the Galahs and soon after travelled north to Dresden, Germany to face the Wolves.

However, plans to join the teams in Poland for the Festival of Football in September were unfortunately cancelled.

Fixtures beyond round two of the 2021 Czech Cup are yet to be confirmed, as the league awaits further announcements around national restrictions.

For the remainder of the year, Czech will once again be looking to visit nearby countries and play opposing teams in friendlies – including Vienna, Warsaw, Nysa and Dresden – should all teams and players be permitted to travel and play.

Czech Republic have previously competed in the Central European Australian Football League and will no doubt be ready to get straight back into it once the competition can safely return.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

AFL Europe Podcast: One Kick Later – Theresia Meißner

Germany’s Theresia Meißner joins us in episode eighteen of the AFL Europe Podcast as part of our One Kick Later series.

Theresia, who only started playing Australian Football in 2018, has had a remarkable few years in the sport. Representing her national team at AFL Europe tournaments, where she picked up multiple Team of the Tournament honours, and winning a premiership in AFL Germany women’s inaugural season in 2019, Theresia is now living in Australia and competing in the Victorian Football League women’s (VFLW) competition with the Geelong Cats.

Hear about Theresia’s incredible story, from finding the sport in Germany and being able to excel at it in such a short period of time, to her journey to Australia and competing in the VFLW and more recently, becoming an umpire.

Listen via Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Alternatively, type in and search AFL Europe Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

AFL Europe Podcast: One Kick Later – Josip Kravar

In episode seventeen of the AFL Europe Podcast we are joined by Josip Kravar out of Croatia.

Josip’s footy story begins as a university student in Zagreb where he first found and got involved in the sport. His passion for the sport and pride for the Croatian footy community quickly flourished, as he grew into the roles of Association of Australian Football Croatia President, Zagreb Hawks President and AFL Europe Commissioner.

It doesn’t stop there, Josip’s playing and coaching history has seen him represent his country for more than ten years at European Championships, Euro Cups and at the 2017 AFL International Cup, where Croatia won the Division 2 tournament on debut and put the world on notice for their signature, hard-style of play.

Hear from some of Josip’s incredible stories over the years such as bumping into Leigh Matthews in Melbourne, getting to know Ivan Maric and attending a Richmond Tigers training session with the Croatian national team, his experiences playing and coaching in big games as well as an update on the near-completion of Croatia’s first 18-a-side pitch.

Listen via Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Alternatively, type in and search AFL Europe Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

An Australian footy-first for the town Nysa, three-team tournament this Saturday

With a population of merely 40,000 people in south-west Poland, the town of Nysa will be playing host to the Fort Nysa Rugby Football Club, Wrocław Lions and Warsaw Bisons in a tournament this Saturday, signifying the town’s first official Australian Football matches.

Established last year, Fort Nysa made their debut just one month after their first training session in an AFL Poland tournament as part of AFL Europe’s Festival of Football.

The club has since experienced significant growth, seeing up to 25 people attend training as well as involvement in AFL Europe’s 2021 Coach Development Series.

The sport itself has grown remarkably in the country over the last year with AFL Poland seeing new participation in the two towns of Toruń and Bydgoszcz, as well as in Poznań.

Poznań, who are already achieving numbers of up to seven people at training, are currently narrowing down a shortlist of names to determine their club moniker, after an initiative they ran through social media.

President of AFL Poland, Phil Forbes, shared his excitement for the tournament to get underway this weekend and reflected on the growth of the sport in Nysa.

“I think most presidents and committees amongst AFL Europe, including ourselves, would usually focus on trying to grow Australian Football in the bigger cities of the country,” said Forbes.

“But the growth of Nysa, which is a small town in the south-west of Poland, have just had 25 players down at a training with not one Aussie in attendance. It’s shown us that you don’t need a big city or even Australians involved to get a team going.

“Once one local finds the sport and develops a passion for it, it really becomes a snowball effect amongst others in the community.

“We’re really excited to see where the club grows in the coming months and are looking forward to seeing them host their first tournament this Saturday.”

AFL Poland are currently holding an online raffle with some great prizes to be won.

All proceeds will go towards the national team’s attendance at the upcoming Euro Cup in Amsterdam.

If you would like to get involved and support the growth of Poland, you can visit their online raffle below.

Restrictions in the country allowed the Polish teams to get back to training in late-February, and now permit outdoor sport with up to 50 people.

Expected forecasts for the upcoming weekend in Nysa predict a downpour of rain but we’re sure that won’t dampen the spirits or momentum of the three clubs participating on Saturday.

More information on the event can be found via Facebook, here.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

More than 140 umpires attend 2021 Umpire Development Series

AFL Europe’s Umpire Development Series with anzuk Education has come to a close for 2021.

The program consisted of four 60-minute online sessions and ran weekly throughout the month of April.

We were thrilled to see more than 140 umpires from across Europe attend the program, with an average of 125 present each week.

We’re also pleased to share that 100 of these umpires, who attended every session, will be officially recognised by the AFL as an umpire and receive umpire accreditation.

The Umpire Development Series is aimed at developing all current and aspiring Australian Football umpires from across Europe.

Led by some of the most experienced umpires within the AFL Europe Community, this year’s series covered the topics of the role of each umpire, communication, laws of the game and positioning.

AFL Europe General Manager, Ryan Davey, expressed his gratitude to all umpires and the importance they play in the growth of Australian Football in Europe.

“All of the participating countries across Europe recognise the significant role each umpire plays and are always on the search for more people to get involved in umpiring,” said Davey.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that for two years in a row now, this program has introduced a significant number of new umpires to the game, and also up-skilled those who have officiated previously.

“AFL Europe are extremely fortunate to have Kat, Dan, Jack and Adrian lead the 2021 series from start to finish and share their knowledge and experiences with our umpires who attended the program.”

A massive thanks and congratulations goes out to our four presenters; AFL Europe Umpiring Coordinator, Katrina Stopinski, and senior AFL Europe umpires Daniel Wild, Jack Murfett and Adrian Masterman-Smith, for developing and leading such a highly engaging and informative series.

We’d also like to thank our Education Partner, anzuk Education, for their ongoing support which has enabled us to run this series for a second year in a row.

The entire AFL Europe Community appreciates the effort and dedication shown to the sport by all of our umpires and we look forward to seeing you all officiating matches as soon as possible.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

AFL Europe Podcast: One Kick Later – Effie Senti

Welcome to episode sixteen of the AFL Europe Podcast where we chat to Effie Senti as part of our One Kick Later series.

Effie moved to Hobart, Tasmania as part of her university studies in 2017 where she first found and started playing Australian Football.

Upon returning to Switzerland, she got in contact with the Winterthur Lions and made her way down to training despite being the only female there.

Effie has since taken on roles with AFL Switzerland including secretary, head of women’s development and most recently, president. She is also the founder and president of Switzerland’s newest team, Zurich Giants, and played in the first women’s Swiss national team to compete in AFL Europe’s Euro Cup.

Hear from Effie as she shares her experiences and success in developing women’s participation, what goes on in an AFL Switzerland committee meeting including the importance of sharing ‘footy family’ values, the first-ever Auskick session in Switzerland and simply why she takes her footy everywhere she goes.

Listen via Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Alternatively, type in and search AFL Europe Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Ireland’s James Madden embraces dream debut

James Madden’s AFL career is off to a perfect start with the Irishman making his AFL debut in a win with the Brisbane Lions over the weekend.

Madden added some much needed pace to the Lions backline against Port Adelaide and made sure it was known through his 18 pressure acts (fourth highest for Brisbane) as well as a blistering smother in the third term.

Finishing the game with 11 touches, 4 tackles and 6 intercepts, Madden played a key role in the Lions defence that held the Power to just five goals, their lowest since round 12, 2019.

When interviewed post-game, “Jimmy” was quick to praise his Lions teammates for being able to slot into the side confidently although did share there were a few nerves, up until his first touch.

“After I got a couple of touches it was kind of like a normal game of footy… there’s a lot of communication with the old boys out there which makes it much easier for us younger boys,” said Madden.

WATCH: MADDEN INTERVIEWED POST-GAME 

The 21-year-old from Dublin has shown great perseverance to earn his debut, having signed with the Lions almost three years ago.

It was then where Madden trialled at the AFL Europe Talent Combine and by no surprise to his fellow Dubliners or to Lions supporters, broke the combine record in the 20m sprint with a phenomenal 2.69 seconds.

At that same combine in 2017 trialling alongside Madden were fellow Irishmen and current AFL players Anton Tohill, Mark Keane and Stefan Okunbar.

The number of Irishmen in the AFL this year sits at 14 and includes Zach Tuohy, Mark O’Connor, Colin O’Riordan, Barry O’Connor, Conor Nash, Darragh Joyce, Luke Towey, Callum Brown, Cian McBride. Deividas Uosis as well as those listed above.

Lithuanian-born and talented GAA player, Deividas Uosis, moved to Ireland at the age of four and is the latest player to sign with an AFL club through the AFL Europe Talent Combine after trialling in Dublin, 2019. Uosis is in his first year of two-year deal as a Category B Rookie with Brisbane.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe