Trent Smyth AM heads new Commission appointments

AFL Europe is excited to announce three new appointments to its Commission.

Congratulations to new Chairman, Trent Smyth AM, and Community Commissioners Sarah Howell and Geoffrey Puzzi, who were all successfully elected to the AFL Europe Commission in our 2021 General Assembly Meeting.

Ryan Tucker was also re-elected as a Community Commissioner, and shared that it will be his third and final two-year term.

Trent Smyth AM joins the board after relocating to London with his family, where he holds the role of Executive Director of The Chief of Staff Association, a Public Benefit Corporation headquartered in New York, drawing Chiefs of Staff from the world’s largest companies, governments, family offices and militaries.

Mr Smyth is a Director of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, Founder and Chair of the Sport’s Diplomacy Foundation, and former Secretary of the Consular Corps Melbourne.

Mr Smyth was also awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 2021, recognising his significant service to international relations, motorsport, and business.

Mr Smyth’s passion, drive and array of experiences will add tremendous value to AFL Europe as an organisation, and as a community.

“While AFL is part of the fabric of everyday life in Australia, it remains a relatively niche sport in the rest of the world,” said Mr Smyth.

“I look forward to working with the team at AFL Europe and the thousands of passionate players, officials and sponsors to build the awareness, involvement and appreciation for Australia’s greatest game.”

Sarah Howell joins the board as Community Commissioner of the Western Europe region.

As co-chair of AFL London, Howell was instrumental to the return and success of the 2021 season and recently celebrated the league’s 30th anniversary.

Howell has contributed enormously to the growth in Australian Football throughout England and Europe, including numerous committee roles at club, league, and national level.

Geoff Puzzi joins the board as Community Commissioner of the Central/Eastern Europe region.

Geoff co-founded AFL Polska in 2018 and has overseen its growth of just five people in Warsaw to nearly six teams across the country.

Recognising Geoff’s contribution to the sport in Warsaw and Poland, AFL Polska has renamed Warsaw’s MVP award to the “Geoffrey Puzzi MVP Trophy”. The award is given to Warsaw’s best player at training, throughout the season.

The three new appointments join Ryan Tucker, Josh Philpot, Melissa Oberhofer and Ryan Davey as an AFL Europe Commission of seven.

AFL Europe would like to thank and farewell Michael Currane and Dinko Irsag, who were on the Commission for four and two years, respectively, as well as Oliver Howard who served six significant years as Chair of the Commission, and spoke on his departure.

“After six life-changing years on the Commission, it’s now my time to step down and hand over to an incredible replacement in Trent Smyth AM,” said Howard.

“I strongly believe the most important role for anyone departing an organisation is to leave that organisation in a better position than when you started. I am really proud, despite the external impacts of the last few years, of AFL Europe’s development and growth over my years of involvement.

“To each and every one in the AFL Europe community, I want to say thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure to meet all of you and I really look forward to staying in touch over the journey.”

Howard, Currane and Irsag were all dearly thanked for their remarkable contributions to AFL Europe during the 2021 General Assembly Meeting.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

ANZAC Cup confirmed, applications now open

AFL Europe’s ANZAC Cup event will run from April 23rd to the 25th next year and is now accepting applications to play in the men’s and women’s Australian Spirit teams.

Applying to represent Australian Spirit is welcome from any Australian or New Zealander, with selection for the event emphasised on a player’s personal connection to WW1 and the Armed Forces, not just purely football ability.

Previous players selected to play in the event over the past two years, and have missed out on the opportunity to do so, have been contacted and given priority into next year’s sides.

However, there are still three spots remaining in the men’s team and five in the women’s.

Players interested in applying for next year’s ANZAC Cup should express their interest to admin@afleurope.org to receive an information sheet and application form.

Players who have applied to play in previous ANZAC Cup’s and unfortunately missed out on selection are encouraged to reapply.

Application forms must be returned by Sunday, 28th of November to be considered.

Next year’s ANZAC Cup match will feature on Sunday, 24th April. Players will be expected to arrive Friday, 22nd April and stay until Monday, 25th April to take part in the weekend’s activities, including attending the Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial on ANZAC Day.

The match is played between the men’s and women’s Australian Spirit and French national sides, and is part of the annual ‘Australia Week’ celebrations held in Villers-Bretonneux.

The small town of Villers-Bretonneux in Northern France has a strong connection with the Australian Armed Forces. On 24th April 1918, the town was captured by German forces.

Overnight, the Australian troops retaliated and by dawn on the 25th April 1918, the town had been retaken.

More information about the history of Villers-Bretonneux and AFL Europe’s ANZAC Cup can be found here.

Watch a short video from the 2018 event below.

Amsterdam to host the return of 2022 Champions League tournament

The AFL Europe Champions League tournament is back!

Next year on Saturday, April 9th the best men’s and women’s local teams in Europe will meet in Amsterdam to compete for club champion status across the continent.

The 9-a-side tournament hosted by AFL Europe in conjunction with AFL Netherlands, will reunite with the Sportpark De Eendracht complex to be played across five of its pitches.

The tournament will be played for its sixth time and for the first time since 2019.

The event in 2019 featured 23 teams (15 men’s, 8 women’s) and 14 umpires to officiate 56 matches across the day.

West Clare Waves dominated the women’s competition and overcame Wandsworth Demons in the final by 39-points, claiming their second consecutive Champions League title.

In the men’s grand final, home side Amsterdam Devils narrowly defeated Ireland’s Belfast Redbacks by ten-points to win their first Champions League title.

We’re currently recruiting umpires for next year’s Champions League event. Please register your interest here.

To qualify for the 2022 Champions League, men’s and women’s teams will need to have won the premiership in their 2021 local competition.

AFL Europe Governing Bodies and League Presidents have been contacted, with each champion team currently being confirmed and competing teams to be announced soon.

To review our last Champions League event, click here.

Inaugural Quality Club Program winners announced

Introduced in February 2021, AFL Europe’s Quality Club Program was designed to assist local Australian Football clubs across Europe with the skills and confidence to grow and develop the sport in their region.

By completing a number of set tasks, including having at least one club representative attend each of the AFL Europe Club, Coach & Umpire Development Series’, clubs went in the running to win £500 worth of footballs from the AFL Europe Shop.

Furthermore, the Governing Bodies of AFL in Europe who could confirm that all clubs in their region met the required guidelines, would go into a draw to win £1000 worth of footballs from the AFL Europe Shop.

Firstly, thank you to all clubs and Governing Bodies for participating in the program to contribute even more time and effort in developing the sport across Europe.

We look forward to growing the Quality Club Program over the coming years as well as seeing the progress it has on each club and country.

READ: AFL EUROPE INTRODUCE QUALITY CLUB PROGRAM

We would like to announce the AFL Europe Governing Body and local club who were drawn as the lucky winners of the 2021 Quality Club Program.

Congratulations to AFL Austria, who have been drawn as the winning Governing Body, winning the major prize of £1000 worth of footballs from the AFL Europe Shop, and to the Sofia Magpies in AFL Bulgaria, who have been drawn as the lucky club to win £500 worth of footballs.

Club representatives from the teams in Austria, who attended the Club, Coach & Umpire programs spoke to the benefits that each has had for their club this year.

“The Club Development Series taught me fantastic tips and tricks on how to increase brand awareness through the effective use of multiple social media platforms and the creation of engaging content,” said Izaak. R (Vienna Galahs).

“It also taught me how to use the organisation of social events and/or fundraisers to promote the awareness of our club in the local community.”

Dan. S from Styrian DownUnderDogs said: “I’ve been a part of the Coach Development Series since its inception last year, and the breadth of presenters and knowledge is outstanding and continues to improve.”

“It has provided a lot of great ideas, solid grounding and external resources (shoutout to RM Coach, CoachAFL and Prep-to-Play) that have been a welcome asset to my coaching.”

And Martin. S shared his experience with the Umpire Development Series: “The theoretical part was supplemented with a lot of good examples and the opportunity to give opinions on the game situations or to ask questions rounded off the presentations superbly.”

“The course gave our umpires a lot of useful tips and made them want to try out what they learned, in training matches.”

Sofia Magpies look forward to the first AFL Bulgaria Grand Final to be held in two weeks time. The Magpies will come up against the Varna Demons and compete for the inaugural premiership.

Next season, Bulgaria welcomes a third team into the league, Burgas Hawks, who debuted earlier this year in the Festival of Football.

Congratulations once again to AFL Austria and the Sofia Magpies, and thank you to all of the dedicated club representatives and teams who are passionate in growing the sport across the continent.

Fitzpatrick Cup is back! University tournament to return in February

We’re excited to announce the first international tournament to return to the AFL Europe event calendar.

The Fitzpatrick Cup, AFL Europe’s premier 9-a-side university tournament, is set to go ahead next year as our first international tournament in two years.

Hosted together with AFL Wales, the 2022 Fitzpatrick Cup will be held at St. Peter’s Rugby Club, The Harlequins Playing Fields in Cardiff on Saturday, February 5th.

The competition will feature a men’s and women’s round robin tournament to be played across two pitches, lasting the entire Saturday.

The event is open to men’s and women’s university teams from across Europe and was last attended by teams in Denmark, England, Ireland and Wales.

Read the 2020 Fitzpatrick Cup tournament review

Over the past few months, university teams have sprung back into action as students returned to campus and were eager to begin recruitment and taster sessions for new players.

Teams in Great Britain are already eyeing a return to AFL England‘s National University League. The upcoming season begins on November 13th and will be played in four rounds, leading up to the Fitz Cup on February 5th.

If you would like to play in the 2022 Fitzpatrick cup with your university team, please express your interest to admin@afleurope.org.

If you’re interested in umpiring at the 2022 Fitzpatrick Cup, please register here.

More information about the tournament will be communicated over the coming months.

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