We have less than 24 hours to go until the Euro Cup and the excitement and anticipation is building for the 16 countries that will venture out to our new location in Kiel, Germany, vying for the opportunity of becoming the best country in Europe at Australian Rules Football. In an extraordinary story that will play out across the day, two countries will be looking for a four-peat – an unprecedented feat that may never be seen again. The Irish Banshees, dominant in the grand final last year, will be vying for glory again, but there will be nine other sides hungry to stop them in their tracks. In the men’s side of the draw, the England Dragonslayers will be desperate to repeat their last three contests at the Euro Cup, but 14 determined countries will be fighting for a change at the top.
As is the common approach for AFL Europe’s biggest tournaments, we love to get an insight into the build-up and preparation for the teams competing, as well as the history of these sides, and we continue our team previews with the Netherlands Flying Dutchmen, the Welsh Red Dragons and the Scottish Sirens.
Netherland Flying Dutchmen
The following has been sent in by the Dutchmen and written by Tom Durling:
The year is 2023, and the Flying Dutchmen has just set sail and is headed to Kiel, with only one goal in mind. Having been re-formed last year, the Netherlands Men’s team head into this Euro Cup more advanced and more connected, and ready to challenge the big AFL Europe powers for the trophy. Finishing last year in a disappointing 11th place, we look forward to this year’s tournament to show what we are truly are made of, and that it’s still possible to play footy while wearing clogs!
Our AFL Netherlands season is in full swing, with each member taking part in a league with three different teams, with regular games and weekly training sessions. The team has been building both on and off the pitch, with social events bringing players closer together, strengthening the chemistry within the team.
Going into the tournament we of course want to see our hard work pay off and see a better result than last year, however we also want to have as much fun as possible. Bringing football lovers from all over Europe together into one place doesn’t happen often, and it is absolutely something to celebrate. Everyone on board the Flying Dutchmen has one thing in common, we all love footie, and we want to show that with our skills, and our passion for the game. We look forward to a day filled with footy and fun, and we hope to get a few wins the bag as well!
Welsh Red Dragons
Wales have been competing in Euro Cup since 2010 with a few years off since now and then. Bordeaux and last year were the best finishes for Wales over the years both achieving 5th place. Hearing from those at the Dragons, the general consensus is that the Euro cup is the Red Dragons favourite tournament of the year, with it ‘always being great playing against the different countries across Europe’.
Preparation for the tournament has involved a number of weekend training sessions, strava based running logs as well as fitting in weekday and weekend training with fellow players in Wales and the London Leagues. With a committed and positive preparation for the tournament, the aim is ‘getting into the top 4’, boosted by having ‘a mix of older heads alongside some new fresh blood’.
The Sirens recorded their most successful Euro Cup in last year’s competition finishing third. Hearing from the Sirens coaching staff, it ‘was incredibly hard to cut the squad down to 16’, demonstrating the belief that a strong side is coming to Kiel in 2023.
‘Last year we had a pretty inexperienced side, but we have eight players from last year’s Euro Cup side who know what to expect from a competition like this, added to with great new talent so we are excited to see what we can do with another 12 months experience.’
The overall aim for the Euro Cup is to win it. ‘We think we have a squad that can take us deep into the tournament but we know it’s a huge challenge and we will need to be at our absolute best’. ‘We want to showcase the growth, improvement and competitiveness we have seen across the SARFLW in over the last 12 months.’
- Sam Briggs, AFL Europe