Match of the Round

AFLCNE Grand Final

Wolverhampton Wolverines v Manchester Mosquitoes

20/07/19  Huddersfield  12:00pm

All the hard work, close games and tactics have lead to this moment, as this weekend will showcase the 2019 AFLCNE Men’s Grand Final.

With the Wolverhampton Wolverines facing the Manchester Mosquitoes, this match will feature some of the best players in Europe and is set to be a thrilling affair.

The Mosquitoes go into this final match undefeated and look to continue on their winning ways.

For the Wolverines this is a club first, marking a momentous occasion to be in their first Grand Final and something their club will cherish forever.

“Being in our first Grand Final means everything to the club. There’s such an amazing buzz around the team at the moment and it means even more to the guys who have been playing for the Wolverines for more than eight years,” said Wolverhampton Fitness Coach Adam Morris.

A lot of hard work and effort has gone into the Wolverines success and unlike most English based sides, they only have one Australian playing on their list.

The Wolverines, coming up against the reigning premiers, know that it will be a tough match up but believe that their depth and experienced national side players can get them over the line.

“Our strengths most probably lie in the depth of talent in our squad which is something we’ve really been lacking in the past few years. Add that onto our strong Great Britain representative contingent means this is probably the best side we’ve had in years,” said Adam Morris.

In contrast to this, the Mosquitoes are looking to continue their success, with multiple premierships in recent times they are known as the AFLCNE’s most decorated club.

Having the right mindset towards a goal is always important and a major reason behind Manchester’s success is their effort to always strive for more and continuously improve.

Mosquitoes Coach, Matthew Kilheeney elaborates, “This is a massive game for the club. Year on year we want to improve, and demonstrate the progression of the club and growth of our local players. With our combination of home grown talent and experienced Aussies, we think this can help us get the job done.”

In a close encounter last time these two teams met, Manchester got over the line by a mere two goals, although both sides were able to gain countless forward entries from clearances and this made for an exciting high-scoring affair.

With the Manchester side having plenty of finals experience under their belt, contrasted with the Wolverines hunger to make club history, we can expect another tight finish.

Plenty of the AFLCNE community will get down to Huddersfield in support of some of Europe’s best sides and will make for an amazing atmosphere on what could be an iconic grand final weekend.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Stay tuned to next week’s edition of Around the Grounds to see who came out on top!

 

Special thanks to Fine Wine Partners for their support of the growth of the game throughout Europe.

 

 

AFL Grand Final Lunch – Ticket Release

AFL Grand Final Lunch
Friday 27th September 2019
1:00pm – 4:30pm

Australia House
Strand | London | WC2B 4LA | Map

AFL Europe are thrilled to announce that tickets are now on sale for the AFL Grand Final Lunch at Australia House in London. The AFL Grand Final Lunch, delivered in partnership with the Office of the Agent General for South Australia, is the perfect preparation for the 2019 Toyota AFL Grand Final. We are also excited to announce that the Adelaide Football Club will continue their partnership with the event.

Enjoy a delicious three-course meal as we preview the AFL’s biggest match of the year. Some of Australia’s best beer, wine and gin will be flowing, plus we have some fantastic raffle and auction items up for grabs.

Individual tickets are on sale for £130 (+VAT) and tables of 10 are available for £1,200 (+VAT).

Make sure you book your seat at Australia House before it’s too late.

To secure your tickets, or if you have any queries, please email events@afleurope.org

We look forward to seeing you there!

Umpire Spotlight – Jason Ransome

An experienced umpire in Australia from a young age, Jason Ransome’s passion has taken him across the globe to where he is now a big part of the AFL Europe community.

Playing footy in Melbourne up until under 13’s, Jason and his friends found umpiring as a chance to earn some pocket money. Quickly realising that it is more than just a way to make money, he found it to be a great part of the game and rewarding in so many ways.

“It may not look like fun, but’s its extremely rewarding both mentally and physically. There is a great sense of satisfaction at the end of a match.”

Jason started his umpiring career as a boundary umpire in the Diamond Valley Football League (DVFL) senior games on Saturdays and field umpiring the juniors on Sunday.

With ten years of umpiring experience in Melbourne under his belt, Jason has become one of the top AFL Europe umpires and is a vital part of major tournaments around the continent.

Picture of young Jason, second from the left in the DVFL Umpires Association

Jason has umpired in Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands since leaving Melbourne, and wants to continue to expand his passion of umpiring in other parts of the world.

These great efforts to help grow the Australian game across Europe have also landed him a spot umpiring at the latest Euro Cup in Sweden last month and Jason was thrilled to be a part of it all.

“Umpiring the women’s final between Ireland and England at this years Euro Cup in Norrtälje is definitely a real highlight. They were two great teams and the atmosphere from the crowd was exciting.”

Through his involvement in many umpiring communities, Jason has realised how special umpiring can be to share with the people around you and how great of an opportunity it is to build relationships with others.

“It was so special to umpire with my father Ray Ransome in Australia and now umpiring with fellow AFL Switzerland umpire James Olle. When you umpire with someone you know, you work as a team and it makes it much more enjoyable.”

Seeing the growth in Switzerland first hand, Jason is extremely pleased with how well the game is growing and feels honoured to be a part of it all.

“I really love seeing newcomers to our great game play their first match and watching the enjoyment on their faces as they take their first kick, mark or score a goal. I have absolutely loved watching our Swiss nationals improve over the last two years.”

Already achieving so much in his umpiring career, Jason is always setting new goals, including his desire to become an awarded top umpire at a major AFL Europe tournament.

“After seeing my great mate James win a golden whistle at this years Champions League in Amsterdam and how he was celebrated here in Switzerland for his achievement, it is definitely now my goal to be the best umpire at an AFL Europe tournament and also, once, win a golden whistle.”

After being able to umpire in four different countries and some major European tournaments anything seems possible for Jason. Many of his goals and more will be reached in the coming years and he will continue to have a great 2019 on the field.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Irish Watch – AFL Round 17 Review

Another week down in the AFL season and a number of our Irish players went about cementing themselves in their respective sides as finals creep closer and closer.

Round 17 would see six Irish players take the field across Australia, with a number of standout performances highlighting an excellent weekend of action.

Saturday afternoon would see Essendon face North Melbourne in what turned out to be one of the games of the season under the roof at Marvel Stadium.

Conor McKenna would continue his excellent form with another excellent game across half back for the in-form Bombers.

Making a name as one of Essendon’s most important players, McKenna’s run out of defence was critical all day, as he often took advantage of North Melbourne’s lack of outside speed.

Along with his work on the outside, McKenna also showed improved inside presence collecting a season high 11 contested possessions, adding yet another aspect to his already impressive game.

Recognised as one of the best players on the ground, the Irishman would end up with 25 disposals, one mark and three tackles as he continues to show his potential as one of the AFL’s best running defenders.

The Saints would take on the competitions hard task on Saturday night, as they made the trek down the highway to face the ladder leading Cats.

In what was a see-sawing affair, St Kilda would be brave all night long, with it taking Geelong until the last quarter to separate themselves from the 15th placed Saints and secure an important four points.

Playing all 16 games so far this year, Mark O’Connor was again impressive down back for Geelong as he looks to have now undoubtedly cemented himself in their best 22.

Again pivotal in keeping their opposition to a lowly score (57), his work defensively foremost was excellent, as he often made things difficult for St Kilda’s small forwards and produced a number of crucial spoils and tackles.

After an excellent game last week, O’Connor backed up with ball in hand with another 17 disposals, five marks and a tackle using at an outstanding 82%.

With finals just over a month away, O’Connor’s excellent form will definitely see him in Chris Scott’s plans come the pointy end of the season.

Collecting a season high 30 disposals last week, Zach Tuohy was again solid across half back for Geelong in the win over St Kilda.

One of the experienced heads in the Geelong backline, his experience would again be vital as he didn’t panic when the Saints got a run on in the second term and constantly made the correct decisions throughout the match.

Using at an outstanding 82%, he again proved he is over his injury concerns and will have a major role to play in the Cats run at yet another flag in just a couple of months time.

Finishing up with 17 touches and three marks, the Irishman did what he had to do and fought hard in an under pressure Geelong backline.

Conor Nash produced one of his best performances at AFL level as the Hawks stayed within striking distance of the top eight with a crucial 31 point win over Fremantle in Launceston.

On a traditional winters day in Tasmania, blustering winds and searing cold made life tough for tall forwards, with scoreline of 84-53 signifying a tough slog.

However, this wouldn’t stop young Nash having a major impact, as he constantly flew at the ball, made a contest for his teammates and just looked dangerous when the ball was in the forward 50.

It was also good to see Nash get the reward for his effort, as he hit the scoreboard with a crucial major in the third quarter to halt the Dockers building momentum.

Ending up with 12 disposals, a mark and three tackles, Nash should be buoyed by this performance as he hopes to string a number of games together to end the season.

The inconsistent form of the Swans continued on Saturday afternoon, as they were upset by the 17th placed Blues in a peculiar game at the MCG.

Faced with blustery conditions, many struggled with their skills all day, with inaccurate goal kicking and low disposals efficiency proving it to be a tough slog.

Despite this, irishman Colin O’Riordan would thrive with ball in hand, as he played an important defensive role across half back.

Adding some much needed height to the Sydney backline, he would take a team high eight marks, using his athleticism and ability to read the ball to take some crucial intercept marks.

Collecting 12 disposals and four tackles to go along with his eight marks, it was an impressive performance by O’Riordan, as he fit into a new role perfectly.

The woes of the Gold Coast Suns continued on Saturday night, as they were again beaten badly by a fired up Adelaide at Metricon Stadium.

With a number of key soldiers missing, Pearce Hanley was one of very few experienced campaigners in red and gold, and he fought valiantly on what was a dark night for his team.

Trying his absolute hardest to stop the run of the Crows, Hanley always put his head over the ball and tried new things to change the dull fortunes of his team.

Finishing up with an impressive 24 disposals, six marks and three tackles, Hanley was one of very few Sun’s that could hold their heads up high, as the club now goes into a period of serious soul searching after 12 consecutive losses.

 

By Zac Standish 

Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Mairead Coyne

Mairead Coyne first played Australian Football just 11 months ago, but she has already won two Euro Cup titles with the Irish Banshees and was named as the Women’s Player of the Tournament at the recent 2019 Euro Cup in Sweden. For someone who has known the game for less than a year, those are some incredible achievements that highlight Mairead’s natural ability on the sports field.

Her Irish Banshees and West Clare Waves coach, Michael Currane, says she has been key for those two teams since she started playing.

“Mairead has made a huge impact on the Irish Banshees and the West Clare Waves team in a very short space of time. Her development as an Aussie Rules player, in less than a year to date, has been phenomenal,” Currane said.

Some of that development comes from a history of playing both rugby and GAA, two sports which share a range of skills with Australian Football. Mairead still plays both of those sports, but decided to try something different and to try a sport that originates from another country.

“It has everything in the game, tackling, kicking, while in GAA I can’t shoulder or hassle another player off the ball. There’s a lot more physicality in it [Australian Football] and that’s why I love it so much,” Coyne said.

Her decision to try something different all started when she decided to apply for the CrossCoders Camp in Melbourne, Australia. As part of her preparation, she wanted to work on her skills so was invited down to a West Clare Waves training session by Michael, and Mairead has been involved ever since.

Because of her experience playing rugby, Mairead feels that two of her key strengths are tackling and kicking, especially when it comes to using the oval shaped ball. When it comes to sport though, it takes physical ability and game intelligence to play well, a key part of her game her coach sees in week in, week out.

“Mairead is a pleasure to coach. She’s a hugely intelligent player on the oval and reads the game extremely well. She brings an amazing work ethic to every training and every game and is constantly looking to improve and soaks up any advice we give her. She is hugely reliable on the ground and is a strong dynamic and versatile player,” Currane said.

After the Irish Banshees won back-to-back Euro Cup’s just a couple of weeks ago and the West Clare Waves took out the Champions League title earlier this year, where she was named in the Team of the Tournament, Mairead is already looking ahead to the next major international AFL tournaments. She has a goal to increase her skills and fitness by gaining as much game time over the next few months as possible before she hopes to be selected for the 2019 European Championships in London.

Looking ahead a little further, Mairead would love to represent Ireland at the 2020 International Cup, competing against some of the best Australian Football players from a range of countries across the world.

With a number of Irish women travelling over to play in the AFLW, there is a lot more publicity in Ireland about the sport, and with programs such as CrossCoders helping promote the game, Mairead believes Australian Football is going to become a big sport in Europe.

For players like herself, that can only be positive as more people will get opportunities to play at a local level but the CrossCoders program will also provide players like Mairead with the opportunity to take their game that step further.

PSS Presents: Around the Grounds

Each week AFL Europe will take a look around the continent at the Australian Football highlights and thrilling matches. This Around the Grounds article delves into the standout performances from the weekend’s action and is presented by PSS International Removals.

AFL MASTERS TOUR CONTINUES WITH VICTORY AGAINST GREAT BRITAIN

The 2019 AFL Masters Tour continued on the weekend when Australia played against Great Britain at Wimbledon, another edition of the sporting rivalry between the teams. Following a modified match and training session mid-week with the Sussex Swans in Hove, the Australian side headed to London for their second AFL Test match. After the defeat against France last weekend, the Australian team came out on top with a 49-point victory after having 24 scoring shots compared to Great Britain’s five. On a clear, mild day in the English capital, it was the Australian Masters who dominated with the ball, creating plenty of opportunities, while their defence was resolute against Great Britain. Australia’s inaccuracy, kicking 13 behinds, kept Great Britain in the game but the defence of the Australian side was key to their victory. It was another great day for all involved from both teams, with Australia now heading over to Ireland to compete in two International Rules games to finish off the 2019 tour.

Final Scores (2019 AFL Masters European Tour)

Men’s: Australia (11.13. 79) defeated England All-Stars (5.0. 30).

 

WINTERTHUR WIN THIRD ANNUAL LIONS CUP

Returning for its third year, the Lions Cup was held over the weekend at the home of the North London Lions in Bounds Green. With over 60 players, coaches and supporters in attendance, North London, Lyon and Winterthur (with a number of Cambridge University players as well) were able to field three mixed 18-a-side teams in what was a good-spirited and hard-fought contest. The games got underway, umpired by Thibaut Picard, the lion who brought the concept of bringing all European lions teams together in 2017 and somewhat fittingly, Lyon ran out comfortable winners against North London. Unfortunately for Lyon, Winterthur were a well-organised unit and jumped out of the blocks early in the second game, building an unassailable lead to set themselves up for a huge last game against North London to decide the eventual winners. Sadly for the hosts, Winterthur were again too strong and kicked away early in the final match with their opponents never really looking like coming back into it as the Winterthur Lions won the 2019 Lions Cup. The highlight for all involved in the cup was the women’s exhibition match following the mixed competition. Fittingly, played between the two original clubs in attendance as a 9-a-side fixture, the girls left nothing behind as pride and bragging rights were on the line. Unlike their mixed counterparts, the North London Lionesses managed to keep pace with their Lyon opponents until the very last minute when the French Lionesses managed to sneak in front by a point and take home the first-ever Lioness cup.

 

 

HAMBURG DOCKERS TEAM TO BEAT IN AFLG

In the AFLG, the second half of the season is well underway and last weekend saw the Berlin Crocodiles host the Hamburg Dockers in a battle between first and second. The game was a close game throughout three quarters as both teams battled hard in a physical contest. It wasn’t until late in the game during the last quarter that the fitness and experience of the Dockers started to gain ascendancy as they managed to kick six goals in the final term to finish as 45-point winners. Both teams showed why they are the top two teams, with some quality football being played across the field but the Dockers were just too strong in the end even after the Crocodiles took the game right up to them. The league takes a break this week, but Round 8 takes place on the 27th of July before finals begin towards the end of August.

Final Scores (AFLG)

Men’s: Berlin Crocodiles (52) defeated by Hamburg Dockers (97).

 

SCORPIONS STING IN AFL ENGLAND WOMEN’S

The AFL England Women’s season continued on Saturday in Wolverhampton with round two seeing the Nottingham Scorpions, Cardiff Panthers and Bristol Dockers battle it out, while the Sussex Swans had a bye. As well as competing for the premiership, there is the added incentive of qualifying for next years Champions League for the team who finishes first. With plenty of fresh talent in each side, it was an exciting day to see the continued growth and improvement of the women’s game in England, with the Dockers making their debut in the tournament while the Panthers and Scorpions are back following last season. In the second round, it was the Scorpions who came out on top. In their game against the Dockers, the Scorpions showed their attacking strength and ruthlessness as they won by 112 points. Despite the scoreline, the Dockers managed to get on the scoreboard against the Scorpions, who took home bronze in the 2019 Champions League. Against such quality opposition, the Dockers would have learnt plenty about themselves and where they can improve going forward. The competition will continue over the next couple of months, with more footy action to come in the 2019 season.

Final Scores (AFL England Women’s)

Women’s: Nottingham Scorpions (118) defeated Bristol Dockers (6).

 

 

PSS International Removals have helped people move from the UK to Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in the world for over 37 years. They offer friendly advice, no matter whether you’re sending a few boxes or a whole house removal including car. For more information call 020 8686 7733 or visit the PSS Removals website.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Match of the Round

AFL England Women’s League

Bristol Dockers, Nottingham Scorpions and Cardiff Panthers

13/07/2019 Aldridge RUFC 12pm

This Saturday will be the second round for the 2019 AFL England Women’s season, with the Bristol Dockers, Nottingham Scorpions and Cardiff Panthers all play each other in a round-robin format while the Sussex Swans have the bye.

Each team will play two games, with a total of three matches taking place, beginning at 12pm at the Aldridge RUFC ground in Wolverhampton.

Right from the start, these games are going to be important for all the teams in the battle for top spot. Whoever finishes in first place in the league will therefore qualify for next years Champions League, a massive incentive for all the teams competing on top of winning the premiership.

For many players across the three teams competing on Saturday, they are still learning the ropes of Australian Rules football. Nottingham Scorpions player Laura Turner has plenty of experience on the field, having pulled on the England Vixens kit in numerous tournaments, but she is excited about her sides gamestyle and new recruits.

“We have some incredibly skilled players but also some big hitting tacklers, and most importantly we play attacking football which is key in the nine-a-side game,” Turner said.

“Sophie Todd is one of our most promising new recruits, she has worked hard at training and on her own to enhance her skills which was evident at the recent Euro Cup where she made her England debut. Another Vixen debutant was Joanna Lumb who will give us more run and carry in the midfield.”

Along with other some other new and returning players, the Scorpions are certainly determined to get off to a winning start to continue their reign and cement their spot for another Champions League appearance.

Regardless of the Scorpions experience, the Panthers and Dockers are also expected to challenge hard for that top spot, and with the round-robin format, any games dropped can really change things up in the standings.

New kids on the block, the Bristol Dockers women’s team, are excited to be competing in their debut tournament with a full squad of dockers.

“The Bristol Dockers women’s team has steadily grown from three members late last year to a full team of committed ladies who look stronger and more confident every week”, said Docker Sarah Turrell.

Bristol will be looking to capitalise on their new talent and their enthusiasm, coupled with plenty of guidance from their experienced Captain.

“Celina has played for teams all across Europe and always bring the excitement to the game!” said Turrell.

Rounding out the competition are the Cardiff Panthers, who will be looking to finish top of the league and qualify for their Champions League debut after losing out to the Nottingham Scorpions last season.

The Panthers are sure to provide some stiff competition for the Scorpions and the Dockers, particularly with their national team, the Welsh Wyverns, fresh off the back of a strong performance at the recent Euro Cup.

With the bulk of the Wyverns squad made up of Cardiff recruits, the Panthers are sure to bring their international experience to the field as they look to carry on their momentum from their performance in Sweden.


Stay tuned to next week’s edition of Around the Grounds to see who came out on top!

 

Special thanks to Fine Wine Partners for their support of the growth of the game throughout Europe.

Irish Watch – AFL Round 16 Review

It was another big weekend for our Irish stars in the AFL, with a number of marquee matchups and close games highlighting an unforgettable round 16.

We would again see seven Irish players suit up across the league this weekend, with a number of players looking to cement their spots in the run to finals football over the coming weeks.

Despite their unexpected loss to the Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium, it was an emphatic performance from Geelong’s Irish duo Zach Tuohy and Mark O’Connor who were among the very few shining lights for the Cats on Saturday night.

Finally back to his very best after an injury interrupted start to the year, Tuohy was everywhere across half back in what can only be described as a dominant performance.

Critical in both his work winning the ball and receiving handballs coming out of defence, he was without a doubt Geelong’s most damaging player on the night and really kept them in the contest at times.

Finishing with a season high 30 disposals, six marks and a tackle, it was as complete performance you’ll see from a running defender and puts the Cats in good stead as they prepare for a tilt at another premiership.

His use of the ball was also superb all night, using at 77% with an excellent kick to handball ratio of 25-5, further heightening his influence on the game.

O’Connor would also continue to show himself as an AFL standard player with another very impressive performance in an under pressure backline.

Renowned for his work in stopping the competition’s most dangerous small forwards, O’Connor was again superb in curving the influence of a fast and tricky Bulldogs forward line with a number of spoils and hard tackles being highlights to his game.

He would also chip in on the offensive side of the Cats ball movement more than usual by claiming 19 disposals, eight marks and two tackles.

Like Tuohy he would be damaging with ball in hand, using the ball at 63% with an excellent kick to handball ratio of 15-4.

It would be an Irish affair at the MCG on Saturday afternoon, as speedsters Conor McKenna and Colin O’Riordan met for the second time this season as the Bombers took on the Swans in a crucial top eight shaping encounter.

In what was a tight contest for the majority of the afternoon, a late flurry from the improved Bombers saw them claim an invaluable 10 point win to help solidify their claims at playing finals football.

McKenna would continue to be a crucial aspect of the Bombers ball movement, as he had another fine day at the home of football.

His ability to break the lines and find teammates in damaging positions was simply superb all day, with many commentating on his extreme worth to the overall success of the team.

Finishing up with 21 disposals, two marks and a tackle, it was a complete performance as any off the half back line for McKenna as he continues to show All-Australian like potential for future seasons.

Along with his ability to find the ball, he would also use it superbly going at a very impressive 81% to make him one of the most damaging players on the field.

O’Riordan on the other hand would continue his development into an AFL calibre player with another solid performance for the up and coming Swans.

Playing mainly across half back, O’Riordan was hard at the ball all day and really made it hard for the Essendon forwards to get any separation and freedom inside 50.

He would also use his height and athleticism to take a number of key intercept marks and produce some outstanding spoils to halt the face paced ball movement of the Bombers.

Despite only picking up 14 disposals on the day, his work defensively was some of the best he’s shown in his AFL career to date with his tackling pressure a particular highlight.

He also used the ball at an extremely efficient 79%, further proving him to be a valuable piece to Sydney’s backline for years to come.

Friday night saw two of the competitions biggest clubs do battle at the MCG as the lowly Hawks looked to cause an upset against the out of form Magpies.

In his second game after being recalled to the senior side, Conor Nash would again impress with his forward pressure and ability to make a contest in Hawthorn’s forward half.

Although he didn’t manage to trouble to scorers, his presence was instrumental to Hawthorn’s ability to upset the top four fancied Magpies as he brought and excellent balance to the Hawks forwards alongside the likes of Mitch Lewis and Ollie Hanrahan.

Nash would finish with nine disposals, four contested and five tackles, as he hopes to cement his spot in the side for the remainder of the season.

 

By Zac Standish

Community Spotlight: Martin Schittegg

After discovering Australian Rules 13 years ago while travelling through Australia, Martin Schittegg knew he had to give it a go.

Back home a few months later in Graz, Austria, Martin found that there was a club in Vienna where he could attend training. This only grew his passion for the game and his desire to play competitively, so the following year he started a team in Graz – the Styrian DownUnderDogs.

Martin’s work didn’t stop there, he was chairman of the club for four years, captain for six years and coach for an incredible 11 years.

“Since we were the sole team in our country, most of the time our team was the national team as well where I was also coach for eight years, captain, and I am still the team manager. During all this time I was, and still am, a player,” Schittegg said.

One of the key areas of growth for footy in Austria is trying to build other clubs to join the DownUnderDogs. There is a team based in Vienna that is looking to rebuild and begin playing competitively again next year after a number of years absent from any official games.

“My dream would be if one or two more teams were formed in Austria – a separate Austrian league would be great and would take footy to a new level on every respect in our country,” he said.

In terms of football in Europe, Martin sees that the footy community is growing, as well as major tournaments such as the Euro Cup and Champions League getting bigger each year. To help deal with that growth and continue having successful tournaments, Martin believes that having divisions or extending tournaments will eventually happen with more teams from more nations competing.

“I think the limit for tournaments that can be played in one day will be reached soon, so there will be either some kind of divisions system, or the tournament duration will have to be extended to two or more days,” he said.

What attracted Martin to get involved in the game was a variety of the skills and attributes needed to play. He says that everything about the sport is great, from the pace of the game to the long kicks, and unique skills such as handballing.

It’s not all physical though, as Martin loves the fact you have to be mentally focused no matter the intensity of the match. Making quick decisions and moving the ball cleanly are key parts that stand out to him that can sometimes be missed in such a frantic sport.

Martin’s love for the game clearly shines through all the work he has done to help grow the sport in his home country and it certainly sounds like Martin still has plenty of goals he wants to achieve with Australian Football, one of them consisting of building more teams and an Austrian league.

Whatever happens next with footy in Austria, it’s in good hands with people like Martin part of the community and just like the game in Europe, it’s looks like a bright future ahead for Australian Rules in Austria.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe.

Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Yonatan Wengrowicz

Each week, AFL Europe in combination with Belushi’s will take a look at one of our star players competing in fixtures across the continent in Player Spotlight. 

A casual game of Ultimate Frisbee with a few friends is where Yonatan’s Wengrowicz’s was first introduced to Australian Football, and within just a few weeks, he was in love with the game.

Yonatan was playing Ultimate Frisbee with Shir Shalev, the current Tel Aviv Cheetah’s captain, another Cheetah’s player Hadar Moran and a few other friends when the majority of them had to leave to get ready for a university test.

With just Shir, Hadar and Yonatan left, they stopped playing their game and noticed a group of people playing around with a football.

“At the time, we thought it was football [soccer] and so we just joined them,” Wengrowicz said.

He thought it was an interesting one-off experience, but didn’t think too much about it after. However, Shir loved it and started to train with the team, the Jerusalem Peace Lions based in Israel.

“He [Shir] started to train with the team on a regular basis and became a part of the team. A few weeks before the 2017 Euro Cup tournament in Bordeaux, France, he convinced me to join him for a session, and that’s how I joined the team. After the tournament in Bordeaux, I fell in love with footy,” Wengrowicz said.

However, that trip to Bordeaux very nearly didn’t happen.

Yonatan was trekking around Granada in Spain with a cousin before the 2017 Euro Cup. He hadn’t booked his flight to France before his trek, so when he found some Wi-Fi, he ordered the cheapest flight he could find, which included two connections in Madrid and London.

“Because of the poor reception, I booked the flight very quickly and didn’t notice that I would arrive and depart London from separate airports,” he said.

“I discovered it only upon my arrival to London and then I had to rush like crazy in order to catch the flight and make it to the 2017 Euro Cup!”

After his first Euro Cup in 2017, Yonatan then played in last year’s tournament in Cork, Ireland.

It was there that he fulfilled his best achievement in his career to date, with the Tel Aviv Cheetah’s (playing as a national squad) winning their first game of the Cup by six points over the Czech Republic.

“It was the last game of the day, after we lost all the previous games, and we were exhausted. After the match we sang and danced in the rain like we had won the championship,” he said.

One of the more entertaining aspects of playing Australian Football in Europe is trying to explain the game to people who don’t know what it is.

While the sport is bigger in places such as Ireland and England, it’s still growing in countries such as Israel, so when Yonatan gets asked what he plays, it can be a bit confusing.

“When I tell people I’m playing Australian Football they immediately ask: “Do you mean rugby?” Sometimes I have the patience to explain to them the difference but I’ve found the explanation that satisfies them most is ‘[Australian Football] is a kind of mixture between soccer and rugby’,” Yonatan said.

From playing Ultimate Frisbee at the park to playing in a number of European tournament’s, Yonatan’s Australian Football story is both unique and interesting. As the game continues to grow, hopefully, more people will fall in love with the sport just like Yonatan has.

Special thanks to Belushi’s for helping grow the game in Europe