May 2017 brings a whole new exciting event to the already bursting AFL Europe Women’s Calendar. We are excited to announce that the Midnight Suns, the Canadian National AFL Women’s development squad will be flying over the Atlantic to play against the Great Britain Swans, the Irish Banshees and an AFL London All-Stars team.
AFL Canada decided that in 2017 they will only be sending one representative side, the Northern Lights, to the International Cup in Melbourne, unlike 2014 where they, and the USA, sent two teams each. This decision therefore meant that AFL Canada wanted to present an opportunity of progression to their development team, the Midnight Suns. With the Great Britain Swans heading to the International Cup for their debut along with veterans of the competition, the Irish Banshees, having Canada’s development squad as a warm up game will be extremely beneficial for the two teams, and vital 18-a-side practice. The London All Stars team will be made up of the best players from the four women’s teams in the capital, to bring strong and experienced players together to present a tough challenge to the three national teams.
On the back of this decision the male representative sides of AFL Canada, Great Britain and Ireland have come to a similar arrangement with Great Britain hosting a 4-way tournament between the three sides, and a yet to be named 4th side. With the male game also bursting in Canada, and the European nations looking for more competition in the months leading up to IC17, the Canadians, like their female counterparts, were looking for a place to send their development squad. The decision was made for their male team to follow their Women’s lead and the European nations followed suit.
AFL Canada’s President Lachlan Griffiths had this to say, “We are very grateful to AFL Europe, AFL England and the Great British and Irish National Teams for coming together for this tournament next year. We have been looking to provide our players with more high quality games, and are excited by the opportunity to play against two very strong football nations. It is going to provide our development squad players with a first-hand look at the level of football required to compete at the International level, with the hope that these players will go on to represent Canada in future international games and press for selection at IC20”.
The Canadian teams will touch down in London on Wednesday 17th May for 5 days; with games being played on the Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. The Women’s games will simulate International Cup formats as close as possible, and each team will play one other only once with the winner being the one coming out with the most points, with percentage taking account if required. The Men’s tournament will follow the same format with each team playing each other once.
On the back of early conversations between the team managers of Great Britain and AFL Canada there is talk of a desire to reinvigorate a yearly competition (going forward outside of International Cup years), like that of the old Atlantic Alliance Cup. While AFL England Head of Performance and GB Team Manager, Jason Hill, didn’t confirm exactly how the competition would take place or when, he did confirm that there had been talks and that GB did plan to travel to Canada in 2018.
Further details of game locations & times will be released in due course.