Finland AFL Premiership Round 1 – Helsinki
This weekend sees the first premiership round of the Finland AFL (FAFL) being held in the country’s capital, Helsinki. With a sunny day and a high of 20 degrees this is set to be an absolutely fantastic day of Aussie Rules.
This year’s competition has reverted to a FAFL Cup style format with 3 rounds and a Grand Final at the end of the season. The teams competing are the Helsinki Heatseekers, the Turku Dockers, and the Waasa Wombats, all of whom are hoping to stamp their authority and lay claim to taking out the premiership.
We got the inside scoop from the three coaches regarding their chances this weekend and for the remainder of the season.
Helsinki Heatseekers player/coach, Jason Wallace:
“The Helsinki Heatseekers have come off a great year in 2015 winning all the events they were in, including a magnificent win in the Grand Final.
We have good numbers within the club and a bunch of great guys here that love the game, for its toughness as well as mateship. We always look forward to a game of AFL and this year with the help of three Waasa Wombats players, we had a preseason hit-out with a combined Swedish team. We narrowly went down, unfortunately by only 4 points in the dying seconds of the game!
This year we’re looking forward to the challenge from both Waasa and Turku and watching the opposing teams get better and develop the more they play. It’s a very tight knit family in Finland AFL, so we help each other out as much as possible and enjoy a cold beer after the games.
If you’re ever in Helsinki or the other towns come down for a look or even a run, you’ll be hard pressed to find better blokes in the game.”
Turku Dockers player/coach, Steve Philips:
“After winning back-to-back premierships in 2013-14, the Turku Dockers struggled in 2015, and are looking to bounce back this year with a strong first showing in Helsinki on Saturday.
The Dockers will welcome some fresh faces in 2016, with recruits Olli Merilahti and Alex-Mikael Barkoff showing good form on the training track. Second year player, Elmo Primmer, who debuted for the Dockers in 2015 as a 16-year old, is continuing his development. The further addition of some experienced players, who missed most of 2015 due to injury and work commitments should see the Dockers field a far more competitive side than the one that took the field in 2015.
If the Dockers are to succeed in 2016 it will be on the back of their locally developed talent, with all but three Dockers players having learnt the game in Turku.”
Waasa Wombats player/coach, Joni Kinnari:
“The situation for the Waasa Wombats hasn’t got any better in the past few years. Lots of regular players have quit or gone inactive due to many reason and we’ve not been able to find enough new recruits to fill the boots. I’m sure we’re able to send a good base of a team with aid from other teams to have good matches.
Because of the situation of our team, the main event of the day will be the match between Turku and Helsinki. Both teams have loads of experienced players and have year after year been able to find some skilful rookies so I will definitely keep my eyes on the new guys during the first match. Turku has many good players but one should keep an eye on father-son duo Craig and Elmo Primmer. Helsinki has some of the best players in Finland. I look forward to seeing past Turku player Adam Vasey and ‘Rookie of the Year’ from a few years ago, Antti Annala, play. From Waasa, I’m glad to play beside probably the best ruckman in Finland, Aleksi Virtanen and last year’s ‘Player of the Tournament’, Antti Nurmikoski.
I can’t wait to play some rough but fair matches on Saturday. It’s been a long winter and the hunger to play has grown big. It’s going to be a blast.”
Schedule of Play
1pm Helsinki vs. Turku
2pm Turku vs. Waasa
3pm Helsinki vs. Waasa
5pm Presentations at Woolshed Helsinki