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.
One of the most passionate Australian football players in all of Europe has to be Bridgette Allen.
Originally from New Zealand, Bridgette discovered a love for the sport when moving to the AFL capital of the world, Melbourne.
Bridgette gradually gained interest in the Australian game when living there and was not sure how this new interest would fair in her move to London.
“Initially I was disappointed I couldn’t play in Europe, until I realised London had a thriving women’s league.”
Hockey still being Bridgette’s main sport, she has found this passion towards a totally different game style and like many others that are new to the sport, the overall freedom this Australian game has to offer, is so enticing.
“I am a goalkeeper in hockey so partly what I love about footy is the chance to run wild on the field.”
With her excitement for introducing others to the sport, Bridgette is a fantastic advocate for the game in Europe, which has shone through much of her recent success.
“I have leadership, attitude and enthusiasm. I love getting people as excited about footy as I am!”
Winning an impressive back to back AFL London Premierships with the Wandsworth Demons in 2017 and 2018, Bridgette was a big part of this thriving team both on and off the field.
If winning two premierships in Europe’s largest league was not impressive enough already, Bridgette’s love for the game took her all the way to France, where she demonstrated sportsmanship at it’s best by playing for the French national side who were struggling for numbers at the annual ANZAC Cup.
“I was lucky enough to play for the French team in the 2018 ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneux, an inspiring and moving experience.”
Since moving from London to Amsterdam in late 2018, Bridgette challenged herself once again by launching the first women’s Australian Football team in the Netherlands. This expansion saw the already thriving Amsterdam Devils debut their inaugural womens team, ten years on from launch of their mens club back in 2009.
Without a fellow womens club based in the Netherlands to play regular games against, the Devils are going out of their way to arrange games with other European women’s teams wherever possible.
“It can be pretty busy as hockey is my main sport, so I try and fit footy in around playing that as well. It’s been especially challenging while here in Amsterdam and starting the Devils women’s team from scratch.”
The Devils were also able to play host to the recent Champions League tournament, which saw 23 European teams descend on Amsterdam for a jam packed day of high quality football and provide some valuable game experience to the newer sides.
“Amsterdam for Champions League is an incredibly unique and special atmosphere, to see the whole complex taken over by AFL teams from all across Europe for the day makes for an unreal tournament.”
With Bridgette supporting first hand the growth of Australian Football around Europe, she is a great ambassador for the AFL Women’s community and looks forward to seeing the future development of the sport.
“I think as the game continues to grow back in Australia we are finding equal growth in Europe and also other countries around the world! I think it’s an incredibly exciting time to be playing footy and hope to see increasing numbers of girls and women taking up the sport.”
Liam McAllion – AFL Europe