Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight
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.
Will Taylor – AFL Europe
With the best beard in the AFL Europe community, Austrian superstar Michael Jud is one of Europe’s most passionate Australian Football players.
Representing the Styrian DownUnder Dogs, Michael became a fan of Australia’s biggest sport after being fed-up with football (soccer), and craving a game with more physicality and pace.
“I always wanted to try out a physically competitive sport since I was fed up with playing ordinary football.”
“A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to play Aussie Rules Football, Google and YouTube then convinced me to join the DownUnderDogs in Graz for training.”
“Luckily, the guys persuaded me to head down with them to Zagreb just after my 3rd training session for a tournament, which was in retrospect, the moment I fell in love with this beautiful sport and community.”
The 27-year old plays up forward, has a strong marking ability and is without a doubt a big danger for the opposition backline when he is around the sticks. But despite having some considerable talent and flair, Michael doesn’t see this as the biggest strength to his game.
“I think my marking skills are quite OK for an European and my kicks are also decent.”
“But, I assume my biggest strength is my will to always give 100% on the field and push as long as my feet can carry my body and give everything I’ve got for my teammates.”
Being apart of the only club in Austria means Michael and his teammates often travel vast distances to play Australian Football.
This factor however has not stopped the student from having some fantastic moments playing the great game.
During his career, Michael has travelled to the AFL Europe Champions League and Euro Cup competitions. He has also been a regular for the Down UnderDogs in the CEAFL tournament, which includes teams from the Czech Republic, Italy and Croatia.
In essence, it has been these experiences that has helped Michael build a strong relationship with the somewhat foreign game.
“Playing a more or less unknown sport includes so many aspects of organisation and commitment – from running a club with organizing trainings, games, facilities and travels to recruitment, gaining sponsors, exhausting road trips – those are the things I love about Aussie Rules in Europe.”
“It is always amazing to see how people sharing the same passion do their best to keep up with the sport and try to carry that passion throughout Europe. From the thriving friendship that grew with our mates from Zagreb or Prague to that atmosphere at the Euro Cup and at the Champions League when whole European footy is at one place for a day – that shared passion of so many completely different people keeps me up with playing footy.”
Moving forward, the Austrian is very determined to ensure that his club can continue to develop despite the challenges they continually face.
Ensuring the Down UnderDogs can secure motivated new players is a key priority of his.
But just as big a priority to Michael is working out how his club can help advance the game throughout not just Styria, but also to the wider regions in Austria.
“An Aussie Rules club in Vienna reformed this year and held their first training after 6 years of inactivity.”
“It is amazing to see how such a simple sport can let so many different people from so different nationalities come together without any major problems.”
“The ultimate goal would be to establish a strong base of people caring for our club, so that when some of us drop out or reduce our input, the club will exist as long as possible.”
“When I am not able to actively play anymore, I want t0 watch footy being played in Austria.”