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.
Growing up in the outer-east suburbs of Melbourne, Phil Forbes was surrounded by people who loved the game of AFL and before long he joined the craze, playing four years for the South Croydon Bulldogs in his teenage years.
Phil moved to Poland for work and initially didn’t think about playing AFL in Europe, but after hearing about the rise of the game in the continent he was eager to become a driving force for the game in a new country.
With his height and agility, Phil has developed his game since being in Poland and has played in some important games on the international level in many countries.
“I’m 194cm and while I’m far from my prime, I can still move pretty damn fast. Whether I’m on the field or watching from the sidelines, I’m always talking, yelling, or just generally being loud. Here in Poland where a lot of Poles are traditionally shy, my loudness can be encouraging and get everyone going,” he said.
AFL is such a big part of the culture of Australia and when you support a team you feel connected to so many others each AFL season. Phil explains that when moving overseas to Poland he was always looking for things to help his experience feel like home and playing AFL was certainly a main contributor.
“Being an expat, I’ve found myself trying to focus on the things from home that I truly love and miss – AFL is one of them. When I moved to Poland, I never considered playing, but it just kind of happened and evolved. Now that I’ve started playing again, I’m finding a new love for the game.”
Phil wanted to build on the sport in Poland and started to put together a national side where today, thanks to his volunteer work, has put the Polish Devils side on the map as they made their debut in this year’s Euro Cup.
Phil recruited, taught, coached, managed and played all in order to get this side off the ground and after such an effort to be a part of the tournament in Sweden, the future of the Polish Devils looks extremely promising thanks to his hard work.
Since founding this Polish side, Phil has created a crew which he believes is helping to create it to be a more successful club, “I’ve had to sacrifice a few other things in order to get the ball rolling. I’m lucky that I work with a half dozen others (Aussies and Poles) and we delegate jobs pretty well. I take care of the websites and marketing, another guy takes care of the training, another guy takes care of all the admin, another manages the money. Building these core group of guys wasn’t easy, but the best way to improve yourself as a player and a club is to delegate and keep each other accountable.”
While Phil has loved his time building the game in Poland, one of his favourite moments of his Australian Football career so far was playing in an ANZAC commemoration match in Peronne, France, last year.
“To be in a small French village, playing our game from our home, in a city where so many Australian’s fought and died, 100 years ago, it was a hell of an experience,” he said.
From playing football in the outer east suburbs in Melbourne as a teenager to having a significant role within Polish football and playing in France, Phil has been a key pillar for the game in Europe and hopefully his work both on and off the field has helped create a pathway for the next group of stars to play in Poland.
If you are interested in finding out more about Australian Football in Poland, head to the following link: http://futbolaustralijski.pl.
Liam McAllion – AFL Europe
Special thanks to Belushi’s for helping grow the game in Europe