An Australian footy-first for the town Nysa, three-team tournament this Saturday

With a population of merely 40,000 people in south-west Poland, the town of Nysa will be playing host to the Fort Nysa Rugby Football Club, Wrocław Lions and Warsaw Bisons in a tournament this Saturday, signifying the town’s first official Australian Football matches.

Established last year, Fort Nysa made their debut just one month after their first training session in an AFL Poland tournament as part of AFL Europe’s Festival of Football.

The club has since experienced significant growth, seeing up to 25 people attend training as well as involvement in AFL Europe’s 2021 Coach Development Series.

The sport itself has grown remarkably in the country over the last year with AFL Poland seeing new participation in the two towns of Toruń and Bydgoszcz, as well as in Poznań.

Poznań, who are already achieving numbers of up to seven people at training, are currently narrowing down a shortlist of names to determine their club moniker, after an initiative they ran through social media.

President of AFL Poland, Phil Forbes, shared his excitement for the tournament to get underway this weekend and reflected on the growth of the sport in Nysa.

“I think most presidents and committees amongst AFL Europe, including ourselves, would usually focus on trying to grow Australian Football in the bigger cities of the country,” said Forbes.

“But the growth of Nysa, which is a small town in the south-west of Poland, have just had 25 players down at a training with not one Aussie in attendance. It’s shown us that you don’t need a big city or even Australians involved to get a team going.

“Once one local finds the sport and develops a passion for it, it really becomes a snowball effect amongst others in the community.

“We’re really excited to see where the club grows in the coming months and are looking forward to seeing them host their first tournament this Saturday.”

AFL Poland are currently holding an online raffle with some great prizes to be won.

All proceeds will go towards the national team’s attendance at the upcoming Euro Cup in Amsterdam.

If you would like to get involved and support the growth of Poland, you can visit their online raffle below.

Restrictions in the country allowed the Polish teams to get back to training in late-February, and now permit outdoor sport with up to 50 people.

Expected forecasts for the upcoming weekend in Nysa predict a downpour of rain but we’re sure that won’t dampen the spirits or momentum of the three clubs participating on Saturday.

More information on the event can be found via Facebook, here.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

More than 140 umpires attend 2021 Umpire Development Series

AFL Europe’s Umpire Development Series with anzuk Education has come to a close for 2021.

The program consisted of four 60-minute online sessions and ran weekly throughout the month of April.

We were thrilled to see more than 140 umpires from across Europe attend the program, with an average of 125 present each week.

We’re also pleased to share that 100 of these umpires, who attended every session, will be officially recognised by the AFL as an umpire and receive umpire accreditation.

The Umpire Development Series is aimed at developing all current and aspiring Australian Football umpires from across Europe.

Led by some of the most experienced umpires within the AFL Europe Community, this year’s series covered the topics of the role of each umpire, communication, laws of the game and positioning.

AFL Europe General Manager, Ryan Davey, expressed his gratitude to all umpires and the importance they play in the growth of Australian Football in Europe.

“All of the participating countries across Europe recognise the significant role each umpire plays and are always on the search for more people to get involved in umpiring,” said Davey.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that for two years in a row now, this program has introduced a significant number of new umpires to the game, and also up-skilled those who have officiated previously.

“AFL Europe are extremely fortunate to have Kat, Dan, Jack and Adrian lead the 2021 series from start to finish and share their knowledge and experiences with our umpires who attended the program.”

A massive thanks and congratulations goes out to our four presenters; AFL Europe Umpiring Coordinator, Katrina Stopinski, and senior AFL Europe umpires Daniel Wild, Jack Murfett and Adrian Masterman-Smith, for developing and leading such a highly engaging and informative series.

We’d also like to thank our Education Partner, anzuk Education, for their ongoing support which has enabled us to run this series for a second year in a row.

The entire AFL Europe Community appreciates the effort and dedication shown to the sport by all of our umpires and we look forward to seeing you all officiating matches as soon as possible.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

AFL Europe Podcast: One Kick Later – Effie Senti

Welcome to episode sixteen of the AFL Europe Podcast where we chat to Effie Senti as part of our One Kick Later series.

Effie moved to Hobart, Tasmania as part of her university studies in 2017 where she first found and started playing Australian Football.

Upon returning to Switzerland, she got in contact with the Winterthur Lions and made her way down to training despite being the only female there.

Effie has since taken on roles with AFL Switzerland including secretary, head of women’s development and most recently, president. She is also the founder and president of Switzerland’s newest team, Zurich Giants, and played in the first women’s Swiss national team to compete in AFL Europe’s Euro Cup.

Hear from Effie as she shares her experiences and success in developing women’s participation, what goes on in an AFL Switzerland committee meeting including the importance of sharing ‘footy family’ values, the first-ever Auskick session in Switzerland and simply why she takes her footy everywhere she goes.

Listen via Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Alternatively, type in and search AFL Europe Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Ireland’s James Madden embraces dream debut

James Madden’s AFL career is off to a perfect start with the Irishman making his AFL debut in a win with the Brisbane Lions over the weekend.

Madden added some much needed pace to the Lions backline against Port Adelaide and made sure it was known through his 18 pressure acts (fourth highest for Brisbane) as well as a blistering smother in the third term.

Finishing the game with 11 touches, 4 tackles and 6 intercepts, Madden played a key role in the Lions defence that held the Power to just five goals, their lowest since round 12, 2019.

When interviewed post-game, “Jimmy” was quick to praise his Lions teammates for being able to slot into the side confidently although did share there were a few nerves, up until his first touch.

“After I got a couple of touches it was kind of like a normal game of footy… there’s a lot of communication with the old boys out there which makes it much easier for us younger boys,” said Madden.

WATCH: MADDEN INTERVIEWED POST-GAME 

The 21-year-old from Dublin has shown great perseverance to earn his debut, having signed with the Lions almost three years ago.

It was then where Madden trialled at the AFL Europe Talent Combine and by no surprise to his fellow Dubliners or to Lions supporters, broke the combine record in the 20m sprint with a phenomenal 2.69 seconds.

At that same combine in 2017 trialling alongside Madden were fellow Irishmen and current AFL players Anton Tohill, Mark Keane and Stefan Okunbar.

The number of Irishmen in the AFL this year sits at 14 and includes Zach Tuohy, Mark O’Connor, Colin O’Riordan, Barry O’Connor, Conor Nash, Darragh Joyce, Luke Towey, Callum Brown, Cian McBride. Deividas Uosis as well as those listed above.

Lithuanian-born and talented GAA player, Deividas Uosis, moved to Ireland at the age of four and is the latest player to sign with an AFL club through the AFL Europe Talent Combine after trialling in Dublin, 2019. Uosis is in his first year of two-year deal as a Category B Rookie with Brisbane.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

AFL Europe Festival of Football to return, new date set for August

We’re excited to announce the return of the Festival of Football.

The governing bodies of AFL in Europe are invited to host a tournament with their local teams in a city of their choice, all to occur on the same day of Saturday, 14th of August.

Similar to last year, the format and number of teams in each tournament may differ however all will be supported by AFL Europe and supplied with a Sherrin KB football, medals for the champion team, a Team of the Tournament guernsey and much more.

The inaugural event, held last year on September 26th, was introduced to give teams around Europe a chance to play competitive footy after many leagues faced cancelled or interrupted seasons.

Participating countries held matches and tournaments where government restrictions allowed them to do so safely, and fortunately we were able to see more than 50 games of footy played across ten different countries.

READ: EUROPE UNITES FOR A SPECTACULAR DAY OF FOOTY

Highlights from last year’s event included the inaugural Australian Football match between two Bulgarian teams, the first-ever all Poland footy tournament, a mixed tournament in the Netherlands and an array of debutants playing the sport for the first time after patiently waiting all year to be able to do so.

Countries are welcome to host both a men’s and women’s tournament where possible, and join with neighbouring countries to form a regional tournament if necessary and safe to do so.

We’re excited to see the AFL Europe Community come together for another action-packed day of Australian Football being played all around Europe and we look forward to sharing the details of each tournament over the next few months.

Those wishing to host a tournament in their country as part of the Festival of Football, will only be permitted to do so if the event complies with the appropriate COVID-19 government guidelines.

Please contact your local league or club president should you have any questions around participating in the Festival of Football in your country.

AFL Europe Podcast: One Kick Later – Morten Merhøj

In episode fifteen of the AFL Europe Podcast and for the latest instalment of our One Kick Later series, we’re joined by Morten Merhøj.

Being introduced to Australian Football in Denmark and at a young age, Morten shares his journey in the sport from playing in Farum’s junior program to representing his country on the international stage.

Over the years, Morten has become heavily involved in the growth of footy in Denmark and the Danish Australian Football League (DAFL), talking to some of league’s history and traditions, as well as many success stories that have come out of the country including the growth of the club in Odense.

Listen via Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Alternatively, type in and search AFL Europe Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Coach Development Series to resume next week, new coaches encouraged to register

Our 2021 Coach Development Series with anzuk Education is set to resume next week and is open to registration for coaches who were unable to attend the first four sessions of the program.

The second and final block of webinars will start on Sunday, 9th of May and will run for four consecutive weeks (16th, 23rd & 30th).

The remaining sessions will start at 9:00AM BST and feature new presenters and new topics each week.

So far, we have been privileged to be joined by four elite coaches and mentors; Andrew Horsfield, Jack Barry, Dr. Brooke Patterson and Leigh Clarke.

Coaches who missed or were unable to attend our first four sessions may register into the next block of sessions by filling in the form below.

Newly registered coaches who attend all of the remaining sessions will be granted access to CoachAFL.

Coaches who attended any of the first four sessions have been emailed and do not need to re-register.

Registrations closed Friday, 7th of May 11:59AM (BST). Please email coach@afleurope.org if you are interested in attending.

AFL Europe Podcast: One Kick Later – Alban Schieber

On this episode of One Kick Later on the AFL Europe Podcast, we’re very excited to be joined by Alban Schieber.

Alban grew up in France however discovered footy on a student exchange program to Australia. Upon his return to France, and what you’ll soon find out in this episode, is how Alban became heavily involved in the sport and the growth of the AFL Europe community.

From playing locally with Bordeaux to representing France at a national level, from taking on roles such as the president of the CNFA (now AFL France) to recruiting Australians in the early days of AFL Europe’s ANZAC Cup, Alban shares his wonderful journey with Australian Football and how he continues to discover new ways he can grow the sport throughout Europe.

Listen via Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Alternatively, type in and search AFL Europe Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Irish Down Under – Bríd Stack AFLW

Welcome back to another episode of Irish Down Under hosted by James Brosnan and Mike Currane.

In this episode, we’re excited to be joined by Bríd Stack from the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Bríd had quite the rollercoaster start in Australia; two-week’s hotel quarantine, travelling with the Giants into a number of “hubs” across the country and then unfortunately sustaining an injury that ruled her out of her debut AFLW season.

Nevertheless, Bríd remained the ultimate professional she is, persisting through her rehab and recovery to get back into non-contact training and even becoming a mentor for the younger players at the club.

Hear from Bríd as she chats to Jim and Mike on her time Down Under, thriving in a professional environment, teaming up with good mate Cora Staunton plus hear from Bríd as she reviews the 2021 individual season’s for the Irishwomen who took part and then, helps us share our top 10 moments from the year.

Watch the episode here or listen to it on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Video Guide:

0:26 – And just like that, the women’s season is done!

1:29  – What the end of an AFLW season looks like and exit interviews.

4:46 – Recovery from her neck injury in the pre-season and returning to training.

6:44 – Bríd’s journey in her first few months after arriving in Australia including her injury.

12:53 – Recovery, setting weekly goals, shifting her mindset.

15:36 – Developing into a mentor and thriving in the professional environment.

19:09 – Looking ahead and plans for the next few months.

20:32 – Bríd’s take on the AFLW Grand Final and how all of the Irish girls went across the 2021 season.

28:24 – Mike, Jim & Bríd share our top 10 moments by the Irish girls from the 2021 AFLW season.

Irish duo to go head-to-head in AFL Women’s Grand Final

Excitement looms in Ireland as natives Ailish Considine and Orla O’Dwyer have both been named in tomorrow’s 2021 AFLW Grand Final.

Considine’s inclusion will see her play her first AFLW game since round six, coming into the side as a replacement for captain Chelsea Randall (concussion).

O’Dwyer, who has had a standout year in just her second season with the Lions and was voted as the AFL Ireland Women’s Irish Player of the Year, will join Considine in becoming the second Irishwoman in the competition’s history to play in an AFLW Grand Final.

With the two girls playing on opposing sides, tomorrow’s match will guarantee premiership success (again) for Ireland.

Considine, who has faced an interrupted season through injury, became the first Irishwoman to win an AFLW premiership in her debut season in the league in 2019.

Finishing on top of the ladder, Adelaide have earned home ground advantage which will see the match played at Adelaide Oval, where it last drew a crowd of 53,000 fans.

O’Dwyer and the Lions, who finished the season second on the ladder, will be looking to win their first AFLW flag after overcoming the Collingwood Magpies by just four-points last week.

Adelaide were able to capitalise on an inefficient Demons side, winning their preliminary final by 18-points and are on the hunt for their third premiership since the competition’s inaugural season in 2017.

Watch – O’Dwyer on AFL 360 previewing the 2021 AFLW Grand Final.

The AFL Europe community will also be keeping a close eye on both head coaches tomorrow.

Over the past few years, we’ve been fortunate to have Adelaide’s Matthew Clarke and Brisbane’s Craig Starcevich get involved and support the AFL Europe community and the growth of the sport across the continent.

Adelaide Crows Head Coach, Matthew Clarke, made the trip to London in 2018 to speak at AFL Europe’s Grand Final Lunch in September.

Brisbane Lions Head Coach, Craig Starcevich, who was in Switzerland last year in the AFLW’s off-season, assisted the Basel Dragons and AFL Switzerland through their 2020 season.

Whilst in Europe, Starcevich also made a trip to Heidelberg, Germany and ran a training session with the German women’s national side.

Earlier this week, Starcevich was recognised as the AFL Coaches Association’s AFLW senior coach of the year.

As voted by his peers, Starcevich earned the nod ahead of Adelaide’s Matthew Clarke in second, and Melbourne’s Mick Stinear in third.

The 2021 AFL Women’s season has been the most brilliant and unpredictable yet, and I’m sure tomorrow’s match will be no different.

The match kicks off at 5:00AM BST / 6:00AM CEST and can be watched outside of Australia via Watch AFL.

See the full teams and match details via the AFL Women’s website.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe