Festival of Football – Austria

KICKING things off in Austria in the afternoon of the 26th will be the Vienna Galahs and Styrian DownUnderDogs.

Vienna will journey down to the south of Graz as part of AFL Europe’s Festival of Football, which will see the first match followed by an all-in mixed tournament with at least three teams.

Whilst the Austrian rivalry was put on hold for majority of the year, they were able to play one match against each other in late-August.

“We have a solid rivalry… we are good mates but we love our matches against each other,” said Styrian DownUnderDogs captain Michael Jud.

DownUnderDogs vs. Galahs in 2019.

DownUnderDogs vs. Galahs in 2019.

The game, which was played in Vienna was equal at 3/4 time and went right down to the wire.

Local GAA club and friends of the Galahs, Vienna Gaels, had invited the Galahs and DownUnderDogs to include their Australian Football match as part of the Gaels’ ‘Gaelic Sports Day’.

Whilst the GAA players at the Gaels are quite familiar with Australian Football, many of their supporters and spectators weren’t. A few even found their way down to a Galahs training the next week.

“It was a really good day of footy… the spectators loved it, it was close right until the end,” said Jud.

“For the Galahs, it was really good for our club… the following week we had three new faces down at training,” said Vienna Galahs captain Sebastian Boehm.

“We sometimes have scratch matches with the Gaelic players… sometimes play Gaelic rules sometimes AFL rules.”

Whilst Gaelic and Australian Football have their similarities, it’s the comparison with American Football that Jud and Boehm say many Austrians can get confused.

“When you say you play football, everyone thinks you play American Football,” said Jud.

“Australian Football is by far more interesting… I always try to bring as many different people from different communities to the games, and all of them tell me after the game how exciting it was to watch, even though they don’t know the rules.

“People are always super interested afterwards too, it’s an amazing sport. People are tough, but they’re friendly on- and off-field.”

The original plan around a month ago for Austria’s Festival of Football was for the two teams to meet up with newly formed Hungarian side, Budapest Bats, in the country town of Gutenstein for a three-team tournament.

What would have been the debut of the Bats has had to be postponed due to government restrictions formed in early September.

“It would’ve been amazing to have the Bats over,” said Jud.

“For us in Graz, from 2011 to 2015/16, we played in the Croatian league, so we were super glad when the guys in Vienna re-formed.

“The Vienna guys have been doing an awesome job. People are always getting super excited to play against the capital of the country… and try to beat them as often as possible.”

That same excitement will follow into the Festival of Football, as the two teams hope to continue to spread the word of Australian Football around the country.

“We hope to keep growing Austria’s knowledge of Australian Football… unfortunately there is no chance to watch it on TV,” said Boehm.

“At the Festival of Football, we want to promote the game and have fun.”

Austria, who were involved in the announcement of National Australia Bank as AFL Europe’s new Ball Partner earlier this year, also enjoyed participating in AFL Europe’s Race to the MCG.

Jud (pictured) involved in the announcement of National Australia Bank as official Ball Partner of AFL Europe earlier this year.

Jud involved in the announcement of National Australia Bank as official Ball Partner of AFL Europe.

“The Race to the MCG was just an awesome event,” said Jud.

“People from our club hadn’t gone for a run in like 15 years… it was just a perfect opportunity to get people involved in the team and make progress together as a team too.

“Seeing the competition within the team and also the other nations… it was awesome.”

Austria’s runners showed great determination and consistency, finishing as just one of four men’s teams to outlast their ‘week one benchmark’ throughout the entire race.

All attention will now turn to next Saturday, when Austria and nearly ten other countries play in their own tournaments for AFL Europe’s Festival of Football.

Follow Austria on Facebook for all updates around footy in the country, as well as their Facebook event for the Festival of Football.

On the 26th of September AFL Europe’s Festival of Football, in partnership with National Australia Bank, will see a number of countries around Europe host an Australian Football tournament with local teams in a city of their choice.

The format and rules of each one-day tournament may differ from country to country, and matches will only be played if they comply with the appropriate government guidelines.

AFL Europe and the event committees around Europe participating in this event will continue to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 right up until matchday.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

Festival of Football – Russia

ST. PETERSBURG Cats will host Russia’s participation in AFL Europe’s Festival of Football, on September 26th.

The Cats have held a regular competition for the past few years known as the St. Petersburg Australian Football League (SPAFL) with two teams; Baltic Hawks and Northern Tigers.

The Hawks and Tigers will therefore be two of the teams competing in the Festival of Football, as well as the Moscow Bears who can hopefully attend as the third team.

“We’re still an emerging small community, so we’re very flexible,” said St. Petersburg Cats Founder Slava Belov.

“But ideally we’ll have three big teams with 9-a-side; Moscow and the two St. Petersburg teams. That would then be a round robin of three games and a grand final.”

If Moscow are unable to string a side together or travel to St. Petersburg, Belov said that St. Petersburg will definitely have two teams for a match between the Hawks and Tigers.

Should numbers be suffice, there has also been discussion around splitting players from the Hawks and Tigers to create a third team for the tournament, as they would have enough guernseys for it too.

All players would then be drafted by three captains which would create completely different line-ups to what are the current SPAFL teams.

Belov (pictured right) umpiring the match.

Belov (pictured right) umpiring the match.

“Last year it was a very even competition, but this year is completely different, and a few games have been a thrashing,” said Belov.

The Tigers have managed to stay undefeated throughout the 2020 season, which will finish in round eight this weekend.

It’s the first time that the SPAFL league has been quite one-sided, however it was decided upon creation that there would be no end of season ‘player trades’ or ‘swaps’ between the teams to help level out the competition.

It could result in the losing team not being entirely motivated to improve, knowing their team would simply change at the end of the season.

With that being said, the idea of mixing the teams at the Festival of Football would create much excitement as no one would quite know which way the results might fall.

The Tigers remain undefeated in the 2020 SPAFL.

The Tigers remain undefeated in the 2020 SPAFL.

Last year was a huge success for Australian Football in St. Petersburg, which featured a twelve round season that was played on almost every Saturday in summer and included the Moscow Bears.

The Cats also played games internationally, competing at AFL Europe’s Euro Cup, as well as the Baltic Cup in Tallinn, Estonia.

Whilst they have still managed to play games in Russia through 2020, Belov said that St. Petersburg have very much missed being involved internationally and with their AFL neighbours.

“It’s very important for us to keep in touch with all of the European footy community.

“The biggest strength of Australian Football in Europe is the community… it’s very supportive.

“Keeping in touch and participating in events like AFL Europe’s Festival of Football are really important to us.

“It will probably be the end of the season for us too, so we’ll want to have a good day and end it on a high note.”

Like Belov said, the Festival of Football could potentially be Russia’s final game of footy for 2020, meaning plenty of players will be putting it all on the line to end the year with some glory.

“The absolute star for this season has been Mikhail. P (pictured above)… he was decent last season, but this year he has been a game changer for the Tigers. He doesn’t fear anything and is a running machine,” said Belov.

“Pavel. E, who is the organiser of the tournament, he is the defending wall for the Tigers.

“Pavel. A, he has been injured so we’re unsure if he’ll be right for the Festival of Football, but he would be star on the day too.

“And also Alexander. D… Pavel. S and Ilya. L.”

As always, Belov will be very involved on matchday, officiating the games as an umpire.

Make sure to follow St. Petersburg on Facebook to keep up-to-date with their Festival of Football, as well as downloading the official St. Petersburg Cats app for match scores, statistics and photos.

On the 26th of September AFL Europe’s Festival of Football, in partnership with National Australia Bank, will see a number of countries around Europe host an Australian Football tournament with local teams in a city of their choice.

The format and rules of each one-day tournament may differ from country to country, and matches will only be played if they comply with the appropriate government guidelines.

AFL Europe and the event committees around Europe participating in this event will continue to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 right up until matchday.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

PSS Presents: Around the Grounds – Socials Edition #24

Featuring the best online posts from the AFL Europe community, PSS International Removals Presents: Around the Grounds – Socials Edition.

AFL Poland’s first international tournament was a success!

The four-team tournament in Warsaw featured two home sides in the Warsaw Boars and Warsaw Saints (first time competing under Boars & Saints) and two away sides in the Dresden Wolves (Germany) and Prague Dragons (Czech Republic).

Congratulations to the Wolves for winning the tournament, and to AFL Poland for hosting a fantastic day of Australian Football!

[ENG BELOW]Wielkie podziękowania dla wszystkich, którzy wczoraj przybyli do AWF na nasz pierwszy w Polsce…

Posted by Futbol Australijski w Polsce – AFL Poland on Sunday, 13 September 2020

The Berlin Crocs have shared some snaps from the first two rounds of their Berlin League!

The season kicked off just over a week ago with four teams; Crows, Eagles, Giants & Mariners.

Check out some of the best photos from rounds 1 & 2 below.

The South Dublin Swans have bounced back to record a big win over Belfast!

All tied up at the end of the third, the Swans made the most of the wind in the final term to beat the Redbacks 13.12. 90 to 9.5. 59.

Next, the second-placed Swans travel south to take on the undefeated Leeside Lions.

Wildcats guernseys are spreading throughout Europe!

Stefan from the Kiel Koalas has received a handy package from the West London Wildcats to help out the new team in Germany.

Stefan played his first game of AFL with West London in 2019, and after returning home earlier this year, has now helped set up Kiel’s very first AFL team.

Zurich Giants have taken to Instagram to celebrate one year since joining AFL Switzerland.

Congratulations to the Giants for an incredible first year, we can’t wait to see where your second year will take you!

“Let me present you “the Giants” in numbers: over 52 turf training sessions… over 39 members which means 3 new members per month… over 10 different nationalities.”

View this post on Instagram

Last Tuesday, we celebrated our anniversary. It has been one year since we officially are called the Giants and train as a team for our first season within Switzerland in 2020. It's worth sharing some numbers with you. Let me present you "the Giants" in numbers: …over 52 turf training sessions. …1/2 year of online fitness training sessions. …over 39 members which means 3 new members per month. …so far 1 win on and off the field. …over 10 different nationalities. …so far 13 potential Swiss National Players for AFL Switzerland. …at the moment 6 playing women. …over 10 social events like Raclette Plausch, BBQ's, come&try sessions, good bye dinners and birthday celebrations. Remembering that this is the success of lots of supporters and hard working people on and off the field, the Giants want to say thank you to everyone who made this possible. The future for us is looking bright, keep on working and well done team! #gogiants #zurichgiantsafc #aflswitzerland #AFLEurope #aussierules #socialsports

A post shared by Zurich Giants AFC (@zurichgiantsafc) on

Competitive ‘footy’ for Stockholm’s first-ever women’s AFL club is back!

On Saturday, the South Stockholm Giants played an International Rules match with local GAA side Stockholm Gaels.

“Stockholm turned off the weather but we were finally able to kick off some competitive games again starting with international rules yesterday!”

Another Irishman has called time on his AFL career.

Essendon speedster Conor McKenna has announced his retirement from the league and his intentions to return home after 79 games with the club.

Last year McKenna finished fourth in Essendon’s Best & Fairest count, when at his best was one of the top attacking half-backs in the competition.

And to finish off this week’s recap, we go back to right where we started!

The Dresden Wolves celebrated their win at AFL Poland’s tournament in Warsaw with a new addition to the trophy cabinet (see below).

Well done to all Wolves players for a great victory.

PSS International Removals are a family run, international removals company equipped with staff that are experts in the field whom are dedicated to providing a friendly and professional moving service to every customer. To check out what PSS have been up to online, visit their Facebook @pssinternationalremovals or Twitter @PSSRemovals. For info on their deals or offers, click here.

PSS International Removals

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

Festival of Football – Bulgaria

THE FIRST time two Bulgarian teams will play each other in a game of Australian Football is set to occur at AFL Europe’s Festival of Football.

Whilst the Sofia Magpies established in 2018, over in the east, the Varna Demons have only just formed earlier this year.

Sofia’s players will make the five-hour drive on the 26th, facing the Demons as they get ready to debut in Aksakovo, just outside of their hometown.

Magpies player and key figure for AFL Bulgaria, Atanas Kirachin looks forward to the Festival of Football to celebrate a huge achievement for AFL in Bulgaria.

“When we started our first fan group for the AFL in 2013, we said it would be in our wildest dreams to have a game between two Bulgarian sides.”

After a few years of hard work, the two Bulgarian teams are now raring to go and are confident they will each be able to field a 9-a-side team for the Festival of Football.

Where you usually find Aussie expats involved in getting new AFL teams around Europe together, Sofia and Varna haven’t had that fortune and are made up by mostly locals.

Jón Zophoníasson, who is half-Bulgarian, moved to Bulgaria in 2015 having previously played Australian footy in Iceland.

Zophoníasson played for Sofia in their first game.

“Jón messaged us (AFL Bulgaria) saying he was moving to Varna and used to play in Iceland, so he was looking forward to joining a team here,” said Kirachin.

“I was like ‘We don’t have any teams in Bulgaria, we don’t play this sport’.”

As things developed for AFL Bulgaria, Sofia was formed with Varna always in the back of their mind.

“Varna had really been in our minds since 2018, even maybe 2015 when Jón found our Facebook page,” said Kirachin.

“So because of that Varna was always next on the list after Sofia…half of the Sofia team were actually born in Varna, so we all had mates there who could help too.”

Without getting too far ahead of themselves, Kirachin mentioned their hopes of already getting a third team in Bulgaria going.

“If Varna was number two, also on the list was Burgas, which is 120km south of Varna down the seaside.

“The AFL Bulgaria co-founder he lives there, and is a huge fan of the sport and wants to get it running there as well.”

Kirachin in action against the Zagreb Hawks.

Both Kirachin and Zophoníasson are very much looking forward to a day of footy getting out onto the field for the Festival of Football.

“Actually being able to kick the ball around a bit more will be good,” said Zophoníasson.

Kirachin quickly replied, “Well to be honest, and I don’t want to start the early banter, but our first win would be nice.”

“The Sofia Magpies played their first two games in 2019 and didn’t win either of them.

“Jón (Zophoníasson) actually played in the first one for us, but yeah we’re looking forward to our first win seeing as we have a bit more experience together as a team.”

Kirachin believes it’s going to be a huge learning experience for many of the players on the 26th of September, who will play their first game of Australian Football.

Not just from the in-game experiences, but also the post-game conversations with each other and the opposition.

“Considering our small experience so far, in those first two games we (Sofia) played we actually learned a lot about the sport post-game.

“We shared things we didn’t really understand, and got told a few things we could improve on.”

Magpies training earlier this year.

Should everything go as planned for the match in Varna on the 26th, including having “a beer and a barbie”, Kirachin hopes around a month later the two teams can meet again to play in a ‘return game’.

“Well we thought okay we’ve got Sofia travelling to Varna in the Festival of Football, how about one month later we have Varna visiting us in Sofia.

“But we’ve also actually spoken with Paris, who showed some interest in coming here in late-October… so if that goes ahead we’ll form a mixed team from Sofia and Varna to play them, like a national squad.

“That may interrupt the ‘return game’, but we will eventually do that between Sofia and Varna anyway.”

To get involved in Australian Football in Bulgaria or in Bulgaria’s Festival of Football, send them a message via their Facebook @aflbulgaria.

You can also click through to see their website or visit their Facebook event for the 26th here.

On the 26th of September AFL Europe’s Festival of Football, in partnership with National Australia Bank, will see a number of countries around Europe host an Australian Football tournament with local teams in a city of their choice.

The format and rules of each one-day tournament may differ from country to country, and matches will only be played if they comply with the appropriate government guidelines.

AFL Europe and the event committees around Europe participating in this event will continue to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 right up until matchday.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

 

Festival of Football – Poland

HISTORY will be made in Poland with AFL Europe’s Festival of Football.

The 26th of September will mark the first-ever all-Poland AFL tournament as four teams from across the country prepare their travels to Wrocław.

The tournament in Wrocław will see the debut of two new teams in Poland; the Wrocław Lions and Fort Nysa Rugby Football Club.

Rounding out the four teams are the Warsaw Boars and the Warsaw Saints, who have recently derived from the well-established Polish Devils.

Polish Devils at AFL Europe’s Euro Cup in 2019.

“We have the opportunity where we have enough guys at the Devils to make two sides,” said AFL Poland Vice President, Geoffrey Puzzi.

“Wrocław, after only forming in July this year, quickly got 20-22 people coming to training, so they can field a team too.

“… and Nysa, they’ve had seven or nine guys, so we’ll try and fill them out so we can have four Polish teams and at least 40 players playing on the 26th.”

AFL Poland hope the four teams and the 7-a-side format at the Festival of Football will give them a good look as to what the inaugural AFL Poland League may look like, hopefully in 2021.

“We wanted to set something up that was more attainable, so the opportunity that is the Festival of Football is really great.”

Wrocław Lions, who only formed in July this year, have experienced rapid growth and are already reaching superb numbers at each training session.

Whilst it will be their official debut at the Festival of Football, a number of Lions players will be tagging along with the Saints and Boars this weekend to participate in the first International AFL tournament ever to be played in Poland, with the visiting Prague Dragons (Czech Republic) and Dresden Wolves (Germany).

To się dzieje! Pierwszy międzynarodowy mecz AFL rozegrany na polskiej ziemi odbędzie się za niespełna 2 tygodnie. Dwie…

Posted by Futbol Australijski w Polsce – AFL Poland on Tuesday, 1 September 2020

“In the tournament on the 12th we’re going to join with the Warsaw guys, and that’s the first time our guys will play a proper game,” said Lions Head Coach Jeremy Coombe.

“The 26th is what we’re training towards, to have our first official match as the Lions.”

Plenty of new faces will be on show for AFL Poland at the Festival of Football, as Coombe believes Warsaw’s experience may be too much for the new teams.

“It’s definitely one of the Warsaw teams (favourite to win), but we’re the unknown. I don’t even know how we’ll go,” said Coombe.

“We’ve got guys who play rugby, soccer, and some guys who have even done martial arts… but I think it’s mostly about the players learning and seeing what AFL is about.”

Wrocław attracting numbers at training.

Puzzi too is excited to see how the growth of Wrocław and Nysa has come along and echoed similar words to those of Coombe on who he thinks might come out on top at the tournament.

“I’ll have to say the Saints would be the favourite going in, but Wrocław is the unknown, Nysa is the unknown, and they have a rugby background so maybe they come in and surprise us all.”

Puzzi along with many other members of AFL Poland, including President Phil Forbes, provided much support to the growth of Wrocław (and Nysa) covering both the on- and off-field sides of starting a new AFL team.

But perhaps the most help came from Polish local, Paulina Sadzik, who has been irreplaceable when it comes to the development of Wrocław.

And now for the Festival of Football, Sadzik has been ringing around trying to find a grassed venue for the four teams to all play on.

“Fields are our biggest battle in Poland. Either there’s a lack of fields or they tend to be extremely expensive, so you have to settle with what you can get,” said Puzzi.

“Last year we did a captains run before the Euro Cup on astro turf and it works… so it is manageable.

“At the end the day, the experience of four teams coming together makes up for it and we aren’t fussed on what the surface is.”

Another key contributor to the uprising of AFL Poland, Mateusz Bartkiewicz has been heavily involved in the growth of the teams and the planning of the Warsaw tournament (this weekend).

As for the Festival of Football, it is likely AFL Poland will rent the same place to where the Lions are currently training, a small sporting complex west of the Wrocław city centre.

Poland received donated kits from Australia thanks to South Belgrave and Whitefriars.

Devils player Radek Szeniec will be one of the most experienced players on the day of the Festival of Football, and very much looks forward to playing in Wrocław as well as captaining one of the Warsaw teams.

“Personally, I’m looking forward to meeting the Wrocław guys, they’ve only set up recently so it will be good to meet the guys that are interested in AFL,” said Szeniec.

“It’ll also be good to bring the guys from Nysa and everyone who’s invested in AFL in Poland all together, which will hopefully share the message and encourage other cities in Poland to get further involved.

“That will be the main thing, to have an all-Poland competition in Wrocław as a reward and to encourage everyone to get more involved.”

Exciting times lay ahead for AFL Poland as players and teams look to continue to develop around the country.

Make sure to send AFL Poland a message on Facebook if you’d like to get involved and join in on their take in the #FestivalofFootball.

Visit their Facebook event here.

On the 26th of September AFL Europe’s Festival of Football, in partnership with National Australia Bank, will see a number of countries around Europe host an Australian Football tournament with local teams in a city of their choice.

The format and rules of each one-day tournament may differ from country to country, and matches will only be played if they comply with the appropriate government guidelines.

AFL Europe and the event committees around Europe participating in this event will continue to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 right up until matchday.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

Wombats working hard to grow AFL in Finland

‘Newest Team in Town’ introduces some of the upcoming Australian Football clubs who have recently joined their respective league’s around Europe.

Reporter for AFL Europe, James Brosnan spoke to president of the Waasa Wombats, Anton Salmi as the team looks forward to their first official game this year.

As the latest addition to Finland AFL, the Waasa Wombats are counting down to their first official match of the season, to be played in AFL Europe’s Festival of Football on September 26.

Waasa Wombats is the oldest of the clubs to feature in the ‘Newest Team in Town’ series having formed back in 2011 and playing their debut season in 2012.

The Finnish Cup, which will be played for the Festival of Football, comes at a good time for the Wombats according to president, Anton Salmi.

“We started the season well back in March, we had good numbers to the first trainings but then COVID struck and we had a break until June,” he said.

“Now, in the summer we might get four guys to a training, but it’s not the same four guys every week because they work different shifts. We have not had great numbers this summer but we do our best with the numbers that we have.

“The people in the team are excited for the upcoming FAFL Cup. We moved dates so we could be a part of the Festival of Football. At the moment, if we’re lucky we could get 12 players and in this situation that is good.”

The Wombats will be joined by fellow Finnish teams the Helsinki Heatseekers and the Turku Dockers in the tournament which will be held in the outskirts of Turku.

With 16 players on the roster in 2019, the Wombats have had players move away from Vaasa and into mandatory military service but are still working hard to recruit a younger demographic to the club.

“Our hope for the club before COVID was to get a younger median age, a lot of the guys are 25 or older. I’m the oldest active player in our team at 37 and a few others are not far behind in their 30’s,” Salmi said.

“We aim to get more guys in the 18 to 25 age range. Last year we did tours in schools, showing the sport to people aged 12 to 18. That was the plan this year, but with COVID they had to be scrapped.”

ENG/FINToday #WaasaWombats Anton, Mikko and Paul held a taster session for Vaasan lyseon lukio boys age 17-18.We went…

Posted by Finland AFL on Thursday, September 3, 2020

Whilst the majority of school and university visits for the club have not been able to go ahead, they did visit a school last Thursday, 3 September in the hope of some last-minute recruiting before the Finnish Cup.

“I’m hoping that with the Cup so soon around the corner that we can get somebody from there interested to come and play and have the chance to become Finnish Champions,” Salmi said.

“To go around to schools and universities and spread the word out is so important for us because there is so much competition from other sports in Vaasa.

Vaasa, which is situated on the west coast of Finland, can lay claim to a unique achievement. The Wombats playing list is made up solely of Finnish nationals, making them arguably one of very few AFL international teams in the world to be made up purely of local players.

“We only have Finnish players on our roster and that’s been the case besides a couple of seasons. It is something special about us, but it’s certainly not planned, we would love to have some expats or foreigners on our team but it just hasn’t happened,” Salmi said.

Whilst the Wombats haven’t had an official outing this season, a number of their players took part in a friendly game with other Finnish players earlier this year where they mixed teams on the day.

With the Euro Cup in Scotland postponed this year, it was the first gathering of the national team who were hoping for a trip abroad to play a neighbouring country.

After a six-year hiatus, the Finnish national team returned to the Euro Cup last year in Sweden and were looking forward to the event in Scotland this year.

“We’re hoping to get another game for the national team against another country, but there is not many options at the moment with the pandemic,” Salmi said.

“We were looking forward to getting across to Scotland, we have to hope that next year will be a better year so we can take part in it and people are still interested after a year off.”

To learn more about the Waasa Wombats, find them on Facebook @WaasaWombats.

To find a club near you, check out our Find Your Club page.

James Brosnan – AFL Europe

Festival of Football – Sweden

PLAYERS from around Sweden and Denmark will head to the Limhamn Australian Football Ground in Malmö to play in the upcoming Festival of Football.

Held on the 26th of September, Sweden will feature both a men’s and women’s tournament that will each consist of three matches and a grand final.

The teams attending who will each boast a men’s and women’s side are Port Malmö (Maulers & Lynx), Norrtälje Dockers and a Scandinavian All Stars team made up of Danish and Swedish players from different clubs.

AFL Sweden Vice President and Port Malmö Lynx player, Katren Rogers, is very much looking forward to the event at her home ground in Malmö.

“It will be really good to have everyone down at Limhamn,” said Rogers.

“Being from Malmö and part of the Port Malmö Football Club, it’s always good spending a Saturday down there but to have everyone coming from all over Sweden, and some of the Danes coming too, it’s going to make it a really good atmosphere.

Dockers against the Lynx at the Swedish Cup in August.

Dockers against the Lynx at the Swedish Cup in August.

“We’ve got two fields, a rugby field next to our main field where the girls and guys can play, so everyone can kind of watch each other with plenty of space.”

The women’s tournament will see the three teams field 9-a-side, while the men’s teams will be fortunate enough to go the full 18.

“It’s quite special to be able to play 18-a-side, we’re lucky that Malmö has been able to recruit quite a few new players over the year.

“Also that we can get some of the players from Stockholm to play with Norrtälje… I think it’s really nice for the guys to be able to play the full format, I’m excited.”

Footy in Sweden has already been able to resume with teams playing matches in early summer, as well as the Swedish Cup in August.

“The (Swedish Cup) is our tournament to decide who will represent Sweden at the next AFL Europe Champions League,” said Rogers.

“That was a really good day in Eksjö… hosted by the Eksjö Bulldogs.”

Less than a month on from the Swedish Cup and players are already preparing for what is going to be another great day of Australian Football in Sweden.

“It (Festival of Football) will be a nice way to showcase the sport here in Sweden.

“We’re sharing stuff online and we’ve already got some people engaging who aren’t necessarily part of the footy community, so that’s good!”

Whilst teams in Sweden have been able to train for most of the year, playing in a match can be quite incomparable, especially for newer players to the sport.

“It’s all good coming down to training but playing games is what’s really fun and what makes you want to come back.

“And it’s not just the game, it’s also the atmosphere around the day and spending time with the whole footy community.

“I think that will be really good to get some people engaged and also keep all these people that we’ve managed to recruit coming back and loving playing footy in Sweden.”

Photo from Round 1 of DAFL 2020.

Photo from Round 1 of DAFL 2020.

Premiers of the men’s and women’s Swedish Cup, Norrtälje will head into the Festival of Football as number one contenders.

And it came as no surprise who Rogers mentioned when asked which team she is most looking forward to matching up against.

“Oh Norrtalje Dockers, they recently beat us at the Swedish Cup… both on the men’s side and the women’s side.

“Credit to them, they were the best team on the day and absolutely deserve to be representing Sweden in Amsterdam, but I’ve got to say the 26th of September is a little bit of a revenge opportunity for both the Port Malmö Lynx and Maulers.”

AFL Sweden are currently in talks of streaming their Festival of Football tournament live on Facebook.

Rogers, who is from Australia, said live streaming the game would be a great way to display AFL in Sweden for viewers online, but also for friends and family who are unable to attend the event.

“It’s really special when people from home can watch.

“We’ve (Lynx) played in Amsterdam in the past and my mum and dad were able to watch my game, it’s so cool.

“It would be really good if we can make that happen in Malmö too.”

Port Malmö on the live stream at AFL Europe's Champions League in 2019.

Port Malmö on the live stream at AFL Europe’s Champions League in 2019.

Looking past the Festival of Football, AFL Sweden are hoping to prepare a large ‘calendar of events’ for 2021 with the possibility of playing more tournaments.

“Well it’s been such a weird year this year, I think I’ve just been so happy that we’ve been able to play any footy.

“Going into next year, hopefully we can plan more tournaments like the Swedish Cup and the Festival of Football.

“The boys down here in Port Malmö play in the Danish League, and there’s a separate league up in Stockholm, but it’s quite rewarding meeting and bringing together all the teams… it feels like we’re all building something together.

“I think next year with a solid plan, AFL Sweden will be able to keep ‘on the up’.”

If you’d like to get involved with footy in Sweden or participate in their #FestivalofFootball, follow and message AFL Sweden on Facebook.

On the 26th of September AFL Europe’s Festival of Football, in partnership with National Australia Bank, will see a number of countries around Europe host an Australian Football tournament with local teams in a city of their choice.

The format and rules of each one-day tournament may differ from country to country, and matches will only be played if they comply with the appropriate government guidelines.

AFL Europe and the event committees around Europe participating in this event will continue to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 right up until matchday.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

PSS Presents: Around the Grounds – Socials Edition #23

Featuring the best online posts from the AFL Europe community, PSS International Removals Presents: Around the Grounds – Socials Edition.

Another weekly recap of footy news as we enter September and near some footy grand finals being played around Europe.

The Waterland Eagles are through to the AFL Netherlands grand final!

The Eagles beat the Delft Blues in the preliminary final 13.5. 83 to 7.12. 54.

They will now prepare for a trip to Purmerend to face the Amsterdam Devils in the grand final on September 19th.

View this post on Instagram

We’re off to the GRAND FINAL! 🦅

A post shared by Australian Football Purmerend (@waterlandeagles) on

Good news for footy fans in Europe thanks to a huge announcement last week by the AFL.

For the first time ever, the AFL Grand Final will be played outside of Victoria… in Brisbane, Queensland!

But it doesn’t stop there, the game will start at night (exact time TBC) meaning that fans in Europe will no longer have to wake up before 6AM to watch the game!

Last weekend saw St. Petersburg play out round 6 of the SPAFL 2020 season.

The season features two teams in the Baltic Hawks and Northern Tigers, and started on the 1st of August.

The Tigers have gone six games undefeated… do the Hawks have what it takes get one back in round 7?

AFL Finland are on the search for new talent!

A few of the Waasa Wombats players last week held a 90-minute ‘taster session’ at a local school.

“We went through the basics (rules, handball, kicks, tackles) and even had time for 3x 6-minute minigames of 6v6. It looked awesome.”

ENG/FINToday #WaasaWombats Anton, Mikko and Paul held a taster session for Vaasan lyseon lukio boys age 17-18.We went…

Posted by Finland AFL on Thursday, September 3, 2020

The heroic fundraising efforts by the Wandsworth Demons towards a cure for Motor Neurone Disease was recently highlighted by Fight MND on their socials.

The ‘Big Freeze at the ‘C’ is the only annual Big Freeze fundraiser held outside of Australia. This year, the Demons raised $15,000 through a number of different events and activities over the 5-week campaign.

Read the full story on Fight MND’s website here.

Inside the locker room with the Vienna Galahs as Kieran Kellet from Australia has taken over the reigns as coach after suffering an unfortunate ACL injury earlier this year.

His game plan seems to be working, with the Galahs being victorious against the DownUnderDogs just over a week ago!

Make sure to message the team via their Instagram below if you’re keen to play some footy in Austria.

Three games in and the Leeside Lions are sitting on top of the AFL Ireland ladder.

Last weekend the Lions handed the Belfast Redbacks their first loss of the season, winning by over 70-points!

Leeside will be back at it again this weekend when they take on the Galway Magpies on Saturday.

Keeping it Irish with some news out of Australia.

Young Geelong Cats player Mark O’Connor is not just a talented athlete!

O’Connor has written a piece that featured on the AFL Players Association website about his teammate, Zach Tuohy, becoming just the second Irishman to reach 200 AFL games.

On Sunday, the Geelong Cats' Zach Tuohy will become the second Irishman to reach 200 AFL games after Jim…

Posted by AFL Players on Thursday, September 3, 2020

Gold Coast SUN and former vice-captain Pearce Hanley has called time on his AFL career.

Hanley played 169-games throughout his time in the AFL after making his debut as a 19-year-old in 2008 for the Brisbane Lions.

Watch Hanley announce his retirement to his teammates in the video here.

PSS International Removals are a family run, international removals company equipped with staff that are experts in the field whom are dedicated to providing a friendly and professional moving service to every customer. To check out what PSS have been up to online, visit their Facebook @pssinternationalremovals or Twitter @PSSRemovals. For info on their deals or offers, click here.

PSS International Removals

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

Festival of Football – Finland

PREPARATION for Finland’s participation in AFL Europe’s Festival of Football is officially underway.

The tournament is set to take place approximately 30km out from Turku, in a small town named Paimio.

Attending will be the Helsinki Heatseekers, Turku Dockers and Waasa Wombats, each hoping to field a 9-a-side team.

A usual AFL season in Finland would consist of three round robins, held in the three cities listed above.

At each round robin, teams play each other once, with the two overall leading teams then going head-to-head in a grand final.

Held on a separate day to the round robins, the location of the grand final operates on a yearly rotation basis, which led to the decision of the venue for the upcoming tournament.

“This year the grand final was meant to be held in Turku, but due to the current situation we haven’t been able to play any of our round robins,” said Chairman of Finland AFL, Anton Salmi.

“There are very many football clubs in Turku, which makes it hard to find fields.

“Now that we’ve moved the date to coincide with the Festival of Football, we can confirm the tournament will be held in Paimio.”

Finland's Festival of Football venue in Paimio.

Finland’s Festival of Football venue in Paimio.

The tournament will follow the usual structure of a Finland AFL round robin, however now differentiating with a grand final being played on the same day.

The games in the round robin are currently scheduled for two 15-minute halves, with a five-minute break. The final time structure of the matches will be confirmed on the day, based on the weather and total participation.

Finland also plan to play the grand final with 10-minute quarters; 5-minute quarter breaks and an 8-minute half time break.

To keep the excitement and momentum rolling throughout the day, there will only be a short break between the round robin games and the grand final.

Premiers of the FAFL 2019; Turku Dockers.

Premiers of the FAFL 2019; Turku Dockers.

All three teams are very much looking forward to participating in the Festival of Football in which the coverage of the tournament may even make it onto your devices at home.

“It’s nice to be a part of something bigger, and we’re hoping it will bring some interest to Australian Football in Finland,” said Salmi.

“We hope to live stream it on Finland AFL’s Facebook page which could bring some more ‘viewers’ to the game.

“Hopefully people will find the game online which might mean we get more people in Finland playing the sport.”

A ‘mixed team day’ in Nokia back in July has attributed to six women actively training with the Finnish clubs. Salmi was excited to share that some of them are likely to play in the tournament too.

“This year we are going to do a mixed competition, the women who are interested in coming said they don’t mind playing ‘against the boys’.

Finland's 'mixed team day' in July.

Finland’s ‘mixed team day’ in July.

“We have a few female players in the Helsinki and Turku areas… we have about six actively training in Finland at the moment so there might be one or two in each team.”

Due to the large distance between the three teams, Salmi said it’s unrealistic for any of the teams to meet up for a practice match in the lead up to the tournament.

That being said, all three teams are very excited for the tournament and are likely to share players with one another to make sure each team is filled the best they can be.

“There may be loans from each team to help fill out the squad to get the 9-a-side. We’re quite flexible in that sense,” said Salmi.

Joni Kinnari from the Waasa Wombats said it wasn’t necessarily about bringing glory back to your city, but more about making sure teams get out onto the pitch.

Joni Quote.

Kinnari is captain of the Wombats who notably is an all Finnish team.

Despite Turku winning the cup last year and heading into the tournament as favourites, Kinnari is most looking forward to the Wombats match against the Heatseekers.

“We (Wombats) have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Helsinki, we always want to beat them,” said Kinnari.

“They have a lot of talented guys, they’re a strong team.

“They have a good connection with a fellow Gaelic football team too… it gives them a strong base.”

Salmi (left) and Kinnari (right) at training earlier this year.

Salmi (left) and Kinnari (right) at training earlier this year.

Should the live stream of the tournament go as planned on Finland AFL’s Facebook, Kinnari mentioned there’d be a few players to watch out for.

“From Turku, there’s their ruckman, Alex. He’s been playing for quite a long time and is a force to be reckoned with.

“From Helsinki, they’ve got a Colombian called Leon who has just come back to Finland after a couple years.

“He’s always been skilled… those are the two guys I’d be looking out for.”

Maybe the Wombats will be able to recruit some new talent before the tournament begins to help them with these match ups, as they plan to hold a 90-minute ‘taster session’ at a local school on September 3rd.

For now, the three teams look forward to their first official matches to be played this year and ultimately becoming champions of FAFL 2020.

If you’d like to get involved or participate in the #FestivalofFootball in Finland, follow and message them via their Facebook.

On the 26th of September AFL Europe’s Festival of Football, in partnership with National Australia Bank, will see a number of countries around Europe host an Australian Football tournament with local teams in a city of their choice.

The format and rules of each one-day tournament may differ from country to country, and matches will only be played if they comply with the appropriate government guidelines.

AFL Europe and the event committees around Europe participating in this event will continue to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 right up until matchday.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

Race to the MCG – Week Eleven Review

AFL Europe’s Race to the MCG has officially ended with Germany leading the women’s competition right from the get-go and becoming the first women’s team to run the distance from London to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The team required just over 484km last week to reach the finish line of 16,900km.

Germany gave it their absolute all throughout the entirety of the competition. With almost a complete 30 runners every week, the team did not once drop below 1,500km for weekly distance covered.

Assistant Coach of the German Eagles, Marijka Bright, was the driving force behind Germany’s efforts. Creating spreadsheets, keeping awake past midnight to record team results and continually encouraging all runners throughout the race whilst covering some incredible kilometres herself.

“The Race to the MCG was definitely a challenge, but after having all of the training camps, Euro Cup and IC ’20 cancelled or postponed, it gave us something to focus our energy on and bring us together as a team,” Bright said.

“At times it was not easy – we had a couple of weeks where we were very close to not hitting the benchmark – but it was great to see everybody putting their shoes back on, on the Sunday afternoon/evening and reaching the kilometres that we needed.”

In week four, Germany had put in their best effort notching 1,905km and becoming almost 2,000km clear of second place. Showing off their competitive spirit, their second best weekly effort came almost at the end of the competition, completing over 1,700km in week ten.

“In our first week we managed to reach 1,519.5 km. What we didn’t know was that the benchmark rule would come into place. Whilst it made our journey at times difficult, it gave us the motivation to hit our kilometres every single week.”

Germany boasted six Performances of the Week, three of them coming from one of the competition’s top runners, Jane. E.

“The healthy competition at the top of our kilometre table each week between Jana. E and Leila. M was always something to behold,” Bright said.

“Our captain Theresa. K went specifically on a hiking holiday to ensure she continued to contribute to our total. Her 40km mountain hike during this trip was our biggest singular effort and extremely impressive.

“But it wasn’t just the participants who were able to get the big numbers who were impressive. We put in a great team effort and we had those with full-time, stressful jobs, as well as those who were carrying injuries, who were still able to contribute meaningfully to the race every single week.”

For finishing first, Germany will now receive an entire playing kit, thanks to Race to the MCG major sponsor, O’Neills.

“During these uncertain times, it has been great to be able to have the Race to the MCG,” Bright said.

“In a time where we were unable to get together as a team and execute the plans that we had made in the lead up to the International Cup, it was a great team building tool and managed to give us a focus and a common goal to work towards.

“We would like to thank AFL Europe for putting on and managing the competition – a great concept and something that we as a team will remember well into the future.”

See below for the final leaderboard in the women’s competition.

Switzerland were one of five remaining teams to beat their week one benchmark, regularly impressing with their weekly efforts.

Head of Women Development and Secretary for AFL Switzerland (and Swiss player herself) Effie Senti was delighted with the team’s finish.

“Our team was rather small, however, we had some very motivated girls in the competition,” Senti said.

“It helped us to strengthen our AFL Switzerland family spirit as we got to know other players’ skills from different clubs even better.”

Motivation for the Swiss team to push through to the end came from working as a team, encouraging and checking in on each other as the week’s went by.

“(Motivation) was mainly through encouraging others to track every single walk and run. Some even did more than they wanted originally to keep the momentum going,” Senti said.

Whilst it was very much a team effort, there was one particular individual named Norina from the Zurich Giants that Senti was very impressed by.

“She (Norina) hasn’t been able to participate in any footy activities due to her change of home, however, she was the one who pushed hard and did lots of running and walking.

“Replying once to my message about how well she’s doing, she mentioned ‘although I can’t be there for the team at the moment, I want to contribute with running’.”

Despite being one of the smaller teams in the competition, the Swiss very much enjoyed the Race to the MCG and would even like to see the competition turn into a yearly thing.

“It was an awesome idea and I think it motivated people to keep moving although the COVID-19 was a setback for lots of sporting people around Switzerland and Europe.

“I think such a competition might be even worth having each year to keep the players fit and motivate them to do more physical activity.

“Some people, who are not playing footy due to their age or whatever reason, participated and felt the team spirit, which is an awesome thing! Well done!”

AFL Switzerland now look forward to completing their shortened 2020 season, with the grand final to be held on the 19th of September.

“Besides that, lots of training sessions and ‘come & try’ events/recruitment work is going on in Switzerland. We are excited,” Senti said.

Congratulations to the nine remaining teams who exceeded their week one benchmark totals right until the end of the competition.

In the women’s, the remaining teams were Germany, Scotland, Switzerland, Sweden and Wales. In the men’s, we had Austria, Germany, Poland and Wales.

We would now like to announce that the two teams that were randomly drawn to win free entry into the 2021 Euro Cup were Scotland’s women’s and Wales’ men’s.

It was great to see all teams embrace the challenge over the eleven weeks, and it has been incredible to see both the personal and team distances that have been accomplished.

We hope the competition brought an increase in motivation, engagement and fitness within all of our AFL community’s around Europe.

A final thanks to who this competition would not have been made possible without, AFL Europe’s Apparel Partner and Race to the MCG major sponsor, O’Neills.

Any teams looking to purchase on-field or off-field kit for 2021 please contact AFL Europe for an introduction to the amazing team at O’Neills.

O’Neills was founded in 1918 as a manufacturer of Gaelic Footballs and is now the largest and leading sportswear manufacturing company in Ireland. O’Neills are an 100% Irish owned organisation, specialising in the design, manufacture, personalisation and supply of performance multi-sportswear, leisurewear and sports equipment globally.

2020 marks O’Neills fifth consecutive year as the official Apparel Partner of AFL Europe. Over the five years, the entire team at O’Neills have been extremely supportive of AFL Europe and contributed to promoting the game by ensuring teams are provided with quality playing gear and equipment.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe