Festival of Football debut for players in Israel

The 2021 AFL Europe Festival of Football will see nearly 15 countries and up to 50 teams competing in local tournaments across Europe and all on the same day of Saturday, August 14th. Preview the action that will go ahead in Tel Aviv, Israel.

AFL Israel look forward to participating in their first AFL Europe Festival of Football next month, hosting a three-team tournament at the multisport complex in Tel Aviv.

The Tel Aviv Cheetahs resumed training in March after not being able to play or train since September last year, when they held their last ‘game day’.

They have since seen player attendance at each training session continue to rise, and are hopeful of seeing up to 30 players attend the tournament next month.

“Since our first few training sessions, we’ve done a big push on recruiting and have been going really well with numbers,” said Shir Shalev of AFL Israel.

“Throughout June and into early July, we’ve had more and more people get down to our sessions and we even played a 9-a-side match, which was good preparation for next month.”

The tournament on the 14th is likely to be an early start for the players in Tel Aviv, with temperatures in Israel looking to exceed 30 degrees.

Participants will be divided into three, 9-a-side teams; Tel Aviv Cheetahs , Tel Aviv Dragons, and a Jerusalem side. The three sides will play against each other once, before the top two teams proceed into a grand final to determine the day’s champion.

Shalev said that everyone was looking forward to participating in this year’s Festival of Football event with the rest of the AFL Europe community.

“I really hope with the game day content on social media, where we can follow the action of all of the other countries who are participating, that our players will feel connected to AFL Europe and the community,” said Shalev.

“Whilst some of the players have played in an AFL Europe Euro Cup before, many haven’t either, so this will be their first experience of really being involved with the other teams in Europe.”

Over the years, AFL Israel have been regular competitors at the Euro Cup however competed as their national team, Israeli Beasts, for the first time in 2019.

Prior to this, players in Israel had competed at the tournament as the Tel Aviv Cheetahs or Jerusalem Peace Lions.

With the cancellation of the 2021 event being recently announced, Shalev said that it will be important to focus training sessions, after the Festival of Football, on building towards next year’s Euro Cup, but also hopefully some more organised ‘game days’ in Israel later this year.

“We will need to make sure we are keeping everyone active with something to train for. We’ve had a thought about doing some more ‘game days’, similar to what we’ve done in the past,” said Shalev.

“With as many people as possible at the Festival of Football, we’re hoping to have a lot of fun and build some good momentum going into the rest of the year.”

More information on the tournament in Tel Aviv, including how to register and participate, can be found here.

Good luck to all players in Israel and we look forward to seeing you involved in the event this year.

All Festival of Football tournaments will be played in accordance with local government guidelines and restrictions.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

AFL Europe Podcast: With Special Guest Kevin “Shifter” Sheehan

In episode 26 of the AFL Europe Podcast we are pleased to be joined by AFL Talent Ambassador, Kevin “Shifter” Sheehan.

Shifter has been involved in footy all his life, from playing professionally with the Geelong Cats, to holding roles in scouting and talent identification with the Australian Football League.

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In his time working for the league, he has played a leading role in developing pathways to the AFL such as the U16 & U/18 National Championships, AusKick and Draft Combine.

Beyond his work in Australia is his dedication and passion for developing the sport around the globe, which has seen him regularly attend the AFL Europe Talent Combine and other matches across Europe.

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In this episode, Shifter shares his top upcoming AFLW and AFL draft prospects, some of his favourite moments as Talent Ambassador including the best players and draft pools he has ever seen, the evolution of recruitment, the future of international talent and much more.

Plus, a very special ending to the episode as for the first time ever, Shifter has selected and shares his ‘Ireland AFL All Stars’ side. The team of 22 is comprised of Irish players who have made the move over  to Australia, from Gaelic to Australian Football, since the first Irishman signed into the league 40 years ago, beginning the ‘Irish Experiment’.

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

Women’s 9-a-side, men’s Rookies vs. Retirees and Danish Vikings on display for Festival of Football in Denmark

The 2021 AFL Europe Festival of Football will see nearly 15 countries and up to 50 teams competing in local tournaments across Europe and all on the same day of Saturday, August 14th. Preview the three matches that will go ahead in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The upcoming Festival of Football will see men’s and women’s players in the Danish Australian Football League (DAFL) head to the country’s capital, in the midst of their 2021 season, for three exciting games of Australian footy.

The district of Valby in Copenhagen, home of the Barracudas, will host a 9-a-side women’s match, 12-a-side men’s Rookies vs. Old Lizards match and then the Danish Vikings will go against some of the league’s Australian players in a Team Denmark vs. Team Australia 12-a-side match.

All matches will be played with four quarters, as the 9-a-side women’s match kicks off the day at 11:00 AM local time.

The two women’s sides will be made up of players involved in the DAFL, as well as any nearby international players should they wish to participate and are permitted to do so.

The men’s Rookies vs. Old Lizards  match will showcase the upcoming stars in Denmark, as well as some of the league’s legends.

The Rookies will be made up of players with less than 10 games to their name, whilst the Old Lizards will include retirees and some of the DAFL’s greatest players from across the competition’s history.

The final match of the day will see the DAFL’s best go at it, as Denmark’s national team will take on a select Team Australia side.

The Festival of Football on the 14th of August lands in the middle of the 2021 DAFL season, that begun back in April.

“This year in the DAFL we’ve had two to three teams that have been much stronger than the rest of the competition,” said organiser of the Festival of Football in Denmark and Copenhagen Barracudas Club Administrator, Rasmus Anderson.

“At the Festival of Football, we’re hoping these games that we’re putting on can all be pretty level and competitive.

“The Rookies and Old Lizards match will be great for the players who don’t have time to play or train to now come out of retirement and get a game in.

“The women’s match and having the national team play will attract a lot of spectators to come watch too.”

Votes will be tallied towards the best player from each match, with the player who receives the most votes in any of these games to be decided as best on field for the day.

It’s been almost two years since the Vikings have competed as a collective, in which Anderson shared his excitement to see how the two teams would fare, with a great mix of talent on display.

“It’s going to be close… Denmark in the past have proven that they’re a very good side,” said Anderson.

“I was very impressed that they could challenge the guys from the UK at the 2019 European Championships, and now will face the best Australian players in the DAFL. It’s going to be a high level game.”

As mentioned earlier, players in Denmark have been fortunate to have had already played eight rounds of their 2021 season, but are currently in their mid-season break. Premiers in 2019, Farum Cats, are currently sitting on top of the ladder with five wins and one loss.

“It was very disappointing last year that we had to cancel the grand final just a day before it was meant to happen,” said Anderson.

“We’re hopeful and really looking forward to being able to hold it this year.

“But just being able to play footy this year has been great and we’ve seen a lot of new people around the sport which has been awesome. We’re very happy with how everything has been going in Denmark.”

Anderson also wanted to share that there will be spots available in the women’s match for anyone who is interested in playing, permitted they are allowed travel and can do so safely. You may express your interest to Rasmus through Copenhagen Barracudas’ Facebook.

More information on the matches that are taking place in Copenhagen can be found on their Facebook event, here.

All Festival of Football tournaments will be played in accordance with local government guidelines and restrictions.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

AFL Europe Podcast: One Kick Later – Oliver Krajacic

Welcome to episode twenty-five of the AFL Europe Podcast where we are joined by Oliver Krajacic.

Oliver joins us from Austria and as part of our One Kick Later series to share his journey into Australian Football that started ten years ago and reflects on the beginnings of the sport in Austria.

Oliver shares how the sport has grown in his home country, the importance of staying connected with the AFL Europe community and all teams including receiving support from Croatia over the years, being joined by former AFL player Max Bailey at a Styrian DownUnderDogs training and more.

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

Swans, Kookaburras claim victories in Dublin for round two

Stephen O’Sullivan, Reporter for AFL Ireland, recaps all of Ireland’s round two action that was held in Dublin last weekend.

Round two of the AFL Ireland men’s and women’s premiership competitions fell foul to cancelled games scheduled in Galway last Saturday, however, we did have two cracking games played in the capital.

Men’s Competition

South Dublin Swans v Belfast Redbacks

Both sides came into this game on the back of mixed fortunes in round one. The Swans were looking to start their campaign with two wins on the bounce, something that has eluded them for the past number of years.

The Redbacks, coming in on the back of a defeat at home to the Leeside Lions, hoped to kick start their season in Dublin, where they have had a lot of success in recent years.

As the mercury hit 28°C for a lunchtime first bounce, both teams came out with a point to prove. It was the Belfast side that hit the ground running early on, with the experience of Kevin McSorley, Seán Paul Henry, Gerard Walls and Benny McDevitt, the Redbacks took control of the first quarter.

The skilful Dean Skinner was a handful for the Swans mids, and he contributed heavily on the scoreboard throughout including a sublime goal around the body from the boundary line. The Swans, to their credit, kept in touch with their Belfast counterparts and scored a couple of late majors in the first term, including one just before the siren that crept inside the upright, from Seamus Owens.

The second term was a tighter affair. The Dublin side totted up a lot of single scores, locking the ball inside their forward 50 for majority of the second term. Kyle Devine, coming back into the side, scored a goal for the Redbacks that effectively outdid the Swans hard work. However, the hosts piled on the pressure still, and managed to claw the scoreline back to within five-points.

The second half was dominated by the hosts. Gene Casey and Connor Dunne set the pace in the third with two fantastic goals apiece. A solo run from halfway including two bounces and a pin point finish from the latter, was arguably the goal of the game. Donal Purvis and Paul Sciver tagged on another goal each for the Belfast men to halt the Swans progress going into the last term.

The final quarter followed the same pattern as it did in the third, the Dublin side asserting their dominance in the sweltering sunshine. Dan Matveyeff grabbed two goals, while Ben Coughlan scored his first goal for the club from a tight angle in the corner pocket. Kyle Divine replied once more for the Redbacks but the Swans fitness and pressure told in the end.

A fantastic effort by both teams in tough conditions produced a fantastic game of footy. In the end the home side claimed the victory which sees them sit top of the pile, for the time being.

Final Score: South Dublin Swans 11. 19. (85) defeated Belfast Redbacks 10. 6. (66).

Women’s Competition

South Dublin Swans v Ulster Kookaburras

The Ulster Kookaburras travelled to Dublin on the back of an impressive victory first time out against the Cork Vikings in Belfast. The Swans, meanwhile, debuted at home against the Galway Magpies in a non-premiership match-up.

For the second game day in a row, the women’s premiership fixture was played in searing heat in the capital. The home side scored an early goal through Sorcha Nolan, who was impressive throughout, after a mix up in the Kooks defence. The Ulster women managed to regain their composure after a sloppy start, and in truth never looked back. They managed five first quarter goals to a further one from the Swans. Emma Dwan, who showed fantastic leadership skills and fierce work ethic, grabbed the second major for the home side.

The second term was dominated once more by the Kookaburras, although this quarter they were less accurate. Keeping their hosts to a scoreless quarter , the Kooks dominated the centre clearances and inside 50s, but only managed two further goals with four behinds, giving the Swans a bit of respite.

Continuing her flying form from round one, Eva Cafolla was amongst the goals in the third. She managed to bag six goals on the day to take her to the top of the goal scorers chart. League Casey, another player who was in fine form for the Ulster side, kicked five majors of her own which capped a glittering display. Sorcha Nolan managed to grab her second of the game for the Swans, who to their credit, battled hard against their more experienced northern counterparts.

The Kookaburras’ red hot form continued into the final term. Scoring seven unanswered goals, the Kooks laid down a marker for the rest of the season. Beige Walsh (3), Annie McCole (2) and Claire McHugh (1) were also accurate through the big sticks on the day, cementing their team at the top of the ladder.

The South Dublin Swans, humble in defeat, gave the Kooks a rousing applause after the game. In truth, they were second best for the majority of the game, but their fearless tackling and tireless running was something that shone through on the brightest of days. A great learning experience for the Dublin side, while the impressive Kookaburras go from strength to strength.

Final Score: South Dublin Swans 3. 2. (20) defeated by Ulster Kookaburras 20. 8. (128).

Round three will be held on this coming weekend, July 24th. The South Dublin Swans women’s and men’s teams head south to Cork for their first away trip to face the Cork Vikings and Leeside Lions, respectively. The Galway Magpies sides will travel to Belfast to play the Ulster Kookaburras and Belfast Redbacks in what is sure to be another great weekend of footy in Ireland.

Stephen O’Sullivan – Reporter for AFL Ireland

Austria’s DownUnderDogs and Galahs to welcome Budapest Bats for debut match

The 2021 AFL Europe Festival of Football will see nearly 15 countries and up to 50 teams competing in local tournaments across Europe and all on the same day of Saturday, August 14th. Preview Austria’s tournament that will host the Vienna Galahs, Styrian DownUnderDogs and Budapest Bats in the nation’s capital.

The Budapest Bats are counting down the days to their debut Australian Football match, heading to Austria on the 14th of August to compete against the Galahs and DownUnderDogs in the 2021 Festival of Football.

It’s been a patient wait for the standalone club in Hungary who formed in 2019 and have shown remarkable resilience, but can now finally prepare for their first competitive hitout in what will be a 9-a-side, three-team tournament in Vienna.

Zoltan Marosy of the Budapest Bats shared the team’s excitement ahead of the 2021 Festival of Football.

“Some of our players have been training for over a year without matches… it’s nice to have that extra motivation now to train towards the games next month,” said Marosy.

“We’ll try our best, it’s our first tournament… but we can’t wait to celebrate the little things like who will kick our first goal, and just get that first game of experience into everyone.”

The format of the round robin will see each team play each other once, before the top two teams progress into a grand final.

Coaches and captains from each team will determine the best players from each match to decide the tournament’s best player of the day.

Both Seb Böhm of the Vienna Galahs and Michi Jud of the Styrian DownUnderDogs said that they were eager to see how the Bats would compete at the tournament, having never played a match before.

“We’ve been in touch with the Bats for some time now and up to this point they’ve only had a small training group,” said Böhm.

“I look forward to seeing how they’ve built their team and how they perform. I think they’re a lot younger than we are so it’s going to be a tough match-up against them.”

“I’m really hoping the Hungarians can show up with as many people as possible,” said Jud.

“I hope we can provide them with a good and safe environment for their first games, and wish them a great day of footy.”

Players from the Galahs and DownUnderDogs were able to get their first game of the year underway earlier this month, teaming up to play against the visiting Munich Kangaroos.

Prior to this, the last time Austrian players could play a game was in Graz for the 2020 Festival of Football in September, where they played a mixed men’s and women’s match.

With players representing their own teams this time around, and with the Galahs looking to continue their undefeated streak through last year, it’s set to be a competitive day of Australian footy.

“It won’t be easy for the Bats and DownUnderDogs coming to Vienna and playing us, ” said Böhm.

“We’re going into the tournament confident because we didn’t lose a game last year. We want to continue winning, that will be the aim for us next month.”

Whether the DownUnderDogs can claim a win against the Galahs at the Festival of Football or not, they will have a chance later in the year as the two Austrian teams are ready to kick off their 2021 Austrian season.

They’ve also planned an away day to go up against Prague, as well as potentially join in with Budapest for some of the Bats’ plans as shared by Marosy.

“After the Festival of Football, we’re planning a game against Croatia’s Sesvete Double Blues, as our first game in Hungary,” said Marosy.

“That will be shortly after the Festival of Football, and I’m sure will be another great learning experience.”

Best of luck to all players competing in Austria for the 2021 Festival of Football.

All Festival of Football tournaments will be played in accordance with local government guidelines and restrictions.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

Eddie McGuire confirmed as first guest of new Stars of the Game breakfast series

How would you like the opportunity to hear from some of the most prominent figures in Australian Football?

AFL Europe are excited to announce a brand-new online breakfast series ‘Stars of the Game’ that will host some of the most popular and successful people involved in the AFL and AFLW.

Register to the event here.

Each guest will share their experiences and insights into the sport, as well as answer questions submitted by you.

Joining us as our first guest of the series, thanks to AFL Poland and JAM TV, is one of Australia’s most acclaimed media personalities, Eddie McGuire.

In roles ranging from CEO of the Nine Network to hosting ratings blockbusters including The Footy Show and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, McGuire is undisputedly regarded as one of the major influences on the Australian media landscape and holds over 40 years’ award-winning experience.

McGuire was also President of the Collingwood Football Club for 23 years, where he led the Magpies to be one of the most successful sporting clubs on and off the field in the country.

The first event of the series is free to join, begins at 7:00AM BST on Tuesday, 10th August and will run for 45-minutes. Upon registration, you will have the opportunity to submit your own question to ask Eddie.

Registration is open to anyone and will close Sunday, 8th August. A confirmation email with the online meeting login details will be sent out on Monday, 9th August.

Special thanks to AFL Poland and JAM TV for making the first instalment of the Stars of the Game Breakfast Series possible.

JAM TV are the producers of AFL docu-series ‘Making Their Mark‘ that launched globally on Amazon Prime in March earlier this year and follows iconic AFL identities from six teams throughout the 2020 AFL season.

Register to the event here.

Croatian teams to head to the coast for Festival of Football

The 2021 AFL Europe Festival of Football will see nearly 15 countries and up to 50 teams competing in local tournaments across Europe and all on the same day of Saturday, August 14th. Preview Croatia’s tournament that will host five teams in the town of Tribunj.

Men’s and women’s players in Croatia will be venturing three hours south of Zagreb to the small village of Tribunj to compete in Croatia’s tournament for the 2021 Festival of Football.

The town, with a population of less than 2000 people, boasts an oval located just 500 metres from the seaside which may well come in handy after a days play in the hot, Croatian summer.

This will be the town’s first taste of Australian Football that Dinko Irsag, Association of Australian Football Croatia President, said will be great for the awareness of the sport but also help out the local businesses in the area.

“Having the teams compete in Tribunj will be good for the promotion of the sport but also for the small town to have an event like this occurring,” said Irsag.

“The locals can sell their town to others to come watch Aussie Rules and check out a sport that they likely haven’t seen or ever heard of before.”

The teams involved in the men’s competition consist of the Zagreb Hawks, Zagreb Cvjetno Dockers and Sesvete Double Blues.

These three teams will compete in a round robin that will see the top two teams progress into a grand final to determine the winner of the men’s tournament, which the Dockers won convincingly last year.

In the women’s, Žkan Zagreb Panthers and Žkan Sesvete Redlegs will go head-to-head in just the one game but will last it out in a full, four quarter match.

The teams in Croatia have been fortunate to have already played a few games this year, getting their season underway in April.

“We’ve been lucky to play four rounds of the Croatian league. Unfortunately we had to postpone the Croatian Cup, but currently in the men’s the Dockers are sitting on top of the ladder followed by the Double Blues and then the Hawks,” said Irsag.

“In the girls competition, the Redlegs have gone undefeated so the Panthers will be ready to give it their all on the 14th.”

It’s looking like an exciting back half of the year for Australian Football in Croatia as they get set to finish off the remaining two rounds of the league as well as find a new date for the Croatian Cup.

Adding to that is the excitement of finally playing on their new 18-a-side oval in Zagreb.

“For the first time ever, we’re going to be playing 18-a-side matches in a three round league for both the men’s and women’s teams,” said Irsag.

“It’s looking like it’ll happen in October so it should be interesting and completely different. Finally we get to play 18-a-side, it’s exciting.

“We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we started it. We ended up buying an old, rundown lawnmower and every other day would spend hours sitting on it driving around in circles to maintain the pitch… Soon it will all be worth it.”

Irsag wanted to share that nearby teams to Croatia that are permitted to travel and enter Croatia safely, whilst carefully following appropriate restrictions, are welcome to join them for the Croatian Cup later this year (once a date is confirmed).

For now, all attention focuses on the 14th of August as the players in Croatia look to join up to 14 other countries across Europe to compete in AFL Europe’s second Festival of Football.

All Festival of Football tournaments will be played in accordance with local government guidelines and restrictions.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

Celebrating Women’s Coaching Month

This month, we’re joining Coach AFL, AFLW and the AFL in celebrating Women’s Coaching Month.

Women’s Coaching Month recognises the efforts, achievements and participation of Australian Football female coaches across the world.

We’d love to see teams in Europe share a photo and some words on social media recognising the women who have played a role in coaching, from running drills at training to coaching on game day, at your club.

Tag us in your posts @AFLEurope and we’ll draw one lucky coach at the end of the month to win a free Coaching Board.

You can join in on the celebrations in Australia including a free three-part webinar series run by the AFLW, access a range of new community resources for clubs and coaches to support women in coaching, and a tool kit to support coaches of women & girls.

Tomorrow’s webinar at 11:00AM BST covers the topic of ‘Coaching Women & Girls’ and will feature Brisbane Lions AFLW Premiership Coach, Craig Starcevich, Adelaide Crows AFLW Assistant Coach, Narelle Smit and Williamstown VFLW Assistant Coach, Julia Hay. Register here.

The AFLW also want to hear the stories of women in coaching that have made a significant contribution to the game. You are invited to submit stories via the link here including a summary of the coach along with a photo or video. The AFLW will aim to share these stories amongst its coaching and community football network.

For more information about Women’s Coaching Month including the free tool kits, visit the Coach AFL website here.

AFL Europe Podcast: With Special Guest Dan Jackson

In episode 24 of the AFL Europe Podcast we are pleased to welcome former Richmond Tigers star and current Adelaide Crows Leadership Development Manager, Dan Jackson.

After retiring from the AFL in 2014 with more than 150 games under his belt and just a year on from winning Richmond’s Best & Fairest award, Dan has very much remained involved in Australian Football by helping the sport grow internationally.

On top of studying, working and travelling around the world, Dan met with and attended many local footy clubs where he was drawn in by the international footy community’s passion for the sport, and in 2018 even took on the role as an AFL Europe Commissioner.

In this episode, whilst we share Dan’s experiences and memories of being involved with the AFL Europe community and the sport worldwide, as well as his playing career, Dan takes us inside his job at the Adelaide Crows as their Leadership Development Manager, sharing his passion and the growing importance for building strong relationships and culture in organisations and sporting clubs.

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