2023 Euro Cup Team Previews – Part One

With less than a month to go until the Euro Cup, the excitement and anticipation is building for the 16 countries that will venture out to our new location in Kiel, Germany, vying for the opportunity of becoming the best country in Europe at Australian Rules Football. In an extraordinary story that will play out across the day, two countries will be looking for a four-peat – an unprecedented feat that may never be seen again. The Irish Banshees, dominant in the grand final last year, will be vying for glory again, but there will be ten other sides hungry to stop them in their tracks. In the men’s side of the draw, the England Dragonslayers will be desperate to repeat their last three contests at the Euro Cup, but 15 determined countries will be fighting for a change at the top.

As is the common approach for AFL Europe’s biggest tournaments, we love to get an insight into the build-up and preparation for the teams competing, as well as the history of these sides, and we begin the Euro Cup proceedings with both Polish sides – the Devils and Angels, as well as the Croatian Knights.

Polish Devils and Angels

The Devils have a short history in regards to this tournament, having their first hit out in 2019 which unfortunately yielded little success. After a learning experience three years prior, they were eager to improve in 2022 and did such, having two close losses against Austria and Netherland, whilst recording their first Euro Cup win later that day against Switzerland. Much like their counterparts, the Angels have only had a short stint within the Euro Cup, debuting in 2022. Unable to secure victories against the Swedish and Dutch teams, their first win came against the Swiss Heidis. With an identical finish to the Euro Cup in 2022, both teams will be hoping to utilise the experience for the 2023 Euro Cup.

The Polish teams are taking a new approach into this year’s tournament, deciding to implement a selection camp where eligible players will train under the head coach of each team, eager to impress the selection committee in hope of a spot in the sides travelling to Kiel. After selection takes place, the teams will then train with each other to understand each other’s style and develop chemistry which has possibly eluded them in previous cups.

The expectation at the tournament with this new approach according to team manager Phil Forbes is to ‘win a minimum of two games each’, whilst also ensuring all players understand ‘the honour and pride’ that comes with playing for the national team.

Croatian Knights

The Knights come into the Euro Cup with as much history and experience a team can have. Beginning in 2008 before it was even called the Euro Cup, the Croatians were a strong outfit, finishing third in the inaugural tournament. A year later, the Knights were determined to right the wrongs of the previous year and came away victors. These first two years were a key building block in how they were to attack future Euro Cups, and having been competing for 15 years, they have had multiple 2nd’s, 3rd’s and another win in 2016. Speaking with coach Josip Kravar, he maintained that ‘we do not run from being a top 4 team’, having managed this feat in every single Euro Cup. Facing many difficulties in the early editions of the tournament, which involved multiple days travel across several forms of transport including ferries, cars, buses and flights all to get to one location, the Knights coach was adamant that these experiences have shaped who they are as a side today.

One factor Josip felt gave the Knights an advantage over other sides, was the ability to have all three Croatian teams located in Zagreb, giving the ability for the national team to train every single weekend since February. 9 a-side is their regular format of play, and it is the familiarity with that arrangement that the Knights coach was confident gave them an edge coming into the Euro Cup.

To conclude his feelings towards the tournament in July, Josip stressed the importance of not underestimating the competitors involved. Stating the Knights had ‘a huge respect for any opponent we face’, he felt a birth in the semi-finals would be a success but overall they were ‘aiming for the flag’.

 

  • Sam Briggs, AFL Europe

2023 ANZAC Cup Weekend Review

32 Australian representatives embarked from various cities around the globe to Villers-Bretonneux, France, competing against the French National Australian Rules teams in the 13th contest of the Anzac Cup.

The weekend started through an AusKick style clinic, with many local kids coming out for a kick of the footy with players from both countries. The smiles on the faces of all involved told the whole story and whilst communication was tough at times, the willingness of the French to support the Australian players ensured a wonderful afternoon of fun and laughter was spread across the Stade Timmerman turf in the heart of town. Jumper presentations soon followed, with Emily Rohr and Jack Rowland receiving the honour of captaining the Australian Women’s and Men’s side respectively. Congratulations must go out to those two players who both showed wonderful initiative and commitment to the weekend months out, which continued on during the early duties on Saturday morning and across the following days. Nicholas Boché was awarded captain of the French Coq’s, whilst Camille Portal would take the leadership position in the Gauloises side.

Sunday soon arrived, beginning with a march through the town with rain starting to fall. It didn’t seem like the weather would be as kind to us as it was for the Champions League – this prediction ringing true as the day went on. The Women’s game kicked off proceedings, and it was clear it was going to be a hotly contested match from the outset. The French Gauloises made a strong start having kicked two straight to Australia’s four points at quarter time. After coach Justin Clarke’s ask for higher intensity, he got exactly what he wanted, making it a one-point game at half time after a fantastic goal from the Aussie skipper Emily Rohr. After another tough battle in the third quarter, under some heavy rain, it was three points to the way of the Spirit heading into the final 12 minutes. Goals were flowing and both sides continued to take their opportunities. After scrambling to a 17-point lead midway through the fourth, France pinned the margin back to 11. However, it was too little too late for the Gauloises, and the away side Australian Spirit, were able to take home the Anzac cup in 2023. To all the players credit, the game was played in fantastic spirit in conditions that suited to nobody.

Next up was the Men’s clash and the French Coq’s were eager to make amends for last year’s two point defeat. This is exactly what transpired, and the Coq’s kicked five goals to one in the first. Belief was present in the Aussie camp, and a much better second quarter only saw a 24-point deficit heading into the main break. French captain Nicolas Boché was constantly in and around the footy, with his on-field leadership also a key part in the Coq’s dominance. After half-time, the trend of French dominance continued, and the game soon fell out of the Australian’s hands. With a 10 goal to one quarter, the Coq’s lead extended to 79 at 3QT. The home side clearly had unfinished business going on from the 2022 memories, inspiring them to a 160-50 victory over the travelling side. There was plenty of disappointment in the Australian Spirit side, who knew they were capable of a better showing. In saying this, the strength and character showed by the entire Coq’s side was wonderful viewing for the locals who had turned out to watch, and to beat that side would’ve been no easy feat from the beginning.

Monday was spent travelling the fields and towns which had seen battle during World War 1. It was a sobering experience for all as we walked the trenches and cemeteries that marked the region. It was a stark reminder of the true reason why these Australian representatives had travelled to Villers-Bretonneux. The day was spent learning about the history of those who had come before us, and all in attendance were filled with pride at how well our Australian soldiers are continued to be valued by the locals.

The Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux was the final part of the trip. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event for most, with each player having personal connections to the Anzac spirit making the ceremony even more special. After the moving service, players were given the chance to walk through the Sir John Monash Centre, which finished off the emotional weekend.

We would like to express a massive thank-you to our French liaison and President of the ABA, Xavier Graux, Bugle Player Sergeant Danny Dielkens, the French national women’s and men’s Aussie rules sides, the members of the Australian Spirit squads, our umpires and the many volunteers who assisted across the four days. Without you all involved, the weekend doesn’t go ahead, and we are incredibly grateful for your time. The strength between the Australian and French in Villers-Bretonneux continues to grow year on year, and we look forward to seeing how the event transpires in 2024.

  • Sam Briggs, AFL Europe

AFL Europe Statement – Head of Umpiring

AFL Europe is pleased to announce the introduction of the Head of Umpiring division within the organisation.

Walter Gibilaro and Ian Kafka, two of our most experienced umpires who have been part of the AFL Europe community for several years, will front the newly introduced department. 

The Head of Umpiring will be responsible for two main pillars within AFL Europe. The first falling under the title of ‘Events’, where discussions surrounding umpire appointments, communications, rule updates and general umpire duties will be present. The second pillar is related to the education of umpires, specifically the attainment of the different levels of accreditation, as well as the development of umpires in Europe.

We wish Walter and Ian the best in their new role.

  • Sam Briggs, AFL Europe

2023 Champions League Review

As the sun slowly yet steadily rose on Saturday April 1st 2023, Parc Du Tremblay revealed an aura that was truly representative of what was to lie ahead for the day. With much concern and speculation surrounding the weather in the weeks leading up to the tournament, it was a sigh of relief for those arriving at the ground to be greeted with only light cloudage. 24 teams soon embarked upon the new stage for the 2023 Champions League. Now in its seventh edition, the excitement and belief amongst every side was evident.

Women’s Competition:

Group Stages

Reigning champions Cork Vikings were eager to make it known to the rest of the competition they were back for more after last year’s dominance, and that’s exactly what they did. Across their four games, they scored 203 points whilst only conceding 19. A clinical display which put them into a convincing position heading into finals. Coming into the tournament, Cardiff Panthers were eager to impress in their first ever entry into the Champions League and did so accordingly, finishing second across the women’s division remaining undefeated during the pool games. After ending their Champions League campaign in 4th last year, Edinburgh Bloods were looking to improve off that effort, and with only one loss in the group stages – to the relentless Vikings – a Grand Final birth wasn’t out of the question. The remaining spot in the finals would come down to the very last group game, between Norrtälje Dockers and Oileán Hounds. A victory for the Dockers would lift them above the West London Wildcats, who found themselves in an uncertain position having lost two of their games by a mere two points and five points respectively. Thankfully for the Wildcats, the Hounds got the better of the Dockers by a 24-point margin, and with that, the two semi-finals were set for the women’s competition.

Finals

The first of the semi-finals between the Vikings and Wildcats was a tale of two halves. The Wildcats managed to stay within seven points at the break, however it was all Cork from this point onwards. A five goal to none second half ensured Cork a spot in the Grand Final for a second year running. The second women’s semi-final between the Bloods and Panthers was a high-scoring affair, and it was the fast-starting Edinburgh who managed to come away with the win. Up 26-6 at half-time, you wouldn’t have been blamed for thinking the Bloods would run away with it. Yet, the Panthers weren’t going to falter in their efforts for a Grand Final booking. Cardiff managed to cut the lead to six points late in the second half, but it wasn’t enough and it would be Cork Vikings against Edinburgh Bloods in the one that mattered most.

Entirely focussed on a second consecutive Champions League, the Vikings came out and blasted their opponents out of the water. Heading into half time with a lead of 43, it was all but over. The Vikings were led all day by their triple threat contingent; Marie Keating, Maria Quirke and Annie Walsh, with Keating and Quirke both finding themselves in the team of the tournament. The bloods wouldn’t go down wondering however, managing to win the second half 18 points to 13, with the final score sitting at 62-24. The score doesn’t truly reflect the competitive nature of the game, but a dominant Cork outfit all day were deserving winners. A second piece of Champions League silverware will now be sitting in their cabinet, with hopes of a third in 2024.

Men’s Competition

Group Stages

Pool A was dominated by hosts Paris Cockatoos; an outfit ready to impress the locals watching on. Affectionately known as ‘the cocks’, they were undefeated throughout their four pool games, setting themselves up for a strong finals campaign. Mid Ulster Scorpions were the next best, with three wins on the board. This was unfortunately not enough to secure the ‘best of the rest’ spot in the semi-finals but will give them great confidence for future campaigns that they can compete with Europe’s best.

Pool B was noted by several clubs as the toughest across the three pools, and this was reflective in the ladder positions. Belfast Redbacks were the most dominant side, only conceding 29 points for the day and holding a 100%-win record. The West London Wildcats were left an anxious wait, similar to the women’s side, after their loss to the Redbacks in their last pool game had their finals spot in jeopardy. As the remaining scores from across the five pitches came through, elation was felt through the camp knowing a final’s position had been locked in. A special mention has to be given to the Vienna Galahs, who faced some serious difficulties along their Champions League journey. Key players including their captain were unable to make the journey, and then upon their arrival in Paris, their luggage was nowhere to be seen! Nicknamed ‘the pink’, they battled away all day, with their off-field presence felt positively amongst all.

Pool C also had a tight battle for the top. With Berlin Crocs finding their draw with Sesvete Double Blues critical in the race to book a finals spot. With a strong defensive line strangling opponents attempts at goal, and team of the tournament member Mark Shallue stamping his authority, the Crocs managed to better their 2022 performance and find themselves in a semi-final against the Redbacks.

With all pool matches played, the semi-finals structure was confirmed, the Cocks playing the Wildcats, and the Crocs facing Belfast Redbacks.

Finals

The Men’s finals competition brought a whole new meaning to unpredictable. On pitch one, the Redbacks and Crocs went to battle. After a slow start for both sides, with fatigue playing a factor, Redbacks slowly took control of play. The crocs wouldn’t let them out of their sight though and were desperate for one more goal to put themselves in front and secure a grand final position. After a few critical opportunities went begging, the Redbacks held on by a slim five points, and could now turn their focus to the grand-final.

In a match that sent shock and disappointment across the city of Paris, the Wildcats managed to run away 41-17 victors over the Paris Cockatoos. A tired Cocks outfit, who were coming to the end of their season, enabled West London to dominate possession and ultimately the match. A grand final spot was locked in and having spoken to coach Paul ‘Blighty’ Blight, the side were confident of turning the tables on the Redbacks, who had outclassed them hours prior.

It all came down to one final game. After the first games kicked off at 9am, seven and a half hours prior, players were sore, coaches voices were hoarse, but the fans were starving for more. There was plenty of feel in the game, with spot fires breaking out across the ground for the entirety. The clubs took turns in sharing the lead, and it was a matter of who would blink first. The Redbacks, with star Caoimhin Quinn shining all day, managed to secure a one goal lead heading into the break. Scores remained 20-14 in Redbacks favour for the first chunk of the second half, before Wildcats broke the deadlock and the scores were level. Unable to convert their opportunities, the Wildcats couldn’t stop Belfast from peeling away. Successive goals for the Redbacks put them 12 points ahead, and time was ticking fast. With less than a minute to go, the Redbacks put the icing on the cake in what was a dominant day for them, breaking the hearts of the Wildcats players and staff.

2023 Golden Whistle: Matt Mitchell

All at AFL Europe would like to thank those that helped the tournament run so smoothly. Hosting the most prestigious tournament on the calendar in a new city is no mean feat, and we extend our thanks in particular to AFL France, the Paris Cockatoos and those at Parc du Tremblay for their incredible assistance. A massive congratulations must also go to the players and coaches who earned the privilege of playing in the 2023 Champions League, as well as those involved at Cork Vikings and Belfast Redbacks, the two victorious clubs from the women’s and men’s tournament respectively.

Without field and goal umpires, pitch managers as well as our amazing broadcast team from Croatia, this event cannot go ahead, and we are grateful for all their involvement. Congratulations to the golden whistle winner Matt Mitchell, who umpired incredibly well throughout the entirety of the day – a deserving winner. We would also like to acknowledge the presence of Megan Anderson, Australian Ambassador to UNESCO and Deputy Head of Mission, who came down to watch and present the awards after the matches had been played.

Again, to all those involved, thank you. Good luck to the teams whose seasons are just beginning, as well as those already in-season. To the sides of which the Champions League marked the conclusion to their 2022/23 playing season, we hope you can now rest up over the off-season!

  • Sam Briggs, AFL Europe

2023 Champions League Tournament Preview

The final preparations are underway for the 2023 Champions League Tournament, with just two days to go until matchday. The competition will look far different from the previous six outings, with a new location sure to bring exciting fresh challenges and experiences for players, coaches, volunteers, and organisers alike. Just outside the centre of Paris, France, is the beautiful Parc du Tremblay, which will play host to the 24 teams travelling from various cities in Europe and the UK on Saturday April 1st.

The competition will involve 15 men’s teams, and nine women’s teams, which is the biggest involvement the competition has seen since 2018, reflecting the impressive rebound since the two-year hiatus of the competition across 2020 and 2021. The Amsterdam Devils return ready to defend their 2022 title. However, without the home-country advantage they had in 2022, will they be able to achieve the same feat 310 miles south-west of home?

In the women’s division of the League, the Cork Vikings will be eager to remain European champions after their sheer dominance in 2022, remaining undefeated all day, topped off with a fierce victory in the grand final. With fellow grand-finalists East Coast Eagles unable to achieve qualification for this year’s competition, it will be all up to another side to steal the Vikings hopes of retaining the cup.

Fixturing

Across both competitions, the teams will be placed into pools which will decide who they face throughout the group stages, however the structure is slightly different for the two leagues.

Beginning with the men’s division, the 15 teams have been divided up into pool’s A, B and C, where each team will play the other four team’s once throughout the day. The top team in each pool at the end of the fixtures will progress into the semi-finals, whilst the fourth highest ranked team across all three pools will make up the final spot in the semi-finals. 1st will play 4th and 2nd will play 3rd. The two defeated semi-finalists will play off for 3rd at 4:30pm on the main stage, while the victors will fight for the ultimate prize at 5pm, looking to become champions of Europe in 2023.

As mentioned previously, a different route will need to be taken within the women’s competition to be crowned the greatest team in Europe. At the start of the day, the nine teams will be placed into three pools: Pool WA, WB, and WC. After teams play each other once in their respective pools, they will then be split up into three new divisions, where every team will face new opponents for the second half of the day. All teams will be placed into one ladder, and the top four teams will then follow the standard finals structure – which is the same as the men’s. This fresh format has been implemented to ensure equality amongst the competition, as well as allowing every team to play a different side each game.

 

WHO PLAYS WHO?

MEN’S

Pool A contains reigning champions Amsterdam Devils, with Paris Cockatoos, Norrtälje Dockers, Geneva Jets and Mid Ulster Scorpions all hoping to remove any chance of the Devils winning consecutive tournaments. Pool B hosts the West London Wildcats, Belfast Redbacks, Copenhagen Barracudas, Cardiff Panthers, and the Vienna Galahs. Meanwhile, Pool C is made up of Waterland Eagles, Berlin Crocs, Sesvete Double Blues, Edinburgh Bloods, and Oslo Crows.

WOMEN’S

Pool WA is made up of West London Wildcats, Oileann Hounds, and the Edinburgh Bloods. The predatory nature of their team names leaves nothing to the imagination, with this first pool sure to be a brutal battle to begin their respective quests for glory. Pool WB contains Norrtälje Dockers, South West Suns and Cardiff Panthers. There is no doubt that a tough day begins here for the Dockers and Panthers, as the Suns have the home-ground advantage for the first time. The third pool features Cork Vikings, Seveste Redlegs and Northern Griffins. Having the honour of playing in their home country, the Griffins will be desperate to put on a show for all, but the Vikings and Redlegs will be doing all they can to prevent this from occurring. Following the first half of the fixture, Pool WA 2, WB 2 and WC 2 will be introduced. Pool WA 2 contains the Wildcats, Redlegs and Panthers, Pool WB 2 comprises of the Vikings, Suns and Bloods whilst Pool WC 2 carries the Dockers, Hounds and Griffins.

With a fresh host city, new pool structure for the women’s competition and the rare opportunity to be crowned champions of Europe, be sure to follow all the action here, on the AFL Europe YouTube site, accompanied by commentary from our dedicated Croatian broadcast team. The first match begins at 9am, and presentations will start at 5:30pm.

Upcoming 2023 Team Previews:

Part One: Paris Cockatoos and the Edinburgh Bloods (men’s and women’s)

Part Two: Cardiff Panthers (W), Vienna Galahs and Oslo Crows,

Part Three: Belfast Redbacks, Oileán Hounds, and Northern Griffins

Part Four: Geneva Jets, Waterland Eagles and Copenhagen Barracudas

Part Five: Norrtälje Dockers (men’s and women’s) and Sesvete Double Blues

Part Six: West London Wildcats (women’s and men’s) and Cardiff Panthers (M)

Part Seven: Berlin Crocs, Sesvete Redlegs and Cork Vikings

Part Eight: South West Suns, Amsterdam Devils and Mid Ulster Scorpions

  • Sam Briggs, AFL Europe

2023 Champions League Team Previews: Part Eight

With an exciting new location for the 2023 Champions League, final preparations are underway amongst all teams fighting to become champions of Europe in Paris, France. 15 men’s teams and 9 women’s teams will battle it out in their respective competition formats across five pitches at Parc du Tremblay on Saturday April 1st, in what is set to be a massive day for all teams across Europe and UK.

In the competition’s seventh format, the level of play continues to grow, and you will be able to catch all the action throughout the day on our YouTube channel here.

In our final team previews for the 2023 Champions League, the teams featured include South West Suns, Amsterdam Devils and Mid Ulster Scorpions.

Women’s Competition

South West Suns

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

It’s been very good. We have always good numbers on training tracks and the beginning of our season was great. We also took part in the Gallia Cup few weeks ago, and it was a good preparation before Champions League.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Camille Portal, Clotilde Decaux and Cherry Halfyard have all three shown great stuff during the first part of our season.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

Our team has quite changed since our participation last year. This year we have a mixed team with players of experience and some with a few less. But we are all excited to take part in CL23!

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Paris is almost home for the team, so it will be great to have family and friends come to watch the game. But we also love a footy trip for the team spirit!

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

We would like to establish ourselves in the top first half. It would be a long and tough day, but I know our team can do it. Then, let’s how far we can go.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

We love the whole part of the competition. We love fighting on the field and give all we have. But we also like the social part, when we can meet with friendly faces we’ve now known for a long time in the footy community.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Clotilde Decaux would be the one, with a strong, long kick!

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

The Irish and English teams have been on the top of the competition in the previous year, and we expect them to be as good as usual. We’ll do our best to upset them.

Men’s Competition:

Amsterdam Devils

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

We’ve been training indoors and outdoors since January and enjoying mixing new faces with old, getting some their first taste of footy in the Netherlands amongst our warm up games.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Our fearless ruckman Kevin McDonnell, he’ll jump all day no matter what.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Excited! As previous hosts we’re looking forward to a new experience and have regularly played in Paris over the years so it promises to be enjoyable. Many a night has been spent in that Belushi’s bar…

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

We’ve had some good history in the competition in the last few years but as usual we’ll do our best against what looks like a tough group and go from there. Everyone deserves respect.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

The camaraderie of the teams and players. Each team has had success to be here but we all still value the sense of community that brings people together from across Europe.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

The one who’s been there and done that, Dave Hall.

Mid Ulster Scorpions

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

We’re building nicely with a good mix of youth and experience. We are lucky that we have been able to draw on the knowledge and expertise of many Belfast Redbacks players at training to help us in our preparations.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Niall McClements will be quite eye catching with his luscious locks and has been doing plenty of bicep curls in recent weeks. Jason Brown is one to look out for alongside Paddy Hughes around the middle. Everything else you’ll find out on the day.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

It’s hard to know where we are at after the Leprechaun Cup being called off but we feel we’re well prepared training wise. For a lot of our players this is their first taste of champions league football but knowing the lads they’ll be well fit for it.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Amsterdam was excellent but it is always nice to experience new cities and we’re looking forward to getting around Paris and seeing the city.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

Our age profile means development is our key goal. We will be aiming to take a few scalps along the way but ultimately it’s about developing players and exposing them to the top level of Australian Rules in Europe.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Ultimately testing yourself against the best clubs in Europe and then being able to socialise and make friends off the field afterwards. It should be a great weekend.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

It would be have to be David Miller aka FLASH. The man has been playing Australian Rules since the early 80s and when it comes to the clutch you want that kind of experience.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

Every team going in will be strong. The standard in Europe is incredibly high and with the short format momentum is everything and games can take a life of their own. Early favourites would be the West London Wildcats, Amsterdam Devils as reigning winners but my dark horse is the Belfast Redbacks.

2023 Champions League Team Previews: Part Seven

With an exciting new location for the 2023 Champions League, final preparations are underway amongst all teams fighting to become champions of Europe in Paris, France. 15 men’s teams and 9 women’s teams will battle it out in their respective competition formats across five pitches at Parc du Tremblay on Saturday April 1st, in what is set to be a massive day for all teams across Europe, UK and Ireland.

In the competition’s seventh format, the level of play continues to grow, and you will be able to catch all the action throughout the day on our YouTube channel here.

In part seven of the previews, we take a look at Sesvete Redlegs, Cork Vikings and Berlin Crocs.

Women’s Competition:

Sesvete Redlegs

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

Pretty intense training sessions since the middle of January. That will probably slow down a little as we get closer to the date.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

This year I think the biggest impact on the game will be Kristina Martic and Tea Tomasek.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

There have been no major changes. Just a few new players since last year.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Amsterdam was a delight because we played there a couple of times and got used to the pitches, the town and the atmosphere.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

To do better than last year. Would be nice to end up in the top 4 teams.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

The fact that we get to play against teams from all over Europe and test our skill against them.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Tea Tomasek. She still can’t get over the pain of missing a goal in the last seconds of the match last year. This might give her a chance to redeem herself.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

I think the Banshee’s are the strongest team in the tournament again this year but we hope to make the match a little bit more exciting though.

Cork Vikings

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

With the weather being a bit rubbish lately, it’s been difficult to get a full squad out, but everyone has been doing their own work to keep up fitness and skills. Every time we have all been together recently, things have been shaping up well.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

We have a number of Irish players on our squad, so there are plenty of familiar names to look out for.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

A couple of changes to the bench, with a few girls not being able to make it, but we have equally strong players coming in this time. We have managed to develop and keep a strong squad of players who know each other inside and out, which always helps! One significant change is our full back in last year’s tournament is out injured, so has taken up an assistant coaching role. But no worries, we have a strong replacement for her to slot into the back line.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

The team were looking forward to going back to Amsterdam, so the change to Paris was a surprise – but once the competition is run and we get to play, we don’t mind where it happens.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

We hope to have a good tournament, a few intense games, and retain the title – going for two in a row (fingers crossed!).

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Getting the opportunity to represent Ireland at a club level and see the talent across Europe, playing against the top teams. It was a great day last year, so hoping for the same again this time round.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Take your pick! I’d trust any of them – all world-class kickers around here.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

Every team is worth paying attention to and giving your all against. We’re not overlooking any team at all – you never know when you might face your toughest opponents so we’re going in prepared for anything.

Men’s Competition:

Berlin Crocs

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

As always our season kicks off the week after Champions League. This is a good opportunity to see how our pre-season has shaped up.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

The player to keep an eye out for would be Benno Bock. Not only does he have a great name, but the veteran skills are silky smooth.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

This year the Berlin Crocs are coming into the tournament with a very similar squad. We are looking forward seeing how our internationals do on the big stage after one more year of experience under their belts.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Very excited for the change of scenery, very excited for our own Karl to show us around his home city 🇫🇷.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

Our ambitions for the tournament is to go out there, be competitive and hopefully improve on our result last year.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Our favourite part of the tournament is the new mates you get to make and also discovery the night life after the tournament.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

The player that we would trust the most to kick a goal would be Ole Becker, hopefully his hair does not get in the way though

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

The wildcats will be a tough match up. The UK teams always have good talent rolling through the doors.

2023 Champions League Team Previews: Part Six

With an exciting new location for the 2023 Champions League, final preparations are underway amongst all teams fighting to become champions of Europe in Paris, France. 15 men’s teams and 9 women’s teams will battle it out in their respective competition formats across five pitches at Parc du Tremblay on Saturday April 1st, in what is set to be a massive day for all teams across Europe, UK and Ireland.

In the competition’s seventh format, the level of play continues to grow, and you will be able to catch all the action throughout the day on our YouTube channel here.

In part six of the previews, we take a look at the women’s and men’s West London Wildcats teams and Cardiff Panthers.

Women’s Competition:

West London Wildcats

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

Very positive. The girls are working hard and motivated.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

All 16 players are able to have a big impact at any moment.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

We’ve managed to keep a lot of our core group while adding some quality new players which is exciting.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Although this is their first time in the CL, Paris wasn’t their first choice of location and caused some roadblocks with availability/accessibility.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

To play our best possible brand of footy.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Competing for the honour of being the best team outside of Australia.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Couldn’t go past our leading goalkicker from last year Amy Pattison.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

Cardiff will be strong and confident after beating us in their preseason cup but everyone is a threat.

Men’s Competition:

West London Wildcats

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

We’ve had a pretty good lead up to the Champions League this year. Trainings have been very intense and the team can’t wait to crack into the physically of a tournament like Champions League. We’ve had some recent 9 a-side success with some of the boys heading to Cardiff for the Dragon Cup where we managed to bring home the win. We’ve also had some really good 9 a-side hit outs with the guys showing some real talent on a 9s pitch.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

We love an inside bull at Wildcat land, Jacob Barber and Max Burmester are two of the best. Their drive and hunger to win the loose balls are second to none, It’s second nature to them to put their bodies on the line. It’s like having a Patrick Cripps and Jack Viney on the one team. I can’t wait to see them give the opposition hell on the inside.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

There are a handful of changes from the premiership side in August. A number of new Aussie lads as well as some Irish fellas putting their hands up for the challenge. I’m really looking forward to the new boys gel with the lads from last season as there is some high quality talent being injected into the side.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

The guys were flat at first when they heard about the move to Paris, who doesn’t want a footy trip to Amsterdam. But, some of the boys are excited to bring the partners to the city of love, hopefully they don’t get too distracted.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

My ambitions for the team is quite high, I would be expecting us to at least make a top four finish, then move on into the grand final.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

I think the boys just really enjoy getting away and spending quality time with a bunch of quality blokes. I know they are excited for the challenges we’ll face during the tournament and showing their talent facing off against the best teams in Europe. The boys are also extremely excited for the off field experience as well, meeting and hanging around with some of the best footballers on the continent and hopefully build the foundations to some life-long friendships. Hopefully we can all celebrate post tournament with a good old fashioned boat race.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Joel Madden, he’s a very experienced player with a level head who hasn’t missed a kick all pre-season and I see him kicking some big numbers during the tournament.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

The Belfast lads, they always seem to have fun playing hard-core contested football against us and seem to enjoy beating us up. We love the fight but they love it more.

Cardiff Panthers

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

We have been in preseason training since January with some good turn outs. We have been looking to home in on the finer details and keeping our basic standards high. Throughout we have been focussing on our fitness to be able to step up to this level.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

All of them.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

Throughout our season last year we had a consistent team selection with the additions coming in from last year to strengthen our side we were able to complete our season undefeated. Being adapted to 9’s and having a mostly UK born team means we are all growing together and improving every session and game we play in.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Excited to try a new place and experience French culture and enjoy all the wine after the tournament has finished.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

Win!

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Playing and meeting teams from across the AFL Europe community that we haven’t played before or interacted with before. It is also amazing to be able to compete alongside our female Cardiff Panthers team.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Mr GB himself – Owain Ryland!

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

None of them.

 

2023 Champions League Team Previews: Part Five

With an exciting new location for the 2023 Champions League, final preparations are underway amongst all teams fighting to become champions of Europe in Paris, France. 15 men’s teams and 9 women’s teams will battle it out in their respective competition formats across five pitches at Parc du Tremblay on Saturday April 1st, in what is set to be a massive day for all teams across Europe, UK and Ireland.

In the competition’s seventh format, the level of play continues to grow, and you will be able to catch all the action throughout the day on the AFL Europe YouTube channel here.

In part five we preview the Norrtälje Dockers women’s and men’s sides, and Sesvete Double Blues.

Women’s Competition

Norrtälje Dockers

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

Since the Swedish winter means that we cannot play/train outdoors, we have been playing indoors. There has been both tournaments and matches this year, which is fun. But of course we look forward to having a  kick outside and stretch our legs.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

There are so many good players in the team, it’s guaranteed to be great entertainment no matter who you’re watching.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

We had a great team last year that played beyond our expectations. This year’s team consists of half of the same players, the other half are new players who have never played at this level before. It will be very exciting to see them walk out onto the oval and give it their all.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

A new destination is exciting. Last year was the first time our women’s team qualified for the champions league and the tournament that Amsterdam arranged was fantastic. We look forward to seeing what Paris has to offer.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

Our goal is to improve last year’s position and continue to show what a small town in Sweden can offer on the oval.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Getting to travel abroad and compete against the best.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

The one who plays in the Norrtälje Dockers guernsey!

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

We play every game like it’s a final, we’re ready to go through all of them.

Men’s Competition:

Norrtälje Dockers

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

It has been okay, we have had semi regular indoor training since november/december and about a month ago we started to brave the snow and below zero temperatures out on the astro turf. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to plan any warm up matches about from an indoor tournament in February.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

This is a trade secret but it won’t be long until he makes an impact! Our very own Luke Jackson.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

We have a few players that will be making their Champions League debut in Paris. It will be exciting to see how they can handle the European level of playing compared to here in Sweden. On the coaching side one of our most influential players from previous tournaments Robin Åberg sustained an ACL injury last season so will be coaching together with seasoned vet Christer Rosendahl.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

We have nothing but positive memories of Amsterdam but we are also looking forward to a new country and a new city to play footy in.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

Our ambition is to put up a good fight in all of our games. We have come last in our group the past two tournaments and will be looking to change that this year.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

The opportunity to meet people and play against people from around Europe. The game is still small in Sweden so it is a fantastic chance for us as a team to continue developing.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Nicklas Andersson.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

There are a number of teams that will be able to give the championship a run on their day. As long as we beat our neighbours Oslo then we have done something right!

Sesvete Double Blues

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

It was great. We started our preparations very early, in the middle of January. Firstly we started with our conditioning trainings, and then with tactical trainings with a ball in February.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

You should definitely look-out for Josip Motik because he is our best player by far. Domagoj Lisak has some phenomenal energy on the field and he loves to have a good tackle. Matej Žgela has great marks and we expect many goals from him.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

There are no major changes in our team. Our team is pretty much build up from guys that are playing many years in our club and our coach is now third season on this position. We have just a few players that are playing for just over a year.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Feelings are kind of mixed up, but probably little more excited than it would be for Amsterdam, because almost every one of us was already playing there couple of times and we would like to see how it will go in a new surrounding. Also, Paris is great city and we are excited to go on city tours.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

Our ambitions would be to go to the knockout stage and maybe win some medal. Final four would be the greatest achievement for some Croatian club in European competitions. We think that it is possible but we would be satisfied even with a battle for fifth place.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

The favourite part is participating in such a big tournament, because it is very competitive and has many great players and Aussies. We get much experience from this kind of competition and we also love to travel together and fight together in big games.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

I would trust Josip Motik the most to kick a goal after the siren. He has very precise and firm kick.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

The biggest threat could probably be Amsterdam Devils, Copenhagen Barracudas, and West London Wildcats.

2023 Champions League Team Previews: Part Four

With an exciting new location for the 2023 Champions League, final preparations are underway amongst all teams fighting to become champions of Europe in Paris, France. 15 men’s teams and 9 women’s teams will battle it out in their respective competition formats across five pitches at Parc du Tremblay on Saturday April 1st, in what is set to be a massive day for all teams across Europe, UK and Ireland.

In the competition’s seventh format, the level of play continues to grow, and you will be able to catch all the action throughout the day on our YouTube channel here.

In part four of the previews, the teams featured include Geneva Jets, Waterland Eagles and Copenhagen Barracudas.

Men’s Competition:

Geneva Jets

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

Players off season training running with the added weight of a 4th consecutive premiership medal around the necks has been excellent for strength and conditioning.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

The fake internationals in the London team – always a suspiciously strong squad there.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

Dedicated coach finger-on-the pulse McConnachy will free up the on-field leadership.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Prefer brownies to baguettes.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

Get out of blocks a bit quicker and snag a couple wins.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Early season footy and a few recovery froths.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Seb will channel Iceman in a tight spot.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

The Geneva Jets on Friday night.

Waterland Eagles

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

Winter blues, injuries, more injuries & babies being born has been the most perfectly interrupted lead-up.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Yorne Dik – Full back – Waterland Eagles.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

We have a well versed leadership group consisting of long time AFLNL footballers and past CL champions; Tyson Vitale, Neil Cooke and Luke Keesmaat! Laurance Mekahel will also be assisting in coaching & playing in his first CL. We are a relatively recent up and coming club, competing in our first CL so all players and coaches will have a huge impact!

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

We love Amsterdam and have always been very fond of the atmosphere it produces as a venue for footy and as a city!! I think it is Ok for something different but would prefer to have the tournament in AMS again in the coming years. We’re looking forward to seeing what Paris has to offer!

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

We are in it to win it however having fun and enjoying the experience is our focus.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

Travelling as a team together to play the sport we love against the best teams in Europe.

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Tyson Vitale.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

West Australian Wildcats.

Copenhagen Barracudas

 

How has the lead-up to the Champions League been for your team this year?

The Nordic winter has been cruel and dark as always. We have been training in the wind, rain, sleet, and snow to prepare for CL23.

Which players should we be on the look-out for during the tournament?

Sam Danks and Thomas Page have been training hard all winter. Watch out for their speed and poise around the middle of the ground. Christian Poulsen in defence is also a great example of a first-year player who has a natural aptitude for the game.

Are there any major changes in terms of players or coaching staff that will impact your team’s performance?

A few big-names won’t be able to make it to the tournament this year, namely Emil Thaning our B&F from 2022 and Fraser Lane, our leading goal kicker. However, this gives a chance for some of our other players to prove their mettle for the tournament and upcoming DAFL season.

How does your team feel about the change in location from Amsterdam to Paris for this year’s tournament?

Very happy to be playing in the ‘city of love’ this year.

What are the ambitions for your team at the 2023 Champions League?

Ultimately, we’d like to take home the trophy this year and think we are in a pretty good position to do so. If this doesn’t eventuate, we’re happy to represent Denmark and the DAFL in an international tournament and show the league the quality of the competition up here in Denmark.

What is your team’s favourite part about competing in the Champions League?

We haven’t made an appearance at the Champions League since 2018. It’s a whole new group of players who are excited about the opportunity to stamp the Cudas name into the record books

Which player in your team would you trust the most to kick a goal after the siren to win the tournament?

Big Bad Bustling Bram Kerkhoff would do the job. He played in 2 AFL Europe winning Grand Finals last year, so we know he’s got what it takes.

Which team do you consider the biggest threat to your chances of winning the Champions League?

Of course West London Wildcats are always a strong competitor in the Champions League. We have our first match against them in the pool stages and the result could make or break our chances at finals.