Irish Watch: AFL Round 23 Review

The year would end for a number of our Irish players on the weekend, as a whirlwind home and away season enjoyed a dramatic conclusion.

With a number of big games which ultimately decided positions in the finals, it certainly was a hectic weekend as Irish players had a major influence on many of these crucial fixtures.

Perhaps the best performance of any Irishman this season, the class of Conor McKenna was on show for all to see on Friday night, standing up in the absence of many key Bombers as they almost caused a monumental upset against Collingwood at the MCG.

Lining up across half-back, it was an outstanding night for the blonde speedster as he showed his improvement across the season with this incredibly dominant display.

It seemed as if he was everywhere at the MCG, as he could constantly be found breaking through tackles, pulling the trigger on risky kicks and really driving the Bombers from the back half.  

The 23-year-old would finish the evening with a whopping career-high 35 disposals, showing he can really step up and be a dominant contributor for the Bombers moving forward.

He would also use the ball beautifully all night, going at a super impressive 77%, whilst also having 710 metres gained and eight rebounds in what was a well-rounded performance.

The rising Bomber’s attention now turns to his second finals series, where he will need to again be instrumental if Essendon is to go over and cause an upset in the West against the Eagles. 

After going down in heartbreaking circumstances up at the GABBA last week, Geelong responded swiftly with a clinical 68 point win over the improved Blues.

Struggling in last week’s match, Zach Tuohy came back well against his old side in a new role across half-forward.

Using his speed and skills to good use, the Cats may have found a wildcard heading into the finals as the Irish veteran seemed to add another dimension to what is an already established forward group at Geelong.

Overall, Tuohy would have 15 touches, five marks and kick 2.2 goals in a promising performance as he looks to sure up his role and spot in the side heading into this finals series. 

Continuing in his role down back, Mark O’Connor’s stock continues to rise as he produced yet another solid performance.

Playing on a number of the Carlton talls and smalls, O’Connor would defend stoutly all night, blending in well with the remaining Cats defence which was again on song. 

He was also tough around the contest, picking up five tackles, and showed again that he is a nightmare to play on as he produced a number of key one-percenters and defensive plays.

Offensively he would also find ways to join in with the Cats ball movement picking up 11 disposals, as he often got involved in some very damaging pieces of play.

With Geelong back in the finals for another year, it will be very exciting to see what the young Irishman can do with some more confidence at senior level.

Hawthorn produced their best win of the year in a last-minute attempt to make the eight, as they travelled over to Perth and easily accounted for the in-form West Coast Eagles.

In what was described as a masterpiece from legendary coach Alastair Clarkson, Hawthorn was outstanding from start to finish playing a desperate brand of footy which shocked the reigning premiers.

Since coming as a late change a fortnight ago, Irishman Conor Nash has made a real difference to this Hawks forward line and Saturday night would be no exception.

Although he doesn’t collect big numbers of disposals, the athletic forward contributes in other ways with his pressure and ability to bring the ball to ground particular highlights of his game.

He has also shown flashes of brilliance all season, with some moments in the West on Saturday night showing his potential to be an excellent forward for years to come.

In the end, Nash would collect eight disposals, four marks, two tackles and kick a goal in a solid display to close out the season.

The Gold Coast Sun’s season would finish in disappointing fashion on Saturday night as they couldn’t stop a rampaging GWS side in the battle of the expansion clubs. 

Relishing a new role in the midfield, Irishman Pearce Hanley would again be one to hold his head high on a tough night for the club as he put his heart on the line in a spirited performance.

Finally getting a decent run with the Suns, Hanley has progressed beautifully in the latter part of the season with his trademark run and dash on show for all to see through the middle of the ground.

One of the games best distributors, Hanley has been a pivotal outside presence for the Gold Coast in recent weeks, often being on the end of handball chains and putting his side in a good position.

Finishing with 23 disposals, Hanley’s ball use was elite going at 70% whilst he was also excellent in driving the Gold Coast’s attacking movement having eight inside 50’s.

In a year that saw the Suns lose 18 consecutive games, they can certainly find a positive through Hanley’s output as he seems to be finding his best form.

AFL Europe – Zac Standish

Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Florian Naumann

Each week, AFL Europe in combination with Belushi’s will take a look at one of our star players competing in fixtures across the continent in Player Spotlight. 

With high aspirations in all sports throughout his life Florian Naumann has always set the bar high.

Florian always seems to reach these tough goals and even go one step further, doing exactly this playing AFL in Germany.

Growing up in Germany, Florian was a part of the more popular sports of the country, of soccer and handball as a goalkeeper and hadn’t thought of playing Australian football.

Travelling the world and eventually Australia, Florian discovered this new sport and fell in love, feeling it was a combination of techniques that fitted his attributes perfectly.

“I love the mix of using hands and feet and the toughness of tackling. There is no space for acting or diving. Of course the fitness is a great result too. One of the biggest factors off-field is the family culture and worldwide network of nice people which I haven’t experienced like this in any other sports,” said Florian.

Finding this new found passion in 2006, Florian went back to Germany, not thinking this new sport would be so big in his home country.

Since then, the Hamburg Dockers have become one of Europe’s top AFL destinations and Florian has been a big reason to their success, being a great leader on and off the field for the last eight years.

Having some success in Hamburg, Florian through his experience has become a great leader for his side, now representing his country as the German Eagles Captain in all of the major AFL Europe tournaments.

Becoming the national side’s captain, helping to coach local women’s teams and even running sessions for people new to the game, Florian is someone that everyone would want at their club and does so much towards the success of AFL in Germany.

Now playing the game for an impressive amount of time, Florian has developed his game and feels not only can his skills help the side he is in but also his leadership.

“I think my strengths include the smart use of my height in contests and my jumping and timing ability also helping me to read the play well. That’s why my job is always to organize the group setting up from behind the ball and anticipating what is going to happen next,” said Florian.

Being consistently seen as a top tier player of Europe is a hard feat for anyone, but Florian continues to improve and add to his many accolades.

Playing in the Euro Cup each year for Germany, Florian was voted into the Team of the Tournament in both the 2014 and 2016 events, leading Germany to gain a silver medal during this time.

Winning the AFLG men’s premiership three times is also impressive for Florian who seems to always have success and helps everyone around him become better, which is ideal to have in any sporting environment.

Being one of the top players in AFL Europe, Florian is an exciting talent and as he continues to find ways to improve, he has been a great ambassador and leader for the growth of AFL in Germany and will continue this for many years to come.

Special thanks to Belushi’s for helping grow the game in Europe

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

PSS Presents: Around the Grounds

Each week AFL Europe will take a look around the continent at the Australian Football highlights and thrilling matches. This Around the Grounds article delves into the standout performances from the weekend’s action and is presented by PSS International Removals.

 

REDBACKS CONTINUE DOMINANCE IN IRELAND

This years ARFLI Grand Final went right down to the final quarter, as the Belfast Redbacks secured back-to-back premierships after defeating the Leeside Lions by 29 points on Saturday. In warm and sunny conditions that would look perfect at the MCG on the last Saturday of September, the game was a close, competitive and fiercely contested match between two quality sides. At half-time, there were only seven points in it, with the score in favour of the Redbacks but the Lions were well and truly in the game as they had created more scoring opportunities but their inaccuracy in front of goal was costing them. Both defences continued to stand strong as only three goals were kicked in the third quarter and the Lions managed to take the lead by two points heading into the final quarter. In the last quarter, the game opened up and the Redbacks took advantage of that while restricting the Lions to just two scoring shots for the quarter. Thanks to their experience on the big stage, combined with their fitness, the Redbacks finished the game with more run than their opponents and in the process secured their second premiership in as many years.

Final Scores (AFL Ireland)

Men’s: Belfast Redbacks (12. 5. 77) defeated Leeside Lions (6. 12. 48).

 

BATTLE FOR GRAND FINAL PLACE GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE

Vaasa hosted the final round of the 2019 FAFL home-and-away season on the weekend and with all three teams looking to secure a Grand Final spot, there was plenty to play for between the Vaasa Wombats, Helsinki Heatseekers and Turku Dockers. The opening game of the day saw Helsinki defeat Vaasa by 20 points to confirm a spot in the Grand Final for the Heatseekers, the premiers from the last four seasons and minor premiers after finishing top of the ladder this year. The second game of the day was in the balance until the very last kick of the match. With only seconds left, and trailing by just four points, Turku gave one last all-out attack which resulted in a mark being taken on the boundary line. With a strong wind being a factor, it was always going to be a challenge to kick a goal from that position and despite the Dockers players’ best effort, the kick fell just short to give Helsinki a four-point win in a thrilling football match. Finally, it came down to the final match of the day to decide who will play Helsinki in the Grand Final on the 14th of September. Vaasa Wombats got off to a flyer, kicking the first goal but the Turku Dockers responded quickly as both teams exchanged goals for a long period until the Dockers finally broke away in the final stages of the day to win by 18 points and secure their first Grand Final appearance since 2016.

Final Scores (AFL Finland)

Men’s: Helsinki Heatseekers (5. 6. 36) defeated Vaasa Wombats (2. 4. 16).
Helsinki Heatseekers (5. 2. 32) defeated Turku Dockers (4. 4. 28).
Turku Dockers (8. 4. 52) defeated Vaasa (5. 4. 34).

 

BLOODS GO BACK-TO-BACK

The Edinburgh Bloods are premiers for the second year in a row in the SARFL after defeating the Glasgow Sharks by 50 points on Saturday after a hard-fought contest in warm conditions. Playing each other for the third time in a month, it was always going to be a tough contest as both teams were the benchmark in this year’s league. After the Sharks won the final round of the home-and-away season to secure top spot, they also came out on top the following week in the qualifying final to confirm a spot in the Grand Final. Following the qualifying loss, the Bloods defeated the Tyne Tees Tigers in the Preliminary Final to see them reach a second consecutive Grand Final. While the Sharks had the best of the Bloods in their last two matches, the Bloods turned it around on this occasion with their fast, physical game style coming out on top. The Sharks battled as much as they could to stay in touch, but the Bloods were too strong across the ground when it mattered and are the 2019 SARFL Premiers.

Final Scores (AFL Scotland)

Men’s: Edinburgh Bloods (119) defeated Glasgow Sharks (69).

 

DOCKERS AND CROCODILES TO BATTLE IT OUT IN AFLG GRAND FINAL 

This years 2019 AFLG Grand Final will be a rematch of last years Grand Final between the Berlin Crocodiles and Hamburg Dockers after they both won their respective semi-finals in comprehensive fashion on the weekend. The Berlin Crocodiles played against rivals the Munich Kangaroos and were dominant for most of the game to run away with an impressive 72 point win. The Kangaroos battled valiantly but couldn’t match their opponents who were too strong as the Crocodiles secured a place in the Grand Final for the fourth time in a row. They will take on Hamburg who defeated the Frankfurt Redbacks as the Dockers continued their fantastic form from the home-and-away season. The Dockers got off to a fast start, with their attacking style of football helping them to a 25-point lead at quarter-time. The Redbacks kicked a couple of goals in the second quarter, but the Dockers continued to extend their lead, with the margin at 40-points at the main break. The game continued in a similar fashion as the Dockers were too strong both in defence and when attacking as the Redbacks couldn’t match them. When the final siren blew, the Dockers finished the game 94 points in front, but most importantly, secured a Grand Final place against the Crocodiles on the 7th of September.

Final Scores (AFLG)

Men’s: Frankfurt Redbacks (40) defeated by Hamburg Dockers (134).
Berlin Crocodiles (114) defeated Munich Crocodiles (42).

 

 

PSS International Removals have helped people move from the UK to Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in the world for over 37 years. They offer friendly advice, no matter whether you’re sending a few boxes or a whole house removal including car. For more information call 020 8686 7733 or visit the PSS Removals website.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Nicola Barr’s unique offseason trip to football’s international heartland

It was a unique off season for GWS defender Nicola Barr.

The 2016 number one draft pick would undertake a once in a lifetime experience, partnering with AFL Europe to go over and observe the game in a number of different countries around the continent.

What she saw would exceed all her expectations and create an excitement about the future of AFL football around the globe.

Wanting to get away throughout her break period, Barr was initially just happy to go over and have a kick with a few teams.

“Through [AFL Europe’s] Ollie Howard, we discussed the possibility of meeting some teams while I was overseas and having a kick.” Barr told AFL Europe.

This small idea of imparting little pieces of wisdom would spark into something much greater, as Barr would end up visiting 12 clubs throughout Europe.

“I basically ended up travelling and going where I wanted and if there was a team there I would go and either participate in or take a training session, trying to learn how that particular club came about and how they go about training and playing.”

Although she says it wasn’t a work trip, much of her time was dedicated to helping out these teams and getting to know how the game is perceived beyond our shores.

The first surprise she encountered would be the heavy local presence at all the clubs.

“It was very interesting to see that a lot of the teams were made up of locals from the area” Barr said.  

“I expected there to be a lot more expats, but in places like Croatia, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Denmark these teams are made up from people living in those places which was really exciting to see.”

And although she struggled to understand at times, Barr was blown away by the locals interest and passion for the game.

“So many people were interested in everything [about being a professional footballer], what kind of training we did, how often we trained, I was super happy to pass on any knowledge I had and help where I could.”

Along with their interest in the game, Barr was very impressed with the camaraderie between the players and culture of the football clubs.

“That was the thing I loved the most.” She said.

“It was a really nice reminder visiting those clubs, a reminder of why people love football so much.”

“I definitely felt like I was back at a local footy club, but with people speaking a different language, in terms of how they get along and the love they have for the game.”

Nicola recalls an excellent story from her time with a club in Croatia which typifies this passion for the game.

“At one point I was sitting in a car with one of the Croatian teams, and three girls [from the team] were sitting in the back talking about tactics for the weekend, like should we do this or should we do that.” She said.

“It was just really cool to see how passionate these people are about Australian football.”

Along with visiting clubs all over Europe, Barr would also get the opportunity to attend the European Cup in Sweden

“It was really good to see all the teams in one spot” Barr said.

The passion and pride for the games was a particular highlight of the day for Barr, as she observed many European countries coming together to play Australian rules football.

“The Croatian girls were watching their men’s team play and I’ve never heard people yell so loudly.”

“I felt like I was at the MCG”

Playing an AFL 9’s format, the competition would be fierce all day with the Irish and English teams coming out victorious in the respective women’s and men’s competitions.

On a day that meant so much to these players, Barr was simply blown away by the skills on display.

“It really surprised me how developed it is over there.” She said.

“The team that impressed me the most were the German women’s team, they were really, really hard and skilled.”

She was also able to scope out some potential talent for the future, with many talented players having the potential to take their game to the Australia like we have seen many Irish players in recent times.

“It’s really growing over there and getting more popular, so I can absolutely see players from other countries come across and play.”

“It’s very exciting to think it might become more and more international, and I think it will be very good for the game.”

Overall, the trip would be a true eye opener for the 23 year old, as she was able to see the game from an entirely new perspective.

“When you’re in a professional environment football can get very serious and it can become very easy to lose that passion for the game.” She said.

“For me it was really rewarding to get back and see why people really love the game and what it does for their mental health, their friendships and just their wellbeing.”

“It was really important to see that passion and it reminded me why I play football.”

Zac Standish – AFL Europe

 

Match of the Round

ARFLI Men’s Grand Final

Belfast Redbacks v Leeside Lions

24/08/2019  National Sports Campus, Dublin  1:30pm

Another thrilling season in the Australian Rules Football League of Ireland (ARFLI) has almost come to an end, after a season full of amazing matches it has all lead to this enthralling final weekend of footy.

Fighting extremely hard to get to this point, the Belfast Redbacks and the Leeside Lions will battle it out in this year’s Grand Final in the capital of the country.

The reigning premiers and champions of the league, the Redbacks, are looking to repeat last year’s phenomenal efforts.

Having not lost a game for two years now, their consistency to always get over the line even in the tightest of games is amazing and they are well deserving at a chance to win it all again this season.

Using his strength in the air and on the ground, Redbacks ruckman Declan Adler has been a major key to this success, helping them win clearances at ease with his taps and will be a major problem for the opposition on the weekend.

With a strong Champions League tournament in Amsterdam behind them, where they finished as narrow runners up, Belfast became even hungrier for success and have been ruthless ever since.

Excitement is buzzing around the whole of the Redbacks club and President Conor Mallon describes such a big occasion, “We want to make history to become the only Irish team to win back to back premierships and go two seasons undefeated. This would be a great way to mark the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Redbacks club this year.”

Leeside will be looking to get back to their 2017 form where they were a strong side and the league’s premiers.

Their rollercoaster 2019 season included some great wins and shock losses, and the Lions will be looking to be at their very best, much like they showed in the preliminary final win last week over Galway.

Having many close games and encounters with the Redbacks throughout the season, where Belfast prevailed, Leeside have run into some form at the right time and when playing at their best can beat anyone.

Photo by Keith Elgin Photography

“We have had to rebuild the last few years, so for a number of the lads it’s an opportunity to win their first bit of significant silverware. We are a relatively young team and we will be hoping to take advantage of our youthful exuberance,” said Lion Enzo O’Callaghan.

A pivotal player in this Lions side is Shane Quigley, who has had an impressive season and wants to finish it off with a statement win in the Grand Final this weekend. Quigley’s ability to create scoreboard pressure is great for Leeside as he is always able to slot some important majors when the ball is in the forward line.

Quigley, along with this young side, seem to use their fitness and energy well through the entirety of the game and have found a sense of unity at the right time of the season. This will help the Lions put on a show for the crowd on the weekend and make for some interesting footy.

Many Irish representatives will be on display in this match up, a large local crowd is expected and with this type of talent on display, they will see a high scoring, fast paced and exciting affair for the 2019 ARFLI Men’s Premiership.

 

Stay tuned to next week’s edition of Around the Grounds to see who came out on top!

 

Special thanks to Fine Wine Partners for their support of the growth of the game throughout Europe.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

 

 

 

Community Spotlight – Ulrike Senti

Growing up in Switzerland, Ulrike Senti had always enjoyed her sport and has always wanted sportswomen like herself to be able to live out their dreams and passions.

Living in Tasmania, Australia in 2017, Uli was entranced when her roommate introduced the Australian game to her and she immediately wanted to be involved in this fast paced game.

“I am very attracted to the speed and power of this sport, it requires so many different skills and combines different sports like volleyball, basketball, running, which make it very attractive.”

After watching a few AFL games on television, Ulrike wanted to play AFL herself, which began her search for a club in the area. Finding the University of Tasmania (UTAS) club, Ulrike attended a training session and joined in on the action, realising just how much she was starting to love the game.

With no women’s team for UTAS at the time, Ulrike joined the women in training, where she made new friends, who were able to teach her how to kick a footy.

These women along with Ulrike eventually were able to play at a competitive level, where she loved the nature of the team and playing in a real match environment.

Disappointed that she may not be able to play footy when she arrived back home in Switzerland, Ulrike had a desperate Google search hoping to find something in her home country.

Grateful to find the Winterthur Lions online, she attended a training session when home, launching a whole new life and a sport that is rapidly growing in the area thanks to her passion.

Uli has helped AFL Switzerland grow immensely in such a short period of time, through her immersive nature and enjoyment of the game in the Lions mixed teams.

Now with a major role on the AFL Switzerland committee as the Secretary and Head of Women’s Development, Uli has been a real driving force for women playing this sport in Switzerland.

Responsible for Switzerland’s women’s national team, the Swiss Heidis,  Ulrike continues to recruit new women to try out the sport and has had an extremely successful year. Forming a side in the most recent Euro Cup tournament in Sweden, Ulrike’s efforts lead them to a great day at the event.

Thanks to Ulrike and the many others who put in countless hours of hard work, the AFL Switzerland league started it’s inaugural season this year, taking a huge leap forward for AFL in the country.

Not only a major reason for the growth of the league, Uli is now a leader in the development for the new AFL club in Zurich. This club will join the Swiss league in 2020 and through her recruitment and experience in AFL, Ulrike is helping this to become a large part of the Swiss league in the near future.

Doing all she can for the sport through involving women and even younger people, Ulrike has big aspirations that she will no doubt be able to reach in the coming years.

“My biggest aim is of course is to sustain the women’s team. I know it’s a difficult task but I’d love to see a female league as it is definitely progression from playing a mixed competition. Another point I am working on is to promote Aussie rules within schools. I think this is an effective way of growing a new sport in a different environment.”

Ulrike’s teaching background is a major help for her aspirations, whether it be her ways of teaching someone new to the game how to handball or even her ability to relate to all different types of people.

AFL Switzerland is in extremely good hands with Ulrike Senti on the committee and with such a promising year already, this success will continue for many years to come.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

 

 

Irish Watch: AFL Round 22 Review

The penultimate round of the AFL season would be one for the ages, with many ladder defining clashes and tight finishes proving to be a perfect pre cursor for what is set to be an enthralling 2019 finals series.

Two Irish players would find themselves caught up in what was very well the match of the year on Saturday afternoon, as the first placed Cats and second placed Lions did battle on a beautiful day in Brisbane.

With top spot on the line, it was close all afternoon with the class of the Cats holding a 2-3 goal buffer for the majority of the first three quarters.

However, like they have done on so many occasions this year, the Lions roared into action late, with some fast tempo footy seeing them pile on multiple goals on the Cats late as they hoped to snag a ninth straight victory.

Five goals from Charlie Cameron was pivotal in igniting the Brisbane side, before a classic mark by former Cat Lincoln McCarthy would put the Lions in front at the death as they completed a classic one point win.

Unfortunately Irishman Mark O’Connor and Zach Tuohy would find themselves on the wrong end of this classic encounter, but can still hold their heads high as the Geelong defence was resolute all day long.

Playing his traditional lock down role in defence, O’Connor was again solid upon return to the Cats side, with his temperament in one percenters a particular highlight of his game.

Although Cameron did manage to get off the chain late, O’Connor was still impressive in halting the fast paced Brisbane forward line and sticking to task on a number of different of opponents.

Along with his work defensively, the Irishman was also able to get involved with ball in hand claiming 11 disposals, two tackles and a mark from the back pocket.

Teammate Zach Tuohy would be the first to admit he wasn’t quite at his best at the GABBA only picking up the 12 possessions across the wing and half back.

Despite that, the effort and endeavour was there all day from the veteran, with his maturity with ball in hand and hardness around the contest.

This was emphasised by his five tackles and five contested possessions, as he constantly put his body on the line and major some major defensive plays throughout the afternoon.

He was also prevalent in getting the Cats going offensively from the back line with a four inside 50’s adding to the effect he had on the game.

After being embarrassed last week, the Bombers would get their revenge through a trip West, as they booked their spot in September with a gutsy 32 point win over the Dockers.

Conor McKenna’s breakout season would continue, as the ever consistent half back flanker was again one of the Bombers best.

Exerting that trade mark run and dash off half back, the performances of himself and partner in crime Adam Saad were critical in the Bombers getting their mojo back, as they really set things up from defence and torched the Dockers with their ability to run and carry.

Quite rightly recognised as one of Essendon’s most important players, McKenna would pick up an extremely damaging 24 disposals on the night, with the Bombers having no answer for his pace and agility.

He would also have four score involvements, four intercept possessions and use the ball at an incredibly efficient 79% in what was just an all round performance from the young, blonde running defender.

With a match against old rivals Collingwood on Friday night, McKenna will get a great dress rehearsal heading into his second finals campaign.

Two Irish players would face off in the final match of the round as the Hawks farewelled champion Jarryd Roughead in style with a 70 point win over the struggling Suns.

In what has been an injury interrupted year, Suns veteran Pearce Hanley would steal the show with a near best on ground performance at Marvel Stadium.

Thrown into the midfield by coach Stuart Dew, the Irishman certainly disappoint, as he was prolific all day with his work on the outside of the contest.

Picking up a season and match high 34 disposals, it seemed like Hanley was everywhere, constantly presenting as an option for his teammates and running hard through all four quarters.

Hanley would also have 11 marks, eight contested possessions and two tackles in a dominant display, as he more than proved to everyone at the Suns he is capable of going around again next year.

Although the side has struggled for the majority of the year, it has been great to see Hanley rediscover his best form, with his performance on Sunday a clear indication of his value to the Suns moving forward.

After coming in as a late inclusion last week and putting on a career best performance, Hawthorn’s Conor Nash was again solid up forward.

With the majority of the attention inside Hawthorn’s forward 50 rightfully going to Roughead, Nash proved an excellent foil for the big man as he constantly crashed packs and did the one percenters for his team.

He would show his immense athletic potential in the last quarter, as he managed to get a clean run at the ball and take a strong contested mark before converting from close range, a passage of play which would certainly excite Hawks fans.

His pressure was also good, as he put on 19 pressure acts and laid four tackles, further showing his worth to the Hawthorn forward line moving forward.

Zac Standish – AFL Europe

Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Camille Portal

Each week, AFL Europe in combination with Belushi’s will take a look at one of our star players competing in fixtures across the continent in Player Spotlight. 

Camille Portal has always been a lover of sport and growing up, tried her hand at countless sports, from tennis and handball to soccer and horse riding. She enjoyed them but never truly found her sporting passion until she played Australian Football.

Although she enjoyed being a part of a variety of sports, the Australian game was one that fitted her values perfectly and why she has continued to play the sport.

“When I discovered AFL, I loved it because of the team spirit, the values, because of the athletic qualities and self-improvement that this sport requires, it is a very complete sport. I feel a part of a big family and I met a lot of amazing people in this sport,” said Camille.

Thanks to a few of her friends who know Camille loves sports, she heard about Australian Football and decided to give it a go at one of France’s biggest clubs, the Paris Cockerelles.

Now with a thriving women’s team, Camille is a major part of this side, adding a combination of class and experience on and off the pitch having now played for over seven years.

Having developed into the player she is today, the many years of practice have gotten her to a high level of footy with many attributes perfect for the Australian game.

“I think my strengths are my speed, my cardio and ability to be strong in contests. I think we can always improve, we have always things to learn and work on. I try to be better for my team and for myself,” she said.

These on field qualities are perfect for any AFL team and her selflessness has helped not just herself but everyone around her to become more successful and enjoy the game.

Now one of the more experienced players in AFL Europe, Camille represented the European Crusaders in the International Cup in Melbourne 2017.

An amazing effort to make such a team and to be able to perform on the big stage, although Camille is now working hard to get a French women’s side in one of these future tournaments so that many can play with pride for their country.

Camille has improved her game each year she has played and was even selected in the 2016 Champions League Team of the Tournament. Her footy career has taken her to some amazing places around the world, yet one of the biggest games has been in her home country of France.

Representing her national side on multiple occasions now, Camille has been a part of the ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneux which is extremely important to all involved and such an amazing experience.

“My favourite place where I have played is Villers-Bretonneux for the ANZAC Cup because of the commemoration, this is always very intense and moving,” she said.

“Last year, at the Anzac Cup, in a surreal moment with some other French teammates, we met the Prime Ministers of Australia and France, in a cafe after the Dawn service. They were very cool and we were able to take a selfie with them.”

Giving her all for her team in Paris, for France and in other various tournaments, Camille is someone that every sporting club would want to have as the people around her seem to become better players and people.

Camille has had a great seven years with continual improvement and help towards the growth of AFL Europe and will continue to have a great 2019.

Special thanks to Belushi’s for helping grow the game in Europe

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

PSS Presents: Around the Grounds

Each week AFL Europe will take a look around the continent at the Australian Football highlights and thrilling matches. This Around the Grounds article delves into the standout performances from the weekend’s action and is presented by PSS International Removals.

GENEVA DOMINANT IN ROUND 4 OF AFL SWITZERLAND LEAGUE

On Sunday, the Geneva Jets hosted Round 4 of the AFL Switzerland competition as three teams, Winterthur, Northern Bears, and Basel, joined the hosts in the battle for a place in the Grand Final. This was an exciting occasion for the sport in Switzerland, as it was the first time that an official league game had been hosted in Geneva. With one round left after this one, results were key and it was the home team who dominated throughout the day. The standout game was between the Jets and the Basel Dragons. Despite the final score, the Dragons took it right up to the host team in the hot and windy conditions. The Dragons battled hard and held their own, but in the end, the Jets were just too fast and their experience helped lead them to a 64 point win. In Geneva’s other game, the Jets defeated a determined Winterthur Lions side. While the Jets had already booked a place in the Grand Final, the Basel Dragons and Winterthur Lions game was key to determining the other team to make the Grand Final. The Lions had to win to keep their chances alive, but it was the Dragons who recorded an impressive 59 point victory to confirm a place in the big dance. Earlier in the day, the Northern Bears had defeated the Jets Reserves in a high scoring battle. The final round of the season will take place in a couple of weeks’ time with final places already confirmed, before the Grand Final in September which will see the Geneva Jets play the Basel Dragons.

Final Scores (AFL Switzerland)

Mixed: Geneva Jets (12. 9 .81) defeated Basel Dragons (2. 5. 17)
Geneva Jets Reserves (7. 10. 52) defeated by Northern Bears (19. 15. 129).
Winterthur Lions (2. 5. 17) defeated by Basel Dragons (12. 4. 76).
Geneva Jets (10. 24. 84) defeated Winterthur Lions (1. 4. 10).

 

TIGERS TAKE DOWN THE HAWKS IN ST. PETERSBURG

Saturday saw Round 9 of the St. Petersburg Australian Football League take place as the Northern Tigers played against the Baltic Hawks. In a close season so far, where winning consecutive games have been hard to achieve, the theme continued as the Tigers won this round after the Hawks had won in Round 8. Sunny conditions welcomed both sides and the game started at a frenetic pace in the clear conditions, with six goals kicked in the opening term. The Tigers held a slender two-point lead but the Hawks accurate kicking was giving them plenty to work with. The second quarter was again even, with eight goals kicked but the Tigers managed to sneak ahead by 16 points. It was during the third quarter that the game opened up as, despite their best efforts, the Hawks couldn’t match the Tigers, who kicked three unanswered goals to take a 35-point lead into the last change. The Hawks battled hard to try and get back into the game, but couldn’t match their opponents around the ground as the Tigers controlled the game to finish with a 36-point victory in an entertaining match where every player either kicked a goal or had a score involvement.

Final Scores (St. Petersburg Australian Football League)

Men’s: Northern Tigers (92) defeated Baltic Hawks (56).

 

PANTHERS WIN PREMIERSHIP IN CARDIFF

It was Grand Final time in the WARFL on Monday night as the Cardiff Panthers played the Bristol Dockers in Cardiff to decide who would be Premiers and qualify for next years Champions League. After eight rounds of football that started back in April, it was the Panthers and Dockers who battled it out in an entertaining and tough contest. In a game that ebbed and flowed throughout, it was the Panthers’ skills, fitness, and experience that helped them record a 23 point win when the final siren sounded. The Dockers gave it everything they could, battling right to the end of the game, but the Panthers continued their good form from the season to take the trophy home. Joining the two teams competing in the Grand Final, was the Bath and Wiltshire Rebacks who helped with the umpiring alongside regular AFL Europe umpire Josh Davey.

Final Scores (Welsh Australian Rules Football League)

Men’s: Cardiff Panthers (90) defeated Bristol Dockers (67).

 

BLOODS CLAIM GRAND FINAL SPOT 

Next weeks AFL Scotland Grand Final will see the Glasgow Sharks take on the Edinburgh Bloods after Edinburgh defeated the Tyne Tees Tigers on the weekend. In tough conditions for football, the game saw a tight contest all the way through until the final quarter. In the windy weather, neither team could kick away and gain a sustainable lead in the match until halfway through the last quarter, when the fitness and endurance levels of the Bloods started to show as they went on to kick a number of goals without reply from the Tigers. Up to that stage, the Tigers had matched last years premiers for physicality and speed over the ground but just ran out of legs late in the game. When the final siren sounded, the Bloods had recorded a 37-point victory to reach this year’s Grand Final, but the Bloods were made to fight hard by the Tigers, providing a perfect test before the big dance next Saturday the 24th of August.

Final Scores (AFL Scotland)

Men’s: Tyne Tees Tigers (59) defeated by Edinburgh Bloods (96).

 

 

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Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Match of the Round

AFL Switzerland Seniors

Geneva Jets, Basel Dragons, Winterthur Lions

18/08/2019  Centre Sportif de Vessy, Geneva  1:00pm

Round four of the AFL Switzerland senior competition is set to be a thriller, with the Geneva Jets, Basel Dragons and Winterthur Lions all facing off in an exciting battle this weekend.

Being a mixed competition, this league allows both men’s and women’s players to be a part of the sport together and this inclusiveness is perfect for so many people to be a part of the great game. Plans for multiple stand alone women’s sides are well underway, as this competition will grow even more in the coming years.

Geneva have seemed the best side of the 2019 competition, already booking a place in this year’s grand final in September after some dominating performances.

The Jets play an exciting brand of footy and through quick clearances will put on a show for the crowd with some high scoring matches and plenty of scoreboard pressure.

Only losing the first game of the season to Basel, the Jets look to be in their best form, having not lost since, and they are looking to continue this in round four and towards the grand final.

This weekend is pivotal to the Dragons’ and Lions’ seasons, both fighting for that final spot in the big dance.

These two sides are some of the most evenly matched in all of Europe, having one win against each other and even a draw this season, expect another extremely close match up in a very important part of the season.

Basel Dragons Secretary and AFL Switzerland committee member Jason Ransome highlights the importance of this match up, “the other grand final spot is still very much up for grabs for both Basel and Winterthur. So this being the final match of the day will be the one to watch. Whoever wins that match will make it extremely hard for the other in round five requiring them to win both matches.”

Basel will be hunting for the ball at all occasions. A team who is strong in and under contests, they will be looking to win the clearance battle and have exciting ways of beating the opposition around the ground.

While Winterthur will look to use their size and strength to intimidate the opposition and win aerial contests making for a thrilling day of footy.

These three clubs have grown quite quickly in the space of a year, as all clubs were founded in 2018 and already taken major strides in the right direction.

The way that these clubs are able to recruit a combination of Australians and locals show that their tactics are paying off and it’s exciting to see people from all backgrounds are able to play the game of AFL.

“Each club is uniquely different in AFL Switzerland. Having many international organisations based in Geneva, means they have many Australian’s based here giving the club a large playing base to choose from each round. The Winterthur Lions are a majority Swiss based club, which helps them recruit a lot more Swiss to their club as opposed to the other two clubs. Basel has many families and has been modeled on an old suburban Melbourne club. This has helped attract families and is currently the only club in Switzerland that has juniors who attend training,” said Jason.

A major reason behind this is their great connection to the home of AFL in Melbourne, Australia where the Winterthur Lions and Basel Dragons are directly connected to two major clubs of the Victorian Football League (VFL).

Winterthur are partnered with the Coburg Lions and Basel with the Port Melbourne Boroughs. These efforts to work together have built a platform for AFL Switzerland to grow and through sponsorship and the sharing of ideas have already made a lot of progress.

With three huge clubs facing off, this is one of the most important weekend’s in their footy calendar. The Jets will be looking to continue their form towards a huge grand final, while the Dragons and Lions will be battling it out for that final place. Geneva will be home to a big crowd this weekend with exciting brands of footy on display and some high scoring affairs.

Stay tuned to next week’s edition of Around the Grounds to see who came out on top!

 

Special thanks to Fine Wine Partners for their support of the growth of the game throughout Europe.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe