Umpire Spotlight – Tobias Siegel

Since coming across Australian Football for the first time in February 2009, Tobias Siegel cherishes every opportunity to be a part of the game in Europe.

A growing love for the Carlton Football Club drove the German’s interest in the Australian game, leading him to get involved.

“My first live game was Carlton vs. Brisbane at the Etihad in April 2009 and that was when I really understood the game and started loving it. Since that day, Carlton became my number one team and I now have an overseas membership,” said Siegel.

Despite not initially being involved with AFLG, Tobias found his place back in the sport while studying in Dresden in 2012.

He later joined the Dresden Wolves and in April 2013, played his first game in Prague, even kicking his debut goal.

In an eventful day for Tobias, he unfortunately finished the match with a serious foot injury, something he could never recover from and what he thought would take him away from the game he loved.

With the inability to play the game anymore Tobias decided to find more about umpiring in Germany.

Tobias put in hours of hard work to make sure he knew the rule book back to front and his effort in preparation showed on the field when he began umpiring.

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“Most of the umpires in the AFLG are Aussies who umpire when asked or injured, so for them it’s quite natural as they often grow up with the sport. My perspective here was different. Especially when it comes to something essential like holding the ball where you need a good feeling and experience and just knowing the rule book isn’t enough here,” he said.

Getting a season under his belt in AFLG, Tobias built the confidence and skills to umpire in the AFL Europe European Championships in London, 2016.

Gaining confidence and recognition from this helped to boost his umpiring career and gave Tobias a greater understanding of the game.

“Meeting fellow umps from Europe and living together with them for a week, being coached by Adam Davies from Australia and doing 18-a-side matches as a boundary, goal and field umpire really opened up my perspective and gave me a much deeper understanding of the game,” said Tobias.

Since this tournament in 2016, Tobias has been a great ambassador for AFL Europe, helping out and umpiring at multiple events.

2017 proved to be a successful year for Tobias, where he umpired his first AFL Europe Champions League and ANZAC Cup.

Being involved in countless tournaments over the years, Tobias describes the ANZAC Cup experience, “Without any doubt, the greatest honour so far was being chosen for the ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneux in April and spending days there with the French and Aussie players. I’m still very thankful for have been giving that opportunity, especially as a German.”

Despite the amazing times Tobias has had as an umpire, he has also had some serious challenges in this role.

Unfortunately struck with a  leg injury, Tobias is currently working to get back to umpiring but has been forced to take a year off.

Still involved and helping out where he can, Tobias has become a great leader and teacher for the German umpires.

Tobias’ great work has lead him to be chosen for the Umpire Coordinator of Germany role, and the umpires around him are in very good hands.

Looking forward to the rest of his career and beyond, Tobias is showing no signs of giving up umpiring just yet, even after his career has been hindered by injury.

“At first I’d like to encourage more umpires from Germany to take more part in European events. They are always so well organised and loads of fun and the umpires are so well organised and treated by clubs and the team at AFL Europe,” said Tobias.

Looking to make a comeback for the 2020 Champions League tournament, we at AFL Europe wish him a speedy recovery and can’t wait to see his return to the European stage.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Theresia Meißner

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. 

Now through her first year of the game, German AFL player Theresia Meißner has adapted extremely well to Aussie Rules and has found a real passion of hers since picking up the Sherrin.

Growing up playing soccer, handball and orienteering, Theresia found that many of the physical attributes in her sporting background translated well to the Australian game and she was able to adapt quickly.

Theresia quickly realised how playing AFL in Europe is like being a part of a family, not to mention the opportunities to explore new places for international matches and tournaments.

Already playing in six countries across Europe, Theresia has embraced any match or tournament she can be a part of and will always be there when her team needs her.

“It’s the first sport for me where you don’t just play together instead you are also playing for your teammates. That leads the team spirit to a new level that I have not experienced before. I like the combination of sport, travelling and the community feel of it all. With so many events and clubs across Europe there is the opportunity to explore lots of new places,” said Theresia.

Photo by Patrick Vielcanet

Now one of Hamburg Dockers most important players, Theresia has found a love for the style of the game and for being around a club that prides itself on bringing everyone together.

Since building over this short period of time Theresia has already become one of the side’s top players, from building her running tank in other sports a real strength of Theresia’s is her fitness and ability to break the lines through running.

This ability to fit into the game from other sports perfectly has built Theresia’s accolades, already winning a Dockers Best and Fairest award and selected in the Team of the Tournament in the 2018 Euro Cup tournament and the 2019 Champions League.

Adding to all this in her first full year of playing the game, Theresia has represented her nation, Germany in the last two Euro Cups, being the best player in the teams inaugural Euro Cup in 2018 and honoured to be a part of women’s AFLG history.

“The biggest highlight so far was the Euro Cup 2018. We, the German Eagles, joined this tournament for the very first time. We had barely played together and had little experience but were the surprise of the tournament, wining three out of five games and finishing fifth. The team developed so much from each match and I experienced a team spirit I have never felt playing before in any other team sports in my life,” said Theresia.

Turning into a vital asset for whichever team she plays in, Theresia has built so much confidence and new skills in the space of one year and the players and staff around her all love having her in their side.

“All those who have played for or against the Dockers or Germany know our biggest superstar is Theresia Meißner. She improves week on week and is an unbelievable talent with great skills and understanding of the game, and not to mention she is crazy fit and plays 95% games on ball,” said Dockers Lisa Wilson.

This type of recognition is amazing for any player and with her commitment to become one of Europe’s top players, her efforts and training has not only brought Theresia herself some success but her efforts flow onto the people around her.

 

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.

DOCKERS DOWN THE BLUES IN SAFF GRAND FINAL

On a sunny but breezy September day in Stockholm, the Norrtaljie Dockers played the Sodermalm Blues in the battle to become the 2019 SAFF Premiers. During the home-and-away season, the Dockers had just edged the Blues to the minor premiership thanks to a superior points differential and over the three games during the season, the Dockers recorded two wins. However, the Blues had won the most recent encounter, thanks to a one-point victory in the final game of the regular season and as a result, had the momentum heading into the final match of the season. It was a physical start, with plenty of bumps, tackles and talk between the two teams which saw the Blues hold a two-point lead at quarter-time. The start of the second quarter was just as tight, with neither side able to register a score for the opening seven minutes before the Dockers gained control and kicked three quick goals. The Blues managed to reply with one goal just before half-time to keep the game in the balance, with the Dockers leading by 15-points at the main break. In the third quarter, the Blues closed the margin to single digits but after some tactical changes, the Dockers started to gain back some control and with that, the momentum of the game. By the end of the ‘premiership quarter’, the Dockers were ahead by 32 points and didn’t look back from there. Despite the Blues getting a goal early in the last quarter, the Dockers controlled the match and extended their lead to 42 points by the end to claim the 2019 SAFF premiership.

Final Scores (SAFF)

Men’s: Norrtalje Dockers (14. 10. 94) defeated Sodermalm Blues (7. 10. 52).

JETS DOMINATE THEIR WAY TO INAUGURAL AFL SWITZERLAND PREMIERSHIP

Saturday saw the first-ever AFL Switzerland season conclude with the Grand Final between the Geneva Jets and the Basel Dragons. It has been a successful first season for the new league, and with the introduction of a new team in Zurich, growing the senior competition to four teams, it’s only going to get even bigger and better over the next few years. One of the unique aspects of the Swiss league is the fact that it is a mixed competition, with adjusted rules for tackling, allowing for anyone to take part and get involved. Saturday’s game highlighted the growth of the game in the country, with Basel, based in the north, travelling to take on Geneva who is in the south-west of the country. The Jets have been the benchmark all season, losing just one game way back in May during the opening round, however that was against the Dragons, so Basel knew they could take it up to the minor premiers. Unfortunately for the visitors, they came up against a Jets team that was in top gear as the home side dominated for nearly the whole match. Despite the scoreline, the Dragons still made the Jets work for every contest, mark and goal, but the class of the hosts was too much over the course of the match. When the final siren sounded, the Jets had been too strong thanks to their efficiency, pace, physicality and experience around the ground as they secured a massive 174 point victory to claim the first-ever AFL Switzerland Premiership.

Final Scores (AFL Switzerland)

Mixed: Geneva Jets (32. 19. 211) defeated Basel Dragons (4. 7. 31).

TURKU TOO HOT FOR HEATSEEKERS IN GRAND FINAL

After a close season, the battle for the Finland AFL Premiership was decided on Saturday as the Turku Dockers and Helsinki Heatseekers played out an exciting end to the season. It was the Dockers who came out firing in the opening quarter, keeping four unanswered goals as the Heatseekers couldn’t stop the momentum their opponents started with. The second quarter started in a similar fashion, with the Dockers adding a further two goals to lead by 39 points halfway through the second quarter. However, the Heatseekers clicked into gear and started to find more of the football which resulted in them creating a number of opportunities and with that, they kicked two goals, reducing the margin to 25 points at half-time. Due to both sides suffering injuries, the two teams started to slow down, with fatigue setting in. As a result, there were no goals kicked in the third quarter, with the ball spending lots of time movingbetween the two defences. The Dockers had managed to sneak ahead to 27 points thanks to four behinds to two in the quarter. Heading into the last, the Heatseekers just couldn’t keep up with the Dockers, who were more physical and faster with the ball which resulted in a further two goals in the last term as the Heatseekers could only manage the one major. When the final siren sounded to signal the end of the 2019 Final AFL season, it was the Turku Dockers who recorded a 32-point victory and with it, the highly sought after premiership.

Final Scores (Finland AFL)

Men’s: Helsinki Heatseekers (3. 7. 25) defeated by Turku Dockers (8. 8. 56).

 

ACCURATE KICKING SECURES GRAND FINAL SPOT FOR ODENSE

In Denmark on Saturday, the Odense Lions hosted the Port Malmo Maulers in a contest that would decide who would play in the Grand Final, while the season will be over for the other team. These two sides played just two weeks ago, with the Lions coming out on top by 17 points on that occasion. This match was even closer, going right down to the wire. It was the home side who started strongly, kicking three goals in the opening term, but the Maulers kept in touching distance with a goal of their own as the Lions lead by 11 points at the first break, with both sides having three scoring shots. The momentum changed in the second term, as the Maulers kept the Lions scoreless with some impressive work in defence, while also scoring two goals of their own as they took a four-point lead into half-time. During the third quarter, the game changed once again with the game opening up as the Lions kicked four goals, while the Maulers kicked three to see the scores level going into a crucial last quarter. The match opened up as both teams looked to take the game on and attack at every opportunity. The Maulers kicked three goals, but also kicked four behinds which would ultimately cost them as the Lions kicked four goals of their own to see them record a massive three-point victory when the final siren sounded. In the end, the accuracy of the Lions helped them reach this years DAFL Grand Final, while the Maulers will be rueing their missed chances. The Lions will be taking on the minor premiers of the DAFL, the Farum Cats after they defeated the Copenhagen Giants on Saturday. The Cats lead by just two points at the first change, and the Giants kept their opponents to just one goal in the second quarter as the Giants lead by 23 points at the main break as an upset looked on the cards. However, an eight-goal third quarter from the Cats changed the game and they didn’t look back from there on their way to a 33-point victory to secure a place in next Saturday’s decider against the Lions.

Final Scores (DAFL)

Men’s: Odense Lions (11. 3. 69) defeated Port Malmo Maulers (9. 12. 66).
Farum Cats (15. 11. 101) defeated Copenhagen Giants (10. 8. 68).

 

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

Irish Review: AFL Finals Week 2

Three would turn into two this weekend as Essendon’s elimination last week resulted in Mark O’Connor and Zach Tuohy being the only two Irish players to grace the field in week two of the AFL Finals.

After a poor start to the 2019 finals series against Colingwood last week, the Cats were itching to bounce back on Friday night as the reigning premiers West Coast Eagles arrived at the MCG for a do-or-die semi final.

The fire was certainly there for Geelong early as they came out ferocious in the first quarter and produced some scintillating football to hold a five goal advantage early in the second term.

However, West Coast are reigning premiers for a reason, and they showed that throughout the second and third quarters with their ability to intercept and hold possession through their marking game proving ultra effective.

After getting away to the perfect start, the Eagles had pulled the Cats in, hitting the front late in the third term and holding a narrow four point lead into the final term.

With the season on the line and a straight sets finals exit looming, Geelong would kick into gear as, similarly to the first term, they produced 30 minutes of phenomenal football to save their season and set up a blockbuster Preliminary Final against Richmond next Friday night.

One of the standouts from the night, veteran Zach Tuohy, showed his class and composure, producing a gritty finals performance to help his side get over the line.

With star wingman Mitch Duncan forced to the sidelines with a knee injury, Tuohy was again injected into a new role across the wing and half back to try and replicate the outside run and carry created by Duncan.

Pressure on him, Tuohy certainly delivered picking up 27 disposals at an extremely efficient 82% to be considered among the Cats best. 

On a night where star Patrick Dangerfield was well held, the influence of the second tier players like Tuohy was astounding and ended up being the difference in the game.

Along with his 27 touches, Tuohy would register eight marks, three inside 50’s, three rebound 50’s and eight contested possessions in what was a very well rounded game.

A particular highlight was his willingness to take risks with ball in hand, and really change the defensive structures of the Eagles when they began to get on top late in the first half.

It’s now about consistency for Tuohy, as he looks to replicate his fantastic performance with another against the rampant Tigers on Friday night.

Still new to finals footy, Mark O’Connor’s stocks took another rise on Friday night as he played a pivotal role in shutting down the dangerous West Coast small forwards.

Matched up with the likes of Liam Ryan and Jamie Cripps, it was never going to be an easy task for the young Irishman.

However, as he has all season, the defender would rise to the occasion and step up for his team as he enjoyed probably his best final and was really a key contributor to the Cats victory. 

A performance that featured many big spoils, crucial defensive stops and important marks, it really was a defensive masterclass from O’Connor as he continues to look more and more at home at AFL level.

He would also get involved with ball in hand on a number of occasions, as he picked up 14 disposals and two marks, with his ability to get into dangerous spots particularly eye-catching.

His toughness at the contest was another key factor to his success on the September stage on Friday night, as he never shied away and was always there when a ball needed to be won for his team.

Similarly to Tuohy, it is important that O’Connor takes confidence out of this performance and replicates it next week against the Tigers who boast some of the best small forwards and attacking systems in the league.

With our two Irish Cats marching on for another week, the excitement continues as we hope to see them rise above the Tigers and give the 2019 Grand Final some European flavour.

Zac Standish – AFL Europe

2019 European Championships Squad Preview – French Coqs

The 2019 European Championships are just around the corner and as part of the build-up, AFL Europe will be previewing all nine teams involved in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s premier 18-a-side tournament, played every three years, and this year will see teams from across the continent travel to London to see who comes out on top.

In this third European Championships Squad Preview, we take a look at a men’s team making their first appearance, the French Coqs.

With summer being the French off season for AFL, a lot of preparation has still gone into what could be a successful tournament ahead for them.

Including preseason fitness training, an extremely positive Euro Cup tournament and great game up against the Australian Master’s team shows the Coqs are ready. This side, although technically in their league’s off season, have had great opportunities to still be involved in the game and practice in some pressure filled environments in which this Euro Champs tournament can deliver.

With this adjustment to 18 a side new to many of the AFL Europe players, the French Coqs will be relying on their preseason training to succeed and run out these bigger grounds with less rotations.

Beating the Australian Spirit in the ANZAC Cup earlier in the year, this French side has proven on multiple occasions that when playing at their best they can beat anyone who comes their way.

The Coqs pace from defence to offense and ability to have strength and fitness all across the ground is one of their main advantages coming into the tournament.

These qualities directly shine through the players of Yohann Thierry and Vincent Monnier, who spectators should keep an eye on in the midfield.

“Yohann is quick and slippery around the contest and Vincent is a physical presence that never loses a one on one battle… As a coach though, I am looking forward to seeing which of our new players embrace the new format and take their games to the next level,” said Coach Andrew Unsworth.

With nine debutants, representing all of the eight French league sides, AFL in France is in a great place and the competitiveness for spots and quality of football throughout their club season, will now build the success of the national side.

They have developed a level of fitness that will suit the bigger 18-a-side grounds, and this French side is playing with a unique brand of football in which they hope their endurance and speed will be key factors in running teams off the park as a result of their high-intensity pressure.

This particular game style will not only potentially bring the Coqs success on the field, but will aim to draw in the crowds and it’s likely that the spectators will see some thrilling football when the Coqs are in action.

Going into the tournament, the French are keen to show AFL Europe what they can achieve, and are looking at the European Championship as the perfect opportunity to prepare for major tournaments in the future.

“Our goal is to show that our best football is as good as any other team in Europe! Given that we do not have full size fields in France, we also need to expose our players to 18-a-side football in preparation for the 2020 International Cup,” said Unsworth.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Match of the Round

Finland AFL Grand Final

Turku Dockers v Helsinki Heatseekers

14/09/2019  Vaasa  3:30pm

In a promising year for AFL in Finland, the 2019 season has been the most successful and competitive to date, all coming down to one game this weekend.

In this nine a side competition, the Turku Dockers are up against the Helsinki Heatseekers, to determine the top team of Finland for 2019.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Australian football in Turku, the Dockers are looking to top it off with a historic premiership victory this weekend.

Back in their very first season, the Dockers won the Grand Final over the Heatseekers and are looking to do the same again.

After a tough start losing their first two games for the year, the Dockers bounced back, progressing with a bunch of new players.

With changed tactics and time to gel as a team they ended the season with three wins in their last four outings and come into the Grand Final in some red hot form.

It has been a tough few years for this Turku side, who have struggled to win games, but with persistence and an urge to improve as a club they are now a team that can beat any opposition they face when playing their best footy.

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Finding what works for your team and a sense of mateship is important in any sporting environment and Turku feel like they have a great balance of these qualities.

“We have a team approach where every player does their job, whether that’s winning the ball out of the contest, working hard to make space for others, or playing a defensive role on an opposition player. We are good friends off the field and enjoy playing together on the field, which makes it easy to want to run that little bit harder,” said Docker Stephen Phillips.

This match involves many of Finland’s top players who have represented their country on multiple occasions, creating some high quality footy on display for the local crowd .

Three of these national team players are playing for Turku this weekend and are definitely ones to look out for with their skilful game style.

“Jussi Mutila has been leading the backline by example, playing hard on his man then using his smarts to set up rebound attacks, Alix Kalliojärvi has been dominant in the centre, winning plenty of taps as an undersized ruck and then playing as an extra midfielder, and Rami Raivio has become a very dangerous attacking midfielder in just his first year of footy, picking up the FAFL’s Most Improved award at the end of the regular season,” said Stephen.

With new recruits and tactics to start the 2019 season, the Helsinki Heatseekers got off to a flyer with some emphatic wins.

As the season progressed the games became closer, giving a reality check to Helsinki, as they realised just how competitive this league is now.

The Heatseekers being of the most successful teams in recent Finland AFL history, are looking to use their experience in some big games of the past to go back to back premiers this year.

“Securing a spot in the Grand Final was one of our objectives this season, I think the game means a lot to all of us as we want to keep the FAFL Cup here in Helsinki and continue the journey that we started in 2014,” said Helsinki’s Alban Schieber.

This Helsinki side has a wealth of experience, involving players who have played the game for over 20 years, these players could be the difference in a close match and will be much needed in the pressure this weekend of playing in a Grand Final.

Priding themselves on the ability to move the ball cleanly, the Heatseekers ball skills have led them to success and will be exciting to watch on the weekend.

“We are fairly good when we keep possession of the ball and have the chance to use our experienced players, we will try to keep the ball of the ground as much as possible and work around using clean kicks and marks,” said Schieber.

One player to watch out for is their international Danish recruit Mogens Hansen. With his great leaping ability in the ruck and attacking nature in the midfield, he creates quick clearances and sets up Helsinki’s goals on countless occasions.

With Hansen fired up in the ruck and experience scattered across the ground for Helsinki, expect them to apply some scoreboard pressure on the Dockers and make for a thrilling match up.

With some injuries throughout the season for both sides, the Dockers and Heatseekers have recruited well and used game plans that work well for their personnel, getting them to this point.

The Heatseekers got the edge in a close game over the Dockers in their last outing, but with a lot of pride on the line in this Grand Final expect a game that could see the result go either way and right down to the wire.

 

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

 

2019 European Championships Squad Preview – GB Bulldogs

The 2019 European Championships are just around the corner and as part of the build-up, AFL Europe will be previewing all nine teams involved in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s premier 18-a-side tournament, played every three years, and this year will see teams from across the continent travel to London to see who comes out on top.

Our third preview looks at the reigning European Championship winners, the Great Britain Bulldogs. Having played at every European Championships, the Bulldogs will want to retain their title from the 2016 tournament and use this year’s competition as a big stepping board ahead of next years International Cup.

Not only are the Bulldogs the reigning premiers, but they are also one of the most consistent teams at the tournament, having never finished lower than third place. Playing at such a high standard is highly demanding, but also highly rewarding and coach Dean Thomas believes that if they are at their best, they will have a great chance of winning.

“Our goal for this tournament is to get the best result we can, by performing to the best of our capabilities. We know that our best is good enough to win it, but the margins are slim,” Thomas said.

The team’s preparation for this tournament started back in April at the AFL London pre-season cup, where the Bulldogs reached the semi-finals. Since then, the squad have continued their preparation with regular training sessions.

On top of that, many of the Bulldogs represented their countries as England, Scotland, and Wales at the recent Euro Cup in Sweden, where the England Dragonslayers took home the Cup from the annual 9-a-side tournament.

“We don’t foresee too many issues with the transition from 9-a-side to 18’s footy… We always reiterate to our players that whilst the two formats are different, the attributes and skills displayed in 9-a-side are easily transferrable to the traditional 18’s format,” Thomas said.  “If you can mark, kick, handball, chase, tackle, smother in the 9’s, then you can do it in 18’s. It’s only the structures that differ.”

Looking at their squad, there is plenty of experience and many players within the squad will have played at an international level in the 18-a-side format, so the Bulldogs will be comfortable in that aspect.

From their 2016 European Championship winning side, there are 10 players representing Great Britain with only two players in the 28-man squad making their international debuts.

This level of experience will be invaluable for the Bulldogs and will give them a strong platform from which they will aim to produce their best football.

While they would love to retain their title, the Bulldogs are hoping to entertain those watching and put on show the exciting football on offer in Europe.

“Aside from results, our ambitions are to play an exciting and entertaining brand of footy, in the good spirit of the game. It is a chance for our team, and every team competing, to put on a great advertisement for the sport in Europe,” Thomas said.

The Bulldogs will be expecting to go all the way in this year’s European Championships, and with all the experience within the team along with the momentum created from winning the Euro Cup, they will be one of the team’s to beat as they look to be the first team to win back-to-back European Championships.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Palmers Relocations join AFL Europe

AFL Europe is excited to announce a new partnership with Palmers Relocations, who are coming on board in 2019.

For more than 40 years Palmers Relocations has specialised in providing both domestic and international removals & relocation services within Australia. This even extends to include fine arts and wine storage from their Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane offices. Working in alignment with PSS International Removals, one of Palmers Relocations main areas of focus is assisting its customers that are moving from Australia, while PSS International Removals work with handling all the outbound shipments from the UK.

The announcement of this partnership continues AFL Europe’s relationship with a number of partners in Australia with the goal of continuing to connect and grow the accessibility of Australian Football to the European continent.

“We at Palmers Relocations Australia take great pride in supporting AFL Europe. To see our national game expand into Europe is a testament to the efforts of the AFL. We as an organisation and Australians couldn’t be prouder to support AFL Europe in this journey,” said Palmers Relocations Australia General Manager Kieran O’Hara.

As part of this partnership, Palmers Relocations support AFL Europe through the shipping of matchday and training footballs from Australia to our office in London and the transportation of other footballing goods.

“We are excited to have Palmers Relocations join us and their support will ensure we continue to grow the great game of AFL throughout Europe. Palmers Relocations join us in conjunction with PSS International Removals. They both work in partnership to assist first time and returning migrants making the move, with PSS International handling all the outbound shipments from the UK and Palmers Relocations assisting clients to move from Australia to the UK. Palmers Relocations have already provided us with a fantastic service when shipping footballs from Australia and we look forward to working with them further in the years to come,” said AFL Europe General Manager Ryan Davey.

Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Maarten Oude Lansink

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. 

Having not played the game of AFL as a kid, Maarten Oude Lansink has now found that this sport is perfect for his attributes and has created a passion that he has not felt before in a sporting environment.

Growing up in the Netherlands, Maarten grew up around more traditional European sports, until he moved over to Sydney for University where he found something that is now a major part of his life.

The unique combination of fitness and physicality seen in AFL is enticing for Europeans to be a part of and Maarten was no exception, immediately eager to play an official game after some University training sessions.

“When I lived in Sydney I first came in touch with AFL, and there’s nothing like this game. Hence I decided to have a shot at it, the combination of strength, fitness and skills were really appealing to me. It’s the first contact sport I ever played and it is great,” said Maarten.

On the verge of playing the game in Australia, this passion was halted after a work move to Canada. Still wanting to pursue a career in the game, Maarten moved home and found the European powerhouse club of the Amsterdam Devils.

Photo by Danny Radis Photography

Starting to officially play with the Devils in 2018, Maarten has played the game for a year now and is loving the culture and mate ship that comes with this sport.

With his height and strength, Maarten is a perfect build for an athletic modern day Australian football ruckman and has made great improvements within only one year of playing.

“My strengths are the combination of my length, being 2 metres tall and the fact that I am fairly athletic for someone my height. As a ruck it allows me to help out my team mates a lot by keeping them clear of the opponents and ability to set up clearances,” said Maarten.

Within his first year of playing, Maarten has been a part of various AFL Europe tournaments including the 2019 Champions League in Amsterdam.

His local side took out the trophy for the first time in the clubs history and Maarten’s efforts were a major reason for this.

Maarten and his Devils side were able to take this form into the 2019 AFL Netherlands competition, where they recently were crowned premiers for this seasons competition another amazing effort, where Maarten shone in the midfield.

Adding to these accolades, Maarten was selected to play for the Netherlands Flying Dutchmen national side, where selectors saw him to be a part of the countries best players.

Playing for his country in the 2019 Euro Cup Maarten again was a stand out player and has come a long way in such a short period of time.

Maarten is quickly becoming one of Europe’s top players and has loved being a part of a team with great camaraderie.

He is a great advocate for AFL around the globe and a real role model for people wanting to be a part of the sport no matter where they are from.

 

 

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

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

 

Irish Watch: AFL Finals Week 1 Review

It’s finally here. 

After 23 gruelling rounds, we have finally reached September and with it a tantalising finals series. With eight teams left standing, only three Irish players would feature on the big stage this weekend in Conor McKenna, Zach Tuohy and Mark O’Connor.

Although all three would miss out on a much-needed win, valuable September experience was gained that will without a doubt put them in good stead moving forward.

As has been the tradition in recent years, the finals would kick off on Thursday night as the reigning premier West Coast Eagles took on McKenna’s Bombers in an Elimination Final at Optus Stadium.

Coming in as considerable underdogs, Essendon would need to put together an all-time performance to overcome the Eagles juggernaut, who, after falling out of the top four in the final round, were itching for redemption.

Despite their ability to take the game on and use their flair, the Bombers were simply not good enough in the West going down by 55 points as they yet again failed to win in September.

With his team enduring a tough night, McKenna would finish his season in solid fashion as he yet again brought his consistency across half-back.

Identified as a critical cog in the way Essendon play, the Eagles would give the Irishman some much-needed attention for the entirety of the night as they looked to slow up the fastball movement of the Bombers.

Despite this, he still managed to get involved on a number of occasions, fronting up to the mountain of pressure being placed upon him and as usual taking the game on at all costs.

Forming a formidable partnership with Adam Saad across half-back, it was their run and carry that really brought the Bombers back into the game in the third quarter and really made the Eagles sweat.

Picking up a reasonable 18 disposals, it was what McKenna did with his possessions that had heads turning, as he went at a brilliant 83% in a very high-pressure game.

He also didn’t hold back from the heightened physicality of a final and was often found winning the hardball and getting into scraps with the Eagles players.

Although the season now comes to end for the blonde-haired running machine, this performance is showed the potential McKenna has in big games for the Bombers going forward.

Speaking of big games, it doesn’t get much bigger than a Friday night final at the MCG.

This was the proposition that faced both Tuohy and O’Connor as the minor premier Cats faced Victorian powerhouse Collingwood in what ended up being a Qualifying Final for the ages.

With Collingwood getting off to a fast start, it seemed as if the game was over at half time as the Cats simply couldn’t withstand the pressure of last year’s grand finalists.

But a second-half fightback led by superstar midfielder Patrick Dangerfield would breathe life into the game late, as the Cats would get within ten points before time cruelly beat them.

No stranger to the September spotlight, veteran Irishman Zach Tuohy would be a pivotal contributor for the Cats on Friday night.

In a side littered with youth, Tuohy was a calming presence all night filling a number of roles from running defender to pressure forward.

Although he only managed the 14 touches, Tuohy had some big moments in the game, including a brilliant snap in the second quarter to keep his team alive.

He would also use the ball excellently going at 86% and provided a physical presence that his younger teammates could follow as the game continued.

On the other end of the spectrum, youngster Mark O’Connor would have some big moments in just his second final.

With a plethora of talented small forwards facing Geelong in Jamie Elliott, Jaidyn Stephenson and Jordan De Grey, the Irishman was brave and took the challenge head-on.

Although the Magpies smalls were able to get off the chain early, O’Connor was impressive in how he responded to the challenge and ending up being critical in the second half.

Winning a number of crucial one on ones, it was just another workmanlike performance for the defender as his stock within the Geelong set up and across the league continues to grow.

Along with his work defensively, O’Connor would also get involved in the Cats ball movement gathering 13 touches across half-back whilst also playing interceptor on a number of occasions with five marks.

Although Geelong were unable to get the job done, O’Connor will, without doubt, be better for the experience and itching for a shot at redemption against the Eagles this Friday night.

Zac Standish – AFL Europe