Irish Watch – Round 12 Review

Round 12 would mark the beginning of the AFL’s bye period, with Essendon, Fremantle, Hawthorn, St Kilda and Port Adelaide all enjoying a well-deserved weekend off.

As for the remaining 12 teams, competition was at an all-time high as they look to get in the best position possible heading into their byes and the back end of the season.

It all kicked off on Friday night at the MCG as two traditional Victorian clubs took centre stage for a star-studded top eight clash.

After producing some classic encounters of the late, this clash would be nothing of the sort as a dominant Geelong outfit proved their worth as ladder leaders with a comprehensive 67-point win over the injury-ravaged Tigers.

Taking his place on the half-back flank, veteran Cats defender Zach Tuohy continues to show improvement after his injury-interrupted start to the season.

An All-Australian candidate in peak form, Tuohy was superb on Friday night, giving the Cats incredible punch out of the back half and standing tall in what was an elite team defensive effort.

Finishing up with 18 disposals and five marks at an incredibly efficient 83%, it was a master class from the Irishmen as his ability to hit up teammates and make the correct decisions was pivotal in setting up Geelong’s massive win.

Tuohy wasn’t the only Irish defender to stand tall for the Cats on Friday night, as youngster Mark O’Connor was again brilliant as he looks to lock down his spot in the 22 come September.

Renowned for his defensive tenacity and ability to shut out the opposition’s most dangerous small forwards, O’Connor was faced with his toughest test yet in diminishing the influence of the Tigers mosquito fleet.

It’s safe to say he passed with flying colours, as he helped the Cats defence completely dominate Richmond’s forwards in an effort that saw them keep their opposition to a lowly 37 points.

Along with his work in shutting the likes of Daniel Rioli, Jason Castagna, Jack Higgins and Dan Butler down, O’Connor was also excellent in setting up the Cat’s ball movement from the defensive half.

He would end up with a solid 16 disposals, six marks and four tackles for the night while operating at an incredibly efficient 93%.

Along with his excellent work with ball in hand, he contributed with some crucial one percenters and was an unsung hero on a fantastic night for the Cats.

The only other Irishman to appear at AFL level last weekend was emerging Swans utility Colin O’Riordan, as Sydney upset West Coast with a monumental 43 point win.

After an impressive month in the side, O’Riordan, unfortunately, saw little action against the Eagles after an errant Willie Rioli sling tackle early in the second term left him concussed and unable to take any further part.

With the Swans beginning to regain some of their form from previous seasons, it was an impressive start for O’Riordan who contributed strongly with his hardness around the contest and ability to read the game.

As the Swans come into their bye, a week off has come at the right time for the Irishman as he hopes to be back for their next game against Hawthorn.

In the state leagues, GWS’s Callum Brown continued to impress in the NEAFL as the Giants grounded out a solid win against main rivals Sydney.

Playing in a new role in defence, coach Adam Schnieder was extremely impressed with the young Irishman saying that “when he has the ball in his hand he looks dangerous as he’s one of the quickest guys you’ll see on a footy field.”

He also added, “It was a good learning day with plenty of leading patterns and bodywork.”

Having 15 disposals and two tackles on the day, Brown continues to take great strides into becoming an AFL level footballer.


Zac Standish – 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.


This years’ CEAFL tournament saw players from four different nations come together for a big day of football in Graz, Austria. With five men’s teams including the Styrian Downunder Dogs, Zagreb Hawks, Sesvete Double Blues, Zagreb Dockers and a mixed Vienna/Milan/Swiss team, there was plenty to play for with the title at stake. After play began at 10 am, it all came down to the final match between the Sesvete Double Blues and the Zagreb Hawks to decide the winner. In one of the closest games on the day, the final was a physical, contested battle throughout, as the Hawks managed to get over the line by just four points in a thrilling finish.

Final Scores (CEAFL)

Men’s: Sesvete Double Blues (28) defeated by Zagreb Hawks (32)




In the women’s side of the CEAFL draw, the Sesvete Redlegs took on the Zagreb Panthers in two games. Both games highlighted the up and coming strength of women’s football in the CEAFL region, and how closely matched the two teams are, as the first match finished as a draw after an enthralling back and forth contest. The second game saw the Sesvete Redlegs gain more control and convert their chances in front of goal as the Panthers contested hard but couldn’t create enough opportunities in their forward half as the Redlegs ran out winners by 20 points.

Final Scores (CEAFL)

Women’s game one: Zagreb Panthers (18) drew with Sesvete Redlegs (18).
Game two: Zagreb Panthers (7) defeated by Sesvete Redlegs (27).




The 2019 Finland AFL league began on the weekend, with round one seeing a round-robin style format take place between the Helsinki Heatseekers, Turku Dockers and the Waasa Wombats. Joining them on the day for an international friendly match was the St Petersburg Cats. It was the Helsinki Heatseekers who dominated the day, winning their two games, but it was the second match of the day between the Heatseekers and the Waasa Wombats that stood out for it’s attacking football. In a free-flowing game, a total of 11 goals were kicked as the Heatseekers were too strong for their opposition, running away with a 46-point victory. After the Euro Cup, the next round takes place in Turku on the 27th of July.

Final Scores (FAFL)

Men’s: Helsinki Heatseekers (9.6. 60) defeated Waasa Wombats (2.2 14).




Round Two of the AFL Ireland Women’s Super 7’s took place on the weekend, with a total of 10 matches being played throughout the day at Islandbridge. Five teams from across Ireland played each other in another round-robin style format, with the West Clare Waves, West Dublin Garrisons, Dublin Angels, Midland Tigers and the Liffey Blues competing. Despite not recording a win on the day, the Tigers and Blues played out an entertaining contest that ended in a draw. It was a back and forth match where neither team could be separated at the end despite both sides effort to get the win.

Final Scores (AFL Ireland Women Super 7’s)

Women’s: Midland Tigers (2.2. 14) drew with Liffey Blues (2.2. 14)



Saturday saw the Wandsworth Demons host their annual ‘Big Freeze at the C’ fundraiser, to help raise funds for research on MND. Just like at the MCG game between Melbourne and Collingwood, the day at Clapham Common involved players getting soaked in freezing cold water and a variety of fundraising activities took place. On the field four matches took place, and it was the Men’s Social game between the South London Demons and the Reading Roos that stood out. In windy conditions, the home team managed to hang on in a see-sawing game that saw the Dees win by just two points on an action-packed day.

Final Scores (AFL London)

Men’s Social: South London Demons (3.5 23) defeated Reading Roos (3.3 21).



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

2019 Euro Cup Team Previews: Part One

Match of the Round – CEAFL Tournament

08/06/2019  Graz, Austria 10:00am

Held in Graz, Austria and hosted by local club the Styrian Downunder Dogs, this years edition of the CEAFL (Central European Australian Football League) tournament is set to showcase some stellar international matchups from the region as well as providing valuable playing opportunities to the travelling clubs.

President of AFL Austria, Martin Schittegg shares his excitement for the tournament.

“It is quite fascinating how many players from so many different nations will come to Graz for a tournament of footy. The Croatians, the Swiss, the Italians and us means teams from four different countries together at one place which is tremendous!”

The 2019 event will include five men’s teams including the Styrian Downunder Dogs, Zagreb Hawks, Sesvete Double Blues, Zagreb Dockers and a mixed Vienna/Milan/Swiss team.

The home team from Graz, the Styrian Downunder Dogs, field a vast range of experience, size and skill. Representing the Downunder Dogs, Schitegg explains, “we try to play as hard as possible and never give up no matter what the scoreboard says. These are qualities that have helped us turn around games that were almost lost in the past!”

Despite not filling a full squad individually the mixed team of Vienna, Milan and the Swiss will give many individuals a chance to play and with some passionate players in the mix, they will definitely relish the opportunity.

Although struggling in the local Croatian league this year, the Zagreb Dockers have had a successful past in this tournament and they return to the CEAFL as 2017 and 2018 Champions. This success, coupled with their experience playing in the  Champions League tournament, will certainly put them in the desirable position of a three-peat this year.

The Sesvete Double Blues go into this tournament in great form, undefeated through the first four rounds of the Croatian league. The Blues will be hoping to extend their success to the CEAFL as they aim to take the reigns off their local rivals from the Zagreb Dockers.

The final of three men’s Croatian represented sides is the Zagreb Hawks. Once seen as the most successful side in Croatia a few years ago, the Hawks are looking to find that form again beginning this weekend and show the rest of the region how they perform.

This year’s CEAFL tournament also sees the addition of two thriving women’s teams to the competition, in a positive step for women’s football in Europe. The Zagreb Panthers will come into the tournament as favourites, with a three-year history under their belt and experience at some of Europe’s major tournaments.

In contrast to this experience, is fresh team the Sesvete Redlegs. The Redlegs will be bringing the element of mystery to the tournament, as they take on their Zagreb counterparts to take home the chocolates in the women’s division.

Croatian President Dinko Irsag gives a snapshot of what to expect from these Croatian sides, “Croatians have a very specific way of playing footy. It’s fast, hard and very passionate. There is a lot of contact and no quitting. Each team has their specific style but it all comes back to the mentality that we have as a nation.”

With the CEAFL tournament at front of mind for the regional teams, eyes will also be on the upcoming Euro Cup event at the end of the month. Many of the players in this tournament will be a part of their national teams including Austria, Switzerland and Croatia and will head to Norrtalje in Sweden to represent their countries against the rest of Europe. With final selections just around the corner it’s safe to say that each team will be giving it their all in a great day off footy in Graz this Saturday.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

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


AFL Europe Umpire Spotlight – Ian Kafka

Ian Kafka is a passionate football fan, who also happens to be an umpire. Like many others, he began by playing the game before becoming an umpire but since the day he was given the whistle, he’s been in the middle of the action ever since.

“I was playing for Birmingham University. We were due to have a game against Oxford University, but it was raining on the day of the game. The powers that be cancelled the booked pitches, but Oxford were already on their way. Our organised umpire’s spouse had seen Birmingham had cancelled all fixtures that day he was whisked off for a day with her! We ended up having to cone out an oval at a local park and each team took turns to umpire quarters. I was thrown the whistle when it was our turn and haven’t looked back since,” he said.

Now a regular umpire in the AFL London league, Ian has experienced plenty since that game against Oxford.

Having umpired since 2013, Ian is into his sixth year on the field and has umpired across Europe, as well as spending a week umpiring at the US Nationals in San Diego back in 2017.

He has umpired at numerous European competitions, such as the Euro Cup, European Championships and the Champions League.

Back in England, he was one of the main umpires in this year’s inaugural National University League, where he umpired both the men’s and women’s Grand Finals.

Ian was again involved at this year’s Champions League in Amsterdam, his favourite place that he has umpired in Europe.

“Amsterdam [favourite place to have umpired at in Europe] for the Champions League; it’s such a nice venue and pitch 1 at the end of the day is always a great feeling with the crowd in the terrace making plenty of noise,” he said.

Despite all these great experiences on the field around Europe and the US, the match that stands out to Ian is a game he umpired back in 2014 between the European Legion and an AIS Under 18 side in Harrow.

“It was a unique chance to share the pitch with players who I now watch weekly on the Watch AFL app,” Ian said.

Some of those players that Ian was fortunate enough to umpire included Callum Mills, Ryan Burton, Darcy Parish, Jacob Weitering, Jake Lever, Darcy Moore, and Isaac Heeney, just to name a few.

Looking forward, Ian has put his hand up for the upcoming Euro Cup in Sweden in June as well as the European Championships in his home city of London in October. His goal for next year is to umpire at the 2020 International Cup in Australia.

“I’ve stuck my hand up for both the upcoming AFL Europe tournaments this year, and IC is 100% on my radar.” he said.

From taking turns with his teammates as an umpire at a university game to now aiming to umpire at the AFL International Cup in Australia, Ian has an extensive list of umpiring achievements. He plans to continue growing that list and is certainly in a great position to do so with plenty of umpiring experience.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Laura Turner-Ramadan

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. 


Born in Coventry and living in England for a large part of her life, AFL wasn’t the highest of priorities for Laura Turner-Ramadan and the area she lived in.

A P.E teacher during the week and playing soccer for much of her life, Laura and sport have always been a great pairing.

Laura’s passion for Australian football began during a year abroad in Sydney, when she started her career playing for the Sydney University Bombers.

Luckily for Laura, when returning to England, the Australian football team of the England Vixens was in full swing and her local club the Nottingham Scorpions were even building towards their very own women’s team.

Laura was so adamant on playing that she would train with the Scorpions men’s side when she could and with her driven personality, she gradually helped attract more women to the club which now boasts a successful women’s side.

“I fell in love with it and as the women’s game just kept evolving, it has continued to captivate and inspire me to want to continue playing and developing the sport and my skills.”

Laura today has made many close friends through her playing career in England, with various teams and countless events.

Playing for the Nottingham Scorpions and North London Lions at club level, and representing her country for the England Vixens and the Great Britain Swans, Laura certainly has quite the resume.

This experience and skill has taken Laura to great heights, where she is the captain of the English national side and is seen as a great leader among her peers.

With the emergence of the AFLW competition in Australia, Laura has had the pleasure of seeing a new generation of women begin their football careers with a strong set of inspirational role models to look up to.

“The implementation of the AFLW has had a big impact on me, watching women playing at the top level and seeing their improvement reinforces just how much women’s skills can develop in a short period of time. Of course with the necessary dedication to training, having easy access to games and social media, has made AFLW a real inspiration for me!”

Thanks to a successful 2018 season with the Nottingham Scorpions, Laura was able to join her Scorpion women’s teammates taking part in the Champions League in Amsterdam, where the best Australian football teams in Europe go head to head each year.

“The Champions league in Amsterdam these past few years has been awesome! The sunny weather certainly helped, but I just love the whole day. It’s a great experience playing with your club in that environment and we had some great days and nights involved with the event.”

The sport of Australian Football has certainly brought some excitement and adventure to Laura’s life and opened up many opportunities that she will cherish forever.

“One of the best experiences was the International Cup in 2017. Running through a banner made by the students at a local high school in Melbourne and then beating Fiji in a tough game in front of the whole school was pretty special… and appearing on Fox Footy’s show, AFL 360, with Gerard and Robbo, was also a lifetime highlight!”


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


Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Irish Watch – Round 11 Review

From the pure nature of Australia’s top end to the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, round eleven was a unique one in the AFL as the game was taken away from its usual venues in an effort to promote its value in different regions.

The weekend would also see a season-high six Irish players take the field, adding to the international flavour that centred around the round eleven action.

The major highlight of the round would be the annual China game at Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai as Port Adelaide took on a new competitor this year in the 5-5 Saints in a ladder defining clash.

Originally named as an emergency, St Kilda key defender Darragh Joyce would be given a last-minute plane ticket to the world’s most populated country after a bout of illness struck down a number of the Saints players and coaches just hours out from the landmark clash.

In what was a rushed preparation, Joyce would adapt to the Chinese conditions better than most of his teammates, doing a commendable job in an under siege St Kilda defence.

Finishing up with 15 disposals, two marks and two tackles at a reasonable 67% efficiency, Joyce looked accomplished at the level and was far from the Saints worst.

On a grim day for the club, Joyce can without a doubt hold his head up high as he fought hard until the end and produced comfortably his best performance at AFL level.

Saturday afternoon would see three Irish players feature in a tense encounter at GMHBA Stadium, as the ladder leading Cats outlasted a gallant Sydney outfit.

Making a name for himself as a tough and gritty defender, Mark O’Connor’s excellent early season form continued against the Swans with an outstanding performance.

Now a key member of the competition’s premier defence, O’Connor was superb in curtailing the impact of Sydney’s dangerous small forwards whilst also getting involved in springboarding the Cats ball movement.

In what was arguably the best game of his career, O’Connor would collect 20 disposals, four marks and a tackle, just proving the improvement in his game over the past ten weeks and his ability to become a solid contributor.

Alongside O’Connor in defence, Tuohy would also impress as he continues to build up match fitness following the knee injury that interrupted his start to the season.

Playing a key role across half-back, Tuohy would have 20 disposals and two tackles, with his ability to find the ball and get into dangerous positions a particular feature to his game.

With the finals continuing to get closer, expect Tuohy’s role to increase over the coming weeks as he builds back into the All Australian calibre of defender he has proven to be over recent seasons.

On the other side of GMHBA Stadium, the incredible rise of Swans utility Colin O’Riordan produced another chapter as the 23-year-old produced another stand out performance across half back and the wing.

A shining light in the Swan’s loss, it seemed as if O’Riordan was everywhere for Sydney as he, along with the likes of Nick Blakey, Will Hayward, Callum Mills, Isaac Heeney and Tom Papley, proved the future is bright in the harbour city.

Remarkably, following the same tune as O’Connor and Tuohy, O’Riordan would also pick up 20 disposals at GMHBA Stadium.

Together with seven marks and two tackles, it was a breakout game for O’Riordan as he looks to lock down a spot in the best 22 heading into the back half of the season.

Sunday afternoon would prove to be fateful in the history of the Carlton Football Club, as a poor 41 point loss to the inconsistent Bombers would see Brendan Bolton’s tenure as senior coach come to a close.

While it was a dark day for the Blues, the clash would spring life back into Essendon’s season, with Irishman Conor McKenna, in particular, enjoying a day out at the MCG.

In wet and dreary conditions, the class and skills of McKenna were on show for all to see as he, along with the rest of the Essendon defence, were resolute in stopping Carlton’s ability to score and fearless in their ability to move the ball.

Playing in his usual role across the half-back line, McKenna would have 25 disposals and six marks at a superb efficiency of 80% given the nature of the conditions.

His ability to take the game on was also on display for all to see, as he constantly burnt off the Carlton forwards on multiple occasions and set up the Bombers impressive ball movement.

After sprinting out to a five-goal lead in the first term, Conor Glass’s Hawks couldn’t halt an impressive Brisbane fightback, going down by 19 points in a tight clash at the Gabba.

Glass would continue his solid form at AFL level with another solid performance in the back pocket as his defensive intensity at positioning stood out as particular highlights.

Despite only having eleven disposals, Glass would still have an impact on the game as he helped quell the influence of damaging forwards Charlie Cameron and Cam Rayner whilst also making smart decisions with the ball in hand going at 91% efficiency.

Zac Standish – 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.


In France, it was semi-finals time as the ALFA Lions took on Stade Toulousain for a place in the CNFA Grand Final. Stade Toulousain started the stronger of the two sides as they were in front at both quarter and half time. However, ALFA Lions pulled the game back in their favour as they led by 11 points to set up a thrilling final quarter. Both sides battled it out in sunny conditions, but it was Stade Toulousain who got over the line by just two points in a fantastic game of footy.

Final Scores (CNFA)

Men’s: ALFA Lions (13.19.97) defeated by Stade Toulousain (14.15.99)




Under warm, sunny skies, the South East London Giants hosted the West London Wildcats at Peckham on Saturday. Both teams exchanged scores early in a tight contest where the game was very much in the balance at half-time. In the third quarter, the Giants managed to lock the football in their forward half for most of the quarter but couldn’t manage to convert their possession into goals. In the last quarter, the Wildcats fought hard getting their ball into their forward-50 to create scoring opportunities, but it was the Giants who held on to the win by 19 points when the final siren went.

Final Scores (AFL London)

Women’s: South East London Giants (3.9.27) defeated West London Wildcats (1.2.8)




The other CNFA semi-final saw two rivals face each other for a spot in the Grand Final. Just like the other CNFA semi-final, this was another close encounter as the Paris Cockerels managed to just edge past the Paris Cockatoos by 10 points in a tight and physical footy match. With three of the top four teams in the CNFA finishing on 22 points, and with this game seeing second play third, it looked like it would be an entertaining match and proved to be exactly that. The game was back and fourth most of the day, and despite the Cockatoos doing all they could late in the game, the Cockerels won to reach the Grand Final, hosted by Lyon, on the 15th of June.

Final Scores (CNFA)

Men’s: Paris Cockatoos (92) defeated by Paris Cockerels (102)




On Saturday, the Edinburgh Bloods took on the Glasgow Giants in a battle between the two Scottish cities. The Bloods were in control for the majority of the match as they recorded a large victory over the Giants by 86 points. Despite the scoreline, the Giants battled throughout the match on their home ground, but the class and strength of the Edinburgh side shone through as they were clinical in front of goal with the final score reading 156 to 70.

Final Scores (AFL Scotland)

Men’s: Edinburgh Bloods (156) defeated Glasgow Giants (70)




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

Match of the Round

ALFA Lions v Stade Toulousain (CNFA)

01/06/2019  Parc De Parilly  15:00

Heading to Lyon this weekend, Stade Toulousain will face the ALFA Lions in a huge CNFA Semi Final clash, for a spot in the big dance.

Both sides in good form and featuring similar playing styles this season, Stade Toulousain and the Lions are known for some big winning margins as of late but the CNFA community can expect a close encounter in this one.

With the ALFA Lions wrapping up the 2019 season on top of the ladder as minor premiers, it will take a strong opposition to conquer them. Stade Toulousain have shown they’re up for the challenge and have been putting in plenty of hard work in the lead up to this important match.

Kicking some big scores throughout the season, they’ve shown their pace works in their favour to gain quick inside 50’s and their efficiency when heading forward has proven to be a big factor of many of their wins in 2019.

Stade Toulousain player Grégoire Patacq expands on this, saying “we want our players to be relentless on the footy for the 80 minutes they’re going to spend on the field. Being first on the ball is our key and impacting with strong bodies should help to make a difference.”

Using strength and size to their advantage, the Lions were clutch towards the end of the regular season, in a game that shaped the top four with a convincing win in the final round against the Cockerels.

After a tough start to their season and star player Thibaut Picard becoming injured, Picard speaks on the building of confidence that he has seen in the team from a coaching perspective.

“The beginning of the season was really difficult with two consecutive losses, but we had the mentality to come back and finish the home and away season with four wins in a row.”

Both the ALFA Lions and Stade Toulousain pride themselves on their club culture and believe it shines through in their performance on the field.

“Our club is like a family. Everyone spends a lot of time together off the field… when you are on the field, you know that you play not only for you but for the whole club, and that could be the difference in a close game,” Picard explains.

This sentiment also echoes through Stade Toulousain and their effort to grow this great game across the continent is a special part of the club’s atmosphere.

“Our goals for the year are to finish first and get as many people to join the club, discover AFL and join the family,” said Patacq.

With two sides who know how to pile it on the scoreboard, it should be raining goals in Lyon and make for an exciting spectacle for onlookers of the massive 2019 CNFA Semi Final. With a spot in the Grand Final on the line, is sure to be one for the ages.

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

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Community Spotlight – Ian Mitchell

Watching AFL for the first time is normally a confusing experience, but for Ian Mitchell he was curious straight away, admiring the skills, athleticism and excitement of a sport like no other.

Ian returned to England after a year in Australia in 2006 and realised he had become bored with ‘soccer’, so he googled ‘Aussie Rules in the UK’. Up popped the Birmingham Bears, who were trying to start up a team and away he went.

Since then, Ian has played, coached and volunteered in AFL. He has captained both England and Great Britain at major tournaments across the globe, as well as being an assistant coach for the European Legion which included “legends of the game in Tadhg Kennelly and Brad Ottens”.

Now Ian is the coach of the Great Britain Swans while also being the president of his home club, the Wolverhampton Wolverines, which he formed ten years ago.

Ian feels that AFL in Europe is at a crucial stage as the game continues to grow, particularly the women’s, but a large amount of attention needs to be put on the next generation coming through.

“Many of the volunteers have now been involved for a long period of time and the sport needs some investment from the AFL to sustain and grow it,” he said. “In my opinion, a huge focus needs to be placed on bringing through the next generation of players who can drive teams and countries forwards in term of participation and performance standards.”

Getting the game to grow at a junior level has been a challenge for many teams, with already established sports holding steady like ‘soccer’, rugby and cricket. However, teams and countries are starting to change their attention to the next young stars coming through, a key area in Ian’s opinion.

“I hope that we can develop a sustainable program to introduce the game to schools and young people, enabling the game that has given me so much in my adult life to greater influence the lives of young people across Europe,” he said.

By attracting new players, teams and countries, Ian believes that major events like the Euro Cup and European Championships will see the performance levels continue on their upward trajectory.

Back on a local level and his club, the Wolverines, are celebrating their 10-year anniversary after being founded in 2009.

“We are planning to celebrate with a whole league social at our ground when we host the AFLCNE carnival round as we recognise that without the other teams then there would have been no football to play for the last ten years!” He said.

“On the pitch, we are looking to develop a women’s side to run alongside the men’s. Long-established international Sophie Morris and I will be heading that, as George Dibble and Rhys Lincoln take on the reigns of the men from me.”

Coaching women’s football doesn’t stop there for Ian, as his GB Swans have their sights fully focused on defending the European Championships held in London this coming October.

After that, they will turn their attention to the 2020 International Cup in Melbourne and Ian believes by getting their ethos and culture right, the correct results will follow.

Another busy year ahead for the AFL community in Europe and Ian will certainly be amongst the best of it at a local and national level as he aims to lead his teams forward while bringing new people into the game and learning to love it as he has since 2006.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

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