Fresh from a highly competitive AFLG season, the vast progression of the game in Germany will be on show in Cork this October as the German Eagles women make their maiden voyage to a Euro Cup competition, heading to Ireland alongside their 2017 bronze-medal winning male counterparts.
Leading the side as the inaugural female skipper is Ioanna Kopasaki, who says that the lack of experience is going to be no barrier to her side’s performance, and if anything, can allow the Eagles to be at their best without any burden of expectations.
“Although we are the least experienced team in the competition, every single player is highly motivated and committed to the game, Kopasaki said.
“In contrast to all the other competing teams we don’t have to meet any expectations, so there is no pressure weighing us down before and during the games.
“Even if initially something doesn’t go as well as planned, we won’t be discouraged or put our heads down… we will pick ourselves and our teammates up, learn from it, and come back stronger than before.”
Riding the wave of momentum that surrounds football in Germany, Kopasaki says she hopes to build a national team environment that can be used to further promote the game to women, with the AFLG women’s competition set to launch in 2019.
“Having witnessed the passion, commitment and open mindset that the German players bring to the ground, I am honestly proud, thankful and most of all excited to be the captain of such an amazing team,” she said.
“Our goal is to achieve the best possible experience for every player and the team as a whole and to grow as a team and develop a great team spirit and culture that will hopefully inspire more women in Germany to start playing footy. And of course, to win our first international match.
“Personally, I want to play the best footy I can and lead by example. After all, actions prove who you are, words just prove who you want to be.”
While the Euro Cup tournament is unfounded territory for the Eagles women, the men’s side has set their sights on one step further than their 2017 semi-final appearance.
Florian Naumann, from the newly crowned AFLG champions the Hamburg Dockers, will lead the side once again having also done so at last year’s International Cup in Melbourne.
Having taken the Eagles to second place in division two of IC17, Naumann says he will take great confidence from those experiences in the full-scale 18-a-side format down under.
“It’s the second time after the International Cup now that my team and coach have given me the trust to fulfil this position,” Naumann said.
“Of course, it’s making me even more proud on top of representing my country. I’m very motivated to be the best captain and I have learnt a lot from the two-week tournament in Australia.”
Naumann says the German squad is primed for its best tilt at a Euro Cup yet, with a mix of the old and the new set to see the Eagles making waves against the best Europe has to offer.
“I’m very surprised but also confident about the new players in our squad.
“This year we had the luxury of a selection which gave the coach the opportunity to pick the best players. We’ve got a good mix of new national players of no international experience as well as players with the experience of many different tournaments,
“We’ve got a strong side with improved skills and the very special German team bond.
“We’re more than hungry for our first title, so there is no doubt about the maximum effort we’ll show on the ground.”
Euro Cup 2018
CIT Cork, Ireland
Saturday, October 13th
Stay across afleurope.org for all the build-up to Euro Cup 2018.
Riley Brettell – AFL Europe