Only 1 sleep remains before 350 players from 15 nations descend on Cork, Ireland, and the first ball is bounced at one of the world’s premier international football spectacles, with AFL Europe’s Euro Cup 2018 earmarked to be the best in the events eleven-year history.
The city on the southwest coast of Ireland will play host to 64 matches on the day at the Cork Institute of Technology sports facilities, as Europe’s premier national teams face off in the nine-a-side format chasing the title of champions of Europe.
That crown currently belongs to England in both men’s and women’s divisions after their Dragonslayers (men’s team) & Vixens (women’s team) both took the spoils in Bordeaux at the 2017 edition of the tournament.
Dragonslayers skipper, Matt Whiteley, said it was “an honour” to be named captain of his country to lead out the Euro Cup title defence.
“To lead the team out will be a magnificent feeling and one that will stay with me for a very long time,” he said.
“I’m hoping that we can emulate our performance last year and I will be able to lift the trophy once again come evening time.
“The squad has several returning players from last year and we have strengthened with the addition of players from all over the country. We have game winners right across the pitch and we all get on,
“I am excited to see how some of the new players go as they have shown in our recent warm-up game that they have the presence around the pitch to compete with anyone. With coach Garth Nevin leading us again, we have all the personnel capable of defending our crown.”
Bringing such a diverse group of players from across the continent to compete on a 64-game, one-day footy bonanza obviously comes with its logistical challenges, but AFL Europe General Manager, Ryan Davey, says that the commitment to the event is “a testament to the strength of the European footy community.”
“It is always an extensive process putting an event like this together, but with the great collaboration between our team in London and those on the ground in Cork, we’ve never been more confident of the day proving a huge success than we are heading to Cork.
“Every year Euro Cup is a hit with all players, officials, volunteers and spectators who get to experience what is a unique event… even in footy heartland in Australia there is nothing quite like it,
“There is an extraordinary amount passion on show as some of the most passionate footy people around come together from every corner of Europe, some coming in as seasoned campaigners, others might be having their first competitive game…famously one player once rode her bike over 1,000km’s from Sweden to Croatia just to get to the tournament, then played through a knee injury that she sustained on the way!”
The tournament marks the beginning of a jam-packed 18-month international cycle for the European nations, encompassing the 2019 Euro Cup in Norrtålje, Sweden, the full-scale 18-a-side European Championships in London, and the 2020 International Cup in Melbourne.
With these events occurring in addition to the ever-expanding domestic competitions around Europe, you can expect to see a lot more of the European footy landscape making waves in the coming years.
Stay across afleurope.org for extended build-up to Euro Cup 2018
Euro Cup 2019 – Cork, Ireland
Saturday 13th October
Follow AFL Europe on Facebook for live coverage
Milan 2010 – Croatia
Belfast 2011 – Ireland
Edinburgh 2012 – Ireland
Bordeaux 2013 – England
London 2014 – Denmark
Umag 2015 – Denmark
Lisbon 2016 – Croatia
Bordeaux 2017 – England
London 2014 – Ireland
Umag 2015 – England
Lisbon 2016 – Ireland
Bordeaux 2017 – England