The AFL International Cup is nearly upon us. It has been a huge few months for the teams finalising their preparations for the two week tournament held in Melbourne. In the lead up to the tournament kicking off on Sunday 6th August we’ll be taking a look at the eight European teams making the journey and competing for the title of IC Champions. Next up in our tournament previews are European Champions and IC first-timers, the Great Britain Swans.
History of the Swans
The Swans will be just over a year old when they compete at IC17. 2016 saw the launch of the Swans as they prepared to compete at the first-ever European Championships in August that year.
They competed in the AFL Europe Champions League and AFL London Preseason Cup, winning both, before going on to knock off arch-rivals, the Irish Banshees, in a low-scoring European Championship final.
Women’s footy in the UK has seen massive growth in recent years. In London especially, there are 8 women’s teams across 2 divisions. Player numbers are growing in Scotland, Wales, and the Central North England which is unearthing new talent for the Swans on a weekly basis.
Last IC and European Championships
This will be the first International Cup for the Swans but that won’t stop them being a big player in this year’s competition. They’ve won just about every tournament they’ve entered since their inception and will be hoping for similar success come August.
They have a fierce rivalry with previous IC winners, the Irish Banshees, and after knocking them off in last year European Championships will be confident that they can make an impression on the competition. The Swans and Banshees traded wins throughout that tournament but it was the Swans who played the tricky conditions better and claimed victory in the final.
They’ll take a lot of confidence from this and have kept working tirelessly on their fitness base and skills in the lead up to this tournament.
Round 1: vs Pakistan
Round 2: vs Fiji
Round 3: vs Canada
Semi-Finals: vs TBC
Grand Finals: vs TBC
Player to Watch
The Glasgow Sharks product was honored with the Swans vice captaincy earlier this year after strong performances in the London Footy Carnival against the Irish Banshees, Canada Midnight Suns and London All-Stars.
The strong power-forward has been travelling down to London throughout the season to increase her 18-a-side experience with the South East London Giants where she has played a crucial role in their lead up to the finals. Sellar will be a key member in the Swans forward line and should trouble most opposition defenders. She has played in all 8 Swans games to date and will need to draw on the tournament experience gained at European Championships and London Footy Carnival to propel the Swans into the semi-finals.
Head Coach, Garth Nevin, has the Swans finely tuned for the August tournament and despite an unfortunate run of injuries will be disappointed if they are not in contention when the semi-finals are played on the second Tuesday.
A rigorous training program should see the Swans as one of the fittest sides in the competition and if they use this to their advantage should find them overpowering sides deep in matches and during the latter part of the tournament.
They take on Pakistan and Fiji in their opening two encounters and will be expected to win both of those. This will set up a huge match against reigning champions, Canada, in the community round.
To win they’ll have to run the Canadians off their feet. If the games played in close the strength and aggression of the Canadians could prove too much.