AFLG Grand Finals
Women’s: Berlin Crocodiles v Hamburg Dockers 1:30pm
Men’s: Hamburg Dockers v Berlin Crocodiles 3:30pm
The inaugural AFLGW league has been a huge success, with not only the development of players across Germany, but the growth of clubs as a whole. This year has been a real step forward for women playing the great Australian game.
After such a competitive and exciting season, the Berlin Crocodiles and the Hamburg Dockers will battle it out this weekend for the first ever AFLGW premiership.
In their first year of existence, the Berlin Crocodiles women have taken huge strides towards success and have quickly found they can hold their own against Europe’s best.
“This games means quite a bit to all involved obviously. We grew individually as players, but we also grew together as a team. So being able to compete in this game, proof ourselves and our skills in the grand final is not just a great learning experience but a payoff for commitment shown by each and everyone so far in this season,” said Crocodiles Captain Theresa Kresse.
French player for the Crocs, Steffi Lepronier is key to this side playing well, with her ability to use run and carry out of defence and even lock down an opponent, Berlin’s bursts forward begin with her in some exciting fast game play.
Having gone all season to this point undefeated, the Crocs are in some amazing form and will look to bring the energy they have brought against Hamburg twice throughout the season again in the big game this weekend.
Berlin have found new strengths in their side each week and believe when they play to these strengths they can beat any team that comes their way.
Captain Theresa Kresse elaborates, “The strength of the ladies team is the support everyone gives to their teammates. We like to shepherd and support everyone around us. Secondly, I believe that we are fairly creative on the ground in terms of improvising in under-pressure-situations.”
In contrast, the opposition of the Hamburg Dockers haven’t got the edge over the Crocodiles this season, but being the most experienced German women’s side and having played across European tournaments such as the Champions league this year, their quality could go a long way to getting a win this weekend.
Having finished fourth in an extremely competitive Champions League tournament in Amsterdam earlier this year, they have taken a lot of confidence from this and know what playing under pressure is like, which is vital for a Grand Final clash.
With some big wins against the southern German teams throughout the season and losing by a mere two points to Berlin in their last outing, Hamburg have had a positive year in their first official season and always seem to make it hard for the opposition.
With many players coming from other sports or being a part of the Australian game for some years now, all Dockers players seem to know what it takes for a club to be successful and believe their core values can have a huge impact on and off the field.
“Our three values are our positivity, support and fun. We aim to stick to these values on and off the field which leads to one of our key strengths being the effort our girls put in to each game. They never relent, they push and push and push to make sure they are always there to get that shepherd in, smother the ball and to support their teammates,” said Dockers Lisa Wilson.
With consistency across the ground, the Dockers are a hard match up and this quality shines through their leaders. The addition of their Captain Anni Rode this week, lifts the Dockers on field leadership and adds a much needed player for them to get the win.
“Our Captain Anni Rode has been battling a work sustained thumb injury this season but we are glad that on the weekend we will have her leadership, strength and here great long kicks to our advantage,” said Lisa.
With some of the best women’s players in Europe, exciting battles throughout the season and such an anticipated build up, this will be an extremely close encounter with plenty of fast paced, skilful footy.
Men’s AFL in Germany has taken major strides this year, with the national team taking out the bronze medal at the Euro Cup in Sweden. Much of this success relates to an extremely competitive nation wide league over the past few years and 2019 showed exactly that.
After some thrilling matches and hard work to get to this point, the Hamburg Dockers will face the Berlin Crocodiles in this year’s AFLG Grand Final.
In a club first, the Hamburg Dockers have gone the entire season undefeated and go into this weekend as the team to beat, being in great form.
Being last years premiers, this Dockers side knows what it takes in the big games and have had some great encounters against the Crocs earlier this season.
The Dockers were able to get over the line on multiple occasions, with their ability to embrace pressure, looking to do the same this weekend.
With the new rule in AFLG for teams to have half international players and half Australians, the league has seen major growth in local talent and more players trying out the game for the first time.
Hamburg were pleased with this rule, with belief that depth is one of their main strengths, helping them towards potential back to back premierships.
Dockers Coach Peter Richter explains, “Having a great group of invested Australians willing to teach the international players, as well as the established internationals investing themselves into the brand new players, we have fast tracked their development. And then all of a sudden it snow-balls where everyone is comfortable to practice their skills and the improvement is infectious.”
The Hamburg Dockers pride themselves on a team first attitude and have built a culture that they believe has helped on and off the field.
A major piece to this culture is games record holder Daniel Minssen, his ability to be a leader for new players and create quick transitions out of defence with his game play is a great combination for his side and is definitely an important player for the Dockers this weekend.
Through to their fourth consecutive Grand Final, the Berlin Crocodiles are one of the most consistent German teams. With their depth and improvements each week this is a side that can beat anyone when playing at their best.
Already well equipped with experience, Berlin have also added many new players this year. They have had to adjust to a game plan that works for a new group and have done extremely well to gel quickly and make it to the big dance.
Using these new players as a real positive, Berlin have found new strengths and Coach Dean Gioutsos feels like if these strengths shine again on the weekend they will take out the AFLG Premiership.
“The men’s ball movement and competitiveness around the contest, have been two areas that they have seen great improvement over the course of this year, and when they are working well together we play good and enjoyable footy,” said Coach Gioutsos.
Improvement across the board has launched Berlin into another successful season and this comes down to the leadership and new skills that their international players have built in 2019.
These international players have set the tone each game for this Berlin side and has definitely been seen in the pressure acts and developed skills by Matondo Vita.
Vita has fit perfectly into this Crocodiles side and has developed his game, becoming one of their more reliable players, he will be one for the crowd to look out for.
The depth that both Grand Final sides have is impressive, not only relying on their Australian players but their many home grown talents, it will be an extremely exciting match up to watch.
With both teams having the ability to kick big scores and a big crowd expected in Cologne, this is an exciting time for AFL in Germany and will be a great day of footy.
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