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.