Match of the Round

CNFA Men’s Grand Final

Paris Cockerels v Stade Toulousain

28/09/2019  Parc De Parilly, Lyon  16:00

After a thrilling season, displaying some of the best players Europe has to offer, the CNFA men’s Grand Final is this weekend and will be home to a big crowd in Lyon.

With this match originally planned to be in June, the build up and excitement to this game has been brewing as both sides are eager to play some great footy this weekend.

Reigning CNFA champions, the Paris Cockerels, will face Stade Toulousain who are in their first official season after merging with the Toulouse Hawks.

The Cockerels will go into this match quietly confident after winning last years premiership and have further experience under pressure, competing at the 2019 Champions League.

This experience in big games will definitely help them in what is certain to be a pressure filled occasion on the weekend.

The success of this Paris Cocks club has been prevalent for an entire decade, having made the Grand Final in each of the last 10 seasons and winning the competition five times.

A clear demonstration that they are a real powerhouse of the CNFA competition.

Team captain Pierre Boscart, talks about his sides strengths, the reasons behind their success and what they will bring to this Grand Final.

“We are a consistent team that’s always rising and always want to be first on the ball, giving a lot of pressure to our opponent… also having a tall player in each part of the ground is also an asset of ours.”

Pride in the club and the city you play for is a big part of any sport,  Boscart explains this is a major factor for their team in relation to Australian Football in Paris.

“We owe it to our friends, the Paris Cockatoos. They gave us a really hard time in the semi final. We will be very proud to represent not only our team but the whole Paris and French footy community.”

Stade Toulousain have gelled extremely well in their first season and seem to get over the line in the close games.

Winning the semi final over the season leaders of the ALFA Lions by two points, Stade Toulousain have been itching to get back to the big dance.

This will be the first time in Toulouse footy history that this club has made the Grand Final since 2014, meaning it is a big occasion.

Stade Toulousain coach, Emilien Martinez, was not concerned by the fact that his players will be the less experienced side on the day, instead seeing this as a real positive and opportunity for his team.

“For most of our players this will be their first Grand Final, I would say this can be our best strength, we simply have no legacy to handle.”

Photo by Patrick Vielcanet Photography

The CNFA is forever growing and while teams like Stade Toulousain put in a lot of effort to make it to the Grand Final, they are also going to great lengths to introduce new people to the game and are great ambassadors for AFL Europe.

“We are doing our best to raise the amount of players by initiating it in schools, open days and being present to any event we are invited to,” said Coach Martinez.

Stade Toulousain have shown this season that they can kick some big scores, through winning the contested ball in the midfield.

Adding this to their quick inside 50’s and accuracy in front of goal, Stade Toulousain will aim to create a shootout this weekend and will force the Cockerels to kick a big score.

In contrast, the Cockerels have a vast range of size and skill which will allow them to be dominant in the air, and have the ability to burst out of contests.

With these strengths on display and the recent finals matches involving close scorelines, we will see this encounter come right down to the wire as both sides look to claim the title of CNFA Champion for 2019.

 

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

 

 

Community Spotlight – Atanas Kirachin

For many people growing up in Australia, the sport is taught from a young age and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved, be it through playing, coaching, umpiring, supporting or volunteering. However, for the majority of countries outside of Australia, the sport is unknown, so when people see it for the very first time, one of the most common reactions is “what is going on? This looks crazy!”

So when Sofia Magpies and AFL Bulgaria chairman, Atanas Kirachin, first saw the game, he was fascinated.

“It was a Saturday morning in the autumn of 2010 when I woke up early and saw there was some live sport on TV while having breakfast. When I saw the TV guide saying “Australian football” I thought it was a game of the Australian association football league or something like that but, for the next 5 minutes, I was stunned by what I saw, thought “I have no idea what this is nor what’s actually happening within that gameplay but it looks amazing.” The game was actually the Grand Final replay,” said Kirachin.

Following that first interaction with the game, Atanas’ interest in the sport continued to grow and he found a couple of other fans on a social media page.

Fast forward to 2013, and AFL in Bulgaria started, thanks to Atanas and those other fans starting the “AFL Fans Bulgaria” group on Facebook, which now has over 100 people in it. In 2014, they created their own website and got together a group of footy fans to have a kick around in a local park.

In the next five years or so there was interest to create a team, but Atanas and his fellow Bulgarian AFL fans struggled to get enough players, ground and equipment. It wasn’t until former AFL Europe Game Development Manager, Lisa Wilson, suggested holding a ‘Taster Session’ that Atanas could see his dream of starting a team develop into something.

They conducted this session with over 10 people attending and from there, the Sofia Magpies were born.

Their first game was against the Zagreb Hawks earlier this year, and they also wear the traditional Port Adelaide Magpies guernseys – perfect for the team’s founder Atanas and an Australian, Brian, who are both Port Adelaide fans.

Finding grounds to play on in Bulgaria is difficult due to a number of laws and regulations, but even still, the Magpies and Atanas are persistent in finding any patch of grass large enough to train or play in the 9-a-side format.

In August, the team travelled to Denmark to play the Odense Lions reserves, which was the Magpies first ever game outside of Bulgaria.

“Travelling was fun because we spent 2-3 days together as a team… Going to Odense and seeing how their club is running from the inside will really help us grow our club properly,” said Kirachin.

Out of the two games they have played in so far, one main highlight that stands out to Kirachin was in their first game against the Hawks.

“My mate Georgi Srebar, who I’ve known for 10 years now, kicked the first goal this club has ever scored,” Kirachin said. “But a real highlight would be us winning a game and I know it won’t be long.”

It’s been a long and challenging process for Atanas to get the game going in Bulgaria, but the fact the team has managed two games this year, including one away, shows that it can be done and the sport of Australian Football has a future in Bulgaria thanks to the passion of those involved.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Topdeck join AFL Europe as Touring Partner

AFL Europe is excited to announce that Topdeck has joined as an exclusive touring partner.

To celebrate this announcement, AFL Europe and Topdeck will be holding an online raffle with the winner coming away with a £1000 gift voucher to be used for a tour with Topdeck. As well as the opportunity to win this travel voucher, there will be a number of additional booking benefits available through this partnership with more information to follow on our website and our social channels. 

A leader in the group travel market, Topdeck offers a variety of awesome travel experiences to 18 to 39-year-olds around the globe – and they’re delighted to have signed an agreement to become the exclusive touring partner for AFL Europe and its members.

“We’re so excited to have struck an agreement to become exclusive touring and sailing partners with AFL Europe,” said Topdeck UK & Sales Manager Lockie Kerr.

“Having played Australian Rules Football myself in the Southern League for the Bournemouth Demons a number of years ago, I know that many of my teammates enjoyed holidays both during and outside of the season – with touring, sailing and festivals high on their list – so we should be the perfect fit for many of those playing in leagues across Europe,” Kerr said.

“AFL Europe members will benefit from amazing offers, invites to our Topdeck functions and we’ll be sure to be popping up at various AFL Europe-run events throughout the year so please keep your eyes peeled and come and introduce yourself.”

This is an exciting move for AFL Europe, with many members going on holidays throughout the year and during summer breaks.

AFL Europe General Manager Ryan Davey shares this excitement and is looking forward to sharing what is on offer from Topdeck to members of the footballing community across Europe.

“It’s great to begin this partnership with Topdeck as our touring partner. Not only are Topdeck going to help us grow the game throughout Europe, but they will also provide our members with great travel options. We are looking forward to combining two fantastic past times in Australian Football and travel as part of this partnership,” Davey said.

*Please keep an eye on AFL Europe’s Social Media platforms for the chance to win a Topdeck tour to the value of up to £1,000. Further details will be released soon.

Irish Watch: AFL Finals Week 3 Review

It wasn’t to be for the Irish this year, as Zach Tuohy and Mark O’Connor’s finals campaign came to a close in heartbreaking fashion at the MCG against Richmond on Friday Night.

After bouncing back strongly against reigning premiers West Coast last week, the Cats looked like pulling off a major upset as they went into the main change with a 21-point lead and full of momentum.

But a re-energised Tigers outfit went to work early in the third, piling on five goals to regain the lead before putting the result beyond doubt in the last.

The loss would result in another failed finals series for the Cats who, since their premiership triumph in 2011, have slumped to a dismal 3-11 September record. 

On a positive note, Tuohy was again phenomenal on the Friday night finals stage, as he was the Cats most prolific outside presence.

Similarly to last week, Tuohy would play across half back and the wing as the Cats constantly looked to get the ball to him in dangerous positions.

His work in the first half was particularly impressive, as he managed the make the dangerous Richmond forward line accountable and set up the Cats ball movement with his excellent execution of skills.

It would end up being a 26 disposal night for the dependable Irishman who, after coming into the finals series with question marks surrounding his position in the side, became one of the Cats top September contributors.

He would also managed to rake in four marks and seven intercept possessions whilst contributing strongly to the Cats ability to hit the scoreboard with six score involvements.

The most impressive part of his game however would be the way he used the ball, going at an impressive 88% as he constantly made good decisions and settled beautifully into the pressures of a big final.

Joining Tuohy in defence, O’Connor would finish his breakout 2019 campaign with one more solid performance as he did all he could to help stem the influence of Richmond’s mosquito fleet of small forwards. 

Seemingly a completely different player now then in round one, O’Connor’s growth was on show for all to see on Friday night as he played with confidence and comfort on football’s biggest stage.

Defensively, O’Connor was his typical self as he didn’t give the opposition and inch and really made life difficult for the likes of Daniel Rioli, Shai Bolton and Jason Castagna.

He was also very good with his intercepting work down back as he took a number of strong marks and got in the way of Richmond’s attacking ball movement with three intercept possessions.

With his ability to go out and get the ball a weakness throughout the year, O’Connor showed his improvement on Friday night claiming 18 disposals and six marks.

A particular highlight of his game was how he made space and damaged the Tigers when he got the ball, using at a superb 83%.

He would also win a number of crucial one on ones throughout the night and was very important for the Cats defence who were again sublime, only keeping Richmond to 85 points.

With the season now complete for all our Irish players, it is safe to say 2019 has been a success with a number of individuals enjoying breakout campaigns.

From Conor McKenna to Ailish Considine, every Irish player has grown in some way and with more players already signing on for 2020 it is a very exciting time for AFL in Europe.

As for this weekend, despite the lack of Irish flavour, the Grand Final will be one of major interest as the red hot GWS Giants look to tame an outstanding Richmond side.

Zac Standish – AFL Europe

Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Isabelle Karlsson

Each week, AFL Europe in combination with Belushi’s will take a look at one of our star players competing in fixtures across the continent in Player Spotlight. 

A real pioneer for women’s footy in Sweden, Isabelle Karlsson was a part of the initial training sessions in 2013 and has been playing Australian Football ever since.

Not entirely interested in playing the sport from the beginning, Isabelle’s work colleague took her down to a training session where she really enjoyed herself, even with the ‘weird shaped ball.’

Attending multiple training sessions, Isabelle found the more she got involved, the more she realised how this was the sport for her and has been a real passion of hers for many years now.

As she started to become more involved in the game whilst playing for the Port Malmo Lynx, Isabelle realised just how much this was helping her to enjoy life and her overall mental well being.

“I wasn’t feeling very well mentally at the time I started playing footy. Footy gave me something to concentrate on and it made my problems seem smaller. I often left training feeling a lot happier. Also, I loved the physicality of the game and kicking was something I could do all day. Footy has also introduced me to some of the best people I know,” said Isabelle.

Playing the game for seven years now, Isabelle has become one of Sweden’s most accomplished women’s footballers and has had a chance to really improve her game.

Isabelle’s skills are at the peak of their powers and being a good kick and someone her team can rely on in all parts of the ground, she is a vital part of any team she plays for.

“I’ve got an accurate kick and I’m good at getting our team out of trouble in our defensive half,” said Isabelle.

Not only improving her game play in AFL , Isabelle is also studying to become a Swedish and history teacher, and feels footy is a great way to escape and relax from the pressure of writing her thesis.

“Footy practice and fitness training is a great way for me to shift my focus and do something less academic for a while,” said Isabelle.

A great part of playing the game of AFL in Europe is experiencing the game in all types of countries, which Isabelle has already experienced.

She describes playing against the Glasgow Sharks in Scotland as one of her favourite experiences, getting to explore an exciting and different country, while also getting to be a part of some high quality footy.

Isabelle has taken part in multiple Champions League tournaments with the Lynx side and  represented her country, Sweden, at the highest level in the Euro Cup event.

In exciting times for Sweden they had their best finish in the Euro Cup 2018, in third place and feel like over the next few years they can be a real threat to be the best side in the continent.

Winning the 2018 Women’s defender award in Port Malmo adds to Isabelle’s accolades, which was well deserved being one of the most reliable players in Europe currently.

Loving the emergence of the AFLW in Australia, Isabelle describes the passion and drive for the sport that she has learnt from these watching these professional women playing from the other side of the world.

“Me and my teammates are following AFLW closely and loving every moment of it. It’s an inspiration for us and a source of learning. I think AFLW will be a boost for players in Europe to work harder and aspire to become professionals.”

Continually helping the growth of the game and in the continent, Isabelle is a model team player and someone that any club would be lucky to have.

Her involvement to teach new Swedish players, fill in to support both Denmark and Norway teams of the past, Isabelle is doing some great work and is excited to continue her footy career in the future.

 

Special thanks to Belushi’s for helping grow the game in Europe

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

PSS Presents: Around the Grounds

Each week AFL Europe will take a look around the continent at the Australian Football highlights and thrilling matches. This Around the Grounds article delves into the standout performances from the weekend’s action and is presented by PSS International Removals.

SESVETE REDLEGS CLAIM THIRD TITLE FOR 2019

The final round of the 2019 SANH Croatian Women’s league took place on the weekend. This match-up saw the top two sides battle it out, with the Sesvete Redlegs taking on the Zagreb Panthers. The Redlegs were looking to celebrate winning the league with another victory, while the Panthers were aiming to finish the season on a high and even up the two encounters between the two sides with the Redlegs leading three wins to two before this game. It was the Redlegs who got off to a fast start, thanks to a couple of quick goals in the first term. The Panthers battled away, but in the second quarter, the Redlegs maintained their control of the game as they extended their lead to 24 points by half time. After the Redlegs were the more dominant team in the opening half, the Panthers came out firing in the third term and played an attacking style of football that saw them reduce the margin to just three points at the final break, setting up a fantastic last quarter. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they couldn’t continue their momentum from the third quarter, and the Redlegs regrouped to take control of their match to kick away to record a 27-point win in an entertaining and physical contest that highlighted the growth of the women’s game in Croatia. With this result, the Redlegs secured the Croatian League, and have now won the three titles they have competed in the 2019 season.

Final Scores (SANH Croatia Women’s)

Women’s: Sesvete Redlegs (73) defeated Zagreb Panthers (46).

HAWKS END SEASON ON A HIGH AFTER IMPRESSIVE WIN

Even though the 2019 SANH Permiership was decided a couple of weeks ago, this game between the Sesvete Double Blues and the Zagreb Hawks still had plenty on the line. With the Double Blues having the better of the Hawks throughout the season, the Hawks were looking to get one back and gain some bragging rights to end the season on a positive note. However, it was the Double Blues who managed the first goal and had a number of scoring opportunities but just couldn’t convert. That gave the Hawks a chance to respond and bounce back to trail by just a point at the first change. From there onwards, the Hawks turned the game around and were the stronger side throughout the rest of the match. With a physical, but disciplined approach, combined with their accurate kicking at goal, the Hawks ran out 47 point winners to finish the season on a positive note. For the Blues, they will be disappointed to have lost the final match of the season, but having already secured the premiership, they would have been testing some new tactics and positions in preparation for future performances. Players from both teams would have also had the prospect of the European Championships in the back of their minds, so finishing the game without injuries would have been a goal as a number of the opponents from this game will represent the Croatian national team in London next month.

Final Scores (SANH)

Men’s: Sesvete Double Blues (62) defeated by Zagreb Hawks (109).

CATS CLAW THEIR WAY TO COMPREHENSIVE PREMIERSHIP WIN

After 13 rounds and last weeks’ semi finals, the DAFL Premiership was decided on Saturday as the Farum Cats played the Odense Lions. After finishing on top of the ladder and comfortably winning their semi final, the Cats were favourites, but were also facing a strong Lions team who had recorded a fantastic three point win in their semi final last week after finishing second on the ladder. Despite the stirring win last week by the Lions, it was the Cats who burst out of the blocks, kicking five goals in the opening quarter while also keeping the Lions scoreless. The second quarter was a bit tighter, with the Lions managing to kick two goals and restrict the Cats to just one, but with a 28 point lead at half-time, the Cats were in control. Just like the first, the Cats came out firing, having 12 scoring shots in the third quarter, which resulted in six goals. Despite their best effort, the Lions just couldn’t keep up with the pace of their opponents and only managed one goal in the third quarter as the margin was 60 points at three-quarter time. The last quarter was attacking and high-scoring as both teams left everything out on the field in the Grand Final as nine goals were kicked. However, the Cats continued to dominate, kicking six goals and extending their lead even though the Lions kicked three goals of their own. When the final siren sounded, it was the minor premiers who recorded a comprehensive victory by 76 points to claim the 2019 DAFL Premiership after an impressive performance all day from the Cats.

Final Scores (DAFL)

Men’s: Farum Cats (18. 14. 122) defeated Odense Lions (6. 10. 46).

PSS International Removals have helped people move from the UK to Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in the world for over 37 years. They offer friendly advice, no matter whether you’re sending a few boxes or a whole house removal including car. For more information call 020 8686 7733 or visit the PSS Removals website.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

2019 European Championships Squad Preview – Denmark Vikings

The 2019 European Championships are just around the corner and as part of the build-up, AFL Europe will be previewing all nine teams involved in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s premier 18-a-side tournament, played every three years, and this year will see teams from across the continent travel to London to see who comes out on top.

The Denmark Vikings will be aiming to be the surprise package of the tournament of next month’s European Championships, after being successful in other AFL Europe tournaments over the past few years.

Winning the Euro Cup 2018 in the nine-a-side game was a major achievement and now in their first AFL Europe tournament since, the Vikings will be looking to add to their trophy cabinet.

The Denmark national side started the year with some staff changes as former Assistant Coach, Atiba Jackson, was named as the teams new Head Coach and is excited for his first official AFL Europe tournament in that role.

Playing 12-a-side in their competition back home, Jackson and his side have concentrated on tactics to play with the full 18, and thanks to their preparations, are confident they can play well in London.

“We have trained together only focusing on the change of format. Running patterns, ball movement and how to create space have been our real focus points,” said Denmark’s Morten Merhøj.

Once the powerhouse of Australian Football in Europe, having won the Euro Cup back in 2015 and 2018, the Vikings will look to get into form this tournament and know that they can beat anyone when playing at their best.

“We were happy with the results we have achieved in our past tournaments, but we felt the potential in our group is to achieve even more and we will do our best to show it here in October,” said Merhøj.

With 10 debutants and a large number of experienced players used to the big stage, the Vikings have a great mix ready to take on the competition.

The Vikings have a number of personnel who know how to win high-pressure games, while also showing an X-factor that will excite the crowd in Wimbledon Park. Aalborg Kangaroos’ most improved player for 2019, Thorleif Riis, will be just one of those Vikings player to look out for.

He fits into the fast-paced Vikings side well, with his sublime skill and ability to win the ball for his team, and will be an exciting prospect in the tournament.

Joining the lists of experienced players are a number of debutants, but even though they are new to the side, they are in good hands through the great on and off-field leadership of the Captain, Thore Lauritzen.

Lauritzen, along with many of the Vikings leaders, will be playing in the backline, talking tactics to set up his team and be a lockdown defender for them throughout the tournament.

The Denmarks Vikings are eager for this major AFL Europe tournament and onlookers in London should be excited to hear they are going to be a part of it.

Their ability to win close games, with a mixture of youth and experience, combined with their ability to play consistent footy will put them in good stead for the tournament, which could see them as contenders at the end of the tournament.

Excited to come to London in October, this side will show the AFL Europe community how good they can be in an 18-a-side game and will aiming to bring their best footy in both this years Championships and future events.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Match of the Round

Round 6 SANH Croatia Women’s

Sesvete Redlegs v Zagreb Panthers

21/09/2019  Sesvete 4:00pm

The final round of the SANH Croatian women’s league is set to be a thriller with the two top sides of the Sesvete Redlegs and Zagreb Panthers ready to battle it out.

This will be the fifth time that these two women’s sides are up against each other in 2019 and although the Redlegs have a three to two win lead for the year, the Panthers are looking to ruin a league celebration for the Redlegs and even up the years encounters.

Currently on top of the ladder, the Redlegs have had an extremely successful year.

Training the hardest out of many teams in Europe has definitely paid off for Sesvete, as every tournament they have competed in so far, they have taken out the top prize.

Sesvete won the Croatian Cup in March, followed by the CEAFL Cup in June and now looking to keep this form, win this weekend and take out the league’s cup.

With up to 18 players having extreme levels of commitment, this amount of practice is really showing in their skills on the field.

“One of the key strengths is that the girls train four times a week and everyone knows each other well. Spending so much time together they move as one on the field and trust each other completely,” said Coach Dinko Irsag.

Image preview

A great area of improvement has been in their their defence.

Keeping opposition to the lowest of scores, the defensive side of the Redlegs game have helped them get a large lead on the ladder this year.

Another vital piece to this Sesvete side is Sanja Bacelic-Medic in the ruck.

Having not had much experience in the sport earlier in the year, Sanja has taken major strides from her training, to becoming one of the leagues most dominant talls, where she sets up the Redlegs midfield perfectly.

With a lead on the ladder, the Redlegs look poised for the top of the table to end the season and they will come out just as hard as they have all season.

“We’re playing on home turf and we haven’t been beaten there so we’d like to keep it that way,” said Coach Irsag.

The Zagreb Panthers have had an exciting season, tough at times with the new teams in the Croatian league, but when playing their best footy know they can beat anyone.

With the splitting of the clubs across the country, the Panthers initially struggled to find players.

Now with a core group of women, who have all trained hard and got to know each other, they believe the side is at their best now and can beat the in form Redlegs.

Image preview

With good pace out of the midfield and the fitness to use this pace all game, Zagreb have an exciting team to watch and this will create a high scoring game.

A player that can play in all types of positions, Dora Jakupovic will be one to look out for this weekend.

With her ability to break the lines with speed and classy use of the ball when in possession, Dora is a real on field leader for the Panthers.

Now attempting to even the wins for the year, Panthers Matea Sedlacek knows it will be tough, but believes in this side, “we have a big test in front of us, losing the last time we played, but we know with our improvement that we can get over this Redlegs side this weekend and finish off the season on a high.”

Women’s footy in Croatia has taken major strides this year and with the influx of teams and players, the standard will continually get better and grow.

“The development and commitment of the whole league and the clubs has been great this season. We are all excited to keep this going in the future,” said Matea.

When these two sides meet on Saturday, it will be a tough match up with both teams wanting to finish off the year strongly.

Both sides have a lot to play for, with the Panthers wanting to prove their worth against one of the top clubs and the Redlegs wanting to secure the league cup, this match will come right down to the wire and will be one not to miss.

 

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

 

 

 

2019 European Championships Squad Preview – Great Britain Swans

Women’s Australian football in Great Britain has taken major strides in 2019.

With successful AFL England, Scotland, Wales and NUL competitions this year, the women representing Great Britain are well prepared and ready to face a pressure filled tournament.

With a wealth of experience and successful recent Euro Cup tournaments for both England and Wales, the future of women’s AFL in Great Britain is very exciting.

The Swans are looking to have a 2016 repeat, where they were crowned European Champions of this tournament, narrowly defeating Ireland in the final.

Aiming to be one of the top European women’s sides again, this Swans team is no short of talent and with their strength around the ground, they will display some high scores for the day.

“There are some really exciting, talented players in this group, who will have people really engaging with ladies football,” said Swans Coach Ian Mitchell.

One major advantage for this Great Britain side is many of the players having experience playing 18 a side football in AFL London.

In one of Europe’s top leagues, the chance to play this style of footy and on bigger grounds, adds a whole lot of experience to this team and could be the edge in the close games of the tournament.

Ian Mitchell talks on the commitment of many of the players and how passionate they are to be a part of AFL Europe, “A lot of the ladies have played in the AFL London competition this year, even if they have had to make five hour or more round trips to do so. They’re a very dedicated bunch!”

With so many players to pick from, choosing a side can be difficult at times, but this side will benefit from this and will showcase some of Europe’s best players.

It also is a chance for many new players to shine on this international level, with 17 of the 24 being national team debutants.

Although an inexperienced side on this stage, the Swans bring some mystery with their lineup, making it hard for the opposition to plan what they are up against.

This Great Britain side have been told to keep their minds on the game in front of them rather than any past glory getting in the way of them concentrating on the footy.

“We aim to put in a good performance this tournament, by sticking to our team principles and learning from any mistakes we make, throughout the day,” said Mitchell.

Trying to keep it simple and sticking to their game plan, the Great Britain Swans will play some classy football to excite the crowd.

With a great combination of strength and agility across the ground, they will be a team to look out for later in the competition, with some of the players knowing how to finish this tournament as champions.

It is an exciting time for women’s football in this part of Europe and with many players, playing in their home country they will be looking to play well, put scoreboard pressure on from the beginning and represent Great Britain proudly.

Liam McAllion –  AFL Europe

Umpire Spotlight – Tobias Siegel

Since coming across Australian Football for the first time in February 2009, Tobias Siegel cherishes every opportunity to be a part of the game in Europe.

A growing love for the Carlton Football Club drove the German’s interest in the Australian game, leading him to get involved.

“My first live game was Carlton vs. Brisbane at the Etihad in April 2009 and that was when I really understood the game and started loving it. Since that day, Carlton became my number one team and I now have an overseas membership,” said Siegel.

Despite not initially being involved with AFLG, Tobias found his place back in the sport while studying in Dresden in 2012.

He later joined the Dresden Wolves and in April 2013, played his first game in Prague, even kicking his debut goal.

In an eventful day for Tobias, he unfortunately finished the match with a serious foot injury, something he could never recover from and what he thought would take him away from the game he loved.

With the inability to play the game anymore Tobias decided to find more about umpiring in Germany.

Tobias put in hours of hard work to make sure he knew the rule book back to front and his effort in preparation showed on the field when he began umpiring.

Image may contain: 3 people, people playing sports, child, sky and outdoor

“Most of the umpires in the AFLG are Aussies who umpire when asked or injured, so for them it’s quite natural as they often grow up with the sport. My perspective here was different. Especially when it comes to something essential like holding the ball where you need a good feeling and experience and just knowing the rule book isn’t enough here,” he said.

Getting a season under his belt in AFLG, Tobias built the confidence and skills to umpire in the AFL Europe European Championships in London, 2016.

Gaining confidence and recognition from this helped to boost his umpiring career and gave Tobias a greater understanding of the game.

“Meeting fellow umps from Europe and living together with them for a week, being coached by Adam Davies from Australia and doing 18-a-side matches as a boundary, goal and field umpire really opened up my perspective and gave me a much deeper understanding of the game,” said Tobias.

Since this tournament in 2016, Tobias has been a great ambassador for AFL Europe, helping out and umpiring at multiple events.

2017 proved to be a successful year for Tobias, where he umpired his first AFL Europe Champions League and ANZAC Cup.

Being involved in countless tournaments over the years, Tobias describes the ANZAC Cup experience, “Without any doubt, the greatest honour so far was being chosen for the ANZAC Cup in Villers-Bretonneux in April and spending days there with the French and Aussie players. I’m still very thankful for have been giving that opportunity, especially as a German.”

Despite the amazing times Tobias has had as an umpire, he has also had some serious challenges in this role.

Unfortunately struck with a  leg injury, Tobias is currently working to get back to umpiring but has been forced to take a year off.

Still involved and helping out where he can, Tobias has become a great leader and teacher for the German umpires.

Tobias’ great work has lead him to be chosen for the Umpire Coordinator of Germany role, and the umpires around him are in very good hands.

Looking forward to the rest of his career and beyond, Tobias is showing no signs of giving up umpiring just yet, even after his career has been hindered by injury.

“At first I’d like to encourage more umpires from Germany to take more part in European events. They are always so well organised and loads of fun and the umpires are so well organised and treated by clubs and the team at AFL Europe,” said Tobias.

Looking to make a comeback for the 2020 Champions League tournament, we at AFL Europe wish him a speedy recovery and can’t wait to see his return to the European stage.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe