PSS Presents: Around the Grounds – Socials Edition #11

Featuring the best online posts from the AFL Europe community, PSS International Removals Presents: Around the Grounds – Socials Edition.

It was a big week for AFL Europe on socials with the Wandsworth Demons announcing their ‘Big Freeze at the C’, AFL Germany presented ‘Footy around Germany’ and Brisbane Lions AFLW coach, Craig Starcevich, joined a team in Switzerland for training.

But first, we can all breathe a sigh of relief as the Australian Football League made a return over the weekend.

If you’re living outside of Australia and looking for a way to watch it live or on-demand, make sure to check out Watch AFL.

If you’re unsure what Australian Football is, the Greater Western Sydney Giants have you covered with this new video.

The Wandsworth Demons last Monday announced their fifth Big Freeze on the C’ campaign in support of Fight MND.

The Demons will be holding a number of fundraising activities over the next few weeks that will raise money towards finding a cure for Motor Neurone Disease.

If you’d like to get involved and join Wandsworth’s fight against MND, visit Wandsworth’s Facebook below or click here to donate.

**Big Freeze Events**We are happy to announce our Big Freeze on the C event schedule. Each event will be used as a…

Posted by The Wandsworth Demons on Monday, June 15, 2020

AFL Germany are ready for more people to get involved and play Australian Football!

‘Footy around Germany’ interviews current men and women players around the country to find out what they love most about the sport and why you should start playing.

If Australian footy interests you, make sure to message AFL Germany’s Facebook page (below).

What's does Footy in Germany stand for?Dresden Wolves Berlin Crocodiles Hamburg Dockers Australian Football Club Rheinland Lions Zuffenhausen Giants Zuffenhausen Tigers Australian Football in Frankfurt: Frankfurt Redbacks and Frankfurt Redcats Munich Kangaroos AFLG Women AFL Europe German Eagles AFL

Posted by Australian Football League Germany (AFLG) on Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Polish Devils have recently joined a number of teams in Europe who have been lucky enough to recommence training.

The Devils are welcoming new players so if you’re interested in getting involved with Australian footy in Poland, message the team via their Instagram.

We’d highly recommend it!

AFL Switzerland were excited to share that as of last week, all of their teams have now resumed training.

Basel Dragons, Geneva Jets, Winterthur Lions and the Zurich Giants can all be seen in action in the Facebook post below.

The Basel Dragons (top left) were fortunate enough to be joined at training by former VFL/AFL player and Brisbane Lions AFLW coach, Craig Starcevich.

Great to see four clubs have all resumed training this year. The AFL Switzerland committee is working hard to source…

Posted by AFL Switzerland on Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Starcevich played over 140 games in the VFL/AFL for Collingwood and Brisbane, which included a grand final win in 1990.

The Dragons coaching staff and players benefitted greatly from Starcevich’s footy knowledge and experiences, as he assisted with training and even got involved for a kick!

With training back, the AFL Switzerland committee have announced that they will be working hard to get clubs playing games again as soon as possible.

As well as this, AFL Switzerland yesterday welcomed new team Rapperswil-Jona Australian Football Club as they held their first ‘come and try’ training session.

A great effort to all involved and we’re excited to see more trainings follow!

Das Erste Australian Football Training in Rapperswil ist Geschichte!Weitere Trainings folgen 😃

Posted by Rapperswil-Jona Australian Football Club on Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Edinburgh Bloods have recently started their own player feature series on Instagram during lockdown.

‘Minute with Jimma’ interviews the Bloods players with some hard-hitting questions!

On the latest episode, Jimma speaks to the team’s resident Kiwi (and professional knitter), Shanky Sian.

Found out how she got this nickname by watching below!

The Sesvete Redlegs look to be enjoying being back at training.

Teams in Croatia have been back training for a few weeks now with some even returning to games!

Check out Redlegs Head Coach Dinko Irsag taking a selfie with the group.

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Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

O’Neills enter fifth year as official Apparel Partner

AFL Europe are excited to announce that O’Neills Irish International Sports Limited have signed on in 2020 as the official Apparel Partner. The largest sportswear manufacturer in Ireland now enters its fifth consecutive year of partnership with AFL Europe and continues to provide quality playing kits and leisurewear to teams across Europe.

General Manager of AFL Europe, Ryan Davey, is thrilled to see the partnership with O’Neills extend into a fifth year.

“AFL Europe are extremely grateful to have had O’Neills as a partner over the years… I’m delighted to see them sign on as official Apparel Partner,” Davey said.

“The AFL Europe community have been fortunate enough to build a really strong connection with the O’Neills team and it’s great to see that hold strong.

“In the midst of the unfortunate postponement of tournaments and on-field play, the entire team at O’Neills have been extremely supportive of AFL Europe and our clubs by continuing to ensure that teams are provided with quality playing gear.”

Managing Director for O’Neills, Kieran Kennedy, echoed the words of Davey.

“O’Neills are delighted to extend our partnership with AFL Europe into 2020,” Kennedy said.

“We are looking forward to continuing our work with the AFL Europe community in delivering outstanding designs and high-quality playing kits and team wear.

“More than ever, local sporting teams are in need of support so we’re glad we can be there for the Australian football teams to help provide that.”

O’Neills have kept busy during the coronavirus crisis, celebrating local club heroes who have stepped up to support their local clubs and communities.

The O’Neills Sideline Hero campaign aims to recognise and reward the dedicated volunteers across all sports who are helping their communities in the battle against COVID-19.

O’Neills are urging GAA, cricket, rugby and soccer clubs to nominate their local club heroes for special recognition by Ireland’s leading sportswear manufacturer.

As per Belfast Live, O’Neills Managing Director Kieran Kennedy, spoke on the campaign.

“It has been an exceptionally difficult time for many people so actively involved in their local sports clubs as players, officials or in other voluntary roles prior to the coronavirus global pandemic,” Kennedy said.

“However, the lack of action on the field of play for training and fixtures hasn’t stifled the amazing community spirit and camaraderie that is part and parcel of our local sports clubs from the players to the officials and back room staff to the supporters and their families.

“It has also been an incredibly challenging time for O’Neill’s and our dedicated workforce which is all the more reason why we want to celebrate the trojan work that is taking place at grassroots level to ensure the safety and well-being of so many vibrant local communities not only across the island of Ireland, but also in the UK and across the world – we are all One Team!”

The overall winner of the Sideline Heroes campaign will receive an O’Neill’s voucher to the value of £500/€450 and two runners-up will each receive a £150/€130 voucher. The club which nominates them will also receive a prize.

O’Neills was founded in 1918 and it is now the largest and leading sportswear manufacturing company in Ireland. O’Neills are an 100% Irish owned company, specialising in the design, manufacture, personalisation and supply of performance multi-sportswear, leisurewear and sports equipment globally.

For information on how your club, event or competition can be part of this and join O’Neills to create a unique identity, please contact Orla Ward (oward@oneills.com).

To visit the O’Neills website, click here.

AFL Europe Trivia with Belushi’s – #9

Think you’re the smartest Australian Football fan in Europe?

Take on our weekly AFL Europe Trivia, presented by Belushi’s, for your chance to win a Beer and Burger Voucher to redeem at any Belushi’s Bar.

Winner’s from each week’s Trivia will also go into the draw to win 2-night’s Accommodation For Two People at any St. Christopher’s Inns across Europe.

You’ve only got one shot and just three minutes to complete it!

Submissions must be in by Wednesday 17th of June 11:59PM (BST) to be eligible to win.

The winner will have the highest score in the quickest time.

Make sure to provide your details at the end of the quiz to submit your answers and go in the running to win.

For all terms and conditions, click here.

Good luck!

Time Left: 3:00

Time's up!


QUIZ #9

1 / 10

The 2014 Euro Cup was won by which men’s team?

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2 / 10

How many AFL clubs are there that are named after birds?

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3 / 10

Richmond Tiger Christina Bernardi has parentage of which European country?

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4 / 10

How many AFL clubs have one or more Irish players listed on their team?

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5 / 10

Anne Hatchard holds the record for the most disposals in an AFLW game. How many did she collect?

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6 / 10

Which player won the Coleman medal (most goals kicked in a season) in 2019?

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7 / 10

Round 2 of the AFL season was underway this past Thursday. What was the end result?

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8 / 10

Which women’s team won the 2017 Fitzpatrick Cup?

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9 / 10

Which of these AFL Europe teams are not nicknamed ‘Eagles’?

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10 / 10

Gary Ablett Jr. has won how many AFL premierships?

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Please fill in your full name and email to submit your answers to go in the running to win AFL Europe Trivia.

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By submitting, you agree to allow AFL Europe share your first name, last name (first initial) and country of residence on a dedicated post to our social media channels (should you win).

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You are not subscribing to anything by submitting your email. It is purely for AFL Europe to be able to contact you.

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The average score is 42%

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Spread all over London and across Europe, Belushi’s Bars and St Christopher’s Inns are Europe’s leading entertainment and accommodation venues that host a variety of Australian and international events.

To find your closest Belushi’s Bar, click here.

To find your closest St. Christophers Inn hostel, click here.

O’Neills to sponsor Race to the MCG

Official Apparel Partner for AFL Europe, O’Neills, has come on board to sponsor newly introduced fitness competition, Race to the MCG.

The Race to the MCG, starting on June 15th, will see men’s and women’s national teams from around Europe go head-to-head in a run (or walk) of the distance from London to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Participants will need to use their phones and watches to track their running/walking in an attempt to bring their team to the total distance target of 16,900km.

We’re very excited to announce that as the major sponsor, O’Neills will be providing teams a significant incentive to Race to the MCG the fastest!

The winning men’s and women’s teams will be provided with a brand new playing kit for their 2021 Euro Cup squad.

We would like to thank O’Neills for providing such a prize, and for their continued support to the AFL Europe community over the past five years; providing quality playing kits and leisurewear to teams across the continent.

Good luck to all runners who will be participating and representing their country in Race to the MCG.

Please remember to follow the social distancing guidelines set out by your local Government when completing this race.

Eagles aim higher in second season

‘Newest Team in Town’ introduces some of the upcoming Australian Football clubs who have recently joined their respective league’s around Europe.

Reporter for AFL Europe, James Brosnan, recently spoke to Waterland Eagles President Neil Cooke to talk all things Eagles – from staying motivated through coronavirus to overcoming the challenges of starting a new team in a small city.

THE Waterland Eagles are back training following the COVID-19 lockdown and hoping to go one better when the AFL Netherlands season commences later this year.

The Eagles finished their debut season in the grand final of the Dutch competition, losing to current European Champions, the Amsterdam Devils.

The Eagles were full of enthusiasm heading into their second competitive season as a club and have been encouraged by three weeks of training post lockdown according to Eagles president, Neil Cooke.

“It’s been great… We had 11 numbers the first week and back to good numbers of 15 the next two weeks,” Cooke said.

Yo FB, WE’RE OFFICIALLY BACK!Last night we kicked off our COVID regulations training. Absolutely loved seeing the guys…

Posted by Waterland Eagles on Monday, May 18, 2020

“The best numbers we have ever had was 16, so to have two weeks of 15 was pretty good post COVID-19.

“There are a few guys steering clear at the moment as well so we have some good momentum.

“We had an open day in February to try and get some new faces down to the club. The weather was shocking but it was an OK turnout, the next week we had good numbers and then coronavirus hit.

“We’ve had five new faces to the sport (this year) so far. We are all about bringing in as many new Dutch guys as possible.”

The Waterland Eagles are based in the city of Purmerend, about a 45-minute cycle, 16km north of Amsterdam.

The club started with a trial 10-week training period in April 2018 to gauge interest, before building quickly enough for a full team in 2019.

“During 2018 we had a few guys help out the Delft Blues, just to give them a few numbers and a bit bigger bench when they played against Amsterdam. Our guys were new to the sport so it was a good opportunity to expose them to the game,” Cooke said.

Throughout their first season, the Eagles had a narrow loss to the Devils but eventually won through to the grand final following a win over the Blues in the preliminary final.

“The Dutch league works as a three-team round-robin/league with the winner going to the grand final… second and third to the preliminary final.

“We were in the final against Amsterdam but obviously they are an extremely classy outfit being the champions of Europe.

“We struggled a bit but it was a great education for us, it wasn’t a blowout, it was just they were consistently a couple of goals better than us each quarter.”

Cooke, an Englishman who found his love for the game after living in Australia for eight years, founded the Eagles after making the move north to Purmerend with his young family.

“I was involved with Amsterdam and a couple of Champions Leagues which was really great. I was also involved with the Dutch national squad and I knew that we had to grow our clubs and for me, this was the only real choice.

“You just keep hammering away and all you need is a few young guys to come down and spread the word with their mates and all of a sudden you have quite a few at training.”

That desire to grow the game in the Netherlands is not just with Cooke, but with a number of Australians opting to make the trip north to help the developing Eagles.

“Everyone in Amsterdam knows there is no point being a strong, one club country. That’s why a few of the Aussie guys from Amsterdam come and help a more inexperienced team grow and develop.

“We have guys that have come from table tennis, tennis, soccer, rugby and no sport… so there is a whole mix of sporting backgrounds and some of these Aussies are enjoying taking on the challenge to explain it to people that don’t know what the sport is or have never picked up a football before.”

The Eagles built the club with a contribution from the West Coast Eagles and with strong support from the local rugby club in Purmerend. This association also exposes the Eagles to more local players.

“It doesn’t work everywhere what we have done.

“I initially approached the rugby club and said we could combine with them to make a bigger club; it brings more revenue in for them and keeps their players interested in the off-season. They were really supportive of that.

“I have heard other clubs around Europe have tried it with rugby clubs and it hasn’t worked out. For us it has been fantastic, they have been a great help.

“We are really trying to recruit Dutch guys; I think 70 per cent of our guys are locals with some internationals like myself and a few Aussies as well.

“Focusing on the Dutch guys, it’s an exotic sport for them and we brand it like that and I think it really works.”

AFL Netherlands are currently planning to condense their season into a September-October timeframe.

“Our goal is to win it, it’s a bit of a disjointed season so maybe we can get a jump on Amsterdam and Delft because of that, but we will see.

“We keep it very casual and friendly and have a great group of guys, but we’re ready for it.”

To learn more about the Waterland Eagles, or to find your Newest Team in Town, check out the Find Your Club page.

James Brosnan – AFL Europe

PSS Presents: Around the Grounds – Socials Edition #10

Featuring the best online posts from the AFL Europe community, PSS International Removals Presents: Around the Grounds – Socials Edition.

Footy drills with the Port Malmo Maulers, a bit of oval maintenance with the Sesvete Double Blues and more return to training selfies… the first week of June had it all on social media.

Last week was also the announcement of AFL Europe’s Race to the MCG, which will see national teams across Europe compete against each other to see who can run or walk a total of 16,900KM the fastest.

Make sure to speak to your national coach or contact your local club for details on how to participate. The race begins on Monday 15th of June.

Over the week, the Port Malmo Maulers gave us a look into one of their training sessions.

Piecing together this video on Instagram, the Maulers and Lynx players can be seen putting their foot and hand skills to the test as they run through a series of drills.

Take a watch as one of the drills might come in handy at your next training!

Another video on Instagram, but this time it’s the Sesvete Double Blues putting in the work before training.

Looks like the team have brought their lawn mowers down to training to do a bit of pitch maintenance.

Nothing beats some quality team bonding!

Time for more selfies as more clubs have announced returns to training.

This time it’s the Zagreb Hawks in Croatia who have returned with some strong numbers.

Outdoor activity and footy training must only be done so in accordance with your government.

If you need some assistance or ideas to enforce safe training measures, a number of recommended protocols and awareness posters can be found at the bottom of our About Us page under ‘Documents & Policies’.

The Waasa Wombats have had their first taste of training since the coronavirus outbreak.

The start of summer has delivered blue skies in Waasa and I think it’s safe to say the Wombats are pretty happy with it!

Check out some photos below of their first session back.

Sää oli mahtava, treenin makuun oli hienoa päästä koronatauon jälkeen. Kiitos kaikille osallistujille. Ens viikolla taas!https://facebook.com/events/s/open-training-aussifutis-austr/733500937454844/?ti=as

Posted by Waasa Wombats on Thursday, 4 June 2020

Another team in the Netherlands has returned to training and this time it’s the Amsterdam Devils.

In recent weeks for AFL Netherlands, we’ve seen the Blues and the Eagles return so it’s great to see the Devils are back.

Train hard (and safely)!

View this post on Instagram

We’re back baby 😈#isotraining #devils

A post shared by Amsterdam Devils (@amsterdamdevils) on

Footy in France has seen the Bayonne Toreadors find their way back onto the park.

The Toreadors are respecting social distancing measures with no ball or contact drills.

Instead, the team will focus on the physical side of things (for now).

The AFLG Women’s Instagram have shared a throwback to this time last year when we were at the Euro Cup in Sweden.

The 2020 Euro Cup was set to be held in Stirling, Scotland over last weekend before AFL Europe unfortunately announced (earlier this year) that it was going to be postponed.

A return date has not been announced yet however Scotland has been granted the rights to host the event in 2021.

Check out some snaps of the Eagles girls from last year’s event below.

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Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

AFL Europe Trivia with Belushi’s – #8

Think you’re the smartest Australian Football fan in Europe?

Take on our weekly AFL Europe Trivia, presented by Belushi’s, for your chance to win a Beer and Burger Voucher to redeem at any Belushi’s Bar.

Winner’s from each week’s Trivia will also go into the draw to win 2-night’s Accommodation For Two People at any St. Christopher’s Inns across Europe.

You’ve only got one shot and just three minutes to complete it!

Submissions must be in by Wednesday 10th of June 11:59PM (BST) to be eligible to win.

The winner will have the highest score in the quickest time.

Make sure to provide your details at the end of the quiz to submit your answers and go in the running to win.

For all terms and conditions, click here.

Good luck!

Time Left: 3:00

Time's up!


QUIZ #8

1 / 10

Marijana Rajcic from the Crows, has European heritage of which country?

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2 / 10

AFLW star for Carlton, Darcy Vescio, has family heritage from China and also which European country?

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3 / 10

Brisbane Lions star, Lachie Neale, averaged how many disposals per game in season 2019?

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4 / 10

Where was AFL Europe’s 2017 men’s & women’s Euro Cup held?

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5 / 10

Who holds the record for the most career VFL/AFL goals?

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6 / 10

In 2017, Richmond Tiger Ivan Soldo set the AFL record for the most what in a player’s debut game?

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7 / 10

What is the highest-ever crowd attendance for a VFL/AFL game?

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8 / 10

Which AFL Europe national team has the nickname ‘Vikings’?

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9 / 10

Which famous commentator was recently inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame?

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10 / 10

Who is the newest club to join AFL Sweden?

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Please fill in your full name and email to submit your answers to go in the running to win AFL Europe Trivia.

-----

By submitting, you agree to allow AFL Europe share your first name, last name (first initial) and country of residence on a dedicated post to our social media channels (should you win).

-----

You are not subscribing to anything by submitting your email. It is purely for AFL Europe to be able to contact you.

Your score is

The average score is 71%

0%

Spread all over London and across Europe, Belushi’s Bars and St Christopher’s Inns are Europe’s leading entertainment and accommodation venues that host a variety of Australian and international events.

To find your closest Belushi’s Bar, click here.

To find your closest St. Christophers Inn hostel, click here.

Eksjö fights on through pandemic

‘Newest Team in Town’ introduces some of the upcoming Australian Football clubs who have recently joined their respective league’s around Europe.

Reporter for AFL Europe, James Brosnan, hears from Eksjö Bulldogs founder, Gustav Silfverberg, on how the team came about as well as their growth in the past few years.

AFTER moving from Stockholm to the country area of Småland, Gustav Silfverberg missed playing Aussie Rules and so, the Eksjö Bulldogs were born.

As the latest addition to the Swedish football landscape, the Bulldogs formed back in 2016 and have been training in the town of around 10,000 people ever since.

Founder of the club, Gustav Silfverberg, explained that his love for the game grew after playing with the Norrtälje Dockers.

Founder Gustav in the Bulldogs kit.

“I started playing in 2012 and in 2015 I moved down here to Småland, and after six months or so I started missing football so I started a team down here with the people I knew and it’s been going since then,” Silfverberg said.

“We have our ups and downs in people coming to training but now we have about 10 to 14 people at a training session.

“We are getting close to getting a proper team starting and playing serious so it’s nice.”

Games are not as regular for the Bulldogs as compared to some of their city counterparts, rather focusing on tournaments and friendly matches when they can.

The Bulldogs are among a number of Swedish teams in this position due to their geographic location. Eksjö is located four hours south of Stockholm by car, and three hours east of Gothenburg.

The Bulldogs team is a mix of men and women, which is working well for the club. Three of the Bulldogs players got the opportunity to play for the Swedish women’s national team at the Euro Cup in 2019.

Gustav Quote

“If we were to split up, it would be hard to get the numbers for training which would become less educational.”

Unlike a lot of Swedish teams, the Bulldogs have been able to continue training throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been going well, we still have the restrictions and we have followed them… no contact and stuff like that.

“The coronavirus is a problem all over Sweden, the bigger clubs have stopped – no training at all, but we are still going in a smaller scale. It’s good to get to trainings and it’s fun.”

Silfverberg and the Bulldogs are hopeful of getting a friendly game in by the end of the season against the Port Malmö teams, the Maulers (men) and Lynx (women).

“That’s the plan, we will see how it plays out,” he said.

Bulldogs beginning in the local paper in 2016.

The beginning of the Bulldogs which featured in the local paper in 2016.

Silfverberg’s former teammate at the Dockers and president of AFL Sweden, Ryan Tucker, is also hopeful of some games on the horizon.

“We are looking to get a Swedish Cup, a one-day tournament at some time this year just to get everyone together,” Tucker said.

“We didn’t have one last year because of the Euro Cup; we just didn’t have time in the calendar.

So if it doesn’t happen this year it will be two years without that tournament which is a bit of step back, but hopefully we can get it in at the end of the year if the pandemic permits.

Bulldogs in 2017.

“We are also looking at getting our league going again if we can start playing which is fun to have on the horizon but whether that happens, hopefully it’s possible.”

The 2020 season would have been a big one in Sweden, who were set to host their inaugural standalone women’s competition.

The women’s competition will be made up of three teams including the Port Malmö Lynx, South Stockholm Giants and the Norrtälje Dockers.

“The upturn in the women’s football across the whole country is unprecedented for us, compared to three years ago when we had very low numbers.

We have three teams in the country and a massive amount of people interested in coming and joining in.”

To learn more about the Eksjö Bulldogs, or to find your Newest Team in Town, check out our Find Your Club page.

James Brosnan – AFL Europe

AFL Europe’s Race to the MCG

Introducing… Race to the MCG!

Starting on June 15th, men’s and women’s national teams from around Europe will be tying up their shoe laces to see which team can Race to the MCG the fastest.

Participants will need to use their phones and watches to track their running (or walking) in an attempt to bring their team to the total distance target of 16,900km.

That is from London, England to the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia.

Kilometres from each participant will need to be logged in Strava to be recorded into their team’s total.

Teams can include anyone from their country’s AFL Europe community (including players, coaches and umpires) and will be made up of 30 participants.

The men’s competition is currently made up of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Switzerland, Wales and the Umpires team.

In the women’s, we’ve got Croatia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden, Wales and the Umpires team.

Keep an eye out for weekly updates to see which team from AFL Europe is the quickest to Race to the MCG. Good luck to everyone involved!

If you’d like to participate in Race to the MCG, speak to your national coach for details.

If your country is not listed and you would like to participate, please contact admin@afleurope.org.

Irish Watch: Legend Edition

When it comes to overseas footballers, there is no bigger name than the legendary Jim Stynes.

Stynes paved the way for European players to not only come to the AFL, but to thrive and continue to grow our great game beyond Australian shores.

Hailing from the Irish capital of Dublin, Stynes began his sporting journey as a promising Gaelic footballer by representing Dublin and taking part in the sides All-Ireland Minor League Championship win in 1984.

At the tender age of 18 and with a successful Gaelic career in his sights, the athletic teenager would come across an advertisement to come and try Australian rules football in the hope of securing a scholarship to travel down under to play and study at a university in Melbourne.

This advertisement would come from the Melbourne Football Club, who’s coach, the legendary Ron Barassi, went about seeking international talent in what was known as “The Irish Experiment.”

Stynes would impress mightily at the trials and was selected along with fellow young Gaelic prospect James Fahey to come and pursue a football career in Australia.

Upon arrival, it would take some time for the tall and slim Stynes to adapt to the physical nature of the Australian game, and despite coming runner up in Melbourne’s under 19 side in 1985, he struggled at senior level in his time at Prahran in the VFA.

However, the perseverance and determination of the man could not be understated as he constantly looked to better himself and pick up the intricacies of the game throughout his time in suburban football.

Eventually, the Irishman’s hard work would pay off, with his ability to put on size, increase his fitness and finesse the fine skills of the game saw him earn a VFL/AFL debut in 1987.

This would start a remarkable career for the ruckman who’s resilience and durability saw him play a then VFL/AFL record 204 consecutive games in a career that spanned from 1987 to 1998.

Stynes would rise quickly at AFL level, with his athleticism and height seeing him become one of the game’s premier ruckmen in the late 80’s and 90’s.

Stynes stature in the game was further enforced in 1991, as the Irish ruckman claimed the prestigious Brownlow Medal in just his fifth season, as sides simply could not combat is impact on the field.

Renowned for his courage and toughness, Stynes turned into one of the games best leaders and a real staple of the Melbourne Football Club with his adoration for the Red and Blue visible for everybody to see.

This unparalleled bravery came to the fore in 1993, where in a match against North Melbourne Stynes broke his ribs in a collision with a teammate.

With doctors ruling the ruckman out for at least six weeks, Stynes simply could not sit on the sidelines, convincing then coach of the Demons, Neil Balme, to let him play with a chest guard on.

Miraculously, Stynes was cleared to play the following Friday night and was very impressive, showing his unwavering commitment to the team and the game.

Stynes would end up playing an astonishing 264-games over his 11-year career and pick up countless accolades in the process.

These would include tying the Melbourne FC record for best and fairest awards with four, and earning a spot in two All-Australian teams.

Retiring at the end of 1998, Stynes would end up with average career statistics of 18.9 disposals, 5.7 marks and 11.8 hit outs per outing, ranking him among the best to have played the game.

Following his retirement, the accolades would keep coming for the much loved Irishman, as he was selected in Melbourne’s team of the century and inducted into both the Melbourne Football Club and Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Away from the field, Stynes was a prominent figure in the Victorian community as he co-founded the Reach Foundation to help negate mental health issues and promote wellness for young people.

His work with Australia’s youth would see Stynes named Victorian of the Year twice (in 2001 and 2006) and awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2007 for his charity work and contribution to Australian rules football.

Despite his success away from the game, Stynes’ love of the Melbourne Football Club would see him return to football in a managerial capacity as chairman of the club in 2008.

In 2009, Stynes revealed in a media conference that he had developed cancer, with the news shaking the Australian public to its core.

However, despite his worsening condition, he continued to fulfil his duties as chairman of the Melbourne Football Club and went about rebuilding the organisation from the ground up.

In February 2012, he would eventually have to step down from his position at Melbourne, unfortunately passing away one month later.

The legacy of Jim Stynes is something that will live on forever, with his work both on and off the field continuing to captivate the Australian public.

Stynes’ work in the community also saw the birth of the AFL’s community leadership award, which is named in the great man’s honour and awarded to one player each year who personifies the values of Jim, committing greatly to the help of others.

A revered figure in Australian football, Stynes has paved the way for code-switchers to come over to Australia and thrive playing in the AFL.

Zac Standish – AFL Europe