After months of preparation and planning, this Sunday will see the first Swiss tournament take place between hosts the Winterthur Lions, and newly established clubs the Basel Dragons and Geneva Jets.
As a first for football in the nation, the 9-a-side tournament will act as the inaugural Australian Football competition in Switzerland, as the teams prepare for the first season of the Swiss League set to take place in 2019.
Captain of the Winterthur Lions Stefan Burgener told afleurope.org that it was an amazing feeling to have now established three clubs in the country.
“I feel proud of what we’ve been able to grow in this short period of time”, Stefan said.
“In August we were thrilled to have a single 7-v-7 match in Switzerland and now we have about 38 players across 3 teams who will be playing on Sunday.”
Prior to the announcement of the weekend’s competition, AFL in Switzerland had consisted of just one club which was the Winterthur Lions.
As a result, the Swiss national team could only pick players from just the one franchise for international fixtures.
Now with more players to choose from and more potential for growth and development than ever before, Stefan is looking forward to seeing more awareness around the sport in 2019.
“I think this will grow awareness even further and help gather interest in the new Swiss League which will be played from May – September next year,” Stefan said.
“They both (Basel and Geneva) particularly since August this year, have been working tirelessly to grow a base of players and committee members for their respective clubs.”
“Now that the league has been established, we aim to establish more clubs in Switzerland and to improve our Men’s national team.”
With the league now set to take place next summer, Stefan also mentioned to afleurope.org that the nation is trying to build up the women’s game in preparation for next year’s Euro Cup to be held in Norrtälje, Sweden.
“We also aim to hold as many women’s matches as possible and start a new women’s national team to compete alongside the men’s team at the Euro Cup in Sweden next June”, Stefan said.
“I’m excited for what the future holds.”
The Swiss Tournament kicks off at 1:30pm local time on Sunday.
For more information, please visit the official event page here.