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VAFA V London Allstars

The Big V representative side wrapped up their 2015 Ireland/England tour with a comprehensive 74-point victory against the London All Stars at Battersea Park this morning.

After a stellar 2-2 performance from their four tour matches in the Emerald Isle, the Big V attained their goal of finishing on a high, with Spirit of the Big V recipient, Jeremy Mugavin, and six-goal star, Matt Handley, leading the way.

Tom Sullivan, Marshall Rippon and Josh Cowan lit London alight in the first term as they collected disposals at will, with Sam Barnett controlling the ruck and giving his midfielders first use of the ball.

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After a two-week stint with the round ball, the entire playing squad looked far more comfortable with the oval-shaped sherrin in hand and used their sublime skill set to open up a comfortable buffer at the first break.

Sam Williams, Tom O’Donnell and Mugavin continued to drive from half back in the second and allowed power forwards, Jamie Mugavin and Handley, to do the damage on the scoreboard and open up a 47-point margin at the half.

The second half played out similarly to the first, with Michael Barnes, Ash Viney and Stu Grigg causing multiple skill errors from their opponents through consistent pressure and tackling.

Jack Hunt repelled numerous London forward thrusts, while Tom and Simon Caven stood tall in defence in the same vein as they have done all tour.

While the 20 goal target set by coach Roberts was not quite met, the Big V can be proud of the four quarter effort they produced in their final match as they ran out out 74-point winners, 100-26.

The win in London gives the Big V a respectable 3-2 winning record from their 2015 tour.

The VAFA would like to thank AFL Europe and AFL London for their hospitality and look forward to going Round 2 in 2017.

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Originally posted on: http://www.vafa.com.au/latest-news/big-v-finish-2015-tour-with-comprehensive-win-in-london/

Movember Cup 2015

On the 15th of November the Manchester Mosquitoes host a charity Aussie Rules tournament at Trafford MV Rugby Club. The Nathan Blakey Movember Cup is held annually in support of the Movember Foundation raising funds for men’s illnesses, in particular  prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues. The first tournament was held in 2011 and has been growing year on year raising around £10,000  for charity so far.

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The week before the first event, Nathan Blakey, a member of the Manchester Mosquitoes ARFC, passed away during complex surgery at the age of 28. Nathan had been part of the Mozzies since the clubs first season and was part of their 2010 premiership team. He was known for his down to earth, friendly nature and his love of the footy. He played, umpired, helped coach and loved a beer. He was a paramedic so would often be sorting himself out after matches whenever he took a hit. He is greatly missed. With his passing the week before the first Movember Cup it was decided to play the tournament in honour of Nathan. It seemed a fitting gesture to remember him in this way considering his love of football and his commitment to developing the game.

The Nathan Blakey Movember Cup is about to be held for the 5th year and we are looking forward to raising funds in support of men’s health and raising a glass in honour of our mate.

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Nathan. 14/02/1983 – 19/11/2011

Always well attended by AFLCNE Clubs, we hope as many players, spectators and supporters can come along and be involved to raise money to make it as big a success as possible. If you can’t make it but still want to contribute you can donate at the following link:

Mozzies Movember Page

If you want to help or be involved with the tournament contact Ben Sweetman email:president@manchestermosquitoes.com.

In the build-up to this years Movember cup here at the Central and Northern England Australian Football League we’ll be taking a look at some of the Men’s health issues you’ll be raising money for and how our clubs are helping to raise awareness.

 

Originally posted by the Manchester Mosquitoes at: http://aflcne.com/2015/10/31/the-nathan-blakey-memorial-movember-cup/

London Allstars v VAFA

On Sunday 25th October, kicking off at 11am in Battersea Park, AFL Europe and AFL London are hosting the VAFA boys at the end of their Irish tour. We have put together a team from our AFL London league to make up the “London Allstars” where they will show the VAFA boys that we’re not all over here travelling and drinking! A women’s exhibition game will kick off at 11am followed by the Allstars v VAFA match at 12.30pm

 

Donning our European Legion guernseys the team will be:

team setup

 

Come down and enjoy some footy, food and (hopefully) sun! After the game we’re heading to Clapham Grand where you can purchase a discounted £5 ticket using the code word AFL from here – be quick as the discount code expires at 18:00 Saturday 24th October! It includes a hotdog or pie, 2 drinks and a guaranteed seat!

 

See you there!!

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Conor McKenna

AFL Europe are incredibly excited to watch one of our Irish recruits debut for Essendon FC this weekend! Congratulations goes out to Conor and all his hard work, it has been a long time coming.

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Essendon’s Irish recruit Conor McKenna will make his senior debut on Saturday night against Richmond.

The 19 year old travelled from Tyrone in Northern Ireland to Tullamarine at the end of last year for a shot at making it in the AFL.

“It’s great reward for the hard work he’s put in,” Essendon Development Coach Paul Corrigan said.

“He’s obviously crammed a lot in the time that he’s been here.

“He does more sessions than anyone else, he never misses a beat.”

While most Irish players are used off the half-back line, McKenna has shown some natural flair in front of goal.

In his 15 VFL games this season, he’s kicked 18 goals.

“The coach took me in yesterday about three o’clock after training,” McKenna said.

“Cora, who has been working with me all year, he just said ‘congratulations, you’re playing against Richmond this week’.

“It’s just good to get a role now.”

McKenna’s signature was highly sought after because of his elite speed, athleticism and endurance.

He grew up playing Gaelic football and has spent extra time with Essendon’s development coaches learning the finer points of the game.

“In defence, it was not too bad, but then I went forward and the structure of the game is just hard to get used to but hopefully I’ll get it right now and come Saturday it’ll come to plan,” he said.

McKenna’s parents are flying out from Tyrone to attend Saturday night’s match.

 

Written by Simon Conway for essendonfc.com.au

Three Cities Tournament

The 8th of August saw an Inaugural 3 Cities Tournament hosted by the Czech Lions in Prague. Taking part were the Dresden Wolves, from Dresden, Germany and the Styrian DownUnder Dogs from Graz, Austria. The 3 game round robin tournament saw the Lions take out the top prize, the DownUnder Dogs come in second and the Wolves third.

3 cities tournament _ 0. 1.NP

1st game:
Lions 9.8 (62) vs. Dogs 7.14 (56)

2nd game:
Dogs 8.4 (52) vs. Wolves 5.6. (36)

3rd game:
Lions 9.8 (62) vs. Wolves 2.4 (16)

Congratulations goes out to the Czech Lions! We look forward to seeing whether it will be played in Dresden or Graz next year!

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Women Want Footy

In 2014, Australian Rules football celebrated 25 years of a sporting competition in the country of England. In 2015, Women’s Australian Rules football officially took off with an AFL London Women’s league comprising of four already established men’s clubs each becoming host to a Women’s team. Those founding clubs being: Wimbledon Hawks, Wandsworth Demons, North London Lions and the South East London Giants.

In previous years, only exhibition games had been held for females on AFL London Grand Final day or training sessions for those interested. The development of a women’s league in London only confirms the continual development and interest in the game away from Australia. Even more so with the recent implementation of Women’s AFL matches being played since 2013 between the Western Bulldogs and the Melbourne Demons.

Lauren Sparks, a current player for the Wimbledon Hawks, had previous experience playing Aussie Rules football back in Melbourne – 3 years for Melbourne University, representative football for Victoria at the National Championships and Vic Metro. Lauren was also a member of the first two Women’s AFL sanctioned exhibition matches, playing for the Western Bulldogs against the Melbourne Demons. When asked about her knowledge of the league (men or women’s); “before coming over here I didn’t know much at all about the league…I found out they were introducing the first women’s league and that 4 teams would be involved”. As most antipodeans tend to do when moving abroad, a sporting club or organisation is a safe house as a social network. Lauren attributes the Wimbledon Hawks as an accessible way to meet new people, especially with the correlation between the men’s and women’s teams at the club.

Coming from a different Australian Rules football background, Jessie Hayes was part of the Junior Development Program at the Fremantle Dockers and had grown up around the sport. Having minimal knowledge of the Women’s AFL London league before arriving in London, Jessie knew that she would eventually be drawn to a club in one way or another. “Before I came over I had an inkling I would get involved in a club in some way”. She thanks peer pressure from her friend, a North London Lions player, to ‘[encourage] me to get on the other side of the boundary line for once”.

Both players strongly condone the sport as a great way to socialise with other people, and not only at their specific club, but over all the clubs. Many clubs hold joint social occasions to encourage camaraderie between each other – North London Lions and the West London Wildcats jointly host a Thames River Cruise as part of the Wildcat’s Ladies’ Day celebrations. Ladies’ Day is quickly becoming more and more important for the AFL London clubs’ to ascertain their stance as a genuine supporter of further developing and creating awareness of women’s involvement in Australian Rules football.

Without a doubt, the social aspect of the league is a part that everyone enjoys – “It is brilliant to have found such a great family like the Lions. London life wouldn’t be anywhere near as good without the club” Jessie states. As most expats in London can agree, playing Aussie Rules football assists in avoiding a dosage of the ‘Heathrow Injection’ (the sudden weight gain from lack of physical activity when arriving into London).

But where to next for the Women’s AFL London league? The current teams participating in the league are looking to grow their participation numbers and clubs that have yet to field a team would ideally be looking at staking their presences in the league.

“It’s definitely got room to grow, the amount of foreigners that are exposed to it, never seen it before, and then are hooked the minute they try the game, it intrigues people” says Lauren in regards to further expansion of the women’s league. Women’s team are both represented at the Axios Euro Cup as well as the International Cup (World Cup for Aussie Rules football), however there is always the desire to continually expand the participation level for both genders in Europe.

For more information regarding the Women’s AFL London league or any local competitions please head to the Women’s AFL London website.

 

 

James Gottschalk

The Great Dane

Mikkel Kjoege was 8 years old, when he first heard of Australian Rules football. It was from a family friend, Preben Mandal, who supports and is a big influence on the Farum Cats Football Club. Mikkel ended up going to his first practice and making some really good friends which really helped to keep him playing and developing. It was Mikkel’s namesake, his mum’s cousin, Mikkel Norlander, who kept him training and improving. His nickname is “The Danish Lance Franklin” – he was one of the junior coaches at the Farum Cats at the time.

At the age of 12 Mikkel says he had already tried pretty much every other sport, “but nothing compared to Australian Rules.”

In 2011, Mikkel heard about the European Legion squad, which was to play the touring AIS AFL Academy team in April 2012. The try outs were in London where he was put through a week long training camp and skill testing Combine, in conjunction with video of him playing being sent through to AFL Europe. A few months later Mikkel was informed that he had been selected to participate in the Easter Series with European Legion – “this was the first moment where playing Aussie Rules internationally felt possible,” says Mikkel.

During the try out combine they tested players with agility drills, jumping, running and so on. AFL Europe were happy with Mikkel’s results and decided to also send them through to the World 18 Team that were to play in Sydney, Australia in August 2012. Not only did Mikkel end up being chosen but he was the only European player to join the world team.

This was a huge step for Mikkel, as he was able to start seeing an opportunity for possibly playing Australian Rules at professional level someday. It was with this that Mikkel decided to really go for it, “I was always told that I could do anything I want to, and I really wanted this.”

Coming from the Farum Cats in Denmark, Mikkel barracks for the Geelong Cats in the AFL. Professional AFL players are such a huge inspiration for him, in particular Joel Selwood. Mikkel says he admires his “fearlessness, courage and he is just so incredibly talented – he makes me want to push even harder to make it in the AFL.”

With some amazing coaches along the way that inspired Mikkel to strive to make it in the AFL; “my first junior coach, Morten Merhøj, he taught me all the basic skills and has become a really good friend of mine.” Mikkel’s most recent European coaches, Morten Engsbye and Troels Ottesen, have had huge influence upon him through the last couple of years – getting the Farum Cats to 4 premierships in a row. Morten Engsbye also coached the Danish Vikings in the European Championships and took home an award for best European coach in 2014 when he coached Denmark to victory in European 9-a-side Championships.

Throughout the years of playing in European Legion and The World Team, Mikkel has been lucky enough coached by big names such as Tadhg Kennelly and Brad Ottens, watching them and learning from them was an incredible opportunity and experience for him.

Mikkel was chosen to participate in the 2014 AFL Europe Draft Combine and with good results was noticed by a few AFL Clubs who were keen to see him play more. AFL Europe was able to facilitate the move to Melbourne, Australia where Mikkel is now playing for the Old Xaverians, in the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA), for a season with the hope of partaking in the 2015 AFL Draft in October.

 

Mikkel’s Australian Adventure – Part 2

 

Training is great! I’m starting to feel more confident; it does take a while to get in to a new club, with new players and coaches. I played my first practice match with the reserves, and another with the firsts. I can feel myself getting better by challenging myself with such a good team.

I played round one with the Thirds – Under 23’s, and I feel pretty good about the way I played. I was happy with the match review:

’’The Under 23s are defending their premiership in the Premier B Thirds and started the year in impressive fashion with a big win over Old Trinity at Stradbroke Park. The coach released debutant Mikkel Kjoege from defence and onto the ball after half time and the Great Dane had a real impact with his hard running and long, accurate kicking.’’

I kicked my first goal, and I got mentioned in the top 3 best players of my first match. It was such a great feeling!

In Round 2 I had some trouble with a bruised heel, so didn’t play last week but I was ready to get back into it for Round 3. I was playing with the U23’s until coach, Murray Browne, felt I was ready to move up, I felt ready straight away – but I trusted his judgement!

I’ve been talking quite a bit with my family, friends and my old team mates in the last couple of weeks and they’re all very supportive which motivates me to keep pushing, I’m really grateful for them and their support!

My family is coming to visit me in a few months which I can’t wait for, and I’m keeping in contact with a few friends who play AFL and VFL whom I met in my time at Geelong College and through playing for the World and European teams.

Round 3 I got to debut for the Reserves being “unleashed” by Coach Browne at quarter time. I was pretty happy with the match review for round 3 also:

“Reserves debutant Mikkel “The Great Dane” Kjoege was held back until quarter time before being unleashed by Coach Browne. He proved lively up forward.”

Round 4 I felt I started to feel great! I kicked 3 goals and was named in the best and I was able to following up in both Rounds 5 and 6 with 2 goals in each!

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Follow Mikkel’s journey on #MikkelDownUnder and @AFL_Europe

For more go to our previous article on Mikkel

 

Sarah Ongarello

Australia take home the 7th Annual ANZAC Cup

There’s another traditional ANZAC Day football match that takes place just slightly north of the MCG, in the small but incredibly beautiful town of Villers-Bretonneux, France.

This year’s Slater + Gordon ANZAC Cup saw Australia take out the win 112-63 making the tally 4 victories to Australia and 3 to France. What the tally doesn’t show you is the incredible relationships that are formed over the short few days between all involved. With both the Australian and French players and their guests being hosted by local families throughout the Picardie region, it has truly cemented this unique bond.

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ANZAC Day in Villers-Bretonneux began with all the French and Australian players attending the Dawn Service, held at the Australian War Memorial, in the early hours of the morning in the cold and heavy rains. Not one complaint was made, all involved shared this special experience, hearing only the rain and the bugle.

The players reunited for a march through the streets of Villers-Bretonneux, following three bagpipers and the French and Australian flags, right up to Stadium Timmerman. Standing arm in arm the National anthems played, and a minute of silence for our ancestors, who had fell on that very ground.

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A spirited start for the Australian team saw them dominate in the first quarter but the second quarter onwards showed a feisty French team not go down without a fight. With great quality of football being seen, two stand outs were chosen by the opposing teams. Best on ground for the Australian team, James Gottschalk, said he, “Just gave it my all for my country, it’s not every day you get to wear your country’s jersey. I wore it with pride and represented my country to the best of my ability to pay my respects to the ANZACs who also gave it their all for their countries”. With the players being chosen on their connection to the land and the history of Villers-Bretonneux and the ANZACs the quality of football was outstanding. The French best on ground went to Thibaut Picard who read the movement of the play outstandingly and worked exceptionally well with his team mates, always being on hand to keep the ball moving forward. Inside and outside player, tough and explosive, and really embodied the ANZAC spirit.

At the conclusion of the men’s match we saw the first ever Women’s match played at the AFL Europe ANZAC Cup. A lack of Australian numbers wasn’t an issue for the ladies, a seven a side match was played with the French lending a helping hand to their opponents. All the women mingled and played alongside and against each other adding another level to the relationships already formed. Australian, Jess Edwards, was awarded best on ground for the women’s team after dominating and coming away with 6 goals. Edwards also made an incredibly moving speech about mateship and the French-Australian relationship. The French women’s best on ground went to Camille Portal, twin sister to fellow French player, Berengere, for her aggressive and skilful approach to the game!

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Captain-coach, for the Australian men’s team, Tom Rischbeith, was fortunate enough to play his second year for the Australian Spirit. In reflecting on the game, Rischbeith said “I have found that one of the nicest thing about being involved in this game is that is has been a platform for myself and others to reconnect with our ancestors and with an era which is fast becoming old history rather than recent. I think it’s becoming rarer and rarer these days for people our age and younger to put much thought to the incredible sacrifices made by those who have fought for Australia at war, but with an event like this it gives a unique twist on ANZAC Day which us youngies (loosely applied term!) can attach to.”

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AFL Europe would like to thank all those who volunteered and supported the ANZAC Cup. It was an extremely special and touching event that we hope will get bigger and better in the years to come.

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Sarah Ongarello

The Slater + Gordon ANZAC Cup 2015

This weekend will see the 7th annual ANZAC Cup take place in Villers-Bretonneux in France, this Saturday 25th April at 12pm at Stade Timmerman.

The Australian team, coming from all around Europe as well as Australia, will take on the French team led by Andrew Unsworth and Stevo Ryan. Both teams will attend the Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial, followed by a march, undertaken by both teams, through Villers-Bretonneux to Stade Timmerman, making the event even more special.

AFL Europe CEO, Ben MacCormack has, “personally found extra significance in the event this year, listening to the boys stories over the past two years it has prompted me to research my own family history. This has led to discoveries that my great uncle and also my wife’s great grandfather are buried, in a similar vicinity, only 30km north of VB. We will visit their graves on this trip, which has added an emotion for us personally, and all of our extended families. This to me is the meaning of the event.”

With players for the Australian team being chosen by their personal connection and interest in the history that surrounds the ANZACs the two teams promise to deliver a memorable match for both the players and the spectators.

Assistant Coach of the French team, Stevo Ryan, on behalf of the French Team says, “We are all really excited about the match on Saturday.  To be in Villers Bretonneaux 100 years to the day, from when our ANZACS put our country onto the world stage in WW1 with the landings at Gallipoli, making this an emotionally charged event.  It’s fitting that in the spirit of the ANZACS, a game of AFL unites our two nations.”

Not only will an event like this unify our two nations but Stevo Ryan also believes, “that a lot of exciting things can and will happen here in France.  We’ve seen the interest for this game grow exponentially at our domestic club this year back in Paris. Saturday’s game represents an opportunity for many of our French players to gauge where they are in this game and hopefully to where they want to go in the future.”

Most French clubs will be represented in the French team:

ALFA Lions (Lyon): Thomas DEPONDT, Thibault PICARD

Bordeaux Bombers: Cyril DEBET

Bristol Dockers: Pierre-etienne DANDALEIX

Coyotes de Cergy-Pontoise: Herve DESJARDIN

Montpellier Firesharks: Jerome CANONICI

Paris Cokerels: Yvan BARBARIA, Pierre BOSCART, Julien DAGOIS, Baudoin GERMOND, Francois DANIEL, Thomas HEDLEY

Toulouse Hawks: Julien GIL, Simon MONDIN, Fabien FLOCH

As for the Australian team, they will come from England, Germany, Poland, Sweden and Australia, all sharing a connection to Villers-Bretonneux and/or the ANZACs:

Craig, BANKES, Trent GEORGIOUS, James GOTTSCHALK, Dale HOUSDEN, Ruory KIRKBY, Matthias KLUSEMANN, Paul MCKECHNIE, Stuart NEWMAN, Troy NEWMAN, Tom PETERS, Tom RISCHBIETH, Gareth SMITH and Rob YOUNG.

The match will commence at 12pm at Stade Timmerman and will be followed by a women’s match at 2.30pm. Entry is free and food and drink are available at the ground.

Map of Stadium Timmerman

 

Sarah Ongarello

AFL Wales Footballers Run for a Cause

On 11th April 2015, Wales international Australian Rules Footballers Joe Street and Evan Phillips started an extraordinary 235 mile charity run across the UK to raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young http://www.c-r-y.org.uk.

They set off from the Liberty Stadium during Swansea City’s Premier League fixture against Everton on Saturday 11th April, and plan to run 212 miles all the way to London in time to then complete the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon on April 26th two weeks later. The challenge, sees the pair run an average of 15 miles each day throughout, cross the Severn Bridge, and navigate past assorted sporting landmarks such as The Millenium Stadium, Chepstow Racecourse, Bath Recreation Ground and the home of England Rugby, Twickenham Stadium.

In 2013, a close friend of Joe’s, semi-professional cyclist Tim Butt, suffered a near-fatal cardiac arrest. Since then Tim and his friends have started doing assorted fundraising events for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), with this run being the largest. Backed by the charity, and with funding from Swansea Tennis Centre, the boys are also making a short Youtube documentary which will follow their trip, whilst also telling the story of why they have chosen to run for CRY & how the charity can help to prevent sudden cardiac death in young people through their free heart screening events.

You can track the pair’s progress by following their official twitter page @SwanseaToLondon, & if you wish to donate to their cause, you may do so by visiting uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ontheroadagain, or by texting JOEV88 £10 to 70070.

 

 

Sarah Ongarello