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AFL Player of the Week – Alex Watson

Each week AFL Europe is profiling a European player and finding out how they got into the great game of Aussie Rules and a bit about themselves. If you’d like a profile or know of anyone who would, then email ben.durance@afleurope.org to receive a question sheet.

First up on the AFL Europe ‘Player of Week’ is Alex ‘Nic Nat’ Watson. The English Ruckman is a fresh face to the game only in his second season but has already represented England at last year’s AFL Europe ‘Euro Cup’ in Croatia.

An exciting prospect, Nic Nat is currently honing his ruck craft  in the AFL London competition for the Wandsworth Demons. Hoping to further his representative football career, Watson is also training to be selected for with the Great Britain Bulldogs at the AFL Europe Championships in August this year. The tournament will be a great precursor to the International Cup in Melbourne in 2017 and provide the plethora of European talent, like Nic Nat, a chance to impress in the homeland of AFL.

Nic Nat imposes a dominant figure on the AFL pitch and has impressed with his leadership on and off the field in his short career, this year being named rest of the world Vice-Captain for the Wandsworth Demons. All the best for the 2016 season.

Name:

Alex ‘Nic Nat’ Watson

Club:

Wandsworth Demons

Nationality:

English

AFL Team you support:

West Coast Eagles

Favourite AFL Player:

Nat Fyfe

How did you find out about AFL?  

I was talking to a friend about the game (that I’d previously never heard of). As I was on my way home I came across a poster that was advertising training sessions for the Wandsworth Demons the coming Saturday so thought I’d give it a go.

How long have you been playing for?

Since January 2015

What do you remember most of your first Aussie Rules game? 

Not fully understanding the full rules of rucking I barged the other ruck whilst he was in mid-air with no intention for the ball. I’d been on the pitch for 20 seconds and had already given away a free kick.

Favourite moment when playing Aussie Rules? 

Making a well-timed tackle.

Any other information, quirky stories or interesting things about yourself?

In my day to day life I work as a graphic designer and along with sport, art has always been a big passion in my life.

 

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/

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