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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

Umpiring at the Axios Euro Cup

Picture Derek Clarke

By Michael McCormick

The Axios Euro Cup is back again for the tenth installment of this annual fixture on the European footy calendar and it promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Formerly known as the EU Cup, the event will return to its inaugural location – London – for this milestone year.

The fast-paced action that the tournament is becoming renowned for will entice large crowds on the first Saturday in October. As it is just one week after the AFL Grand Final, footy fever is sure to be high and the best 9-a-side teams will be looking to wrestle the trophy away from the hosts.

Every great match of football requires exceptional umpiring and hence we will need a strong panel of local umpires to enforce the rules of the game.

Umpires are of upmost importance throughout these events as they encourage safe, fair and free flowing play. In previous years we have seen all-European umpiring panels take the big stage and exceed our expectations and we hope for much the same in 2014.

We are currently looking for field and goal umpires to umpire this lightning tournament across a number of fields and groups.

AFL Europe Umpire Development Manager, Shane Hill explained that the demand for local umpires at marquee events increases with each passing year.

“With the number of local players ever increasing, now is a great opportunity for our indigenous umpires to demonstrate their ability to competently and confidently conduct matches of Australian Football,” stated Hill. “With better umpires come better games.”

If you would like to register to umpire this event, then please click through to Eventbrite.

“Field and goal umpires involved at this tournament may one day go onto umpire a future International Cup in Australia or the Easter Series right here in Europe,” continued Hill.

If you will be in London for this great event, come down and support the third team – the umpiring team – as they seek to ensure safe, fair and flowing play throughout the tournament.

As a reward for excellence, the 2014 Golden whistle will also be awarded to the best all-round umpire of the tournament.

If you have further questions about getting involved in umpiring in Europe for this event or with your local competition, please contact umpires@afleurope.org. Alternatively, you will find additional information in the umpiring portal on our website.

#umpiresweek #betterumpiresmeansbettergames #thethirdteam

Updates on French Footy and French Cup now announced

By Alban Schieber

The 2013/2014 season is now officially over in France. Here is a quick overview of the season:

It all started back in September when the Bordeaux Bombers organised with AFL Europe and the CNFA the 2013 Axios Euro Cup. During this tournament the French Coqs made history by reaching the Grand Final and beating Ireland for the first time (34-33). Unfortunately the players were a little short during the final against England Dragonslayers with the end result being 92-15.

The Axios Euro Cup was also a big event for French Women’s footy with the first ever French national team competing for the European Crown against girls coming from all over Europe in the Crusaders team.

Once AFL Europe and all the other teams had left Bordeaux and its wineries, the CNFA went back to work and the clubs as well. When the championship started, the Aix Marseille Dockers were unable to join anymore and were replaced by the ALFA Lions (Lyon).

Here is a summary of the whole championship won by the Toulouse Hawks (see story about the CNFA Grand Final here).

Resultats_CNFA

(Click on picture to enlarge)

In February the Hawks organised another competition, the annual South Cup. Running on the same format as most European Cups, all the teams competed in a seeding round in the morning before playing the finals in the afternoon. This year 6 teams competed including the Toulouse Hawks 1 & 2, Bordeaux Bombers, Montpellier Firesharks, ALFA Lions and the returning Perpignan Tigers. The Bordeaux Bombers won the 2014 South Cup defeating the Montpellier Firesharks in the Grand Final.

In April, France also had the chance to host the annual Topdeck ANZAC Cup held in Villers-Bretonneux where AFL Europe were involved. This year the Aussies came back with the strongest team so far and defeated the French Coqs. We can for sure say that all the boys who played had an unforgettable experience.

Unfortunately, this season didn’t see any French Cup as the CNFA decided that the French Cup will be played in september. “We want the French Cup to become the big start of all our coming seasons. It will be a good opportunity to meet the new clubs and new players and give everyone a chance to show that they can compete in the Championship. This will also allow the national coach to see all the players before every Axios Euro Cup and help him to make his final decision on the team!” said Thomas Urban, CNFA President.

CNFA is also proud to announce that the 2014 French Cup will be held in Bordeaux on September 21st.

1. The possible inclusion of  the Nancy Bobcats and the Pau Bears (new clubs in the process of formation)

2. The Perpignan Tigers will return before joining the 2014/2015 season

3. The ALFA Lions, Paris Cockerels, Strasbourg Kangaroos, Montpellier Firesharks, Toulouse Hawks, Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes and Bordeaux Bombers will once again be there to ensure one of the biggest French Cups.

French clubs

Last but not least, CNFA worked with a communication agency called Bleue Com Une Orange which was in charge of developing our sponsors programs and our social media. This also helped us to reorganise new processes and give a better picture of our sport in France.

Now we are focusing on the IC14 where we hope to offer a good image of our footy and show the world our improvement.

#coqsweek #IC14 #gofooty

Afterglow – A look back at the Axios Euro Cup in Bordeaux

Wesley Hull

The following is a series of questions and answers discussing the recent Axios Euro Cup in France. Locally, Alban Schieber and Frederic Zohar worked tirelessly with their team to put together the event in Bordeaux. In the afterglow of the event, here is their take on what the Euro Cup was, how it came together and how successful it was. These answers are provided by Alban Schieber, unless otherwise indicated.

How many teams and from what countries?

“There were 14 teams in total from 13 different European countries. Unlike the previous events, most of the teams came from the continent.” (Norway, Finland, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Cataluña, Iceland, Ireland, England and Crusaders + France and Crusaders women teams).

“England won their third Euro Cup defeating France in the Grand Final 92 – 15 while in the women game the Crusaders defeated France and won their first title. “

How many players or participants were there in total?

“We had in around 320 players in Bordeaux, comprised of 280 boys and 40 girls.”

What was the format for the competition?

“During the morning we had the seeding round. Groups were made with a favourite and two challengers. The base for the games was two 15 minute quarters. The only favourite who lost in the morning was Ireland, defeated 34 – 33 by France.”

“At lunch time each team had a break of an hour and a half to rest or have a look at the women’s game, which France lost to the Crusaders 26 – 45.”

“In the afternoon, we had the classification games and the finals. The games were two halves of 20 minutes. The plate winner was Austria who won their first game in the competition. Ireland was the bowl champion. England, France and Croatia were on the podium.”

For anyone unfamiliar with the tournament, how many matches and how long each match is played?

“There were 25 games, 12 of them were made of two halves of 15 minutes and 12 were made of two halves of 20 minutes. The last one was the women’s game made of four 20 minutes quarters.”

How many Australians are involved?

“The only Australians involved were umpires or members of the AFL Europe committee. No Australians were allowed to play with the national teams.”

How did you promote the event on the day?

“To promote the event we had over 2 500 posters and 8 000 flyers given in all the local shops in Bordeaux and Saint Médard en Jalles. We also had bigger posters in Saint Médard en Jalles set up by the city council. Finally we had a few articles in the press thanks to our press release sent all over the sport media a few months before the event. We even hit Youtube with a fun clip to generate interest.”

What were your overall impressions of the event, was it a success?

Frederic Zohar (co-organizer and president of the Bordeaux Bombers):

“It was a success because everybody was where they were supposed to be at the right time. We had over 100 volunteers on the day and it was crucial that everyone knew what they had to do and that they were autonomous.

During the day, when we had everything on track, I felt on the top of the world.”

Alban Schieber:  “After three weeks of rain we had a really nice weather on the day which was great to get some crowds over. We believe that there were 1 200 people, unrelated to footy, who watched the Grand Final. The biggest success was to see everybody with a smile on their faces. I had tears in my eyes when I saw the crowd during the final cheering and laughing.

On the next day we received text messages from many coaches and captains saying that it was the best Euro Cup organized so far. Which made both Frederic and I really proud.”

What were the biggest successes of the tournament?

Frederic  Zohar : “There are two major success in this tournament: the first one is a sport success with the French team getting to the Grand Final (best performance ever) and the organization of a French women’s footy team ; the second success is that thanks to the city council we had a great venue with four real ovals and posts which gave us the best venue the Euro Cup ever had !”

What were the drawbacks or areas that could have been better?

Frederic Zohar : “The only missing thing from a media point of view was TV.  Unfortunately no TV journalists showed up. Apart from that we had some issues with the protocol as some of the presentations didn’t go with the scheduled time. Last thing was we were hoping for more sponsors. The overall budget on the day was 76 000 €. With more sponsors we could have ensured wider media coverage and a better promotion of the game.”

“Looking back, it was the first time we organized such an event and we had some things we could have done earlier to prevent the last week of hard work under pressure.”

What kind of sponsorship/support did you have?

“On one hand, we had about 10 000 € sponsors in cash. Most of them were local and the two major ones were l’Ombrière, a vegetable farm, and the Regional council.  On the other hand, we had loads of sponsors exchanging merchandise or staff members for advertisements. For example, we had security and physiotherapists for free.”

How many volunteers and what did they do?

“We had about 100 volunteers on the day. Most of them were doing the boundary and goal umpiring or working in the bars. But we also had volunteers welcoming the crowd, taking pictures, co-ordinating  the food services, recording the game to have a full streaming coverage of ground 1 and taking care of the teams.  All of them were professionals coming as volunteers on the day. It was definitively a great day thanks to all of them. The Bordeaux Bombers, our local club, was looking after the logistic and had a really tough day.”

How much local business support?

“The whole budget was secured thanks to local businesses or institutions. The budget of 76 000€ came from Bordeaux’ businesses and institutions or from the revenue raised on the day.”

What level of international support did you receive?

Frederic Zohar: “Our ambassador in Australia, Daniel Jackson, couldn’t come on the day as he was playing in the AFL finals the weekend before. But he sent us a jumper signed by the whole Richmond Tigers team for the raffle we organized. We also had our brother club the Boxwood Hills Football Club on site which was a great way for me to thank them. “

How difficult was it to organise logistically and financially?

Frederic Zohar:

“To set up real ovals wasn’t a piece of cake as no one had ever done that in France before. But our grounds were definitively looking like Australian ones thanks to the public services of Saint Médard en Jalles.  Also with more money we would have had less problems to organize it.”

Alban Schieber:

“We did everything we had in mind in September 2012 and even a bit more. We had an ecological event and we managed to have the first Euro Cup making a profit!”