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EC Team Preview – European Crusaders

 

AFL Europe Championships Team Preview – European Crusaders

Every three years the AFL Europe Championships take place for teams to assert their dominance and claim bragging rights against their European counterparts, as well as gain valuable 18-a-side match practice in the lead up to the International Cup the following year.

In the lead up to this year’s AFL Europe Championships in London we’ll be focusing on each team and previewing their chances of taking out the top prize.

In the final of our women’s team previews we are getting to know the European Crusaders a bit better.

What’s happened since International Cup 2014?

We formed the European Crusaders for this full format tournament; most girls on this team have never played for the Crusaders before.

Who’s in for AFL Europe Championships in 2016?

Crusaders is a team consisting of girls from more than a handful of different countries, hereunder France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Denmark. As many of the countries in Europe are not able to put together a full format team, we got the opportunity to play as a joint team thanks to AFL Europe. Our team consists of players who have never played before and players who have been playing for several years. We have an awesome team with many good girls with different strengths with different strengths we will try to utilize.

Crusaders have never played together before but is looking forward to play and have fun together as a team, hopefully showing the other women’s teams that we are to be reckoned with.

Denmark Valkyries Team Manager Cyril Marsault has been recruited to coach the Crusaders during the tournament. He will get a helping hand from Maria Falkesgaard who will be a playing team manager for the Crusaders.

AFL Europe Championships focus

The crusaders have never played together as a team before, but all girls have a great sense of teamspirit. We have girls of very different skill levels and therefore we would love improve during the tournament, however we now that we might have a huge challenge here. The strengths of the team are that all the girls are very committed to playing a full format tournament and that all the girls’ love playing footy. The weaknesses of the Crusaders is that we are very low in numbers and that we have never played together before.

Who has the X-Factor?

We have players from both the French and Danish national teams and they are always bringing their best play for tournaments. Furthermore, we have a strong list of British, Kiwi and Australian girls who shows promising notes on field. As this team is pure superstar quality, we do not highlight any one player but the team as a whole. However, we are looking forward to seeing Samara Warren play her first footy game and think this former soccer player will be a nice addition to the team.

Coaches thoughts – Cyril Marsault

”The Crusaders will enter the competition with less expectation to them than to the national teams. The focus on fun rather than performance, and the patchwork from different countries, might come as a disadvantage, but choosing to compete with such a team shows great motivation and courage from the players, which might just be the recipe to unexpected success on the field.”

 

Squad

  1. Maria Falkesgaard
  2. Amanda Teglhus
  3. Maibritt Jansen
  4. Claudia Kwok
  5. Alexandra Daley
  6. Lucy Henderson
  7. Coline Duquet
  8. Mathilde Combes
  9. Claire Pérez
  10. Lynne Wooldridge
  11. Rachel Gouldingay
  12. Rebecca Dickson
  13. Hayley ’The Noodle’ Canton
  14. Samara Warren
  15. Claire Messent
  16. Emma Lundaahl

 

 

2016 AFL EUROPE CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2016 AFL Europe Championship Schedule taking place in London from August 13-20th.  AFL Europe’s triennial 18-a-side tournament is a warm up for the AFL International Cup in August 2017. With match days falling on, Sunday 14th, Tuesday 16th, Thursday 18th, Friday 19th and Saturday 20th at Motspur Park (Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Ground, KT3 6NE) this year’s competitors are:

 

MEN

German Eagles

Great Britain Bulldogs

Irish Warriors

Swedish Elks

 

WOMEN

European Crusaders (Made up from France, GB and Scandinavia)

Great Britain Swans

Irish Banshees

 

SCHEDULE

DAY ONE – SUNDAY 14TH AUGUST

1pm Irish Warriors v German Eagles

3pm Great Britain Bulldogs v Swedish Elks

 

DAY TWO – TUESDAY 16TH AUGUST

4pm German Eagles v Swedish Elks

6pm Great Britain Bulldogs v Irish Warriors

 

DAY THREE – THURSDAY 18TH AUGUST

1.30pm Great Britain Swans v Irish Banshees

2.15pm Irish Banshees v European Crusaders

3pm European Crusaders v Great Britain Swans

4pm Irish Warriors v Swedish Elks

6pm Great Britain Bulldogs v German Eagles

 

DAY FOUR – FRIDAY 19TH AUGUST

11.30am Irish Banshees v European Crusaders

12.15pm Great Britain Swans v Irish Banshees

1pm European Crusaders v Great Britain Swans

 

DAY FIVE – SATURDAY 20TH AUGUST

1pm Men’s Third Place PO

2.30pm Women’s Grand Final

3.30pm Men’s Grand Final

 

Good luck to all involved, we can’t wait to host you in London from 13th-20th August 2016.

 

For volunteering, physiotherapists, or umpires please email admin@afleurope.org

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.

 

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 AIS-AFL Academy wins 2014 AFL Europe Easter Series

The 2014 Easter Series in Harrow has now come to an end. After a huge week of intense training, football education and personal development the European Legion were fired up to take on the AIS/AFL Academy in what shaped as the tightest contest yet.

First off the bat in the curtain raiser the GB Bulldogs took on the Aussie Expats (new concept). The crowd were on the edge of their seats as both teams attacked the ball fiercely and put on a great exhibition of Australian Football. This also provided the GB Bulldogs with one of their last major hit-outs as a squad before competing in IC14. The Bulldogs were slightly undermanned with a number of their stars in the Legion squad, and a few already out in Australia. Despite this they fought hard against the rapidly assembled Expats but couldn’t quite match their skill level. Eventually they fell away with the final scores Expats 10.13.73 – GB Bulldogs 5.7.37. AFL England President Adam Bennett couldn’t help himself and pulled on the Bulldogs jumper once again.

AFL Europe Easter Series

In the main game at 2pm the AIS/AFL Academy side jumped the home team early and dominated the first term. The Legion looked shellshocked and had nowhere to hide in what looked an ominous start to a long afternoon. In a 7 goal to nil term including three 50m penalties against the Legion it certainly looked grim.

Tadhg Kennelly regrouped the squad at 1/4 and asked the team to slow down, breathe and start to play their own brand of football. Whatever else he said certainly had an impact as the Legion held their own for the next 2 quarters. The link up play by hand and foot showed skills beyond their experience (8 players had never played a full match before) and the score board also started to tick over. The Flynn brothers combined for one of the goals of the day while Shehroz Akram and Zvonomir Murkovich kicked superb crumbing goals.

With Sam Willatt holding potential No.1 pick Peter Wright to 2 goals at full back anything looked possible if not for the slow start.

In the last term the Australians showed why they are the best players in their age group with some stunning play and continued hard running and spread really testing the game knowledge of the European’s. Lamb (highly noticeable with his blonde locks) seemed to be everywhere and Weller had huge numbers of disposals to keep pumping the Australian’s forward. To Europe’s credit they got 3 goals of their own in the last and walked off with head’s held high.

With a crowd of AFL Club recruiters, family and friends of the players from many nations and AFL Europe officials, the match was the highlight of a week-long development program for the two squads. The European Legion team was led out by Port Adelaide’s Irish recruit Daniel Flynn who led by example kicking a goal and running hard all day.

“This is the prefect opportunity for our European community to show its talent development over the past 12 months. It’s a real indicator of the hard work being done by our volunteers amongst the AFL Europe members to nurture and expose the best young footballers to this elite level competition. We get closer every year and have real belief that a victory is not all that far away”  Chris Dow, Chairman, AFL Europe said.

The final score:

AIS-AFL Academy      7.2    10.8   14.11    21.11     (137)

European Legion        0.3    2.4     3.5         6.6       (42)

 

Goals:

AIS-AFL Academy: Lamb 5, Goddard 4, Petracca 3, Wright 2, Smith, Weller, Walsh, Heeney, Brayshaw, Bower, McLaren

European Legion: Akram, Murkovic, O’Riordan, Campion, L.Flynn, D.Flynn

 

Best Players:

AIS-AFL Academy: Lamb, Weller, Heeney, Goddard, Petracca, Walsh, Smith

European Legion: Willatt,  McKenna, Habljak, D.Flynn, Hurley, Brophy

“The way both teams have applied themselves throughout the week and during the match is a real credit to the coaches that have prepared them to this point. It has been great to see the European team evolve and grow into what now forms solid opposition for our touring AIS/AFL Academy. The Australian boys certainly know they were in a contest today and will learn a lot from the whole experience” Kevin Sheehan, AFL National/International Talent Manager, said.

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AFL Europe Easter Series

The 2014 European Legion players are:

  • Croatia – Filip Lenic, Josip Habljak , Zvonimir Murkovic;
  • Demark – Aksel Bang, Chris Campion, Mathias Biron, Mikkel Kjoege, Nathan Campion, William Anderson;
  • England – Cameron Cope, Ollie Dilieto, Sam Willatt, Sean Walton;
  • Germany – Jakob Jung;
  • Ireland – Ciaron O’Hanlon, Colin O’Riordan, Conor McKenna, Daniel Flynn, Luke Flynn, Paddy Brophy, Padraig Lucey, Peter Cooke, Sean Hurley, Shehroz Akram, Stephen Coen; and
  • Sweden – Hampus Olsson.

The 26 players from across Europe will return to their home Clubs, armed with sharper skills and an insight into the level of commitment and professionalism required to make it at a higher level in Australian football.  Over the course of the week, they have been exposed to new training drills by experienced AFL coaches and been observed by AFL Recruiters looking out for the next young AFL star.

Follow us at: @AFL_Europe @AFLDraft #afleasterseries #bestofthebest