AFL Europe Championships Team Preview – GB Swans
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 first of our women’s team previews we are getting to know the GB Swans a bit better.
What’s happened since International Cup 2014?
The GB Swans were established earlier this year by two England Vixens players who wanted the opportunity to play in tournaments alongside the GB Bulldogs (men’s team), including the European Championships and the International Cup. Since the formation of the team, the GB Swans have attended two events, the Champions League in Amsterdam and the AFL London Preseason Cup in Peckham. In what couldn’t have been a better start for the team, they won both tournaments, making a name for themselves as a team to beat. Charlotte Eales and Lisa Wilson, who founded the team, have been working hard to schedule selection days, prepare the team for the upcoming tournament, arrange kits and are working hard to bring in sponsorship. The management team have hugely been helped out by Jason Hill, Team Manager for the GB Bulldogs.
Who’s in for AFL Europe Championships in 2016?
The GB Swans are lucky to have 3 excellent coaches; Garth Nevin as Head Coach and Lauren Spark & Ian Mitchell as Assistant Coaches who bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team. On announcement of the GB Swans forming a few months ago, the Swans received nearly 50 registrations of interest from girls across the country. After two selection days in Birmingham and Glasgow, a squad of 26 was selected for the European Championships. The girls come from a number of different teams representing England, Scotland and Wales. Unfortunately, we are yet to have a Northern Ireland girl register, but we hope to get them engaged soon! Clubs that are represented by the GB Swans are: Glasgow Sharks, Wimbledon Hawks, University of Birmingham, Greater Glasgow Giants, Wandsworth Demons, South East London Giants and North London Lions.
AFL Europe Championships focus
The two selection days we had in Birmingham and Glasgow were doubled up as training camps to give the coaches an idea of the skill and fitness level of the girls in order to give feedback to aid improvement before the tournament. Alongside these, many of the players selected for the EC16 team played in the AFL London Preseason Cup back in April. Many of the girls have played together before for the England Vixens and Scottish Sirens, or within their clubs, however this will be the first time for many of the girls playing together.
With many of the girls coming from the AFL London league, there is a wealth of 18 aside experience which will be one of our strengths. However, fitness is always an issue when playing on an Oval as large as the one at Motspur Park. The girls will be looking to neaten up their skills, clean hands and kicks whilst ensuring constant pressure on and off the ball.
Who has the X-Factor?
Sisters Alex and Danni Saulter have had a bout of injury this season with the latter being out all season with a fractured elbow, sustained in the AFL London Preseason Cup. With both girls nearly back at full fitness they will be a force to be reckoned with; Alex in the half-back line and Danni strong in the midfield. They will both be hoping to replicate their fantastic performances in the 2015 Euro Cup where they both played for the England Vixens who took out the title.
One of our youngest, Chloe Hall, recently moved from playing at the University of Birmingham to the South East London Giants. She has rapidly adapted to the 18 aside format and her knowledge, skill and commitment to the game has been outstanding. She will be one to watch at this tournament and in the future for GB Swans. She also stands out as she has a tomato blush as she exerts herself into the contest. A real leader and hard ball getter!
Coaches thoughts – Garth Nevin
“I’m not going to lie, I have set high expectations. I believe the talent we have in our team we should push very hard for the No 1 European spot. I hope that the girls send a message to the other countries competing in the International cup in 2017. We mean business. Another aim is to open the doors for the upcoming inaugural year of Women’s AFL in Australia for all GB women. The commitment these women have shown inspires me to pass on every bit of AFL knowledge I have. Whatever the result, I will be extremely proud of these ladies and honoured to be the first ever coach of the GB Swans.”
- Beth Bailey
- Carolyn Baker (Glasgow Sharks)
- Jen Bennett (Wimbledon Hawks)
- Freya Blount (University of Birmingham)
- Lea Cobham (North London Lions)
- Louise Darby (Wimbledon Hawks)
- Charlie Eales (Wimbledon Hawks)
- Chloe Hall (University of Birmingham)
- Stacey Hughes (Glasgow Sharks)
- Kirsty Gray (Greater Glasgow Giants)
- Rose Lewis (Wandsworth Demons)
- Laura Mackay (University of Birmingham)
- Jess Milford (Wimbledon Hawks)
- Sophie Morris (Wolverhampton Wolverines)
- Rania Ramadan (North London Lions)
- Zoe Rowe (Greater Glasgow Giants)
- Alex Saulter (North London Lions)
- Danni Saulter (North London Lions)
- Caroline Sellar (Glasgow Sharks)
- Louise Smith (Glasgow Sharks)
- Ellie Sutherland (Glasgow Sharks)
- Lynsey Torrance (Glasgow Sharks)
- Laura Turner (North London Lions)
- Lisa Wilson (Wimbledon Hawks)
- Lucy Jones
- Laura Park (Greater Glasgow Giants)