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Swedish Elks ready to take on the world’s best

by Michael McCormick

One of the premier sides in Europe, the Swedish Elks, are preparing to test out a new look team in the upcoming International Cup in August.

The Elks will blood several young players after having gone through a year of transition. More than half the team made their representative debut in a friendly match against Denmark in March this year.

“We will be looking to use the International Cup to build our group and give experience to the up and coming AFL players of Sweden,” stated Swedish Elks Team Manager, Jeremy Darke.

Darke, a 27 year old Australian expat who also coaches local team the Norrtälje Dockers, revealed that although playing non-European teams is a draw card for the tournament, old rivalries die young.

“To go up against teams that we have never faced before is the excitement of the International Cup,” said Darke. “Although we would love to beat Finland on the world stage.”

Having finished in eleventh place in 2011, the Elks are striving for a top ten placing in this year’s competition.

“With a spread of players from all over the country and domestic competitions it has been difficult to have stand-alone training sessions.

To prepare we have scheduled 2 friendly matches against Denmark and the Stockholm Dynamites.”

Although it will be the first trip down under for most of the younger players, Darke expects them to step up and catch the eye of AFL fans the world over.

“Hampus Ollson, Jacob Nilsson, Buster Sund are all young, solid players with a lot of passion for the game,” revealed Darke. “I’d expect them to be among our best performers for the tournament.”

The Elks have been fortunate in securing sponsorship to lessen the financial burden associated with making the trip to Melbourne.

“We have be able to acquire 6 bronze sponsors, but fundraising is still coming along slowly.”

The challenges faced to get there will be outweighed by the rewards, and not just in the form of competing.

“It would be a dream to go and watch the Gold Coast play in Melbourne and watch Ablett Jr. work his magic.”

#elksweek #IC14

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AFL Europe Championship Finals – Sweden vs Denmark

Denmark has won the battle of the Scandinavian countries by beating Sweden 48 – 32 to claim 3rd place in the 2013 AFL Europe Championships.

In what was an entertaining battle between two of the most skilful midfields in Europe with Sweden’s talented trio of Johan Lantz, Eric Salin and Emil Aberg getting on top early, aided by some strong work in the ruck from David Wahlberg.  The Swede’s were up at quarter time thanks to goals to David Verngren who has had a great tournament.  Things started tightening up in the 2nd quarter and it was 3.2.20 apiece headed into the half time break.

It was Denmark who started getting the upper hand around the midfield in the 3rd quarter led by their brilliant midfielders in Christopher Campion, Mathias Biron, Aksel Bang, Mikkel Kjoge and William Anderson, who managed to kick 3 goals for himself in the match including a nomination for goal of the tournament from a running shot from outside 50 metres.

Denmark’s defence also started standing up to the challenge and led by Rene Toft Palsgaard and Troels Ottesden, were able to start turning defence into attack.  Sweden were missing the drive of Tony McLoughlin from their half back line with the solid defender not able to play this match.  They were well served however by lively contributions from Joel Sprang, Gaetan Blondeau and  Chris Martensson, but it was not enough to give them their second win of the tournament.

The Swedish team played some formidable football throughout the tournament and were unlucky not to have beaten the Irish in their earlier encounter.  They will be left to ruminate on what may have been before preparing themselves for their next international foray.

For Denmark, the signs are extremely positive that they are closer to winning an international trophy sooner rather than later and if they are able to keep the nucleus of their young, exciting, skilful midfield brigade they will become one of the most formidable teams in Europe.

Final Scores

Denmark: 7.6.48

Sweden: 5.2.32

Goals

Denmark: Andersen 3, Norlander 2, Nielsen, Ottesen

Sweden: Verngren 3, Sorenson, Sahlin

Best Players

Denmark: Palsgaard, Andersen, Bang, Rose

Sweden: Lantz, Verngren, Blondeau, Martensson

Home of the Blues now has goal post pads

The president of Södermalm AFC from Sweden Lars Hagberg told us the clubs story on how the Blues found a permanent home and how the Goal Post Grant helped them.

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‘For a long time the SAFF have been looking for a larger field with permanent goal posts to be used as our home ground. So far we have been limited to playing 9 a-side on rugby fields or setting up temporary posts on open access fields of low quality. In 2011 Daniel “Jordo” Jordan (Club stalwart and all round nice guy) was appointed development officer of the SAFF. Initially he was working on another field at Stockholm University (which is actually owned by the Swedish king). After we got a hold of around 100 truckloads of dirt for free, the owners leveled the field and planted new grass.

Although we have rights to use the field and put up permanent goal posts the problem is that we don’t have access to changing rooms so this field has been put on hold for now. In parallel Jordo was speaking to the people at the Stockholm Council that are responsible for the sporting facilities at Skarpnäck (a suburb close to Stockholm) and managed to get approval for us to develop our own field there as well. Apart from soccer this area is home to other smaller sports like grid iron, frisbee and baseball and they were happy to take on another ‘odd’ sport. They even mark out all the lines for us so now we’re playing with a boundary, center, goal squares and a 50m arc.

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Jordo made the design of where to set up the field and how to put up the goal posts. The field runs across two soccer fields with the goal posts placed just outside the side boundary lines. In addition to the goal posts we also had to put up a protective net behind one of the goals so that the balls won’t damage an allotment next to the field. All in all according to Jordo’s design we had to acquire 10 posts and a big net. Well, Jordo managed to find 10 second hand flag poles, the only problem was that the flag poles had to be transported 200 km to Stockholm.

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Luckily one of our sponsors is a big chain selling construction material so Jordo got them to transport the flag poles to us for free. The net is a bird protection net purchased online. The caretaker of the field made measurements to align the posts properly and in the beginning of the 2012 season the club organized a couple working bees to dig the holes, concrete the foundations for the flag poles and then to erect the posts and put up the net. We can use the lines for the flag poles to take up and down the net.

The first game was played there on the 10th of August 2012, Södermalm Blues vs. Norrtälje Dockers, umpired by Jordo. After all of his hard work the oval will be called: The JCG (Jordo Cricket Ground).

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Needless to say Jordo’s work contacts in the building industry and access to building equipment have been invaluable.

The bulk of the money so far has been supplied by Södermalm AFC. In addition, sponsorship by the company Jordo started (Buyfooty), Södermalms Trä and of course AFL Europe for the Goal Post Padding.

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With the goal post pads the field has been finalized and at the moment we are working on building a club house next to the field where we also can store equipment and have BBQs. Hopefully this will be done before the end of the season’.

Look out for next years Goal Post Grant and tell us your story!

If you want to join Södermalm AFC, visit their web-page for further information http://www.sodermalmafc.se/about/