Brownlow Bartel to Denmark
Wednesday, September 26 2007 @ 11:50 am ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
Cats fans were not the only ones barracking for Geelong's Jimmy Bartel as he surged towards the Brownlow Medal on Monday night. Football players across Scandinavia had good cause to support the shy midfielder as Bartel has been a friend of the Danish AFL and returns there soon to help develop up to three national sides and with a possible royal appointment.
The DAFL have had an exchange program with Geelong for several years, and in 2005 Bartel and team-mate Tim Callan visited the league based out of Copenhagen. That city includes the satellite town of Farum which has Denmark's strongest junior development program through the Farum Cats who proudly wear the blue and white hoops - no doubts about who most of those players will be supporting in this Saturday's AFL Grand Final. It's believed Bartel now has a girlfriend in Denmark which sees him returning to the country each year. Brownlow Medal host Bruce McAvaney alluded to this during his post-presentation interview.
It's understood that Bartel will be giving coaching assistance to the Danish and Swedish (southern players) national squads who are in preparation for the 2008 Australian Football International Cup, to be staged in Melbourne and regional Victoria in August and September next year. A session with the relatively new Finland national squad, the Icebreakers, is also on the cards.
The AFL hopes Bartel may be able to assist in securing the patronage of Denmark royalty in Princess Mary, originally an Australian from Tasmania. The DAFL has long hoped to be able to arrange an official link to promote Australian Football there but it's believed the AFL's General Manager of National and International Game Development has managed to make a connection through Amber Petty, one of the Princess' bridesmaids, so perhaps this will be their best chance. Let's hope it goes better than the last attempt, which sources suspect was misinterpreted by royal staff as a Rugby overture.
It seems that there is something of a fairytale connection emerging between Australia and Denmark - two countries just about as far apart geographically as you can get. With Jimmy Bartel's name now etched into the record books as a star of the game, let's hope the relationship continues to build.