Oslo's footy outpost gets Crow connection in 2010
Friday, April 09 2010 @ 04:08 pm ACST
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
2010 will see Norway's oldest Australian Football club take the field as the Oslo Crows, following the announcement of a new partnership with AFL club Adelaide.
Previously known as the Trolls, the Oslo Crows will this year play a three-team regional league with western Swedish clubs the Karlstad Eagles and Göteborg Beserkers, as well as a few games against their local Norwegian rivals the Ås Battlers.
Norway now counts three clubs, with the Crows and Battlers in the Oslo metropolitan region and the world's most northerly club in Tromsø on Norway's Arctic northern coast.
David Stone from the Crows and Adam O'Toole from the Ås Battlers spoke to WFN about their plans for 2010.
Stone explains that South Australian expat Adam Pearce had the required contacts to get the Oslo-Adelaide partnership off the ground. "One of our boardmembers, and our best player to boot, Adam Pearce played a lot of senior footy in South Australia, and has a few connections with the Crows. Through that the Crows kindly donated a set of jumpers to us although we're currently debating some tax issues with the Norwegian postal service that are delaying the jumpers being delivered!"
"We are heading to some universities to teach the game, and having compulsory 'bring a Norwegian' training sessions to ensure we get more and more Norwegians playing our great game. The goal is to build a strong national team that features as many Norwegian-born players as possible, so they can compete in competitions like the Euro Cup and even the International Cup."
"In all honesty, we are still behind our Nordic neighbours when it comes to local participation, which is why we've put so much thought into recruiting for 2010. It's hard to estimate, but last year we had in the range of around 30-40 Norwegians train, learn or play the game. Many of them really took to the game. We are aiming to double that this year."
"If we have enough Norwegians we would love to play at the EU Cup, but realistically we are probably another year away from being ready for a tournament of that scale. It's likely we'll work at a club level with a couple of internationals this year, with a view to building the team for some bigger international tournaments from 2011 onwards."
"At this stage of the season we haven't spoken too much with the guys in Ås and Tromsø yet, but the key figures are still there and we expect them to grow again this year. We are concentrating on building participation in our three bases for now, but we will certainly encourage anyone in other Norwegian cities to get involved too."
Located only 20 minutes by train from Oslo, the Ås Battlers also have an Australian partner club in Queensland's Noosa Tigers. Club founder Adam O'Toole arranged the link to his old club in Queensland, who have supplied them with training balls and a full set of jumpers, although he says they've chosen not to base their club's branding on the Australian side as many other European teams do.
O'Toole says his team aren't yet ready to join the league with the Oslo Crows as a stand-alone side, but they will probably be topping up the Crows squad if needed. "Last year we had about 10 players. This year we haven't started yet, as the snow has not yet lifted from the ground, but I am hoping we can get about 10-20 players involved this year and build upon last year."
"Being a university town, our recruits are from diverse backgrounds. We haven't focused on Norwegian recruiting per se, but that could be done if I went to the local high school, which I will probably do this year. We have players from Sweden, Germany, Lebanon, Australia and Norway."
"Our goal this year is to play at least 3 matches against the Oslo Crows, recruit more players and in general support the development of Aussie Rules in Norway, via publicity and helping new teams establish themselves."
On a national level, there are discussions between the clubs in Olso, Tromsø and Ås to form a national body. Stone says, "we are working on official government recognition and funding. Once that is formalised we'll be able to represent ourselves in an official capacity with the likes of the European AFA."
Stone also explains that the Norwegian national team will be known as the Trolls, given the significance of the troll to Norwegian culture, rather than some of the other names such as the Raiders or Polar Bears discussed in the past. The success of the first-ever friendly match played last year between Norway and Sweden was also a catalyst for both the new league with Karlstad and Göteborg, and also incentive to schedule more tests for the national team.
"The success of the Norway v Sweden match in Karlstad led to some good relationships between the two countries. The idea really came from that, and the Swedish guys are a great example for us on how to grow the game in Scandinavia. The Oslo Crows will be recruiting and playing in the tri-series, and the Norwegian Trolls will take on Sweden again this year."