Inaugural Bavaria League season kicks off
Saturday, April 24 2010 @ 03:24 am ACST
Contributed by: Mudgee
In another sign of the fast growing numbers of footballers in Germany, the inaugural season of the three team Bavaria League (BL - Bayernliga in German) kicked off on April 1st.
The weather provided the April Fool’s joke, as intermittent snowfalls throughout the day and sub-zero temperatures greeted the players and officials in Munich’s Hirschgarten. However, neither the cold nor the discovery that day of a 500 kilogram World War Two bomb a couple of torpedo punts away could dampen the spirit and enthusiasm of the two competing teams, the Sendling Blues and the Pasing Hawks.
The new league, Germany's first regional league, has been set up by the Munich Kangaroos Football Club, which was founded in 1994 and has had some success in the national competition, the Australian Football League Germany (AFLG).
While last season the Roos fielded a team in each of the two AFLG divisions, in 2010 they are trying a different path to increasing player numbers and the amount of footy played. As club President Julien Kann explains, “last season definitely helped us bring more players to the club by offering more footy, however it was a lot of effort to organise all the travel. Additionally we found that some of the newer guys wanted to try out the sport locally before committing the time and money to weekend trips across Germany, and some of the longer serving players wanted to step back and play more for enjoyment."
"By starting a local league based in Munich, we can have more people playing with less time and money commitment. Some guys will only want to play in the BL, while the keener guys can step up to the next level and represent to Roos in the AFLG.”
While the AFLG is played with 16-a-side and regular rules, the Bavaria League is using 9-a-side rules based on those of the EU Cup. This has enabled the Roos squad to split into three teams, each one nominally based in a Munich district. The Schwabing Saints make up the league along with the Hawks and the Blues. Each new team has a coach who is motivated to recruit for his team, and ultimately the Roos. “Before the season we conducted a draft to ensure the teams were evenly matched”, says Kann, “but from this point on, each team can recruit their own players. We hope this will encourage guys to get out there and find new players, which ultimately will help us increase the number of BL teams and improve the standard of the Roos”.
Currently the Roos have about 50 players on their list, more than half of which are local Germans. With other nationalities including Egypt, Italy, England, Ireland and Lithuania represented, less than a quarter of players are now Australians. As one of the founding members of the Roos, Kann appreciates the change. “It’s certainly different to when we started with a few Aussies kicking in the park. Nowadays the Aussies are the minority and those of us left are getting slower every year! The standard of the AFLG has also improved out of sight which is mainly due to getting the younger, fitter local guys into the game. We hope the Bavaria League will enable more of them to try out footy and let us old guys squeeze a few more games out of our careers!”
And for the record, in a tightly-fought encounter, the Sendling Blues had the honour of winning the first Bavaria League game, running out winners over Pasing by 30 points. More importantly, though, around 25% of the players were playing their first ever game of footy. The league runs through to August.
For more on the new Bavaria League and the Munich Kangaroos FC, visit kangaroos.aflg.de.