European Roundup Part 4: Southern and Eastern Europe
Tuesday, January 18 2011 @ 09:18 AM ACDT
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
In our fourth and final roundup of European local footy in 2010, we've had a look at southern and eastern Europe, where a number of new domestic comps have kicked off in the past season or two.
Included in this group is the AFL Italia, which followed up their inaugural premiership season by hosting the Euro Cup (previously known as the EU Cup) in Parabiago, near Milan.
Austria's two domestic teams played a five match challenge series in 2010, with the Vienna Kangaroos triumphing 3-1 lead over the Graz-based Styrian DownUnderDogs. The Kangaroos forfeited their last match, but with the score already at 3-1 in their favour after the fourth round, they were able to claim the first Austrian premiership.
In addition to their domestic fixtures, the Austrian clubs played some friendlies against teams from abroad, including the Stuttgart Emus who defeated a combined Austrian team 144-66 in Kössen, Tirol.
At the Euro Cup, the Austrians managed equal 11th place with fellow Alpine nation Switzerland.
The Barcelona-based Cornellà Bocs took home the trophy in 2010, defeating Belfry Valls 101-48 in the Grand Final.
The Catalan league includes three clubs from the autonomous region of Catalonia, as well as the Andorra Crows, from Andorra in the Pyrenees Mountains.
The Catalan national team went through the Euro Cup in Milan without a win, finishing 14th from a field of fifteen teams.
The Agram Power came out on top of the Croatian domestic comp in 2010, winning 5 out of their 6 regular season matches. Runners up were the Zagreb Hawks, followed by the Velika Gorica Bombers, who only managed one win for their debut season.
The Croatian league is almost entirely composed of local Croatians, and the Croatian Knights national team has developed a reputation as one of Europe's up-and-coming national teams. Over the past few years, the Knights have put in strong showings in the 9-a-side EU Cup (now known as the Euro Cup), and then made their first appearance in full-field footy at the inaugural European Championships in Australian Football, coming in fifth behind the well-established footy nations of Ireland, Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden.
The 2010 9-a-side Euro Cup saw the Knights break through to win gold, defeating the Netherlands in the final.
In 2011, the Knights are aiming to compete in the International Cup for the first time, a challenging project, but one which could count on plenty of support from the large Croatian community in Australia.
The Vinohrady Hawks were premiers of the four-team Czech AFL for 2010, claiming the flag with a win over the Prague Cats in the Grand Final, 11.7 (73) to 6.12 (48).
The Cats had been the dominant team all year, only losing one match during the home and away season, but let themselves down through inaccurate kicking in the decider.
In the playoff for third, the Prague Kings defeated the Prague Dragons by 39 points.
The 2010 season was a great success for the Czech AFL, after they set up their four-team local structure at the start of the year, with a healthy-sized playing base that includes Australians, Czechs and a large contingent of "third-country" nationals from as far afield as New Zealand, the USA and Russia.
The Italian national league kicked off in 2010, with the Roma Blues, Milano Aussie Rulers, Genova Dockers and Switzerland-based Lugano Steinbocks competing.
The Grand Final, held in Rome in early September, saw the home town Blues defeat Milan by 21 points, Roma 18.8 (116) to Milano 14.11 (95). A crowd of around 100 spectators were on hand to witness the event, including the Australian ambassador to Italy.
The Italian footy community also hosted the 2010 Euro Cup in Parabiago near Milan, with the Italian national team managing sixth place from a field of 16.
As part of the Euro Cup, Europe's first international women's match was held, with Ireland defeating Italy.
Earlier this year, Portugal were a surprise inclusion on the list released by the AFL of countries interested in attending the IC11. The Lisbon Dockers have since been created, with the support of AFL club Fremantle, and regular training sessions have been held in the Portuguese capital with about 15 players taking part so far.
Unfortunately the Dockers were unable to carry the flag for Portugal at the Euro Cup in 2010, and competing at the 2011 International Cup looks unlikely at this stage of development, but the foundations have been laid for Portuguese footy to compete on the European stage in the future.
The Dockers have a new website at sites.google.com/site/lisbondockers/ for anyone who wants to get involved or find out more about footy in Portugal.
There wasn't too much domestic footy news in the Madrid region in 2010, after the 2009 season saw hopes of local expansion grow with the creation of the Móstoles Kangaroos and a challenge series between the Kangaroos and the Madrid Bears.
However, the Bears did get in a few matches, competing at the Mediterranean Cup against the clubs of southern France, and the Madrid area players making an appearance as the Spain Bulls at the Euro Cup in Italy.