Monday, February 07 2011 @ 03:50 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
Of the potential new sides at the 2011 International Cup, the newest to footy in general are the Swiss, with the newly-formed AFL Switzerland working hard to find enough sponsorship to make it to the tournament.
A few previous unsuccessful attempts to start teams in Lucerne and Geneva aside, footy has only been played in Switzerland since 2010, when the club in Lugano was created to compete in the inaugural AFL Italia premiership season. Team Switzerland, drawn from the Lugano squad, made its debut at the 2010 Euro Cup.
Switzerland's second club, to be based in the country's largest city Zurich, will hold its first training session at the end of February under the leadership of Jono Newman. Newman spoke to WFN about the national team's chances Down Under in August.
LEFT: Switzerland at the 2010 Euro Cup in Parabiago, Italy. Photo courtesy of Daniela Scalia.
After spending a number of weekends last year commuting four hours from Bern to Lugano on weekends for training, Jono Newman has now switched his focus to developing clubs in the north-central regions of Switzerland, where the majority of the country's population resides. So far, he has had interest from potential players in Lucerne, Zurich and Basel.
"We plan to develop teams in these cities this year who will play friendly matches, with the goal of forming a Swiss competition in the future, maybe as early as next year. We had a successful initiation at the EU Cup, where the players were primarily from Lugano. However, I believe for AFL to be successful in the future the focus must switch from Lugano to a more central location such as Zurich. A more central position will also help to form a more close-knit competition with reduced traveling time for games and training," Newman says.
"I have also had inquiries from the Gaelic football community who are interested in setting up an international rules style competition, and then competing against a team from Ireland."
The new Zurich club will hold its first training session on February 27th, at the International School of Zug, about halfway between Zurich and Lucerne, though still within the Zurich metropolitan area.
The majority of the Swiss players for the IC squad will be drawn from Lugano in the Italian-speaking southern region, currently the country's only existing club. This club is also providing the management team, with Lugano club president Luciano Thomas and team managers Daniela Scalia and Mattia Scacchi. A recent inclusion to the support staff is Peta Lowry, who is helping with sponsorship for the IC.
Coaching duties are currently being carried by Luca Tramontin, who Newman says has done an outstanding job learning the finer points of the game. "He trains the boys as much as three times a week working on basic skills and fitness, and the improvement they have made over a relatively short period of time is exciting."
The AFL Switzerland is also in contact with the Swiss Club of Victoria, who have offered assistance including billeting players during their time Down Under for the IC.