Footy rebooting in Belgium
Saturday, November 19 2011 @ 10:25 am ACDT
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
After an absence of a few years, there are signs that Australian rules football will again be played on an organised basis in Belgium. Long-time followers of footy in Europe will remember the Brussels Saints, who put some strong sides on the field around 2005-06 and had some success in tournament play (see Brussels Saints March into 2005 for some history). However, the Saints went into recess after only a few seasons, and since that time there hasn't been an active club in the country.
Local Bjorn de Bruyn and Aussie expat Brendan Stead are currently holding training sessions and hoping to create a club in the city of Antwerp, while another new group are kicking the footy in the capital city Brussels.
Belgian Bjorn de Bruyn learnt about Aussie rules 2 years ago when planning a honeymoon to Australia, and started following the AFL via Eurosport and internet. In 2011 he returned to Australia and we visited the South West, and had a change to see some local footy in Fremantle.
Upon his return to Belgium, de Bruyn was out running at a local athletics track when he chanced upon expat Aussie Brendan Stead kicking the footy. "I was really amazed and suprised to find a person playing footy in my little home town. Brendan and I immediately arranged regular meetings in the park, and that became my first actual footy experience. For the past 7 months we have been meeting almost weekly for training, to work on my skills and just have fun kicking the footy."
"We talked regularly about getting more people involved, training in Holland, but never saw many opportunities, until we found about footy being played by few guys in Brussels (no connection to the Brussels Saints). We contacted them in October and got together for a training. The person who organises in Brussels deserves a lot of credit! Ever since I have made more plans to get footy of the ground in Belgium."
"We are now in contact with AFL Europe to get ourselves organised. Our plans for the coming months are get the news out there, and to attract more people to the code. As soon as more people join, we will start up regular training sessions and who knows, even start a club that eventually can play friendlies against Dutch teams or even join, although this will take us more then a year."
Anyone who wants to get involved with footy in Belgium can email Bjorn via firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting their Facebook page.