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Saturday, February 29 2020 @ 07:19 am ACDT

Andorran AFL – The Phoenix of the Pyrenees

Europe

For the average footy follower, like me, Andorra is not a place that is frequently visited.  But a quick wander through an internet image search will unearth an incredible array of pictures which show this principality to be among the most beautiful places in the world.

The sixth smallest nation in Europe, Andorra is bordered by Spain and France in the Pyrenees Mountains. More importantly to readers is the prediction by Douglas Pate that Andorran Aussie Rules will be back in 2013 with a number of goals in mind…and not just six pointers.

Douglas Pate is already well known in international Australian Rules football circles for his work in developing Andorran footy, as well as footy in Catalonia in Spain. He is also a past president of the Danish Australian Football League back in 1995. Douglas admits that Andorra’s hiatus from the international scene in recent times coincides with his own pursuit of personal priorities. But he says “this year we [will] reactivate with the goal to go to the European Championships in Bordeaux”.

So, it appears that the Andorra Crows are back. Douglas admits that the team is solely a national team at this stage, with no local league…for the moment. But behind the scenes, Douglas has been securing support from many quarters to ensure that the team comes back, and stays back.

Douglas states that “the secretary of government has taken an interest in us this year and is helping obtain a ground for us. Getting a ground to train on and play games on is extremely difficult here. We are in a very mountainous region and there is almost no flat space. The rugby stadium and the other 2 or 3 grounds that are here are either covered by snow for the start of the year, sometimes until end of March, or are already occupied by the football (soccer) or rugby teams. It does look like we can use the rugby stadium which this year will undergo extensive upgrading. Nothing confirmed yet.”

“The TV and the press have been great and responded to all cries for help to promote the sport” he adds, which indicates further support for the sport in this tiny but passionate and proud nation.

Whilst they are “only” a national team, Andorra still has the chance to develop local competition across each of its national borders. As they have done in the past, they can, and likely will, play games this year in Catalonia and France. Douglas adds “When [we were previously] active [we] played in both the Catalan and the French league. The Catalan league is more logical for linguistic and geographic reasons even though the closest team to us is Toulouse in France.”

One point of interest that Douglas highlighted was the choice of colours and name, aligning their image with that of the Adelaide Crows AFL club in Australia “We took on the name the ‘Crows’ [because] if you investigate you will see that the Crows colours are the colours of the Andorran national flag. We have been mentioned in the Adelaide Crows webpage.”

Sadly, his dream of a Crows (Andorra) v Crows (Oslo) v Crows (Guildford) challenge won’t happen in the near future with the England club now known as the Surrey Stags. A new challenge might be to find or create some new European Crows.

A couple of years ago Andorran Australian Rules seemed to be on a path to crash and burn. But the work of Douglas Pate and his friends has now seen this national team, landlocked in the magnificent Pyrenees Mountains, rise like a phoenix from those ashes.

Welcome back, Andorra Crows, and can’t wait to see you in Bordeaux.

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