Afterglow – A look back at the Axios Euro Cup in Bordeaux, 2013 (Part 2)
Thursday, October 24 2013 @ 09:12 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
In this second article of the series which looks back at the recent tournament in France, the event organisers chat with Ben MacCormac (AFL Europe General Manager) about the event from the point of view of AFL Europe. These answers were given by Ben to Alban Schieber and the event organisers, unless otherwise indicated.
What kind of a presence does Australian Rules have in Europe?
Ben MacCormac (AFL Europe General Manager) :
“Today we have about 5000 participants in 21 countries and that is a growing number. Our objective is to get 10 000 before 2016.”
Where is it most popular?
“The UK, Ireland and Denmark. I think it is due to the percentage of expats initially driving the sport. In Ireland there is a similar sport which makes it an easy translation. We have loads of expats in the UK. In Denmark it was the passion of 2 or 3 volunteers who drove the sport over the last 20 years and made the sport stronger than in any other countries around here.”
Where can it grow more?
“It can grow everywhere, however France, Germany and the rest of Scandinavia have the biggest potential of growth over the next two years. Structures are already in place. The biggest challenges are new markets, where people haven’t heard about the sport!”
What are you doing to make it grow?
“We run a number of events each year to bring the communities together and give them more experience of the game. We also have regular visits in each one of the member countries and give them ideas to help the sport’s growth. Finally the creation of the European wide junior development program is the centre of our priorities.”
What do you wish you could do to make it grow more?
“Increased resources are the next step for growth of football in Europe. If we can be successful with some government grants, sponsorship and investors then we have a number of programs that I am sure would seriously increase the profile and participation of the sport in Europe.”
Frederic Zohar: “Help us to run clinic into the school.”
Do you get any support/input from Australian Aussie Rules governance bodies [like the AFL]?
“We get great support from the AFL through grants and resources. They have been very supportive of what we are doing in Europe and continue to invest in the talent program and our events. We hope that the support continues and we look at unique ways to increase investment in the region together.”
Could they [the AFL] do more?
“The AFL is very committed to helping us grow and events like the International Cup are important focus points for growth. Assistance in raising funds to get teams from Europe to Australia is always welcome and the biggest challenge to teams competing in the great event.”
Are they aware of the popularity of the game in Europe and are they doing enough to make it grow? If not, what could they do better?
“Yes we regularly report on the growth and status of the game to the AFL. This is fed back into the executive and commission. We have had many of the executive and some commission members witness European events and see the great passion that exists for the game here.”