Croatian Footy Alive and Strong
Wednesday, May 14 2014 @ 06:37 am ACST
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
Ed: This story courtesy of Harley Vague.
It was a great mild Sunday afternoon for Football. The Zagreb Dockers arrived early and setup a canopy, barbeque and refreshments. The first game of the double header was between the Zagreb Dockers and the new team, the Slavonski Tigers journeying from roughly 200km east of Zagreb.
Even though the new team was winless in its first two outings, the Tigers had performed well. The Dockers had a very tall ruckman and a much larger squad and opened their scoring account in terms of seconds but from then on the game went goal for goal with the Tigers slowly edging in front.
At the start of the last quarter they were nine points in front. The Dockers were finally able to assert some aerial supremacy in the last quarter and gain the lead close to siren time but it wasn't finished, some great roving saw the Tigers regain the lead before the Dockers again goaled and held on to win the game.
It was a great effort by the Tigers who have grown a team from two experienced players and word of mouth. It is a different story for the four Zagreb teams. Most of their players have or have had some connection with the Zagreb University and especially with the sports faculty where they are able to attract new players. Games are played on the university grounds and the introductions are held in the faculty.
The Downunder Dogs from southern Austria are also connected with their university in Graz and have developed a metro league but still travel to Croatia to compete. It is a model that ensures a bright future for Australian Football in this region despite some plans not coming to fruition.
The Croatian team found the financial cost of competing in the 2014 International cup too much of a barrier, especially when the economy is still trying to recover after the GFC. The national team, the Croatian knights are a strong team when playing in Europe. Also their plans for a full sized oval were scuttled when the university was only prepared to give the team security for one year due to a plan that would consume most of playing fields in 2016.
This is disappointing since the league had raised the resources to prepare an oval from rough ground. In that regards, the new team in Slavonski Brod is ahead with its ground and permanent goalposts due to AFL Europe's startup and goal post grant.
One feature of Croatian football that is pronounced is the passion. The players were passionate and the crowd was passionate. Even accounting for the fact this was a double header there was a handy little crowd of interested onlookers.
In the second game of the afternoon, the Zagreb Giants started well but the unbeaten Zagreb Hawks strengthened their favouritism for the flag as the game progressed. Speaking to some players, most were unaware to the depth of Croatian heritage in Australian Football, not only in the AFL but especially in Western Australia in the WAFL before the national league was created. Some small help is coming from Sturt in the SANFL, but maybe they should be looking at some of the Fremantle football sides and drawing on those links.