Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Unlike some places in the world where sport is played in winter in alarming conditions (see photo of fans in the grandstands at an American Football match – no idea what happened to the players), those involved in Australian Rules football across Europe have hunkered down in front of heaters or fires waiting for next season. With the latest round of the CNFA season done, we now wait for the thaw for the next sirens to sound.
However, AFL Europe have already got a smorgasbord of competitions lined up for next year, on top of all of the national and regional leagues that will gradually come to life.
First cab off the rank is the 2018 Fitzpatrick Cup in Ireland. To be played on 3rd February at the University College Cork, the UCC Bombers will be keen to go back-to-back, having taken titles last year and also the inaugural title in 2013. The University of Birmingham won the event in 2015 and 2016 and will be a strong chance again, but 2018 might also unearth a new champion.
The 2018 Champions League will again be held in Amsterdam, this time on 7th April. AFL Europe is confident that the 2018 team numbers will be the biggest yet for both men’s and women’s competitions. The event, co-hosted by the Amsterdam Devils and AFL Netherlands, features the invited premiers from national leagues across Europe. So far, the West London Wildcats are the only champions, having won the event since its inception with titles in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The challenge is there for another team to usurp the Wildcats as Europe’s best men’s team.
The Wimbledon Hawks won the Champions League title for the women’s competition in 2017, taking the title previously held by the GB Swans from 2016. With the growth in women’s football unabated across Europe there is a huge opportunity for a new champion to emerge in 2018.
The 10th Annual ANZAC Cup in 2018 will be part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneaux, making it another very emotional and special event. To mark the occasion, players from the competing teams – the Australian Spirit team and the French national team – will play their match on the 25th April soon after the dawn service in completed. On 24th April 1918 German forces had taken the town of Villers-Bretonneaux. However, overnight Australian troops fought back and had reclaimed the town by dawn the next morning, hence the connection to the Australian Armed Forces.
Later in the year, the German city of Berlin is earmarked as the host city for the 2018 Euro Cup. Details are yet to be announced and much work to be done, but with Germany being a little more central in Europe compared to other recent hosts, the opportunity exists for record numbers of national teams in men’s and women’s competitions.
Details of other competitions and events will be announced as the year progresses. For more information on events across Europe, go to the AFL Europe page at http://www.afleurope.org or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?...l%20europe .
In the meantime, stay warm (or cool if in the grip of summer) and get in some cricket, tennis or golf until the footy season returns in 2018.
World Footy News