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Thursday, June 21 2018 @ 06:18 pm ACST

AFL Estonia – More Than Just A Name

Europe
Just at the moment, there is no actual football playing entity called AFL Estonia. There is no national team, no clubs and not even anyone on the ground in Estonia to get the ball rolling. Yet, like so many leagues and clubs across Europe before them, AFL Estonia is just one committed person (or people) away from becoming a very real entity. That catalyst required could be closer than many think.

Chatting with the AFL Estonia Facebook page coordinator unearthed an interesting beginning. “I began the Facebook page from Australia as a kind of interest thing for expats in Estonia. Whilst there is some interest there, there is no one in Estonia to take the ball up and get things going. There are definitely people who would play so long as someone else [can drive] it. Finland, and in particular St. Petersburg, are very keen to see something start in Estonia. It would make a great link up.”

“The Facebook page has a mix of expats in Estonia, Estonians in Australia, and players from other countries around the Baltic who are keen to see what happens in Estonia I guess. [To date] there have been no native Estonians join the page, which suggests they know [little] about it.”

“AFL Europe will be making an Estonian version of the ‘What is Footy’ video which is exciting and makes me very interested to see if it generates interest within Estonia.’

There is even a ready-made potential advocate/ambassador for AFL Estonia, with current Sydney Swans star, Dane Rampe, having a multicultural background with an Estonian father.

Where the potential lies for AFL Estonia to grow wings is its geography. On the 26th May the Helsinki Heatseekers team from Finland is headed by ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia, en route to St Petersburg in Russia to play the Cats. The connection between the two teams is becoming bigger all the time as both clubs look at ways to get more matches into their players.

By ferry, Tallinn is only a couple of hours way from Helsinki – around 80 kilometres away. Buses then link into Russia, specifically St. Peteresburg, just over five hours away. It is certainly already happening where the Heatseekers are offering for anyone interested from Tallinn to join their party to play in Russia. If this invitation grows legs it may also be the nucleus needed for both the Heatseekers and Cats to consider playing a neutral game in Tallinn – something that could be marketed to an Estonian audience, however small it might begin.

What this does mean is that the concept of AFL football in Estonia is not as much of a pipe dream as some might think.

It is hoped that even just one casual, curious Estonian boards the bus in May with the Helsinki Heatseekers crowd. Many leagues and teams have started humbly with just one passionate person. Maybe it is exactly what might happen for AFL Estonia.

To find out more about AFL Estonia, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/haldusjuht/ . They would certainly love to hear from anyone with any interest at all in growing the game in Estonia.
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