Russian Footy Showcase This Weekend
Tuesday, May 22 2018 @ 06:36 am ACST
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
The next instalment of the St. Petersburg Cup will be played in the Russian city this weekend. Once a battle between the St. Petersburg Cats and the Lazy Koalas from Moscow, the 2018 tournament will also feature the Helsinki Heatseekers club from Finland in a genuine combination of Russian and Finnish talent.
As previously reported, the Helsinki team will travel by sea and road through Tallin, the capital city and major port in Estonia, and would not be averse to dragging along some local AFL Estonia talent for the event. (See AFL Estonia – More Than Just A Name)
After years of gradual development, mainly in Moscow then more recently in St. Petersburg, the game in Russia has now grown to support clubs in both cities as they play across the year for the pride of being Russia’s best. Not only do the Cats and Lazy Koalas provide two national level clubs, but each has sprouted smaller, localised feeder teams to grow local match practice. After years of groundwork, the game is now moving forward in a pleasing way.
The addition of competition with other Baltic states (Estonia) and potentially later with other Scandinavian clubs/leagues (Finland now and potentially, later, Sweden and Norway) offers the potential for greater growth of the game across the region – something that the clubs and also AFL Europe are conscious of and are actively developing.
This weekend’s tournament, hosted by the St. Petersburg Cats in association with AFL Europe and AFL Russia, will be played at the Kirovets Stadium. The day will feature “come and try” sessions as well as a women’s exhibition game before the Cats, Lazy Koalas and Heatseekers play a round robin draw of matches to determine the grand finalists.
The event shapes as an excellent display of Australian Rules football in a country that has embraced the game in a small but increasingly significant way.
Program of Events:
11.00am – Come and Try Beginners Session
11.40am – SPB Cats v Helsinki Heatseekers
12.20pm – Women’s Exhibition Match
1.00pm – Helsinki Heatsekers v Lazy Koalas (Moscow)
1.50pm – SPB Cats v Lazy Koalas
2.30pm – Grand Final