Odense Lions' Massive Expansion Plan
Thursday, February 21 2019 @ 10:19 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Football in Denmark is about to get a massive boost with the expansion plans for the Odense Lions. Club president Morten Merhøj and fellow founder Daniel Petrolo from the Lions took the time to detail the plans and how they will impact on the game for the entire DAFL.
It is an exciting and also inspirational story of a club’s ongoing journey.
“Odense Australian Football have BIG plans for 2020. Working together with the local government and the old Danish sports association Bolbro GIF, we are building what will be, maybe, the best set up for footy in Europe. A brand new field is being made and to be able to fit the big oval in the area, light towers and drains had to be moved. A massive and expensive effort that could not have been accomplished by the club alone.”
“On top of that the clubhouse is being fully renovated with new cafeteria, change rooms, gym, medical room, meeting/tactic room and the indoor arena for the long winters. An incredible renovation of the home of the Lions called Bolbro Parken. To keep costs down most work is being done by volunteers using all their spare time painting, breaking down walls and so on.”
“It feels like a dream come true. Being able to sit in your club rooms with a lion on the wall looking out at the oval and the posts. The better and bigger facilities gives us a chance to expand on our activities. Already we have a University team as a part of the club but with this we hope to attract even more players and also opposition teams from Great Britain.”
“Rumour has it a first ever Danish University game against Oxford in already in the makings here in 2019 to prepare for next year. Having this set up means we will be able to better compete against more well known sports in Odense: rugby, GGA and even most soccer clubs will not have as good a set up as us making us able to offer something extraordinary on top of the world’s best sport. But to make this happen we had to start from nothing, find the right partners, show them what kind of club we were and then fight for it at the local government.”
“When Odense Australian Football club was founded in 2013, by two young footballers - Daniel Petrolo and myself Morten Merhøj - we then faced the problem most new clubs do: finding a place big enough and even enough where we could set up eight posts. We live in a part of the world where most sport facilities are made to accommodate soccer. The idea to have a 135m long oval-shaped field can scare many potential partners away.”
(Picture: Aerial view of planned facility)
“We were therefore only given permission train on a normal soccer pitch outside of Odense and no holes were to be dug and no new lines made on the field. This was the start we needed to accept to get the ball rolling.”
“In 2014, after putting much pressure on the local government, we then were allowed to dig our holes and raise the posts on a new field. Problem was it was a long way outside of Odense and the only facilities available were a nearby school’s old PE-rooms with showers. We were happy to have a place to play but our ambitions quickly outgrew the location.”
“We therefore started searching for people who could see the potential of our club and what we were creating. Luckily, Bolbro GIF responded to our letter. They could see our ambition and eagerness to work and included us in the association. Backed by them, we were able to secure a proper sized field close to the old Bolbro GIF facilities, right in the centre of Odense. The field was uneven, a little downhill, but we now had a room to hang a framed jumper, drink a beer in the shower and celebrate after games. But we still wanted more.”
“We involved ourselves in every project Bolbro GIF made and with our numbers growing to more than 50 we felt like an important part of the old, well know association. And so did Bolbro GIF.”
“The local government, who six years ago sent us to a soccer field where not even a line could be changed to accommodate our sport, could now also see our potential and with their help and the friend we had made we will be able to completely change Bolbro Parken and build what we hope will be a well know footy location in Europe. It should also be known for the friendly and ambitious people involved.”
World Footy News will keep in touch with the Odense Lions to report on the progress of this huge and potentially invaluable enterprise. There are certainly some exciting times ahead for the Odense Lions, Danish footy in general and also footy across Europe.
Maybe in the not-too-distant future, the Odense Lions might even host a Euro Cup. Time will tell.
(Pictures: The work begins.)