On this International Women’s Day we salute the women around the world making footy happen. Whether it is slogging it out on the training track, showing their skills in the heat of battle or doing all the jobs off the field that make the game happen (presidents, coaches, recruiting, media, development etc.), from a footy point of view they are putting the International in International Women’s Day. From Suva to Dublin, Paris to Zagreb, Port Malmo to Port Moresby, Cambodia to Calgary, Montreal to Islamabad, Auckland to Austin (and everywherer in between) women’s and girl’s footy is happening.
Increasingly women footballers are making the sacrifices to experience being a women’s footballer in Australia. In some cases it is to try themselves out against Aussies in Australian competition, in others it is to see if they can make it to the top against the best in the game’s homeland, and for others it is just to experience the game on it’s home turf at an Australian club. At the end of their journey they will take back a wealth of footy knowledge and experience to share ineir home land.
This year there are players such as Jess Blecher from Portland, Oregon (USAFL) who has just finished at Nightcliff in the NTFL and will play in Melbourne. Caroline Leduc has travelled from Montreal (AFL Quebec) to play with the East Fremantle Sharks and Alex Saulter (GB Swans and AFL England) is travelling to Australia to play with Melbourne University.
We asked Alex’s good friend and team mate Laura Turner to profile Alex Saulter ahead of her 2018 Australian footy odyssey.
Lyon’s own ALFA Lions have pushed their claims to defend their CNFA Leo Lagrange premiership title from last season with a big win against the Bordeaux Bombers. The win is their second of the season and if they can grab a win in their next match against the Aviators (not a guarantee) they would go to a final round match against the Cockerels in Paris hoping for a win – and loads of luck – to grab fourth place.
A big first quarter against the Bombers set up a 47-point lead by half time for the Lions. Bordeaux challenged in the third quarter, pegging back the lead, but the Lions steadied again in the final term to run out comfortable 71-point winners. The result has all but ended the Bordeaux team’s finals chances, but saw he Lions leapfrog them into being one of the likely remaining five finals chances.
They say history is written by the victors. In this case the victors are the Kingdom Kangaroos and this version of their historic three-peat was submitted to us by Sandy Bell.
The Kingdom Kangaroos won the annual Preseason Bawbag Cup for the 3rd time in 3 years on Saturday 24th March. The annual warm up tournament competed by the Tyne Tee Tigers, West Lothian Eagles and Fife’s own Kingdom Kangaroos.
The colloquially, and probably somewhat inappropriately, named Bawbag Cup was played on the weekend at the Leith Academy in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was a great day for the Kingdom Kangaroos as they defended the title they won last year in a three-team round-robin competition. The competition was made all the more historic with the West Lothian Eagles taking the field as an official AFL Scotland/SARFL team. It was also the first game for the Tyne Tees Tigers as a new member of the SARFL competition in 2018.
The West Lothian Eagles hit the field first against the more experienced Kangaroos. The final deficit was a four goal loss, but they were not blown off the park. According to their Facebook page, the only things that let the Eagles down was the lack of experience and game knowledge – two areas which will improve almost automatically the more games they play. The club was delighted with the form of the “first gamers” that took the field.
The two clubs that run under the banner of the Paris Cocks fought out their rescheduled Round One match yesterday in a clash hosted by the newly formed Antony Blues in the south of Paris. In an important match for both teams – the Cockerels to stay in the race for top two come finals time, and the Cockatoos to stay in the finals race – it was the Cockerels that were victorious by 21-points.
The Cockatoos were in the hunt at every change, being behind by less than three goals most of the match. But the kicking efficiency, especially near goal, of the Cockerels was superior. This was highlighted by the Cockerels having 19 scoring shots for the match compared to 23 for the Cockatoos, yet still winning by a comfortable margin.
The French capital city of Paris is fast becoming a hotbed of Australian football. With the powerful Paris Cockerels having given rise to their sister club the Paris Cockatoos, and the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes becoming a power in the north-east of greater Paris, Antony, a suburb south of Paris might yet become a fourth club in the city.
Steve Ryan coached the Paris Cockerels from 2014 to 2016 before joining the Texas-based Houston Lonestars club, contributing as a coach to a club regarded as one of the best organised in the United States. Having returned to live in the south of Paris with his wife, Steve is now a part of the group driving the Antony Blues. As Steve states, “I’ve been shaped by two great clubs in the Paris Cockerels and Houston Lonestars.” Now he is busy using that experience, and that of the other people involved in the project, to build a new team.
Hot on the heels of the AFL’s latest pre-season showpiece – the AFLX – Denmark has already taken a lead and will have their own DAFLX competition. Founder of the Odense Lions, and more recently the drive to bring the Aarhus Bombers back to glory, Morten Merhøj, has been one of the forces behind a new dimension to footy in Denmark.
According to Morten, “to make sure the many members in Odense keep interested in the sport despite not being able to play in DAFL Premier League because we are too many (but not talented enough to have two competitive teams), I came up with FAFLX [the “F” being for Funen, the island Odense is located upon).”
“But then I started looking into other clubs to join and found people in Aarhus interested in actually getting their club [the Aarhus Bombers] back on track. Then I wrote to all the players I could find on the Footy Record site who had played for teams in the area and all of the sudden we had a board and a playing group of 7-10 players.”
Most people enjoy a feel good footy story where a football team that has fallen off the radar for whatever reasons rises again like a phoenix and returns. The story is even better when that club goes on to enjoy great success. For the Aarhus Bombers in Denmark, that s exactly what has been happening in the background – the phoenix is rising and time will tell if that success follows.
But according to Morten Merhøj, founder of the Odense Lions and currently driving the Bombers to rise again, his version of the Aarhus Bombers will be bigger and better that previous models.
“[The] Aarhus Australian Football was started back in 1996. Before then you had to travel to Aalborg or Copenhagen to play. After a meeting at the local Australian bar, the Billabong Bar, the club was founded. Many people were at the meeting, but three men was the driving forces: Grant, Jason and Dean.”
The AFL Europe Fitzpatrick Cup was played out last weekend, and the following article from the AFL Europe website details the event. Once again, the UC Bombers have proved to be the university to beat, raising the bar even higher in 2018.
A mixture of rain, wind, hail and sunshine met participants at the 5th Fitzpatrick Cup hosted by the University College Cork (UCC) on Saturday. ‘The Farm’ played hosted to the annual universities tournament for the second year running in what proved a typically mild February day in Ireland.
Eleven teams made the journey to this year’s Fitz with eight men’s and three women’s varsity teams battling it to be crowned university champions of Europe.
The Irish city of Cork will be the host of the 2018 Euro Cup. Better known to some for the Blarney Stone, Blarney Castle, captivating architecture and the River Lee, the city is also home to two very successful Australian Rules football teams. A bit over 250 kilometres south-west of Dublin, Cork is home to both the Leeside Lions and the UCC Bombers, and the city in the province of Munster might just be the Irish epicentre of footy at the moment.
The Leeside Lions are the current ARFLI titleholders, going back to back last year. Last weekend, the UCC Bombers also went back to back in the men’s and women’s competitions at the 2018 Fitzpatrick Cup for universities.
The AFL Europe website stats that, “AFL Europe is excited to announce that this year’s Euro Cup will be held in Cork, Ireland.”