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This page is a quick snapshot of the status of Australian Football in Croatia. For further information, browse our news items or use the search facility. If you wish to contact football officials from the country, please search our site for links to their leagues or clubs, including in our Atlas. If unsuccessful, we can normally assist with putting people in touch.
Approx population (2009): 4.5 million
National side: Croatian Knights
Governing body: Croatian Association of Australian Football (CAAF)
Primary contact / link: Croatian Association of Australian Football
WFN Census (2004): N/A
WFN World Ranking (2008): 14th
History: The Zagreb Giants were founded in January 2006 as the first Australian rules football club in Croatia. That year, the team began a tri-nations series against the Czech Republic and Austria, winning the first event. In late 2006 plans were laid for a new team in Rijeka called the Sharks, although these did not come to fruition.
The Zagreb Giants formed an alliance with AFL club Hawthorn, changing their name to the Zagreb Hawks. Croatia's second club was created in 2008 under the name Kapitol Saints, with a series of domestic matches played between the Saints and the Hawks. This series has continued in 2009, with the Saints changing their name to the Agram Power, Agram being an old name for the city of Zagreb.
There have been beginnings of a national governing body set up under the name Croatian Association of Australian Football. The national team has been nicknamed the Croatian Knights, coming runners-up at the 2008 EU Cup in Prague.
The 2009 EU Cup was hosted by Croatia in the town of Samobor, 25km from Zagreb.
Outlook (2010): The Zagreb local competition has grown to around 30 regular players in the two teams, and the tri-series with Austria and the Czech Republic is on hold while the focus is on expanding this league.
The Croatian Knights have signaled some interest in attending the 2011 International Cup.
Other points of interest: The original Giants club in Zagreb was founded by Kolja Koracak, who learnt the game while playing in the Arizona AFL.
In Australia, numerous players of Croatian descent have played in the AFL, including Allen and Glen Jakovich, Alan Didak, Mark Dragicevic, Mathew Pavlich, Peter Sumich, Darren Gaspar and Craig Starcevich. Notable AFL personality Jason Akermanis grew up thinking he was of Latvian background, but discovered as an adult that his biological father was Croatian.
A team representing the Melbourne Croatian community competed at the 2004 and 2005 Multicultural Cups, with some members of this squad being involved with footy in Zagreb in the following years.
Last Updated: Friday, February 26 2010 @ 09:35 pm ACDT|Hits: 4,374