The AFL season in Australia may be over, but the international footy continues with various national and international tournaments being played overseas over the next few weeks.
The USAFL Nationals are coming, as are the Asian championships – but this weekend we have the AFL Europe Axios Euro Cup. The Axios Euro Cup is a nine-a-side competition, which will be played in Umag, Croatia this.
Originally known as the EU Cup, first held in 2005, it will be the second time the tournament has been held in Croatia; after being played in Samobor in 2009.
Last year’s tournament took place in London, where it was won by Denmark for the first time. England has won three tournaments, while Ireland has won twice; Croatia on the other hand won the 2010 tournament.
The game has come leaps and bounds since we last spoke to Josip Kravar, the President of the Croatian league, which has grown from 50 members to more than 500 members since we talked to him at the end of 2013.
AFL Europe’s Communications manager, Sarah Ongarello, informed us that the Madame President of Croatia is an ambassador for this tournament, and upon driving into Umag you will find two big billboards advertising the event.
In addition, there is television and newspaper advertising for the tournament in Croatia. The competition will feature twelve men’s teams, including a pan European Crusaders side for countries that couldn’t make the numbers, but wanted to participate.
Germany, Norway, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Scotland, England, France, Croatia and the Netherlands are all fully represented.
In addition, AFL Europe are thrilled to also include the Peace Team – a mix of Israelis and Palestinians. AFL Europe welcomes this group as a full member of their Federation and participant in their international competitions.
A record number of women’s teams will compete this year, with six full women’s sides competing from France, Sweden, England, Croatia, Norway and Denmark. Up from five in 2014, Ongarello tells me that there is huge excitement around the growth of the women’s competition, ahead of 2016 in particular, as an enormous part of AFL Europe’s goals revolve around fostering the growth of female footy in Europe.
About 30 matches will be played over the course of the event, starting 10am on the Saturday, with round robin matches to start, before heading to the knock out stage.
The final is played under lights. The men play for the Cup, the Bowl and the Trophy, while the women play for the trophy, which will undoubtedly change with the massive growth of women’s footy. Four soccer pitches are used for this, however Croatian Australian Football League and AFL Europe are marking out proper lines on the field – essentially a small oval with proper AFL goals, which have been constructed especially for this event.
Like last year the 2015 Axios Euro Cup will be streamed live. For more information on the tournament please visit www.afleurope.org.