2018 Champions League Team Previews – Part Three

In the lead-up to the 4th annual AFL Europe Champions League hosted by AFL Netherlands in Amsterdam on Saturday 7th April, afleurope.org will be taking a quick look at the teams who have qualified for the continents’ premier club tournament. 

In our next round of team previews, the Nottingham Scorpion’s and Port-Malmo Lynx are our feature sides from the female division, while we get insight from the men’s camps of the Greater Glasgow Giants & Styrian DownUnderDogs.

 

Women’s Competition:

NOTTINGHAM SCORPIONS

LAURA TURNER 

Tell us a bit about your pathway to qualifying for the 2018 Champions League with a quick recap of your 2017 season…

The Nottingham Scorpions women’s team was established in 2017. Previously a few keen women had been training with the men’s team so we decided to advertise and recruit to make a full women’s team. We did so and had great success being unbeaten in all friendly fixtures and winning the Haggis Cup. Many of the women made the long journey to London each week to play for the North London Lions as there were no women’s teams outside of London to play against. In 2018 we hope to change that and already have a number of fixtures arranged against university teams and London league teams.

What has your preparation for this year’s tournament been like?

The team achieved a lot in 2017 and many players participated in the International Cup in Melbourne and the Euro Cup in Bordeaux. We were keen to increase our squad base by attracting new players and that is exactly what we have done, many of the ‘old’ Scorpion players will not feature at the Champions League, instead, we have recruited new players from home and abroad. We had a very successful taster session in February and are still gaining new players every week.

What does your side coming to Amsterdam want to achieve in 2018

2018 for the Scorpions is all about progress, development and experience. We have quite a number of brand new players who need as much game and tournament experience as possible. It will be the first time ever that a women’s English team from outside London will have participated in the Champions League tournament which in itself is huge progress for the women’s game in England. Any goals, wins and good performances will be an absolute bonus for us.

Describe some players in your team that fans should keep an eye on at Champions League 2018.

The tough-tackling Sophie Morris has been hitting the gym hard and has been honing her physicality, which combined with her speed means she often catches players off guard and they underestimate her due to her stature and perfectly coiffured hair. Laura Park (Speedo) has gained valuable experience at the International Cup in summer 2017 and has swapped smashing Irn-Bru for smashing deadlifts in the gym. Her keen eye for goal makes her one to watch for the crumbs and cheeky soccer goals. Jo Scrimshaw’s dedication to training will serve her well in the competition, she has game sense and awareness to use the right tactics at the right time. Her off the ball efforts go unnoticed by some but not her Scorpion teammates.

What would you like the world to know about your football club? Are there any funny stories from last season or previous tournaments?

The Scorpions love to party as much as they love to play, some of the team will be AP preppin’ in the lead up to the event and you will spot the Scorps on the dancefloor no matter what the score!

PORT MALMÖ LYNX

RYAN DAVIDSON  – PORT MALMO COACH

Tell us a bit about your pathway to qualifying for the 2018 Champions League with a quick recap of your 2017 season…

2017 was a pretty quiet year for us as the only club team in Sweden so our year consisted mainly of internal matches and a handful of games in Denmark.

What has your preparation for this year’s tournament been like?

We train indoors regularly through winter, and while we are happy with our preparations a bit more match practice would have been nice.

What does your side coming to Amsterdam want to achieve in 2018

In Amsterdam, we just hope to put up a good fight. We have a number of players that will play their first match so we need to be realistic about our expectations. We also have lost a few experienced players that have gone to Australia to play and try and gain some experience there.

Describe some players in your team that fans should keep an eye on at Champions League 2018.

Malin Anderberg is a new player to look out for. She will debut in Amsterdam but is already showing positive signs after only a few months training with us. The ‘legend of the boom’ will also be back after her debut in Bordeaux, look out world!

What would you like the world to know about your football club? Are there any funny stories from last season or previous tournaments?

I’m just hoping that our captain will stay out of the first aid tent this time. She has a habit of throwing herself into the contest and doing some damage. Final words, eat bananas, kick bananas.

 

Men’s Competition:

GREATER GLASGOW GIANTS

DOUG MULLIKEN 

Tell us a bit about your pathway to qualifying for the 2018 Champions League with a quick recap of your 2017 season…

Despite having the potential to be a year of transition and consolidation with a new head coach and heavily revamped playing squad, 2017 ended up being the most successful year in the Greater Glasgow Giants’ short history. After making, and losing, the AFL Scotland Grand Final in both of the club’s first two years of existence, the 2017 Giants, under the guidance of first-year head coach Ross Thomson, not only finished the regular season top of the log but also managed to put their Grand Final day jitters behind them for good. With only four teams competing last year, the Scottish league was remarkably even; the Giants were the only team to secure an away win throughout the course of the season and that win, a 63-66 slog in a downpour against their city rivals, was ultimately what allowed the Giants to finish top and qualify directly for the Grand Final. The Giants started the Grand Final slowly but came on strong in the second half and secured the league title with a 18.11 119 – 11.11 77 victory over the Kingdom Kangaroos. Notable performers on the day were half-forward Keiran McRedmond, who tallied 6 goals, and ruckman Conor McGoran, who was named Best on Ground.

What has your preparation for this year’s tournament been like?

With many of the Giants players participating in other team sports during the AFL off-season, the twice-a-week training schedule the team ran over the spring and summer has been cut back to once-a-week for most of the winter. With the Champions League in mind, however, the club made the decision to move training indoors at the Emirates Arena, which has seen a notable uptick in numbers as compared to the outdoor sessions from previous winters.

What does your side coming to Amsterdam want to achieve in 2018

The excitement for the tournament is palpable amongst the squad, however, there are a few players who will not be able to attend due to extenuating circumstances such as injury or prior commitments. This is frustrating, but it is also the unavoidable reality of a club dedicated to amateur sport. Of those who will be in Amsterdam, keep an eye out for ruckman/midfielder James Reekie – despite being a recent convert to the game he has proven to be quite the natural – and club captain Michael “Gekko” Douglas, who is capable of bossing the game from midfield or half-forward.

Describe some players in your team that fans should keep an eye on at Champions League 2018.

On the field, the club’s main goals for the Champions League are to represent to the best of the squad’s abilities, gain experience against the best Europe has to offer and utilise those lessons over the course of the 2018 AFL Scotland season. Off the field, one of the Greater Glasgow Giants’ foundational principles is the belief that a sports club’s health is reflected as much by its social side as by its on-field results. With that in mind, the Giants will be heading to Amsterdam eager to interact with fellow AFL lovers from across the continent. A tip for anyone reading this: if at any point over the weekend you see someone wearing orange and black and talking with a Scottish accent, come introduce yourself. You won’t regret it!

STYRIAN DOWNUNDERDOGS 

MICHAEL JUD

Tell us a bit about your pathway to qualifying for the 2018 Champions League with a quick recap of your 2017 season…

Same as this year, our 2017 season started with the Champions League where we finished below our expectations due to unnecessary losses in the group stage. Since we are the only team in Austria, we compete in the CEAFL together with our friends from Croatia, Czech Republic and Italy, where two tournaments were held in Milan and Graz. We were able to integrate some new players into our team and made a good performance at the Euro Cup.

What has your preparation for this year’s tournament been like?

The weather was not in our favour this year – a long period of temperatures around minus 15 degrees, a thick blanket of snow and uncountable rainy days forced us to hold our training sessions in the public parks of Graz instead of on our two pitches. Further, we regularly train in an indoor facility called skills.lab, a hexagonally shaped hall equipped with HD projectors and laser scanners high-tech training system where ball control, handballs and kicks are precisely measured and are compared in real-time.

What does your side coming to Amsterdam want to achieve in 2018

First of all, we are looking forward to play against for us unknown teams and see how our game play works against them. Secondly, the tournament is a good start into the season and we want to use it as an extra motivation for the upcoming year. Last but not least, we want to fight as tough as possible for and against every point in order to receive the best result possible in every game.

Describe some players in your team that fans should keep an eye on at Champions League 2018.

We definitely have some players to watch, but our biggest strength is our team as a whole – every one of our players has an individual quality that is better then ones from the rest of the team, but the spirit, passion and toughness all of us bring on the pitch will help us to fight for every necessary centimetre.

What would you like the world to know about your football club? Are there any funny stories from last season or previous tournaments?

Memories from half of the holiday lost after a Euro Cup because of a concussion, partying until the morning with a broken ankle, hundreds of hours in cars with really bad music, thousands of empty beer cans – those are things a big family is about.

SEE PART ONE OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TEAM PREVIEWS HERE
SEE OUT PART ONE OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TEAM PREVIEWS HERE