The 9th ANZAC Cup takes place in Villers-Bretonneux, France this Sunday 23rd of April with two games of football between the Australian Spirit and French National sides.

The small town of Villers-Bretonneux in Northern France has a strong connection with Australian Armed Forces. On 24th April 1918, the town was captured by German forces. Overnight the Australian troops retaliated and by dawn on the 25th April 1918 the town had be retaken.

The ANZAC Cup plays part of the greater ‘Australia Week’ celebrations held in Villers-Bretonneux, and culminates with the Dawn Service at the Australian National War Memorial, attracting thousands to pay their respects.

Players are selected for the ANZAC Cup Australian Spirit sides based on their personal connection to the Armed Forces, not their footballing ability.

The ANZAC Cup isn’t simply about the football, with players from both sides being hosted by local families from Saturday up until the Dawn Service on Tuesday. The weekend kicks off with a combined training session on the Saturday afternoon, before the teams enjoy dinner together and are presented with their playing jumpers.

On the Sunday, the teams come together to visit the National War Memorial to spend some time reflecting on the contributions of the young men and women who gave up so much during the war. The teams then march through the streets of Villers-Bretonneux meeting and greeting locals.

The march concludes at Stadium Timmerman and soon after the women’s match will start at 12pm and then the men’s will immediately after. Presentations and a minute’s silence will follow the matches and is always a special moment for all involved.

Australian players will conduct a footy clinic for the local children of Le Hamel on Monday afternoon introducing young French students to the great game of Australian Rules Football and is a great addition to this year’s event.

This year is the 9th edition of the ANZAC Cup with the Australian Spirit winning 5 of the 8 games so far. This is the 2nd consecutive competitive match for the women’s teams with Australia taking the victory in last year’s inaugural match.

The men’s side is being led out by ex-Armed Serviceman and current Army Reserves enlistee, Tony Fulton. Tony spent time deployed in East Timor for a peacekeeping mission recounting it as one of the most rewarding experiences in his life.

“ANZAC Day to me is about reflection and respect for the ultimate sacrifice that many ANZAC soldiers have made in the past, and still continue to make to this day. Having practiced the tradition of attending ANZAC Ceremonies for most of my life, I can honestly say that I can’t wait to be doing it in Villers-Bretonneux, France, on what I anticipate to be one of the most moving and memorable ANZAC Ceremonies I’ve had the privilege to be involved in. A win would be great as well.” – Tony Fulton, Australian Spirit Men’s Captain

Tony Fulton, Australian Spirit Men’s Captain

The women’s team will be captained by Hayley Canton. Hayley has a long family history of involvement in the armed forces, with her great grandfather, grandfather and both parents serving in the Australian Army.

“ANZAC Day has always been a massive part of my life as my father, mother and grandparents have all served our country in the Australian Armed Forces. The first ANZAC Day I remember, I marched with my father at our local service. I was so proud to represent my grandfather and to wear his medals. Since then I have attended many ANZAC ceremonies, to pay respect to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives or their livelihood for our freedom and way of life. I know the people of Villers-Bretonneux value the ANZACs and their contributions to the town. To be there at such a meaningful time of year, to see the memorial and to be able to put an image to the stories you hear about the battles I the most incredible experience.”  – Hayley Canton, Australian Spirit Women’s Captain

Hayley Canton, Australian Spirit Women’s Captain

Whilst the game is always competitive, with both teams wanting nothing more than to win, the ANZAC Cup provides a unique opportunity for remembrance and reflection on the bond between the ANZACs and French, the town of Villers-Bretonneux and the Somme region in Northern France.

In what is one of Australia’s most revered days, the 60 players, umpires and volunteers taking part have the unique opportunity to experience the meaning to ANZAC Day from the perspective of the locals in the small town of Villers-Bretonneux.

Congratulations in advance to the two teams and umpires taking part in the 2017 ANZAC Cup.

Umpires

Tobias Siegal – AFL Germany Umpire & Coordinator

Cai Davies – Victorian Football Umpires Association

Women’s

Australia

Amanda Rojek – Oxford University AFC

Alex Daley – Wandsworth Demons

Bianca Maes – Fitzroy FC/Hamburg Dockers

Bianca Valenzisi – Wandsworth Demons

Brittany McGinley – Wandsworth Demons

Emily Ashby – Kew Bears

Grace Houghton – Wandsworth Demons

Hayley Canton (Captain) – Wandsworth Demons

Isabel Currenti – Wimbledon Hawks

Laura Hewison – Wandsworth Demons

Emma Lundaahl – Wandsworth Demons

Leiha Shrubsall – Dublin Angels

Stephanie Filbay – Oxford University AFC/North London Lions

Jo O’Dwyer – Wandsworth Demons

Siobhan O’Dwyer – Wandsworth Demons

France

Joanne Mouradian

Fanny Maillet

Camille Portal

Melanie Colot Rat

Stephanie Walker

Catherine Giles

Naima Ait El Mouden

Emilie Giancarli

Berengere Portal

Anne Pille

Coline Duquet

Claire Perez

Men’s

Australia

Anthony Acfield – Kew Bears

Ash Walsh – Seymour FC/Wandsworth Demons

Ben Crole – Strathmore FC/Wimbledon Hawks

Ben Polmear – Port Malmo Maulers

Bryce Hayes – Mt Eliza Red Legs/North London Lions

Christopher Sharpely – South Yarra FC/Wandsworth Demons

Craig Primmer – South Sharks/Turku Dockers

Dick Benson – Old Xaverians/Wandsworth Demons

Elmo Primmer – Yeronga Devils/Turku Dockers

Jay Treloar – Gympie Cats/Moorooka Roosters/North London Lions

Matt Casalbuono – Moonee Valley FC/Wandsworth Demons

Michael Curcio – St Bedes Mentone Tigers/Wandsworth Demons

Phil Spivey – Altona North FC/ Sussex Swans

Ryan Spivey – Sussex Swans/Wimbledon Hawks

Steven Trollope – East Burwood/Paris Cockatoos

Tony Fulton (Captain) – Traralgon FC/Wandsworth Demons

Jason Cameron (Coach)

Tom Rischebieth (Coach)

France

Julien Gil – Toulouse Hawks

Herve Desjardin – Cergy Coyotes

Pierre Leschasles – ALFA Lions

Cyrille Gandolfo – Toulouse Hawks

Benoit Treuillet – Bordeaux Bombers

Pierre-Etienne Dandaleix – Bristol Dockers

Jeremy Sardin – Perpignan Tigers

Raphael Ubeda – Bordeaux Bombers

Pierre Boscart – Paris Cockerels

Thomas Despondt – ALFA Lions

Thomas Crepin – Cergy Coyotes

Jacob Raiwalui – Paris Cockatoos

Franck Nussbaumer – Paris Cockerels

Mathieu Osterero – ALFA Lions

Maxime Favero – Cergy Coyotes

Nicolas Boche – ALFA Lions

Andrew Unsworth (Coach)