In the lead-up to the 3rd annual AFL Europe Champions League, hosted by AFL Netherlands in Amsterdam on Saturday 1st April, we’ll be taking a quick look at the teams who’ve qualified for the premier club tournament held in Europe.

First up we have reigning men’s champions and AFL London premiers, West London Wildcats, the Paris Cockerelles, last year’s beaten finalists, the Manchester Mozzies, the DAFL’s, Farum Cats, and Austria’s standalone side, the Styrian DownunderDogs.

 West London Wildcats

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season!

We qualified for the 2017 Champions League by winning the 2016 version and by winning the AFL London 2016 Premiership Division.

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

It’s been a tough preparation with so much turnover once again but it’s been great to see those from last year stepping up a gear knowing there is no resting on our laurels and to see some fresh faces come into the group with endeavour to propel the club forward in 2017.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League? 

As with anything we participate in we look to come away with the chocolates at the end of the day but we expect to face strong competition from all teams like it has been in the past 2 tournaments

Player to watch?

Mike Gregson – One of our Kiwi contingency who has showed plenty of opposition Aussies how it’s done in 2016.

Paris Cockerelles

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season…

We don’t have a women’s Championship in France yet. We organize friendly mixed games and few women’s games. So, the team that will be competing at the 2017 Champions League will be composed of girls from all over France (Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Paris) and will play under the Paris Cockerelles colours. Why the Cockerelles? Because it is the closest team to have a full team!

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

We have been playing friendly mixed games in closing of the men’s championship matches. Also, we invited the North London Lions last weekend to launch the Coupe Gallia, the first only female French competition. The Cockerelles have ended it as the winners of this first edition.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

We hope to do our best to go as far as possible, our goal would be to be in the Top 3, and why not even better!

Player to watch?

Coline Duquet, Camille Portal, Claire Pérez, Myriam Allali and Emilie Giancarli.

Manchester Mosquitoes

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season…

We qualified for this year’s Champions League by winning the AFL CNE Premiership. We went through the season undefeated and it was also our 3rd premiership in a row, which capped off our tenth season anniversary celebrations nicely!

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

We have been training together since late January. With a new coach at the helm, and new players joining the club it has been as much about welcoming everyone and getting to know each other’s game as it has been working on our fitness and match strategy.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

Having been runners up last year, we, (like no doubt all other teams), want to win the tournament. The Wildcats will again be the team to beat but saying that, all other teams are there because they are high quality and on their day, capable of winning it. Playing in the tournament is a great challenge and provides our players with great experience to take back for our domestic season and also for our players picked for IC17 teams.

Player to watch?

Chris Britton, he has been training the house down. He has a big year coming up and and the champions league is his first stop. A seasoned campaigner now, expect him to be leading from the front when our first game kicks off.

Farum Cats

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season…

Well in 2016 we won our league (DAFL) with the Farum Cats, the team in Denmark with the most premierships in history. It was a good season, with a lot of victories and a few loses, all culminating in the grand finale against our arch rivals, The Copenhagen Barracudas.

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

The training for the Champions League has been hard work from the moment we got the opportunity to play in it. We have spent a lot of time in the gym, getting in shape for the games as well as indoor training sessions with focus on skills. Players have been encouraged to look at some of the teams that compete in the tournament, trying to learn what they did, and to get a better understanding of the competition.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

We are a young team with only 2-3 players who have been in the Champions League before. But nevertheless, we’ve got at strong base, a high skill level and a lot of experience playing footy, so I thing we got a good chance of winning it.

Player to watch?

We’ve got a lot of stars on our team, like our unofficial captain Mathias Biron. He is one of the best back home, works so hard on and off the ball and always gives 100%. Another one to watch is William Andersen. He played for the Odense Lions last year, a fun player to watch with great skills. He may not be as physical as other players, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed, ball handling and kicking. Our newest member of our club is Oliver De Stobbeleir, a young gun, with roots in soccer, is playing in the heart of the defense. He’s a strong guy in the backline, not shy for some physical football. The last player to watch would be Mikkel Kjøge, one of the many stars from the 95’ generation. He has recently returned from a stay down under, where he played a high level of footy. A complete player in my eyes. Great speed, great marks, great kicks.

Styrian DownunderDogs

How did you qualify for the 2017 Champions League? Quick recap of your 2016 season…

We are the sole footy team in Austria so it was easy to win the Austrian title again 🙂

Actually, we’re playing in the CEAFL (Central European AFL) with teams from Croatia and a team from Prague and although we’re a quite small country in terms of footy history and background, we did quite well in this tournament. This reason together with the fact, that we’re celebrating the 10th birthday of our club this year made us ask for a wildcard in the Champions League so we can start our celebrations with this sportive highlight.

How has the preparation for the 2017 Champions League been going?

We started our training sessions about 1 month ago. Doing outside training sessions at this time of the year is not easy because all the soccer fields are closed and the parks were still covered with snow and ice in the first weeks. We also have a problem with injuries since some our most important players are injured since the last Euro Cup and some of them will not be able to attend at the CL.

What are your team’s expectations for the 2017 Champions League?

Since we will attend the first time, we don’t know if we have a chance to win a single game, but we hope that we can play against many teams, that we haven’t played so far and we can see new tactics, styles of playing and new approaches and that we can learn from them.

Player to watch?

Andreas Jauk played a fantastic tournament at the Euro Cup last year and he is again in pretty good shape. He will be our defensive rock in Amsterdam and I’m sure he will be in the center point of many game situations.