It has been a long time coming but finally the London Footy Carnival is upon us. The three-day tournament sees both men’s and women’s teams competing.

The Canadian Development sides, the Midnight Suns and North Winds, headline the tournament and will take on some of Europe’s best with the Principal GB Swans, Irish Banshees and London All-Stars competing in the women’s division while the Principal GB Bulldogs, Wandsworth Demons Conference side and Welsh Dragons are competing in the men’s.

Matches kick off this evening with the London All-Stars taking on the Canada Midnight Suns at South Park Oval and the GB Bulldogs versing the Canada North Winds at Motspur Park, both games commence at 7pm.

The remaining fixtures can be found below

 

With 8 teams taking the field over the three days we’re taking a quick look at each to see how they’re shaping up.

 

Women’s Teams

Canada Midnight Suns – Jason Arnold, Head Coach

How have preparations for the London Footy Carnival been?

We announced our team in mid-December and the players have been committed over the past 20 weeks to give themselves the best chance to compete well against three formidable opponents. We held a camp last weekend and the large majority of girls improved their testing results by a significant margin which was really pleasing. They certainly have a challenge ahead but couldn’t have done much more to prepare. For many this will be their first game in 2017 given we don’t get onto grounds until late May, so they’re excited to get out and play.

Player(s) to watch?

Our two Northern Lights playing Assistant Coaches, Aimee Legault and Lara Hilmi will be looking forward to playing against Great Britain and Ireland being IC17 opponents. They will mix coaching duties with playing to provide some on field leadership. We have a number of players who will be keen to impress.

Lise Kiefer – Hamilton Wildcats – very quick and highly skilled player who we’re optimistic will make the step up to international level

Dora Bartulovic – Ottawa Swans – speedy player who can be damaging when in open space.

Alisa Dafoe – Morphetville Park Roos – Australian based Canadian who is making the trip from Sth Australia to join the team. Tall young athletic ruck / forward

Gabrielle Bureau – Montreal Angels – Talented forward who has great skills and very agile.

Ashley Gazley – Edmonton Emus – Fearless defender / mid who rarely loses a 1-1 contest.

Coach’s thoughts on the tournament?

We are grateful for the opportunity to give our next group of players a taste of international footy. It’s certainly going to be a challenge for the girls to compete with the ‘All Stars’ and two talented who are preparing to compete at IC. With at least two places in the IC17 roster still available, the girls have additional motivation to show if they are up to this level at this stage in their development. I’m confident they will give a good account of themselves and it will be a fantastic weekend of footy.

 

London All-Stars – Mitch Skelly, Head Coach

How have preparations for the London Footy Carnival been?

Prep for the carnival has been limited, however the 2 sessions on the track have shown we have a skilful group of players representing the London All Stars. We will be a small team and look to use quick ball movement to a mobile forward line. Unfortunately the squad has been hit with injuries to some key players such as Chloe Ong, Steph Filbay, Jemma Lowenthal and Katie Whitefield, however we are now able to bring in the likes of Gretta Hankinson from the Demons and Christina Palamberis from the Wildcats who have been in sensational form early in the AFL London season.

Player(s) to watch?

I’d say the players to watch from our end will be Tessa Hankinson and Becks Dickson, who are leading the way for the undefeated Wandsworth Demons, and the combination of Zarlee Toovey and Jess Humble from the Wildcats, who are both new to AFL London but bring some serious talent.

The All-Stars have a really good spread of talent and one of the strengths of the squad will be our midfield depth, with the likes of Cotch Fay, Bee Valenzisi and Em Bourke rotating through.

For the opposition I am sure Onora Mulcahy and Linda Connolly will be on fire for the Irish Banshees, with Laura Turner and Rania Ramadan key players as always for the GB Swans…. As for Canada we will just have to wait and see!

Coach’s thoughts on the tournament?

The weekend is a great opportunity for the GB and Ireland squads to get some tournament style match practice before the International Cup and the Canadian development squad to get a taste of international footy with a view ahead to the following IC. For the London All-Stars it allows the predominantly Australian squad to play representative footy at the next level, which can only serve to benefit the individual players, their clubs and of course the overall standard of AFL London. The vast majority of the squad never played Aussie Rules before moving to London, some have only played 2 or 3 games now, so everyone is looking forward to seeing where they sit in relation to some of these international powerhouse nations.

 

Irish Banshees – Head Coach, Pat Leavy

How have preparations for the London Footy Carnival been?

The prep for LFC has been going really well. The players have been going through their paces both individually and as a collective unit.  As LFC will be the first time a few of the players will represent their country they are really pumped.

Player(s) to watch?

The Banshee to watch will be Fiona Roarty who took up the game in Canada. She is at the height of her game and will love playing against her old teammates on the Canadian team.

A close second will Onóra Mulcahy – she has been very solid this season in the London league.

Coach’s thoughts on the tournament?

I think it will be a great few days of footy which will showcase all the great work being done in Canada, who are a powerhouse, in GB who will be the surprise packets at IC17, the All-Stars who will provide a test of where everyone is at compared to the Australian game and of course the Banshees who will be bringing our fresh new recruits along with a few wise old heads to the tournament.

 

Principal GB Swans – Coach, Ian Mitchell

How have preparations for the London Footy Carnival been?

As a group, it has been hard to prepare other than our successful day at the London Pre-Season Cup. That day went really well as we were able to see girls in different positions and try out one or two set plays that proved to work pretty well for us on the day.

Individually though I know the players are working unbelievably hard with their clubs and in groups dotted the length and breadth of the country. I expect to see us fitter than at the Pre-Season Cup and now that the season is underway, I think we will be cleaner in our disposals and more clinical in front of goal.

Player(s) to watch?

We are excited to blood some new Swans this weekend for starters! Alannah Blount who has been training up in Sheffield has taken to the game superbly as has Bryony Cleall who plays at the Wimbledon Hawks. It is a great opportunity for these girls to shine and experience football at a different level to before for them.

In terms of the Swans ‘old guard’ Ellie Sutherland had a great Pre-Season Cup so I am excited to see her getting her hands on the ball as much as possible this weekend. Laura Park popped up with some really crucial goals down in London so it will be great to see her back out on the park again, hopefully bagging a few more goals as a small forward. The final name I have for you is Lucy Kilheeney – a really exciting, aggressive young player from Manchester who kicks strongly and seeks the ball.

Coach’s thoughts on the tournament?

What a fantastic opportunity! It’s superb that not only the London All-Stars are on hand to give us another tough game (they defeated us on the siren earlier this year) and the Banshees are making the short hop across the Irish Sea but for the Canadians to be over as well is truly exciting. It will really give the girls a flavour of international football, a benchmark for where we stand leading into the International Cup and added motivation to work hard in the coming months to maximise their potential both individually and collectively for the tournament in Melbourne.

 

Men’s Teams

Principal GB Bulldogs – Team Manager, Jason Hill

How have preparations for the London Footy Carnival been?

With two rounds of club footy under the belts of our players it seems like a perfect time to get our first IC preparation match under our belts. We had a fairly successful Pre-Season Cup outing with victories over the West London Wildcats and Wimbledon Hawks which shows we can compete at a decent level when we’re firing. We’ve had a couple of training sessions since then where we’ve continued to work towards our team goals at IC. The squad is coming together nicely and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming in our Australian based players. A couple have made the trip over for LFC and we look forward to getting them integrated into the group. It’s a shame that Head Coach Dean Thomas couldn’t be with us for the weekend but former Bulldog Matthew Kilheeney will take charge with Jason Hill assisting.

Player(s) to watch?

Luke Matias – Luke returns to the UK from Australia to be part of LFC in preparation for his 6th International Cup. As a GB veteran, he will bring a sense of old school back to a very young, and still inexperienced, Bulldogs team. Luke will be winning his 23rd Bulldogs Cap and will be aiming to add to his 7 goals and 13 Best on Grounds.

Alex Watson – Alex missed a lot of the AFL Europe Championships last summer due to a foot injury and is itching to prove himself at this level. From all reports in AFL London he has been very impressive in the opening two rounds for Wandsworth with coaches and players commenting on his improve Ruck work and his intensity and pressure around the ground. Alex will be winning his 3rd cap.

Coach’s thoughts on the tournament?

For us this is a one-off game for us to blood some new players, try some new set ups and get a small idea of where we’ve improved as a team. While the result isn’t everything here we do take wearing the Bulldogs jersey very seriously and expect our players to do everything they can to bring home Wins for GB. We haven’t played a Canadian side in a while so will be good to play an opponent we haven’t seen before and we’re hoping to see some new structures that we haven’t come up against in Europe to keep our boys on their toes and give them a small taste of what IC will be about. Having Luke (Matias) and Adam Coxsell over from Australia will give them boys an idea of what the GB sides have been working on since 2014 and we hope to send them back to their peers with only good things to say. Right now, we’re very excited about the up-coming International Cup and this warm up game will only continue to heighten that excitement.

Welsh Dragons – Team Manager, James Gibson

How have preparations for the London Footy Carnival been?

The league has not had a huge amount of 18 a side experience to date; we have therefore taken every opportunity we could to work on our 18 a side game! We entered a team into the AFL London League Pre-Season Cup to start our prep and obtained our first 18 a side win. This has been followed up by several WARFL League training sessions on Thursday evenings in Bristol which has seen superb interest from all clubs.

Player(s) to watch?

Cal Newman – his natural height and basketball background meant he was an automatic pick in the ruck. However, his rapid pace and overall fitness, as well his determination to practise and improve his all-round skills has seen him moved into more dangerous positions in the forward line or in the midfield. We hope that exposure to the more open spaces of a full oval will allow his talents to come to the fore.

Wales’ other clubs are also represented. Chippenham Redbacks provide GB experience with wily veterans Rob Fielder and Tom Case, whilst Bristol’s Liam Payne and Swansea’s Geraint Havard will help shore up the defence.

Finally, Rhys Morgan of the old Cardiff Double Blues is present, having recently returned for the Cardiff Panthers. This member of the original European Legion has experience of playing against current AFL stars and will look to help the team running through the centre.

Coach’s thoughts on the tournament?

Looking forward to exposing our players to higher levels of playing intensity and the experience of playing 18 a side as we try to prepare them for potential Nationals selection and perhaps even future international representation.