DEVELOPMENT TEAMS TO TOUR EUROPE IN 2017
The Canadian Nationals held in Burnaby in May of 2016 showcased and unearthed a wealth of footballing talent from across Canada. It gave our National Team Coaches a great opportunity to see and help select our International Cup 2017 (IC17) teams but it also highlighted an unintended question. How do we get more international quality games for the locally grown talent seeking exposure to higher level football?
To bridge the gap between our IC17 teams and the next crop of emerging players, the Midnight Suns (Northern Lights Development team) and the Northwind development team will travel in Europe in May 2017.
The Midnight Suns will play against the Great Britain Swans who are heading to the International Cup for their debut along with the Irish Banshees and a London All Stars team. The London All Stars team will be made up of the best players from the four women's teams in London, in order to bring strong and experienced players together to present a tough challenge to the three national teams.
The Northwind Development Team will be hosted by Great Britain and also play against Ireland and a yet to be named 4th side. With the male game also bursting in Canada and Europe alike, and the European nations looking for more competition in the months leading up to IC17, this will allow our men to benchmark themselves against the best Europe has to offer.
AFL Canada's President Lachlan Griffiths had this to say "We are very grateful to AFL Europe, AFL England and the Great British and Irish National Teams for coming together for this tournament next year. We have been looking to provide our players with more high quality games, and are excited by the opportunity to play against two very strong football nations. It is going to provide our development squad players with a first- hand look at the level of football required to compete at the International level, with the hope that these players will go on to represent Canada in future international games and press for selection at IC20".
The Canadian teams will touch down in London on Wednesday 17th May for five days; with games being played on the Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. The Women's games will simulate International Cup formats as close as possible, and each team will play one other only once with the winner being the one coming out with the most points, with % taking account if required. The Men's tournament will follow the same format with each team playing each other once.
On the back of early conversations between the team managers of Great Britain and AFL Canada there is talk of a desire to reinvigorate a yearly competition (going forward outside of International Cup years), similar to that of the old Atlantic Alliance Cup. While AFL England head of performance and GB team manager, Jason Hill, didn't confirm exactly how the competition would take place or when he did confirm that there had been talks and that GB did plan to travel to Canada in 2018.
Further details of game locations & times will be released in due course.