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Local footy in Baden-Württemberg - The Newcomers and League Overview

  • Wednesday, February 27 2013 @ 07:53 am ACDT
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Many involved in footy outside Australia know it can be tough to find locals willing to try out a completely unknown sport and then travel all the way across the nation for a game. For numerous clubs across the USA and Europe, the key to getting larger numbers involved is local footy, often on a 9-a-side basis, for people to try out the sport with a minimum initial outlay of time and money.

One such league trying to get going is the Baden-Württemberg Footy Liga (BWFL), based around new clubs in south-western Germany and loosely connected with the Stuttgart Emus club.

Grant Walsh from the Emus says that a local league was always part of the long-term planning for the area, spurred on by the foundation of the Ludwigsburg and Haslach clubs. "The Taipans started up quickly and introduced a fresh new perspective, it became clear that they would soon be looking for some real competition."

That competition may come from clubs hoping to get off the ground in Böblingen, Tübingen, Freiburg and Karlsruhe, as well as possibly a reserves squad from the Emus. Although some of those new sides are looking more likely to take the field this year than others, WFN brings you a short preview of the people working on each of them.

First step in creating the BWFL will be to hold the 2013 BW Cup 9-a-side tournament on March 23rd and see who can field a team - last year Ludwigsburg, Haslach and two Emu sides were represented.

As Walsh says, "the advantages of having a strong local competition make every effort worthwhile and will strengthen footy in Baden-Württemberg for many years to come. Advantages include lowered costs, with very little travel expenses."

Games will likely be 9-a-side on a soccer pitch, making it possible to use public areas. Keeping it local means less time required for games - at present, AFLG away games require the entire weekend, whereas BWFL matches would only take part of an afternoon.

The standard of the AFLG is also rising year to year, making it increasingly difficult for new players and clubs to slot straight in.

Walsh reports that while the BWFL is still in the conceptual stages, it is important that all teams participate in the structure, rules and general development of the league whilst retaining their sovereignty. "Each step paves the way to help new clubs form easier and quicker through learning and support. One side objective is to develop a start-a-club kit."

"Interestingly, once you get the guys kicking a footy the majority continue. The difficulty is in getting the initial numbers, as training with less than an hand full of players makes it difficult to introduce interesting drills an get a feel for the intensity of the game. One or two good training sessions is what’s needed to get the team really moving. "

The Emus also envisage that the BWFL schedule would see matches held on weekends without AFLG matches, so players who can't get enough footy can play both locally and for the Emus.

"In 2012, the Emus asked players for their availability, and we set a deadline for their commitment on Tuesday before the game. This allowed us to offer the Hawks and Taipan players, who weren't Emu members an opportunity to get some AFLG experience."

"Naturally it was a huge advantage for the Emus to ensure that we had enough players for each game. Communication was not always perfect and complicated by last minute changes, however in most games it allowed new players to experience AFLG. If the league becomes more formal we need to discuss as a group if the Emus are to become a truly representative side."

Böblingen Pirates

After Ludwigsburg and Haslach, the next most likely new club to hit the field might be the Böblingen Pirates. Like Ludwigsburg, Böblingen is a commuter town not far from Stuttgart, and a few of the Emus squad have hailed from here (Grant Walsh included).

Driving force behind the club are two young locals, Timo and Roman. Timo discovered footy during an exchange in Australia and is now in his third season for the Emus. He introduced Roman to footy, and the two have brought various friends and family members out for a kick in the park at various times.

The Pirates have received support from the local Irish pub, been interviewed for the local paper, and have looked into a possible partnership with a local sporting and social club. Another plan is to hold a footy session at Roman's school's activity week.

So far, the side has 5 core members (Walsh being the only non-Germana), with another 3-4 potentials. If they can pull a few more in, then they'd be well positioned to start. "The club's still in formation, but I’m confident that we will play our first game this year," Walsh says.

Karlsruhe

Karlsruhe, another major city about an hour's drive west of Stuttgart, has three interested players looking at starting a team. It's slow going but there are a few possibilities, with a local multi-sports club interested in potentially adding footy to their list of activities.

Tübingen

Impetus for the club in Tübingen, a university town south of Stuttgart, comes from brothers Micha and Yannick Fog, who previously played with Ludwigsburg and also had a few AFLG matches with the Emus.

They had a few players training informally last year, but Micha is currently overseas and won't be back until just before the planned BW Cup on March 23, so it might be a few more months before they can get the side together.

Freiburg

A little further away, Freiburg im Breisgau is a university town near the Swiss-French-German border. Local sports student Nico recently returned from study abroad in Australia, where he played country footy with the Waikerie Magpies in SA's Riverland region.

He also played some footy with the Emus and is keen to find more players, but is finding it hard to find anyone else who knows of the sport.

Although they're a longshot to play any matches this year, the seeds are there if the BWFL can give them somewhere to play in the coming seasons.

Strasbourg

Located just over the border in France, but still within a 90 minute drive from Stuttgart, the Strasbourg Kangourous are another possibility for more matches for BWFL clubs. The Kangourous play their domestic French league matches over the European winter, so the BWFL would be held during their off-season.

Walsh says that Strasbourg have definitely been considered, and the Emus have a friendly game organized with them in early March. "One huge advantage of the BWFL is the low cost of playing, simply get the boys in sports gear and on the field. Strasbourg is a little farther away, still a day trip though."

A central email address for the Baden-Württemberg Footy Liga has been set up - inquiries can be directed to bwfl@gmx.de - we wish the BWFL all the best for 2013!