Right now all across Australia, women’s footy clubs are searching for sponsors and collecting player membership fees to cover the costs for the season ahead.
There’s a lot of things to pay for such as hire of the club rooms and grounds, insurance, league affiliation fees, medical tape etc; but it all means you can play at least a dozen or more games of footy over the autumn and winter months.
Now imagine, as a group of 25 footballers, having to raise almost $100,000 Australian just to play five games of footy in two weeks.
That’s the challenge that faces the European Crusaders, a collection of women from Croatia, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway and Sweden who all want to come to Melbourne in early August to compete in the 2017 AFL International Cup.
Talking to Girls Play Footy, Bérengère Portal of France told us of the difficulty that is arranging a squad of players that are spread throughout several countries.
“It will be very difficult for us all to train together,” Portal explained.
“We should see everybody at the next competition, so the AFL European Champions League in April.
“At least we’ll see each other and get to know each other a bit better.
“We plan to come [to Melbourne] a little bit earlier before the International Cup, so we can train together and learn to play together.”
It’s hoped that the Crusaders side will click together fairly quickly, as they’ll be one of up to a possible 11 sides to compete at this year’s International Cup, including the traditionally strong Irish and Canadian sides, as well the improving Americans and AFL European Champions, Great Britain.
Asked whether she’d prefer countries were split into groups, such as one for the stronger nations and another for the developing nations or all placed together in one division, Portal said she wasn’t afraid to take on the more established sides.
“My preference is to only have one division,” Portal said.
“I think that if we play against the stronger teams, we can learn more and have more experience about the game.
“It could be very hard for us, but it would be a good experience.”
Right now the toughest challenge Portal and the European Crusaders are facing is the financial one.
On their ‘Make A Champ’ fundraising page, they’ve broken down the costs of what the squad must cover to be able to participate in the two-week tournament.
As expected with Australia being on the other side of the planet, airfares for the squad are a hefty €42,000, with accommodation the next most expensive at nearly €16,000.
Transport around Melbourne sets the squad back €3,000, and most importantly, their playing/training gear will cost more than €2,000.
“We are trying to find solutions [to cover the costs].
“We just launched a donation platform with Make A Champ, we hope that can help us a lot.
“After that, we may work on a raffle with companies or little businesses, that the winner gets a logo on our jumper.
“We hope that we can find something [a sponsor].
“The sport [in Europe] is not very famous, but we’re trying with all our contacts to make our team known.