The last international women’s footy tournament before IC17 in Melbourne occurs this weekend at the 2017 London Footy Carnival.
Four teams will battle it out in a round-robin tournament over three days, where the Irish Banshees and Great Britain Swans will tune up for August by taking on the London All-Stars and Canada’s development team, the Midnight Suns.
Coach of the IC11 champions, the Irish Banshees, Pat Leavy told Girls Play Footy his side will have a mixture of players warming up for IC17 and development players.
“We’ll have our London-based girls and link those with our current team we have in Ireland,” Leavy explained.
“Obviously, the players we’re bringing over will be a variety of girls who are going to the tournament in Melbourne, and then other girls who weren’t unfortunately not able to commit to IC17 due to work or family reasons.
“For those not going, it gives them an opportunity to be picked for the AFL Euro Cup (9-a-side) at the end of the 2017.
“Then for those who are travelling to Australia, it’s kind of an ideal opportunity just for them to get experience in the 18-a-side footy, because the league here in Ireland is not 18-a-side and we play anywhere from nine to 14-a-side.”
The Banshees coach was all praises for those putting together the tournament.
“Mitch [Skelly], Lisa [Wilson], Jason [Hill] and all the guys in London have put in huge work, as well as the Canadians coming over.
“They all worked really hard to make sure this tournament in London is going to be a great success.
“It’s one of these tournaments where it’s great to have a footy festival, but it’s not about winning, it’s to do with development of the game throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and it’s the first step that make develop into huge going forward.”
While the Banshees, Swans and Midnight Suns teams contain nationals from their respective countries, the All-Stars will be a mix of the best possible talent available in London.
Mitch Skelly, who will coach the side, said despite a few late omissions due to injury, his team is full of stars and should be tough opposition to overcome in the tournament.
“We’ve got Australians, a Kiwi and a French girl as well,” Skelly said.
“Tess Harrington and Bec Dickson, they were the equal best and fairest at Wandsworth last year; A couple of guns, Tess will play half-forward and Bec probably half-back.
“From the Lions there’s Chev Fewings, and from the Hawks there’s Gab LeGall.
“From the Giants, “Ginge” as we know her, Karli Smith, she’s a really gun forward.
“And the Wildcats, who are a new team in the AFL London women’s comp, they’ve picked up some really good players; one of them is Zarlee Toovey, and the other is Jess Humble.
“They can swing midfield or half-forward, so I’m looking to get a bit out of them this weekend.”
For the GB Swans, the tournament will be a chance to prove if the hype about their team is real and that the European Championship victory was no fluke.
How they’ll go at IC17 might be foreshadowed early, when they cross paths with the development side of the reigning International Cup Champions, Canada.
Although featuring a number of new players to international tournament football, the Midnights Suns will have playing assistant coaches in Lara Hilmi and IC14 World Team captain, Aimee Legault.
The experience of those two should give the Canadians some much needed leadership out on the field, help improve their structures and put up a good challenge to the British and Irish.
Tournament Schedule (London time)
Friday, May 19
7.00pm – London All-Stars vs Canada Midnight Suns at South Park Cricket Oval, Fulham
Saturday, May 20
10.00am – GB Swans vs London All-Stars at Peckham Rye Common
11.15am – Canada Midnight Suns vs Irish Banshees at Peckham Rye Common
2.00pm – Irish Banshees vs GB Swans at Peckham Rye Common
Sunday, May 21
10.30am – Irish Banshees vs London All-Stars at South Park Cricket Oval, Fulham
12.00pm – GB Swans vs Canada Midnight Suns at Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Playing Fields