The Swans have been on a high for much of 2018 and tournament season has just arrived for AFL Asia. A touring squad of over 50 will look to keep our season rolling in men’s and women’s’ tournaments in Phnom Penh this weekend.

Read on for the preview!

Recap: The Swans Triumph at Last Year’s Indochina Cup!

Just in case you’ve forgotten, the Indochina Cup was held up in Hanoi in 2017 and it was the Swans who walked away victors. Darcy Wilkoz kicked a bag and Grant Richardson was Player of the Tournament. What a day!

Vietnam Swans Indochina Cup 2017

Unfortunately, both Darcy and Grant have moved on this year, so the mens team are back to the drawing board!! It’ll be a whole new challenge as we hit the road to defend the trophy.

This Year’s Indochina Cup

Phnom Penh is the venue for this year’s Indochina Cup. The Swans would normally visit Phnom Penh on the infamous Cannonball Run: its a boozy trip over, a boozy trip back, and a few games in between to decide a big concrete trophy. Its a double-header, so both teams benefit evenly from home field advantage.

The Indochina Cup will bring a slightly different perspective to the Swan’s trips to Phnom Penh. This Cup is an annual get-together between the Vietnam Swans, Cambodian Eagles, Thailand Tigers, Laos Elephants and Myanmar. Decided on a single day in a round-robin format, the Cup decides regional bragging rights… so everyone wants to win!

This year adds another dimension, with an AFLW contest between the Vietnam Swans, Cambodian Apsaras and the Malaysian Warrior Women. All up, the Vietnam Swans are touring with over 50 people this trip. It’s another first for the club and a real sign of strength and depth.

What’s in Store: The Mens

The Swans lads have started well in 2018, with series wins over Thailand and Cambodia, plus a draw against reigning Asian Champs Malaysia in Penang.

There’s been a healthy break since the Swans’ good form of April and May… during which time Cambodia has been playing some great footy. Rumours are swirling that the Cambodian Eagles are looking like the favourites, and a serious defence of the Cup is going to be needed for the Swans to have a chance.

First off… some bad news for the Swans:

  • The big trio of Darcy, Grant and Dave ‘Disco’ Barbeler have moved on, and the Swans will need to find some new goal kickers. These boys ran rampant in Hanoi and it will take someone new to step up.
  • On top of that, Swan’s spiritual leader Gus is roaming around the Birdsville Races and this season’s revelation Tom the Pom is out, plus our local stars Dangsta and Vinh! Chuck is also yet to back up his bold claims and actually front up for an important game!

Sean Milner Vietnam Swans

There is good news however… the Swan’s mens squad is huge at the moment. For possibly the first time in a long while, we’re maxed out at the limit of 22 players for the tournament. We will have to list a few emergencies: thanks to Harley aka ‘Stickers’, Kev “Twinkletoes” Wilkinson, Filthy Phil Jordan, Vinh and Andrea Bocchelli for training hard and making the trip over. Timmy Pickert is also sharking the boundary line with hopes of the call up, ahead of his full-time return to Vietnam early in 2019.

The Hanoians have gone from strength to strength under the leadership of Jakey Norris and will be looking to have a huge impact on the Swans chances of collecting more silverware this season. After some promising signs in Penang, expect the northern contingent of Jake, Todd Donovan, Irish Tom Delaney and Jack Bullard to really seize their opportunity in Phnom Penh.

Vietnam Swans vs. Malaysia Warriors

Big Irish Tom is a great tall addition to the Swans. Can the Swans height overcome the Cambodian’s pace? 

It’s age versus youth that remains the big ongoing debate in the South. Will the old guard of Billy, Jimmy B, Damo, Vaughan and Andy G continue their stellar run of form, or will the youngsters lead by Micka, Oscar, Niiiiitty, Jono and Alex “Mumford” Jones finally take over the reins??

Others point to the ominous return of the Milner brothers. With a hectic schedule, Nath and Sean have been rarely sighted in Swan’s colours in 2018 but are a welcome inclusion to the side. These boys only play one way, and its always good.

We take the field early on Saturday. Every game is important, but perhaps it’ll be the last game against Cambodia that decides the cup winner. The showdown between our local Vietnamese boys and the Khmer kids will be vital by this stage: the Khmers of the Cambodian Cobras were fast in the wet conditions of Saigon’s first AFLX tournament recently and will continue to work hard all day.

Coach Rod Rocket White has introduced a new mantra for the second half of the season: “Selfless. Care. Respect”. Looking to extend a solid run of results for the club in his first season as coach, Rocket’s addition of these 3 new words to 4 existing rules possibly threatens the fine balance he’s struck so far…

Can we prevail? We’ll try to keep you posted.

The Lady Swans in Their First AFLW Tournament

Of course, with the rapid rise of AFLW in Asia, there are now two trophies to be awarded on Saturday. Read on for Chia’s preview of what we can expect from the AFLW…

Chia: It has been an exciting first half of the inaugural season for the AFLW Asia so far in 2018 and an honor to be able to coach the first Vietnam Women’s AFL Team. Going up against Cambodia and Malaysia hasn’t been easy. The Vietnam Lady Swans have one win so far and are hungry for another. With some game experience and knowledge of the game under their belts now the ladies are hoping to come out strong for the upcoming games in the Indochina Cup Vs. Cambodia and Malaysia.

Nona Vietnam Swans

Nona, the enforcer in the back line for the Lady Swans. 

The ladies have now been back at training for three weeks in preparation for the weekend ahead, after a long 6-week summer break. Fitness has been a little elusive and we know this weekends games wont be easy, however the experience will be crucial in our preparation for the Asian Chamionships in October. Although the ladies know it will be tough they are also excited for the upcoming games. I believe the nerves will be high and hope the ladies can get out on the field with their individual disciplines to create space and make their disposals and second and third efforts count.

With a full squad of 18 players traveling across from HCMC, we feel we will be well matched with the other teams. Its fantastic to have the following girls make their debut: Lucy, Emily Ritchie, Claire Hansen and Steph Lee. One of our strong midfielders Naomi Reidy will return after an ankle injury in our very first game against Cambodia.

Naomi Reidy

Naomi Reidy is back! 

Ladies to look out for in the backline are Linh Nguyen, Katie Walsh and Captain Nona Hatumena. Up along the wing Rebecca Phillips, Larissa in the ruck and in the forwards Lu Hermon at CHF and Laurey Jordan at FF. Also for their first trip to Cambodia will be our Philipino girls Alexz and Nini Beltran-Bullard who will slot into the FP and BP positions. Finally, returning to Cambodia for her second time, Lucy Nguyen one of our Vietnamese powerhouses will interchange for the midfield and is also one to keep your eye out for with some highly improved skills.

See you all there!!!! – Chia Sabbatucci, Coach, Lady Vietnam Swans AFL Team