All Summer One Sport: Australian Rules Football
Next Stop: Sydney?
When I first started at Sport Calgary, there was one sport that was always talked about, Australian rules football (Aussie rules for short). I never knew what all the hype was all about. Leading up to the day, I was a bit (a lot) nervous, as I have never played football or rugby in my life. How hard could it be though?
Thankfully, Daniel McLeod, president of the Calgary Kangaroos Club, helped me every step of the way. From not being fully aware of what Aussie rules was, to being with the team running drills and catching the ball in fifteen minutes was incredible (at least I’d say so). At first, I didn’t know what the team would think of me, and if they would get frustrated that I couldn’t catch the ball. Not only did they encourage me to keep trying, they also learned my name and made a conscious effort to include me in practice, and make sure I was having fun.
Australian rules football combines elements of rugby, football and Gaelic football into a jam (or should I say Vegemite) packed sport. The focus of the game is to keep a ball moving any way that you can (there are no offsides). You aren’t restricted to any one move to get the ball from one end to the other. Not a good kicker? No excuses here, you can hand pass (like in rugby) to another player. In what other sport can you literally climb on an opponent’s shoulders to catch the ball?
When Daniel first said Aussie rules was, “A free-flowing fast sport with a high physical literacy” I didn’t really understand what he meant. I thought “Wouldn’t we have to stop every thirty seconds like in football?” But, after one round I understood what he was talking about. I hadn’t sweat that much since I was being interviewed for this job.
While I do like shopping, I don’t enjoy buying hundreds of dollars of equipment to find out a sport isn’t for me. Thankfully, you won’t have this issue in Aussie rules, as you just need a mouth guard (I found one on Amazon for $3) and some cleats (I found some at Walmart for $12) for extra grip. I used running shoes when I went out and tried the sport, but I slipped around a bit.
The field is like none other, it’s shaped like a huge egg that can fit 3 soccer fields inside! Professional players can run up to 15 kilometres in each match. The game itself is made up of four 20-minute quarters with overtime (up to 10 minutes) to be added at the end, just like in soccer.
Scoring is simple, you get six points for kicking the ball between the two tall posts (called a goal). You can also score one point for getting the ball (kicked or carried) between the tall posts and the two smaller ones on either side (called a point).
As the name implies, most of the players are Australian. There are however, a growing number of Canadians on the team now! The team is almost evenly split between men and women, most them being couples. What a better way to get fit and have fun with your partner than to play Aussie rules?
This sport has been played in Calgary since 2002, playing primarily against its rival club in Edmonton. There is hope for Northern Albertans though, as a club has just formed in Fort McMurray.
Some of you may be hesitant to join due to the high fees normally associated with organized sport. However, the Calgary Kangaroos Club allows you to volunteer and they will reduce your fees to $75 for the season. No spare time to volunteer? No worries, fees are only $175 for the season.
As it is an outdoor game, the season is from early April to later October (weather permitting). They practice twice a week and play every other week at Inland Athletic Park in the NW.
To get more Canadians involved, the Calgary Kangaroos use the Auskick program which teaches kids (ages 5-12) everything they need to know about the sport. This paired with the 16+ league allows almost every Calgarian the chance to experience the most popular sport from down under.
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