G'day Takoma Park!
Who's up for a game of Ausball?
It can be described as a co-ed, non-contact version of Australian Football.
OR it could be described as a cross between soccer, football, basketball and what the heck, let's throw in volleyball too!
OR it's an indescribably fun cardio sport that would be great for Takoma Park kids and adults alike!
I hear there's one cool rule that says that no goal can be counted unless as least one Sheila (girl) touches the ball while in the team's hands.
My favorite sports growing up were fencing and dancing, neither of which required a ball. Much less one that wouldn't fit easily in the palm of my hand. But somehow, after I was introduced to the sport during the Passport DC festival at the Australian Embassy this past weekend, the thought kept bouncing into my head. Why not import Ausball to Takoma Park?
Yesterday, I returned to the Embassy to get more information. Three avid (is there any other word for an Australian sportsman?) footy players who work in the mailroom introduced me to their moves.
Why is it a great game? Kit Drury, a self-described tall and lanky guy, says "it's hot! It's a 360 kind of game that requires more skill and more running than any other. Very aerobic. You don't play one position all the time."
The game, which requires 9 players on a side including at least 3 women, starts with a basketball-like tipoff on a grassy field. The oval playing area, 70 yards by 35, can be marked off by cones. The purpose is to score as many points as possible through the two posts (goals) set up at the ends. The field is divided down the middle.
Kick the ball through the posts without being touched, get 6 points! If it's touched, too bad, but you still get 1 point. There are penalties for out of bounds and for contact, the opposing team will get a free kick. Playing unnecessarily rough? The umpire can eject you. I might like that job.
Players cannot be slow. Less diplomatically, you have to haul your butt down the field fast! You must dispose of the ball within 5, count 'em only 5 steps of gaining possession. Kick or handball it. If you don't get rid of it, the ball is turned over to the other team who gets a free kick. If you throw it wrong, the other team gets a free kick. Takoma Park kids definitely have to work together to avoid giving the other team too many kicks!
There are more rules, but they're simple. Check them out on the Ausball website.
I was so excited about this game I immediately told Greg Clark, the Takoma Park Recreation Dept Director about it. And then couldn't help but spill the beans, or would it be "spread the vegemite" to Nancy Stephens, the After School Activities Coordinator at the Takoma Park Middle School.
It's easy to learn and equip our coaches. For only $350 Dennis Ryan of Ausball in Baltimore will travel to your in-school or after-school program site, conduct your classes for the day, set up your coaches to teach Ausball themselves and leave you with not one, not 2, but a whole pack of 20 balls!
According to Dennis, this impassioned footy, "One of the great things about Ausball is its adaptability. Field size, team numbers and rules can all be easily adapted to best suit your school and students. Our site is loaded with all the resources you need to get your program started. Lesson plans, instructional videos and links."
After learning lots from Alan Robertson, Jesse Goncalves and Kit Drury at the Embassy, they suggested I check out this weekend's game at Bocek Park in Baltimore at 12:30. Watch the BW Eagles whip the NY Magpies or will it be the other way around?
If you can't wait until teams get set up in Takoma Park, take a weekend field trip to Northern Virginia to watch Saturday Morning Footy. The program, run by Chris Adams, is open to boys and girls aged 5-15 and is offered for free!
Just imagine, we could watch aerial pingpong (Australian Football) while enjoying a barbie. We could even watch other parents' children (not ours!) use a bushman's hanky while playing (that is, emit nasal mucus by placing one index finger on the outside of the nose and blowing) and maybe we could even chuck a sickie (take the day off sick from work when we're perfectly healthy) to see 'em score. What do you think? Let's give it a fair go!
NB: Slang (which could be way outdated) is courtesy of Koala Net - not my new friends at the Embassy. :)