Magpies Reach Out to Dallas/Fort Worth Community

On a sunny but blustery Friday, during their regularly scheduled physical education class, approximately 240 boys and girls in third, fourth and fifth grades at Dickinson Elementary in Grand Prairie got their first glimpse of a real, all-leather, fair dinkum, Australian football and a chance to inquire of visiting Aussies important questions such as “Do you know the Crocodile Hunter?”


The Dallas Magpies Australian Football Club recently ran an Australian Football clinic for the Dickinson Elementary students. It was a fun-filled day, as the children experienced a cultural lesson on sports from the land Down Under.


The Magpies are a charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code focusing on the cultural interaction of Americans and Australians. One of the primary goals of the club is to reach out to the Dallas/Fort Worth community by helping schools educate children on Australian culture, and by introducing them to a sport — Australian Rules Football, or footy that is played by children their age on the other side of the globe.


“The children had a great time asking all sorts of questions about Australia and footy,” said Magpies Vice President Daniel Russo. “I even told them that I was the one who taught Steve Erwin (the Crocodile Hunter) how to wrestle crocodiles. But they were too smart to believe that one!”


The one-hour clinic that the Magpies held for each of the grades at Dickinson Elementary involved a brief history of Australian Football, going back to the sport’s beginnings in the 1800’s in Australia. Also, Aussie Rules is generally played on an oval field between 150 and 190 yards in length and 120 and 165 yards in width. After telling the kids how big the field is, the general comment was, “Wow! That is huuuuge!” A team consists of 18 players on the field at once. (“Coooool!”) After a brief overview of the game, the basic skills needed to play the game were taught — the drop punt, the handball and marking (catching). After a brief inside demonstration, the kids got to go outside and try out their newly learned skills by playing a little game. 


“The kids love this! They are having the best time,” said Brenda Tisdel, the Dickinson Elementary P.E. teacher.


The Dallas Magpies have plans on attending other schools in the Dallas area this year and possibly returning to Dickinson Elementary to do similar clinics.


The Dallas Magpies are a not-for-profit organization, dedicated to fostering national and international amateur sports competition as well as promoting a cultural exchange between Americans and Australians. The Magpies participate in the Mid American Australian Football League, a division of the United States Australian Football League, and also have a player, Brandon Blankenship, who competes on the U.S. National team in international competition. The team is also active in promoting the Australian national sport and Australian culture through clinics at area schools and by sponsoring events such as the annual Australia Day and ANZAC Day celebrations in the Metroplex.


For more details on organizing a school clinic, playing footy or supporting the Dallas Magpies Australian Football Club, visit or e-mail the recruiting department (

- Stuart Rackham

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