Playing Footy In Australia

USFooty- The sport of Australian Rules Football is definitely growing and developing immensely in the US. I have monitored it over the course of 4 years not only the number of teams, players, etc. but the improvement of skills and overall understanding of the game. I recall in the CAFL, where I played for both the LA Crows and the Orange County Bombers that there used to be perhaps 2-5 players with decent football skills (hand-ball/kicking). Now, you watch those same teams and find 8-10 players with decent football skills. This year is a testament of the above with the 2nd annual East vs. West State of Origin-type of persona. The game pits the elite players from the East Coast against the elite players from the West Coast. The players chosen earned the right to compete as they were selected by a USFooty Committee. Regardless of the winner of the contest, the true benefactor is the US and the expansion of the game of Australian Rules across the nation. I have been fortunate to have played Australian Rules in Melbourne, Australia-"The Mecca of Aussie Rules". It would not do it justice to compare Aussie Rules in the US vs. Australia, but instead as we develop the game and the players we should focus on trying to emulate the development via the grassroots. The lack of field space, thus having to play on make-shift ovals, and not having the 3-4 days per week of training time to hone those skills are elements of the USFooty game we have had to live with. We have nevertheless produced some sound football players. Americans are excellent athletes just as are Australians and its only a matter of time before you see American-born players besides myself, David Thurmond, etc. playing at AFL/VFL level of Australian Rules Football just as you will see Australian-born players playing positions in the NFL. My goals from when I first started playing in the VFL was to 1) Earn a spot on the list and a contract, and 2) Become a good Australian Rules Player."PERIOD"...Not just a good footballer for an American-born player...a Good Footballer, and I have accomplished both goals. I now would like to share my experiences and assistance in the development of this great sport in the US. I am developing a means of incorporating Australian Rules Football within the curriculum in the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Details will come in the very near future.


Australia Footy- As I alluded to before, I was fortunate to have played in the VFL with the Preston Knights/Northern Bullants and this is my second stint in Melbourne with the Prahran Football Club in the VAFA.  I learned the game of Aussie Rules during pre-season at the VFL club which is one tier from the AFL. I must say that from DAY 1- I was treated as a professional footballer, although I had not played a single game up to that point in my life. The training regime was very difficult with endurance, stamina and skills being the focus. I would go to extra kicking training at Carlton Football and kick with Kouta, Anthony Franchina whom is a good friend of mine and Aaron Hamill before his move to St.Kilda. Again, I was accepted as a footballer and admired by them for trying something different. I would watch game tape after game tape to learn the game rather the flow and essence of the game. I had to become a student of the game and dissect every element of the game of Aussie Rules. I began playing a Half-back as you had to be accountable because you had a man to defend against and all my movements were forward. It was a good position to learn from because you can see the entire ground. I learned quickly and today I have become a good footballer and capable of playing at either ends of the ground as an attacking forward or a pesty backman. WHY?? This was because I had the opportunity and the advantage of being in Melbourne. I could train 3-5 times per week, play quality football every weekend and live this great culture of Australian Rules Football. The fact that I am living here yields the chance to go to the MCG or TELSTRA DOME and watch AFL Football live. There so substitute for watching the best play and you are bound to come away with newly acquired footy knowledge. The clubs have been fantastic and I hope that all these experiences will warrant me an opportunity to assist in the development of the game in the US.

- Freddie Lewis

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