The Sport From Down Under
By Todd McClamroch in News on Mar 3, 2006 1:50PM
The Chicago Australian Football Association (CAFA) is preparing for their 2006 season. The sport that is wildly popular down under, also known as Aussie Rules or Footy, has been growing in popularity and participation in Chicago and across the United States for more than 10 years.
Aussie Rules is played on a gigantic oval that can be as long and as wide as two American football fields. It is a fast-paced, hard-hitting game that provides a ton of excitement for fans and players alike. The CAFA offers a variety of ways for people to learn the game, then play locally, regionally, and nationally.
On Friday nights throughout the summer, the CAFA offers a metro league at Waveland Field along the lakeshore. There are four metro teams, all are open to new players: Bucktown Tigers, Hyde Park Hellcats, Lincoln Park Piranhas and the Wrigleyville Rhinos. Playing in the metro league costs between $50-$75 and is a great way to stay fit while playing an exciting game.
The CAFA is always looking for new players and don't expect new recruits to have any experience. They have several Aussies that love to teach the trade. Their first practice is this Saturday at noon at Waveland Field. Players interested are encouraged to stop by Saturday or to sign up for their mailing list.
In addition to playing locally, the CAFA fields a team, Chicago United, in the United States Australian Football League (USAFL). The USAFL includes more than 50 teams across the country and hosts a national tournament annually. The majority of the games that Chicago United will play in the USAFL in 2006 are part of a regional league called the Mid-American Australian Football League (MAAFL). The MAAFL schedule starts in May, runs through September, and includes match-ups with: the Atlanta Kookaburras, Cincinnati Dockers, Dallas Magpies, Milwaukee Bombers, Nashville Kangaroos, and St. Louis Blues.
Chicagoist would be remiss to talk about Aussie Rules without mentioning the parties that go with it. Throughout the year the CAFA organizes a wide variety of social and cultural events in addition to post-practice and post-game parties at one of their sponsors, The Globe Pub. Grog and Vegemite are optional.
We have to admit to staying up late a few nights in the Chicagoist office, watching Aussie Rules on Fox Sports Channel, and being intrigued. We look forward to checking this sport out locally this year.