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Alternative Sports Descend on Chicago

By Todd McClamroch in News on Aug 9, 2007 3:30PM

Chicagoist is a big fan of alternative sports. No we are not talking about underwater hockey but sports that are popular around the world that have just-under-the-mainstream-radar following here in Chicago. We're talking Gaelic Football, Rugby, and Australian Football. Chicagoist was excited to see there are some great alternative sporting events heading to town in the coming month.

This weekend, Chicago United Australian Football Club is hosting the Nashville Kangaroos in a Mid-America Australian Football League match-up. The United currently sit second in the league table, one spot ahead of the visiting 'Roos. There is a bit of rivalry between these two clubs, and this is sure to be a fast-paced and hard-hitting Australian Rules Football match. If you're interested in learning more about Australian Rules Football, check out this video on the game or see WGN's recent coverage of Chicago United.

Fans will be able to take in a bit of Australian culture during the game by enjoying the Great Australian Barbeque that will be served adjacent to the grounds at Waveland Field. The barbeque is free, but donations are appreciated. After the game, the club will be hosting an event at Messner's on Southport where $25 will earn you admission, drafts and well drinks from 9pm - Midnight.

2007_08_08_gaelic1.jpgIf you are looking for a game with origins on the northern side of the equator, you might be interested in Gaelic Football. Gaelic Football mixes elements of American football and soccer. It is played with 15 to a side on a traditional football or soccer-sized pitch that includes a soccer -like goal; except that it has a set of goal posts rising from the framework of the goal. Teams then try to move the ball up the field and kick the ball into the net or through the goalposts to earn points. Check out the Gaelic Athletic Association for a more detailed explanation of the sport. Chicagoist has enjoyed watching this sport and would love to come out and have a kick with one of these teams someday soon.

The governing body of the sport here in the States is the Gaelic Athletic Association National American County Board and they host a yearly tournament each Labor Day. This year's 2007 Championship will be played in Chicago at the Chicago Gaelic Park from Friday, August 31 thru Sunday, September 2. To learn more about the sport and find clubs visit the GAA website.

As we mentioned last month Rugby fans can take in some top-flight Rugby entertainment at Toyota Park on Sunday, August 26 when the U.S. Men's Rugby World Cup squad, The Eagles, takes on the 2006 Heineken (European Cup) Champions, Munster. This is the Eagles' final match before departing for France for the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Photo credits: Aussie Rules photo provided by Chicago Footy, Gaelic Football photo from Flickr (Michael_McGonagle) Full Disclosure: This contributor is a member of Chicago United, and completely addicted to Aussie Rules and is planning on lacing up his boots for United this weekend.