Passers-by walking near the Rutland Sports Field this weekend may be left wondering exactly what sport they’re watching.
Athletes in sleeveless jerseys and short shorts kicking an oversized football through four upright goalposts may seem strange, but it’s a growingly familiar sight in Canada—it’s Australian Rules football.
The sport combines elements of basketball, volleyball, soccer and football and more than 100 Australian Rules footballers from B.C. and Alberta will converge on the city this Saturday for the Kelowna Cup.
Calgary Kangaroos Australian Football Club director of operations, Dan McLeod, said the 14th instalment of the tournament was important for regional clubs as it gave them the opportunity to play against people that aren’t on their own teams.
“We usually play some intra-club games among our local teams. You’re playing against your mates that you train with each week, so it’s a bit difficult to go 100 percent,” he said.
“It’s great to play against teams from Alberta and BC as we get to come up against guys we may not have met before.”
Although Kelowna had no team of its own, with Vernon currently hosting the closest club, Mr McLeod was optimistic of the sport’s future in the city.
He said while there was no Kelowna team, locals were still encouraged to come to the field from 10 a.m. onward to see what the sport is about, whether as a spectator or a player.
“I can definitely envisage a satellite club of the Vernon Roosters starting up in Kelowna, and the two teams battling it out in competition.
“All it takes is someone to take the initiative and kickstart the club.”