Western Canada’s best Australian footballers will converge on Kelowna’s Rutland Sportsfield Saturday, June 8.
Men’s and women’s teams from Alberta and British Columbia will compete at the 14th edition of the Kelowna Cup with the Vernon Roosters and Penticton Bombers Australian Football Clubs teaming up to represent Okanagan.
Played on an oval twice the size of a football field, players run, kick and handball (like an underarm volleyball serve) the football attempting to kick it through the middle two of four posts.
Often mistaken for rugby, the sport of Australian football can be a bit confusing for newcomers, but Vernon Roosters’ Max Peterson said Canadians were falling in love with the sport across the country.
“It may look chaotic, but it’s beautiful when you understand it,” Peterson said.
“It has the conditioning of soccer, toughness and speed of hockey, physicality of football and the camaraderie of rugby.
“Everybody brings something different to the game.”
Often seen on the highlights packages with players jumping on each other’s shoulder to catch the ball, the sport has seen considerable growth in Canada.
The Vernon Roosters have been Okanagan’s sole representative of the sport until the formation of the Penticton Bombers earlier this year.
Penticton player James Smirle said both teams were actively recruiting Canadians.
“Come down to the tournament and check out the sport,” Smirle said.
“It’s a great spectator sport for anybody who wants to watch, but it’s even greater for those who want to strap on the boots and give it a go.”
For more information on the Kelowna Cup visit: facebook.com/events/394665467797212/