Australian Rules Football

As the season kicks off, Annie Wong scores a goal with Hong Kong Auskick.

While Australian Rules Football remains most popular, unsurprisingly, in its country of origin, Australia, knowledge of the sport is starting to spread thanks to pockets of Australian expat communities around the world. Hong Kong Auskick, established in 2008 with less than 30 young Australian players, has grown over the years to 400 kids comprising a diverse range of sporting and national backgrounds. Tracing the game’s origins back to football matches played in Melbourne, Australia, in 1858, the game was made official thanks to its first laws published by the Melbourne Football Club in May 1859.

Nowadays, Hong Kong Auskick has established an Australian Rules Football programme open to both boys and girls from four to 12 years old, catering to all skills levels. Training sessions last for up to 90 minutes and is normally made up of skills practice including kicking, marking, hand-balling and bouncing. Sessions end with a friendly game to put those skills into practice and demonstrate how the young players can work better in a team. The Auskickers also participate in up to six tournaments each season playing against teams from other clubs.

“The best thing about Auskick is that the game is equally suited to players of all sizes, skills and speed”, says Wayne Henrys, President of Hong Kong Auskick. “There is a position for everyone and every player gets a chance to have their hands on the ball. The favourite part for most Auskickers is kicking a goal during a game, and after that, it’s counting the number of kicks you scored in the game”.

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While there are around three to four registered coaches for each of Auskick’s teams, to keep all the kids active and engaged throughout training sessions, parents are encouraged to participate in some of the practice drills and coach the youngsters. The 2016 season is shaping up to be an exciting one as the Auskick teams take all they’ve learnt in Hong Kong to overseas competitions. Lucky players will have the chance to play in the iconic MCG stadium in Melbourne, hometown of the game.

When, where and how much?
For the 2016 season, training and tournaments for the Sai Kung Stingrays have been combined with the Kowloon Cobras to take advantage of the grounds at King George V School (KGV) and at Sai Kung Stadium. Generally, practice is on sport Sunday morning at KGV, however sessions are also scheduled at Sai Kung Stadium on some Saturdays and also on some weeknights for older players.

The cost of the programme is $1,400 which includes a registration fee, and covers the cost of facilities hire for the entire season, transport for away games and a players’ kit including club jumper, shorts, socks, backpack and Sherrin AFL football. Further discounts for children in the same family. More details can be found on Hong Kong Auskick’s website, auskickhk.com

AFL jargon
Footy:
Australian Rules Football, also known as AFL (Australian Football League)
Handball: passing the ball by hand by hitting it with your fist to another player.
Holding the ball: when a player is tackled and does not dispose of the ball quickly, resulting in a free kick for the tackler.
Drop punt: the preferred kicking style for passing the ball by foot to a teammate.
The man in white: refers to the umpire or referee, who always used to be dressed in white but now appears in a range of colours in the modern game.

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