Shivaji Park, Mumbai : This is where the kick-to-kick first started between Lincoln Harris and some local kids in Mahim, squeezed in between cricket games. It’s hard to secure a space here for regular training or tournaments, and as you can see, it’s often quite dusty. Never-the-less, this is where our Mumbai Aussie Rules teams train and play. These images are from 2013.
New Boots: When Lincoln first started training and playing Australian Rules Football in Mumbai, many of the guys didn’t have sports shoes let alone boots. India Unbound bought a box of boots for the Mumbai teams in 2010.
Heading to the national tournament : For some of the guys that play in our Mumbai Aussie Rules teams they dream and are motivated by the goal of one day playing Aussie Rules for India in the International Cup. Attending the national Aussie Rules tournament in India is a part of that dream and each year India Unbound funds and takes several of our teams from Mumbai to the national tournament. We travel by train together, and for some of the guys in the Mumbai teams, that has presented them with the opportunity to travel interstate for the first time. It’s an experience that may not be available to these kids had they not started playing footy. It’s a great experience to share with the players from Mumbai and each year Lincoln Harris takes the train trip with them.
National Tournament, Calicut, Kerala, 2012: India’s first Australian Rules Football national tournament took place in 2012 in Calicut, Kerala. The ground wasn’t beautiful or a traditional footy field, but it is India right? The guys played in sand and heat that year and as you can see, some of the teams play without shoes. We were thrilled to be there playing with our Mumbai teams and helping to make it happen.
National Tournament, Goa, 2013: One of the greatest things we have noticed since we started playing Aussie Rules in Mumbai is the new connections and friendships it has created between the players. The players in our teams are from very diverse backgrounds – different communities in Mumbai, different financial circumstances, different education and different classes. But through footy they have formed friendships and when they play together as teams they are loyal to each other and united. We are very proud of them. In 2013 we were honoured to have Peter Culleen, founder of Reclink Australia, as well as Gavin Crosisca, former Collingwood player and now Colingwood Hall of Famer, join us at Goa for the national tournament.
National Tournament, Calcutta, 2015: In 2015 our trip to the national tournament had an extra dimension to it. We were thrilled and privileged to have ten people from or associated with Reclink in Australia join us for the journey to Calcutta and participate in the national tournament. For the players in India they loved and appreciated having extra Aussies around helping with skills, training and games.
Reclink Mumbai Footy Cup, 2016: Each year India Unbound runs and participates in the Reclink Mumbai Footy Cup. This annual tournament is now in its fifth year. For us, this is grassroots Australian Rules Football at its best. All the players come to have fun and to participate. The atmosphere is energetic, fun and about community. Everyone pitches in with scoring, umpiring, packing up gear and helping out. This year there were eight teams from Mumbai and around 150 players participating in the Cup. Next year, we hope to welcome teams from other states.