Aussie Rules Footy in India: Update 1, December 2012

India Unbound

Despite the fact that many of you think football is played with a round or rugby ball, I am pleased to say that the real football, ie Aussie Rules football has now officially made it to India. 12 months ago I formed two teams in Mumbai, which led to the idea of holding a national tournament with teams from elsewhere in India. And so it was that on December 2 last year a series of matches was played between teams from three different cities, culminating in a Grand Final (which sadly neither of the Mumbai teams made it into, which only proves I am not much of a coach). I had introduced the sport in Mumbai to provide an opportunity for young men from different parts of the city and from different socio-economic backgrounds to come together for the simple purpose of some fun and a run around. Many of the players are from the Dharavi slum, which is extremely crowded and has no space for sporting activities – nor are many of the families who live there in a position to pay for their kids to play organized sport. I doubt any of them would have imagined when they first started kicking the ball with the crazy Aussie that they would get the chance to travel interstate – many for the first time – and play in a national tournament. What started as a casual kick-to-kick has become for me (and hopefully for the participants!) something quite remarkable. I am now on the board of ‘AFL India’ and we are hoping to introduce the sport to more cities around the country, as well as run an annual tournament (which I will organize a group tour around). For more photos (I am somewhere in the photo above) and to follow the progress of Aussie Rules in Mumbai, please have a look at Aussies rules Mumbai Facebook page