From the US to Australia: My story of playing footy abroad

By Terence Brasch III

 

No one can argue with the passion that most Aussies have for their amazing sport, but around the world Australian Rules Football is mostly unheard of. I was about twenty-two when I first saw a match, and I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

 

I had just clocked out of my job at a local bar around 3:00 am, raced home, and turned the telly on. I flipped though a few late night television ads until I landed on some strange sport played in Australia on an oval field…

 

Now, this wasn’t just any game I had stumbled upon, it happened to be the 2010 Grand Final Replay. I was completely confused and thought to myself, “wait a minute… They just replay the whole match if there’s a tie? What kind of amazing sport is this?!?”. And to my surprise I found the sport a bit mesmerizing. Here was a game that requires endurance, strength, speed, and lots of coordination, and to top it off the crowd was going nuts as Collingwood won the match.

 

A few years had gone by, and I was away at Uni grabbing a slice of pizza one random day. As I shoveled pizza in to my mouth I noticed a community bulletin board with a flyer. The flyer had caught my eye because of a little man kicking a red oval shaped ball. I raced over called the number, and next thing you know it I had joined an Aussie Rules Football club! The next weekend the club met up for something called a “kick”.

 

There I was, kicking a footy for the first time, in a “real” footy club. Well that is, as real as a club with three members can be. There was me, the American dude, and two Aussies who happened to know way more about football then I did. We would meet up for a kick, drink tons of beer, and watch footy together. The club was great and all, but most the time it just left me wanting more. That’s when I found the Portland Steelheads.

 

The Portland Steelheads are an Australian Rules Football club in my hometown, Portland, Oregon. I found their website and read somewhere that they’d meet on Sunday afternoons to play football matches. I signed up for the league at that moment out of pure excitement, and committed myself to driving two hours back home every Sunday. I’d get there after a long drive, stretch, play for a couple of hours, and then drive two hours back to make it to my classes the next day. My parents thought I had gone mad when I finally had enough of the commute and decided to drop out of school to play more football.

 

Perhaps I had gone crazy, but in my first match I scored five goals, and I was absolutely determined to play more. A few weeks later I found out about a player exchange program. The U.S. national league, the USAFL, would find placements for players interested in playing with a local footy club in Australia.

 

So, I applied. Three times I applied, until I finally heard back from someone. They were a bit confused by my persistence since I had only been playing for a year. After they realized I was serious they asked me, where would I like to go, Western Australia or Victoria? Now, by this point I knew some of the history of the sport, and that Victoria had been where the sport had boomed for most of the history. I requested that I be placed in Victoria, somewhere in the country. It’s where I heard the tough, passionate, and gritty footy was played and that’s what I was looking for.

Two weeks later I had my placement in Dimboola… and three months after that I was on a plane headed around the world.

Now here I am. Gone away In a far away land playing a sport that I love. The trip has had its ups and downs, but I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.

 

If you’re now interested in my journey I’ve written a blog about it at www.FootyAbroad.com

 

 

Comments

  1. TB III, Thanks for this terrific tale of footy. Would love to hear something about a game – this week’s? Yell out if you are in Melbourne.

  2. Chris Daley says:

    Five on debut. ….that’ll make you chase that feeling again for life!

  3. thanks for sharing your journey so far Terrence – Aussie rules & living in – certainly will test your resilience in many areas.
    Ive checked out someof your blogs and the links and vids of the Steelheads in action – definitely the game is coming along Stateside, tho seemed to be quite a few Aussies living their dream of being intrnational athletes players :-)
    Look forward to reading more.
    PS Did you watch the movie Dimboola before heading over ???

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