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Sunday, February 23 2020 @ 09:33 pm ACDT

Themes from the Western Oval and Women’s Footy – Northern (En)light(s)enment overpowers American Liberty

International Cup 2014
*Steve Alomes’ view of footy through different angles.... Canada NL vs USA Liberty
Your esteemed sports correspondent, or cub reporter perhaps, was meant to be covering another match. Except, just like a suburban Tom Wolfe or Hunter S Thompson or a sporting version of Australia’s Bob Ellis, he wandered into the Northern Lights of Canada vs USA Liberty, the number one Canadian team against the number two American team.
Thus, we redeem the balance a little by providing double coverage of this women’s game.
It was a revelation. Aside from cultural factors (thanks Tom Wolfe) like differentiating between a dozen pony tails in the era of the return of long hair, more difficult than the Swede boys with beards and top knots, and one pony-tail Finn, it was an interesting game.
The skill level of the best players, particularly in the Canadian team, and their play-on football was superior to that of several of the men’s sides. After watching Canadian running football, goals and dominance in the first quarter, I then asked a Canadian player in a track suit by the fence, was I right that the star player up forward was number 27. With Canadian modesty, she eventually admitted it was her – Emma Dickinson – as I reflected on her sure ball handling, balance, speed and kicking.
I learned that there are six on the interchange and the team tries to play as many players as possible, for fairness and seeking the best. 
While the game was also hard fought, with heavy tackling and the bump was alive and well (but there were no illegal bumps cleaning up the head – AFL players please note), the best skills were exciting to watch.
At their best the Canadians played a Geelong running game, which I remarked on when one of the players noticed my scarf and yelled ‘Go Cats’ later in the day. This is footy as it should be played and led to their 19 goals. Ideally, the opposition which fought hard in general play would also be strong on the scoreboard, but, after all, USA Liberty is a pathway or development team.
North America’s big match is always Canada Northern Lights vs USA Freedom, which might also be the grand final.
A different highlight of the game was the two central umpires, a man (and wordfootynews.com reader from Bendigo as Tom or Bob might have added) and from Arizona, Nicole Fasula, on an AFL umpiring scholarship.
For those who think in Oz things are upside down, perhaps there was evidence. Enormously tall male runners, male photographers and timekeepers, all supporting the women’s game...not to mention lost reporters who knew that where there was a footy oval things worth watching might be happening.
In 2058, the bicentenary of Australian Football, a later Hunter S Thompson or Tom Wolfe or Leonard Cohen or KD Lang or Kate Jennings might be watching women’s footy in Ontario, Canada or Ontario, California.
*Steve Alomes’ slightly more conventional, but also lively and interesting book, with Nic Naitanui on the cover, is Australian Football The People’s Game 1958-2058.
Kevin Sheedy said of this history, critique and futurology of the Australian, and now international, game that ‘If you love Australian Football you have to read this book’.
It is available from: wallawallapress.com
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