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English school swaps Soccer for Aussie Rules!

  • Wednesday, July 20 2005 @ 04:48 am ACST
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Well, in the Physical Education curriculum at least. This is according to an article in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which discusses the rise of sports that aren't traditional in the UK.

"In Sutton, south London, Carshalton Boys' School has taken soccer out of its PE curriculum altogether and replaced it with Australian Rules football. 'About 500 pupils have done it so far, and around 30 per cent of them are those who are the shyer, less confident and more unfit', said Paul Avery, the school's head of sport. 'Pupils like the fact that because it's new, no one here has played it before, everyone is equal and there is no hierarchy.'

The school uses a modified, less physical version of a game notorious for its tough tackling and all-round aggression, called 'touch Aussie Rules', where a pupil must release the ball as soon as they are touched by an opponent."

Carshalton Boys School's interest stems from involvement in an Aussie Rules for schools program run by Sport England. The idea and input into the junior footy program came from Brian Clarke. Brian and others have run a touch version of 9-a-side Australian football at both junior and adult levels in the UK this year. According to Brian the juniors' program has been well received by 6 schools where it has been trialled, with 200 children participating in clinics and 4 schools entering teams in the recent London Youth Games.

Details of the matches at the London Youth Games can be found on the website www.aussierulesuk.com

Brian reports the organisers of the London Youth Games, which is the largest youth sport event of its kind in Europe, were impressed with the sport and would like to see it as a "fully fledged sport" at the Games in 2006. At this stage 20 schools have expressed interest in the program for the new school year (from September 2005). So far there is no regular interschool competition (the program being intra-school apart from the LYG) however according to Brian: “Carshalton Boys Sports College is extremely keen to start an interschool competition, as witnessed by their order of 30 footballs and 40 jumpers. Their colours are yellow and black and their logo is the Swan, so they ordered 40 Sydney Swan jumpers, but with the colours changed to yellow and black.”

Whilst this initiative through Sport England is independent of the British Australian Rules Football League, it shows what can be achieved, particularly with a low-contact 9-a-side format. With the UK being more sports focussed with the 2012 Olympics and programs to tackle child obesity, the potential for footy in the UK is definitely there. The BARFL has also run schools clinics in the past and have plans for expansion into a formal Little League in 2006 – news of which shall follow in a later story.

The full Guardian article is Forget rugby, pupils prefer 'buzz' sports.