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Milwaukee City Lifestyle
It's nothing like the American type of football we're used to watching.  And "it's nothing like rugby", says Paul O'Keeffe, footy player and public relations director for the Milwaukee Bombers.  "footy is comprised of a combination of elements that doesn't resemble any other sport."

Footy and froth

Story by Jim Cryns

It's nothing like the American type of football we're used to watching.  And "it's nothing like rugby", says Paul O'Keeffe, footy player and public relations director for the Milwaukee Bombers.  "footy is comprised of a combination of elements that doesn't resemble any other sport."

The Milwaukee Bombers is a footy team that plays Australian Rules Football on Milwaukee area fields.  "Footy" is much faster and higher scoring than football.  The contest is fluid, with no line of scrimmage.  "There's a ball advancement called 'handballing', as you might see in volleyball," O'Keeffe explains.  "There is a 'ruck contest' which resembles a tip-off in basketball."  Footy focuses on the pursuit of the ball; there's no padding allowed and players don't hit nearly as hard as they would in a football game.  Most games are played at Kletszch Park on N. Milwaukee River Parkway.

Here's how the game works.  A match is divided into four 20-minute quarters.  A goal is scored when the ball is kicked through two goal posts, just like a field goal.  Goals are six points each.  The team in possession of the ball works to advance it by either "handballing" it (volleyball style) or kicking it downfield.  They may also run with the ball, as long as they bounce it every ten meters.  A team scores six points for kicking the ball through the middle of four posts and one point for kicks inside the outer two posts.

Australian Football has a club-based structure.  The Bombers will sometimes gather at Mini's on Green Bay Road after a game.  "It's a grassroots game that allows players to interact with the Australian culture," O'Keeffe relates.  "Guys go to a pub after the game and have a beer together.  Right now the footy teams in this country are comprised of about 70 percent American players and the remainder Australians."  Since 1997, the league in the United States has grown from eight to 35 clubs today.

It's not essential for an individual to have ever played a sport before, much less starred in a sport in school or college.  "We don't have players try-out for footy," O'Keeffe explains.  "All we ask is they 'turn up' at practice.  If you turn up for practice you'll play in the game.

"We don't talk a lot about fitness," O'Keeffe says.  "Training is relatively easy, but you should be prepared to run about for a fair amount of time."  These guys as players run an average of 12 miles over the course of a game.  Practices are held at MSOE's Sports Field as well as Kletszch Park.

If you'd like to learn more about footy in Milwaukee, if you would like to attend a game, or even sign up to play, visit www.milwaukeebombers.com and take it from there.

 

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