Aussie sport camaraderie that unites nationalities

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My hobby makes me either somewhat of a contradiction – or very cosmopolitan.

After all, I am an Irish man living in England and playing Australian Rules Football.

The game is the Australian national sport and is enjoyed by all ages all over the world.

It’s probably best described as a cross between rugby and Gaelic football in that it’s very much a ‘kick and catch’ style game.

It is played between two teams of 18 players and the main way to score points is by kicking the ball between the two tall goal posts at each end of the field.

I grew up playing Gaelic football in County Mayo in Ireland and, after moving to Yorkshire to study at Bradford University six years ago and then going on to join the team at Specsavers at Crystal Peaks, Sheffield Aussie Rules Football seemed the next best thing for me to get involved with and play.

I play for Sheffield Thunder Aussie Rules Football team and they’re keeping me busy at the moment as our current season kicked off in May.

The regular seasons tend to be during the summer and involve a game a week for three months plus training commitments, too, which are usually twice a week.

On the Sheffield Thunder team we have different nationalities – French, Australian, Irish and British players enjoying the sport together, while occupations include physiotherapists, engineers and students.

It’s a great mix of people and I really enjoy the camaraderie involved.

The team is really active on social media, too, with a popular Facebook page and Twitter feed, as well as Thunder TV, an informal and fun regular series of videos we upload featuring players being interviewed and games pre and reviewed.

Earlier this year we acquired a new base at Door Moor and celebrated a housewarming of sorts shortly after by beating Wolverhampton Wolverines 155-26.

When I first started playing I’d underestimated how my fitness levels had dropped and I struggled a bit with the pace of my first game.

But if you’re willing to put the time in and train, it’s a sport anyone can get involved with and enjoy.