USA Trip Blog
- Tuesday, 22 October 2013
Lions player Michael Genovese blogs about the Club's promotional USA tour.
Texan Pride.- October 19th
A lot of the boys didn’t know what to expect when we were told we would be taken on a tour of the sports department at the University of Texas, but it’s fair to say all of us were blown away by what we saw.
On arrival Longhorns player liaison coach Kenneth Rucker introduced himself in friendly Texan fashion and was quick to point out all four National Championship trophies plus the two sparkling Heismans proudly on display in the University’s crowded trophy room.
Kenneth, or ‘Coach Ruck’ as he was affectionately referred to by a couple of passing Longhorn players in the hall, led our party of 20 through the race and out onto the astroturf of UT Stadium which routinely seats its capacity of 101,000 crazed college football fans.
Next stop was the players’ meeting room which outsizes and out classes most university lecture theatres that you’ll find in sleepy Perth.
Coach Ruck informed us that the NCAA restricts college football programs to a maximum of 20contact hours per week, this includes practice, video sessions, team meetings and two weights sessions.
I find it hard to believe that they can squeeze so much in and be so good on game day with only 20 hours each week considering we easily top that as WAFL players.
The gym was last on Coach Ruck’s tour. An enormous, world-class facility that dwarfs anything I’ve seen in the AFL world. It featured an impressive 100-yard indoor sprinting track on which the players’ speed is tested with radar technology.
What stood out most was the pride the organization has about it’s history, that and the attention to detail. Everything from the leather lounges in the player’s leisure room to the individual weight plates was emblazoned with the team’s signature bullhorns.
Coach Ruck beamed with pride when he told us UT was in the top three colleges for active NFL players and he’s confident that not only will half his senior class of 16 be drafted this year but two of those will be first round picks.
Off the field the organization has equally impressive numbers. Coach informed us that the football budget is “unlimited” at UT and last yearalone they made 160 million dollars!
I personally knew little about the Longhorns prior to arriving at the campus but it became pretty clear pretty quick that this place prides itself on achieving excellence.
Tonight, our official duties at the USAFL national carnival commence with a meet and greet of all 30+ teams.
AFL in AUSTIN- October 20th
We’ve been in Austin for three days now and the biggest challenge we face daily is explaining to the locals exactly what sport we’re here to play.
The following is a conversation I’ve had countless times in recent days.
Local: “what brings ya’ll to downtown Austin?”
Me: “ we’re here to play football”
Local: “ you mean rugby?”
Me: “ no, not Rugby.”
Local: “ok… so Soccer?”
Me: “no not Soccer?”
Local: “ok… so is it more like Quiditch?”
Me: “… “
We got our first glimpse of Aussie Rules football on foreign soil this morning when our bus pulled up at the Onion Creek Soccer Complex in Austin.
Five games were being played over four divisions (both males and females) on five fields and it didn’t take long to realize this mix of Americans and Aussie expats meant business.
While the skill level was understandably low, it was respectable considering most of the Americans have only been playing for a few years at the most and are still coming to grips with the odd shaped ball. The game play was quick-flowing and what stood out to me was each individual’s attack on the ball and the man with the ball.
I saw Americans crunch Aussies with text-book tackles and both guys and girls repeatedly throwing themselves into contests with little regard for their own safety. It was pleasing to see the game being played in such a spirit so far away from it’s origins.
Significantly 7 female teams will compete in two divisions this weekend and having met a few players from these teams it’s plain to see the girls are just as fanatical about Aussie Rules football as the guys.
The San Francisco Iron Maidens are a female club established at the start of this season. They train once a week, on a Wednesday night at the foot of the Golden Gate Bride. The girls, who feature only one Aussie ex-pat, strolled confidently towards their oval fully kitted out in crisp tracksuits emblazoned with their club logo, and individual nicknames.
Their centre-half-back, who introduced herself as ‘Johno”, asked me for advice on how she should approach her upcoming duel with a much taller opponent. I told her to stay in front and keep her goal side.
The enthusiasm and passion from the sidelines is first rate here at the carnival and It’s scary to think that if this country grabs this sport with both hands, it wont take long until the Australian Football world is boosted by and injection of US talent.
From seeing the interest, and fanfare generated amongst the Americans here in Austin I’m completely confident that our game is in good hands and will continue to grow rapidly under the USAFL banner.
Glory Glory USA.- Ocotber 21st
Today marked the culmination of the 2013 USAFL tournament and featured an exhibition match between two combined Subiaco/USA teams.
Players from all around America joined forced with us in an enjoyable but hard fought contest. Representatives from USAFL teams such as the Fort Lauderdale Fighting Squids, the Portland Steelheads, Sacramento Suns, Minnesota Freeze, New York Magpies, the Austin Crows, Boston Demons Seattle Grizzlies, the Las Vegas Gamblers lit up the Onion Creek Soccer Complex in an free flowing game of Aussie Rules football.
Along with the other boys I was pretty excited to pass on any tips and strategies with my American opponent, and they soaked it up like spounges. Like so many times this weekend I was stunned by how passionate these Americans are about a sport with origins so far away.
Lions Larry Cavallo and Clint Gardiner made their senior coaching debuts and at the sounding of the siren both teams joined arms to sing, some louder than others, the Subiaco club song.
For what it’s worth Subiaco swingman Scott Worthington took the game very seriously and was awarded the inaugural Sav Rocca Medal as best on ground.
Although I’m a million miles away from Australia today I felt at home when Australian Boomers captain Patty Mills popped in to provide some special comments in the commentary box.
St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt also made a cameo appearance by running water during the USAFL Legends vs Masters game.
Today marks the end of our official duties here in Austin, it’s been a weekend none of us will forget. I think the significance the trip and the carnival itself will be seen in years to come. The Subiaco Football Club would like to thank the AFL and Tourism WA for helping to make this happen, and on behalf of the playing group I want to thank those at the Club who have worked tirelessly for more than 12 months to make this happen, guys like Luke Sanders, Basil Fuller and Peter Capes. Cheers.