Austin, TX

The new crazy sport taking over Austin

Ash Jurberg

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Image courtesy of Austin Crows

You may have been walking through Zilker Park in Austin and have noticed a group of people playing a strange game. Kicking and bouncing an oval ball, tackling and hitting each other without padding, and jumping on opponents' shoulders.

This strange game is Australian Rules football, also known as AFL, the most popular sport in Australia and one that has made its way to Texas and, in particular, Austin. In fact, the team from Austin, known as the Austin Crows, can lay claim to being the best AFL team in the United States, having won the 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018 & 2019 USAFL Division 1 championship.

This year, they are favored to win again, with the Nationals being held at Onion Creek Soccer Complex in Austin in October.

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Image courtesy of Austin Crows

James Bates plays for the Austin Crows, and I asked him if the team was full of Aussie ex-pats or if Texans were taking to the game.

I'd say we have a broader squad of about 60 and the split is about 50% local 50% from out ot Texas and international. People love the competitiveness of the game and appreciate the difficulty.

So how would James describe the game to interested Texans?

"It's hard to describe football to people that have never seen it. I usually say it's a unique game only played in Australia with an oval-shaped ball where you advance it up the field by punting it and try to "kick goals" to score.

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Image courtesy of Austin Crows

The American who became a professional

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Image from Twitter

An inspiring story for all players is that of Mason Cox from Dallas. Mason attended a USAFL combine in 2014 attended by scouts from the professional league in Australia. He was selected by Collingwood- the most popular team in Australia and moved Downunder in 2015. When he made his debut in 2016, he became the first American to play professional Australian football.

Mason has acted as a waterboy for the Austin Crows in the previous two national championships. His brother Nolan Cox currently plays for the team.

You can watch Mason's inspiring story below.

The Austin Crows also have a famous fan- San Antonio Spurs NBA Player Patty Mills has been down to cheer on the team in previous years.

As someone who has played the game for a long time, I can say it is fun for both spectators and players. It is a high-scoring, fast-moving game with plenty of action and hard hits.

For those interested in joining the team or at least watching to see what the game is all about, the Austin team trains every Tuesday night and plays games on Saturdays. If there's no game that week on a Saturday, they will do a fitness session.

The remaining schedule for the season is below. For more information, check out the Austin Crows website.

Upcoming Games:

Sat Aug 21st Regionals in Arlington, Texas

Sat Sep 11th Texas Cup University of Houston

Sat Oct 16th Nationals Day 1 at the Onion Creek Soccer Complex, Austin

Sun Oct 17th Nationals Day 2 at the Onion Creek Soccer Complex, Austin

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