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The Des Moines Roosters are always looking for more players. Check out a team practice at Indian Hills Junior High School, 9401 Indian Hills Drive, Clive, on Sundays at 5 p.m. and Thursdays at 6 p.m.

The Des Moines Roosters are always looking for more players. Check out a team practice at Indian Hills Junior High School, 9401 Indian Hills Drive, Clive, on Sundays at 5 p.m. and Thursdays at 6 p.m.

The Des Moines Roosters season kicks off this Saturday with the 80/35 Metro Tournament. Coming off a national championship season last year, the Roosters are eager to start the new season. Ever heard of ’em?

Is it like soccer? Yes… but not exactly.

It’s like football, then? Well, there is definitely physical contact.

So, it’s like rugby? Getting closer… It’s Australian-rules football — sort of a combination of all three.


Though its popularity is growing here in the U.S. and around the world, most folks still don’t really understand this sport. And like many other unknown sports and games, the only way to learn about it is by getting out and playing it — or at least watching a game or two.

Imagine rugby, football, soccer, track, basketball and a violent variant of ultimate Frisbee dressed in vertical stripes. That is Australian-rules football.

“The Australians hate it when I say this, but I think ‘tackle soccer’ best describes the sport, because it’s very free-flowing like a soccer game,” said Tyler Kamerman, Des Moines Roosters president. “I used to say it’s a cross between soccer and rugby, but there’s no scrum, like in rugby, or line, like there is in American football. Because of that, it’s constantly moving and is a very fast-paced, high-scoring sport.

“It’s really a hybrid of a lot of different sports — it’s a lot of fun to watch and even more fun to play!”

Teams of 18 players kick, handoff and run an oblong ball in the direction of four goal posts of varying sizes that are located on each side of the field. Tackling is permitted. Throwing is not.

In essence, the ball is constantly in motion and may only be “passed” to another player by kicking — hence, it really is “foot” ball — or a hand-pass, by holding the ball and hitting it with a fist, but only as a lateral pass.

This weekend’s 80/35 Regional Metro Tournament marks the beginning of the Des Moines Roosters’ season. It’s a superb opportunity to check out these Rooster men in action, as seven or eight teams will be coming to town from Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Oklahoma to ruffle feathers.

While the games are typically played in four 20-minute quarters, this tournament will be just two 20-minute halves with fewer players on the field, Kamerman said.

“We are playing 10 per side this year instead of nine. It allows us to have four people on the ball during the centerfield bounces (similar to a jump-ball), which translates better to the full 18-a-side matches later in the year,” Kamerman explained.

Though it’s still a stretch to call the sport popular, it is undoubtedly taking hold in the U.S., as every major metropolitan area has a team now, according o Kamerman. But there are still a lot of people left to enlighten about the Roosters and the sport. Kamerman wants to expose more people to the sport, because he’s confident that, even if they don’t want to play, a lot of people will become fans in the stands.

A co-ed rec league is debuting this year, which Kamerman said should help build the fan base and participation. Beginning on May 8, the league will run six consecutive Thursdays (at 6 p.m.) through June 12, Kamermain said.

“This will be a non-contact league and will begin with some basic skills and then jumping into a game,” Kamerman explained. “We’d love to see more of the community get involved.” CV               

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

WHAT: The Second Annual 80/35 Regional Metro Tournament
WHEN: Saturday, May 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
WHERE: Des Moines Rugby Club, 120 39th St., West Des Moines
PRICE: Free. Concessions will be available.


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