By Aubrey Meadows
Junior Daniel Charanis, with the inspiration of his AP Calculus AB teacher, Mr. Ghassemian, came up with the idea of starting an Australian Football League (AFL) club at North Springs. He set up a Facebook page students at the school can “like” and uses that to communicate with students.
Charanis runs on the varsity Cross Country team and is a Life Scout in the process of becoming an Eagle Scout. He enjoys trying new physical activities, which is why Mr. Ghassemian, or Mr. G, introduced him to this sport. “He was doing a translation from Farsi or Persian to English of a sports almanac with a variety of sports…and he came across Australian Rules football and he was like ‘Wow this is a really cool sport,” and learned the whole history of it,” said Charanis.
The sport originated from Rugby that the British brought over when they occupied Australia. A manufacturer of Rugby balls discovered that if one flattened the edges of the ball, a player would be able to kick it farther and it would not hurt as much. This new ball was one of many differences that distinguish Australian Rules football from Rugby.
“Mr. G started looking up videos, and then he showed it to me and we were like wow this is some really cool stuff,” said Charanis. They then decided to form the club. “Since nobody does it, we thought it could be cool to bring in a new sport,” said Charanis. “Maybe some kids that can’t do a sport very well would have an equal chance to start out.”
The field is modeled after a cricket field. On each end are two big poles that stick out of the ground, through which a player can earn 6 points if punted. If the ball is thrown or rolls in, only one point is awarded. An additional set of smaller poles lie on either side of the big posts, called the behinds. If the ball is hit through the behinds, the team earns one point.
Passing is not allowed, so a player must dribble the ball or kick it off the ground from time to time to keep it in play, similar to soccer, but you can tackle at any time, which makes it similar to Rugby. There is very little padding except the occasional shin guards, so even the person who is tackling the player in possession of the ball, has to be conscious of both his and his opponent’s lack of protection. Tackling is an option at any point in the game, except when it is a free kick.
Australian Rules football can be a coed sport, and some may be concerned about it being a contact sport. “If there are individuals of either sex that don’t want to play tackle, you can substitute it for a touch version with flags,” Charanis said. Charanis sees this as an opportunity for students at North Springs to learn a new sport while having fun.
“You don’t have to be good it’s just about the camaraderie you know?” said Daniel. “And that’s what I’m all about, the camaraderie.”