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Maharashtra Giants

Posted on Saturday, May 31, 2014 by ARFAI,

The first few kids who started playing footy

It is no wonder that many call Australian Rules Football(popularly known as footy) as ‘cricket’s worst creation’, for it was but cricket that brought together Lincoln Harris and Sumesh Sawant who started playing it in Shivaji Park. It first started with simple ‘kick to kick’ as it is called in Australia which involves two or more players kicking the Aussie Rules Football back and forth. The novelty of the ball and perhaps the fact that a westerner was involved led the cricket crazy kids to show interest and soon there were enough players to hold a small match. The cricket bats and rubber balls lay forgotten as the kids came out to kick footy on the ground twice or thrice a week.

The sport became popular among the kids in the area and spread amongst others through word of mouth increasing the participation day by day. Soon there were enough players to form two teams- Mahim Cats and the Matunga Tigers. The two teams played off their first ever Mumbai Derby in July 2012 in which the Matunga Tigers emerged victorious. The heavy downpour and mud puddles all over the ground couldn’t dampen the kids spirits. Later in the year around 30 Mumbaikars travelled to Calicut, Kerala as two teams mentioned above to participate in the first inaugural Australian Rules Football tournament AFL India OGM Cup. The kids returned home feeling motivated and excited to practice hard while even more boys joined the group.

All the players continued to train and play through 2013, even organizing the second Mumbai Cup in the month of May before going to Goa for the second national tournament. The Maharashtra Giants junior team was talented and disciplined enough to bag the winner’s cup, while the senior team finished second last in the tournament.

The team after a clinic conducted by Don Whitford

The Mumbai boys have always been fortunate enough to have trained with some of the professional footy players who have visited the city. Rhan Harris, who is a professional footy coach for the team Salvo Hawks in Australia has always taken keen interest in the development of skills of the players. His coaching tips have proven to be very helpful for the guys when they could not train under experienced players or any coaches. Don Whitford, who is an ex-footy player from the Brisbane Lions has also conducted several clinics for the Mumbai boys, correcting and helping improve their kicking skills. Before leaving for the Goa tournament the boys enjoyed a training session under the watchful eyes of Gavin Crossisca another ex-footy player who played for Collingwood F.C.

 With so much happening in the sport the kids are very excited and have taken to practicing regularly to improve themselves and bring yet another glorious victory for the team. The field sees more and more new faces every time when the kids gather for their training sessions. Some of the senior and more experienced players like Sumesh Sawant and Mayur Parmar are very happy to see the progress and help coach the new kids and conduct regular training sessions. The boys are looking forward to continued growth of footy in Mumbai and across Maharashtra.

Match takes off at a session in the monsoons