01 MAY 2019
Forest City has partnered with the Adelaide Football Club to help grow Australian rules football in Southwest Ontario.
The London-based club will become the first Canadian club to take on the Crows brand and only the second team in North America – after the Austin Crows.
Forest City player and passionate Crows fan Jarrad van Dijk said the relationship would be beneficial for both clubs. “Having a notable brand name provides a solid foundation for the club to promote and support Australian rules football in the region,” Jarrad said. “In due course, the club will be granted access to further resources and funding when the club becomes a real success.”
The club was initially branded as the Phantoms but the club sought an AFL partnership to cover the costs of resources that young clubs struggle with – particularly uniforms.
London was attractive to the Adelaide Football Club as it has the potential to grow their brand in foreign territory.
With the club looking to recruit players from as far as Windsor to Woodstock, the Crows will become the Pride of South Ontario.
Far from the fields Down Under, a uniquely Australian sport is quietly developing in London.
A small but passionate group of Canadians and Australians have been gathering at Victoria Park to kick a red egg-shaped ball back in forth, trying to grow Australian rules football in the city.
Forest City Australian Football Club co-founder Richard Nunes said he knew other Canadians would fall in love with the sport the same way he had.
“It's like American football without the line of scrimmage; every player needs to think like a quarterback and have the skills and endurance of a wide receiver and a soccer player,” Mr Nunes said.
“Play does not stop after a tackle and no one cries to the umpire. At the end of the game, everyone shakes hands and heads to the pub for a beer.”
To Canadian newcomers, Australian rules football is often mistaken for rugby, but played with 18 players per side on an oval twice the size of an American football field, it couldn’t be more different.
The objective is to run, kick and handball – similar to an underarm volleyball serve – the ball down the field before kicking the ball between the middle two of four upright posts to score a goal.
The sport has a 150-year history in its homeland, but it has been played in Ontario for three decades, with the local league growing to be the largest in North America.
"The Club will field a competitive Men's team at the provincial level with a view of a women's team in the coming years", Mr Nunes said. “We will also build recreational Aussie Rules football in London and cities across Southwestern Ontario. “I'd like to see us have a community as strong as rugby and cricket enjoys in London.”
Club co-founder Raymond McElmon first saw the sport after being introduced by a friend and had been hooked ever since. “No matter what your sporting background, your fitness level or your body type, you’ll love it,” Mr McElmon said. “Come out and try it. But I warn you, it’s the most addictive drug out there.”
If you would like to try Australian rules football in London, please email email@example.com