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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | G'DAY L.A. / Insights
into the Australian way of life: : LOCAL ANGLE

In Footy They Play by the Rules

September 18, 2000

Are you ready for some football? Not the Raiders and Chargers, but football Australian style.

Get the Australian Rules experience in Los Angeles by watching or playing in the six-team California Footy League. The Los Angeles Crows play a 10-game season that last six months.

"We welcome everyone, from every athletic level," said Jim Cooper, a native of Sydney and president of the Crows.

The U.S Footy nationals will be held Oct. 14-15 in Santa Fe Springs.

Australian Rules football-- footy--is most like soccer but includes elements of American football and basketball. Although its roots can be traced to rugby, fans like to say Aussie Rules football is uniquely Australian.

Overview: The game is divided into four quarters of 20 minutes. A team's 18 players are deployed in five lines of three, with the remaining three assigned to the ball. There is no goalie.

Gear: The ball is an oval bladder, slightly larger and rounder than the traditional American football, and is not designed to be thrown. Players do not wear padding, although mouth guards, soft protective headgear and shin guards are permitted.

Field: There are no standard dimensions. Traditionally played on cricket ovals 135-185 meters long and 110-155 meters wide, a meter being slightly longer than a yard.

Scoring: A ball kicked between the goal posts without being touched by the posts or the players counts for six points. If the ball passes between the posts by any other means--if it's tossed, for example--or strikes the posts, it counts for a single point.

Possession: A player may hold the ball for an unlimited time when he is not being held by an opponent. A player running with the ball must bounce it or touch it to the ground once every 15 meters, although that is not strictly enforced. A player must get rid of the ball when held by an opponent.

Details: www.USFooty.com; Jim Cooper, (626) 441-8242 or www.lacrows.com.

CELEBRITY

DARREN BENNETT, San Diego Charger punter

* Hometown: Perth, Australia

* Residence: San Diego.

* What do you miss about Australia? "I can do all the things I did as a child here, like fishing or going to the beach, but I miss playing Australian Rules football."

WORD OF THE DAY

Tucker: Food. Derived from what Australian cowboys (drovers) could tuck into their saddlebags for a day.

Proper usage: "That witchety grub is the foulest tasting tucker I've ever had."

Improper usage: "She eats so much you'd think all that fork-lifting would tucker her out.'

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