Soccer

Australian women’s soccer star Sam Kerr grew up playing ‘Aussie rules.’ What’s that?

USWNT poised to repeat success at 2019 World Cup

The United States women's national soccer team is making final preparations for the 2019 World Cup in France.
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The United States women's national soccer team is making final preparations for the 2019 World Cup in France.

Team Australia phenomenon Sam Kerr got her start playing a different kind of soccer.

Australian football is known by several nicknames including ‘Aussie rules’ and ‘footy’ and is a mix between soccer and American football. The game’s professional league is known as the Australian Football League (AFL).

According to AFL rules, both the ball and the field are oval-shaped with four posts placed on each end of the field. When a ball is kicked between the two middle posts, known as the goal posts, the team is awarded six points. If it goes between a goal post and the post to its side, the team is awarded one point. If a team carries the ball over the score line, the team also gets one point.

Instead of kicking, in Aussie rules players pass the ball by ‘handball,’ in which a player holds the ball in one hand and hits it with the other. Players are also allowed to tackle.

This is the game Kerr played until she was 12 years old, when she switched to soccer because the boys in her league got too big for her to play with safely, ESPN reported.

Being taken away from footy really sucked,” Kerr said, according to The Guardian. “I was very good at it, I had good hand-eye coordination, my family was really embedded in the club, my brother played – everything was just easy for me. It hurt going from one of the better players, one of the most popular players.”

Kerr was disenchanted with Aussie rules when she learned there was no way to become an “AFL star,” ESPN reported.

“I’m really thankful for my time in the AFL, but I’m also thankful I had to make the switch, because there was no pathway for me at that time in AFL,” she said, according to the Telegraph. “I think nowadays, if there was a pathway, I probably would have stayed.”

Still, the 25-year-old found her path in soccer. She plays for two teams, the Chicago Red Stars in the US National Women’s Soccer League, and Perth Glory in Australian’s W-league, CNN reported.

She is the all-time leading scorer in both, according to the Telegraph, and known for celebrating her goals with backflips.

Earlier this year, her star power was confirmed when she signed a $1 million deal with Nike, SportsPro reported.

Kerr is responsible for one of the Australia Matildas’ goals in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Team Australia lost to Italy in their first match and beat Brazil 3-2 on Thursday. The Matildas play Jamaica on Tuesday.

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Dawson covers goings-on across the central region, from breaking to bizarre. She is an MSt candidate at the University of Cambridge and lives in Kansas City.
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