BALLARAT Gridiron – home of the Ballarat Falcons (Men’s Div 2) and Ballarat Kestrels (Women’s) – is inviting the community to come and show their support for the local team at a special home game to be played on July 2 at Morshead Park Stadium. The afternoon will be themed around America with American food, a display from an American Car Club, and much more. Two games will be played with Division One kicking off at 3.30pm and Division 2 (Falcons) playing at 6.30pm, under lights. Ballarat Gridiron President Mark McGrath says of the day, “It will be a big family day out and we are trying to make it as American themed as we can. July 2nd is the closest we could get to the 4th July.”
Both the Falcons and Kestrels are looking for new players to bolster their numbers. “The beauty of the sport is that you can have big guys, big girls, they don’t have to be fast runners or athletes, we will get them fit so they can handle the impact, but big bodies is what we need, so people who would not normally think that they couldn’t play a sport because they are not athletic come and give gridiron a go.” Kestrel player Alex Lee said she had never played a team sport prior to joining the Kestrels.
“I do love it. My brothers’ played for the Falcons and I was always interested, but it was like I can’t run, I can’t do any of that stuff and I think the first training session I did, I really loved it,” adding with a laugh, “It helps you get out a bit of aggression and just being with your team is great. It’s like a big family.” The men’s season begins first week of June while the women’s team will begin training in August for a late January start.
“The girls’ season was changed from the end of the year to the beginning of the year, so the season ended and virtually started again and our girls decided they didn’t think it was safe to play the new season straight after the other, so they will be back in 2017,” McGrath said. “We are always looking for more players, male and female, and are looking to get a junior team going in the next couple of years.” McGrath added that gridiron is not well known in Ballarat as it is competing against popular sports like AFL and soccer.
Molly Branson has played three seasons with the Kestrels and like Alex, was unsure how she would fit in to the game but her success in the sport speaks for itself. “In 2015 I was chosen for an exhibition game where the top 50 players in the state were against each other and then I went to Queensland this February for a selection camp for the Australian team,” she said. “I got through to the second round of that and at the moment I’m in training getting myself ready. I also got selected for the Victorian team after trying out. “The best thing I find about the sport, particularly as a woman playing sport, is this sport is really empowering for the fact that we do all the same physical movements as the men do, sometimes even more.
“We are kind of given this ability to use our bodies completely and not having to apologise for our bodies and things like that.”