FANCY yourself as the next Nic Naitanui? Know your mark from a disposal? If the answer to those is yes or no for that matter, then get yourself down to Cookstown’s Mid Ulster Sports Arena for an open day hosted by the areas newest Australian Rules Football team, the Mid Ulster Suns.
The open day, which is for anyone – male and female – over the age of 16, is being organised by former Ireland international, Kevin McSorley, who has a wealth of experience in the sport.
Having played for the current Irish champion Belfast Redbacks, helped Ireland to a European title, played at the World Cup in Australia and having worked as a development officer, the Newtownstewart native, who is now based in Cookstown, knows the game inside out.
Kevin, alongside coaches and players from the Redbacks and womens side, Portadown Power, will be on hand from 1pm on Saturday to put prospective players through their paces, but more importantly to show those interested – even those without a sporting background – the game they love.
“We have everything from people who have never played any sport up to inter-county players – we have the full spectrum and it’s male and female too,” Kevin explained.
“Gaelic and rugby would be the two main sports that transfer well to AFL. That’s what benefited me – I played both. But we’ve had guys who have literally come in from no sports and have excelled because they don’t have any bad habits, so they have learned to kick and bounce the ball the pure way.
“That’s why it really is open to everyone because, for example, we’ve had inter-county guys come in and not done too well, while guys have come from nothing and have excelled.”
The move to start a new team in the west of the Province comes from AFL Europe’s attempts to grow the game across the continent, which is something Kevin fully endorses.
“This is a completely new thing. There has been a domestic league in Ireland for about 10 or 12 years, but it’s small,” he explained.
“Basically what we’re trying to do is start new clubs because in the north we only have one men’s team, the Belfast Redbacks, while the ladies, who have done a serious amount of recruitment in recent years have the Portadown Power and Dungannon Dockers and Ulster Kookaburras.
“So we’re trying to do something similar and recruit more players and build more teams. In order for the game to grow we need more teams in the league.”
The Mid Ulster Suns – named after the Gold Coast Suns, who have donated their playing kit from last season – team open day takes place at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena, Cookstown, from 1pm on Saturday.