Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ladies Gaelic Football!!

I am still visiting the London Book Fair... (and am still quite befuddled I made it here the day before the Icelandic volcano that has had European flights grounded ever since... ask me if I'm coming home on Thursday or not? Ask me again on Wednesday!)

But yesterday I met two absolutely charming Irish Literary Agents, who introduced me to a new sport: Gaelic Football! It's the most popular sport in Ireland, (yet one of the oldest world sports still played today)... ladies have their own division and play too, and it is growing in international popularity. Of course I googled it... and have been hopping ever since. Check this out: it's sort of a mix between american soccer (European football) and rugby!
The ball used is slightly smaller, and heavier than a soccer ball... similar to a volleyball in appearance.
You can pick the ball up from the ground and run with it, passing it between hands (ladies only. Men cannot pick it up, they have to kick it up, and cannot pass between hands)

You can kick the ball (like soccer)

And you can hand pass or "strike" the ball to pass it to a teammate. You can't throw it... a hand pass is not a punch but rather a strike of the ball with the side of the closed fist, using the knuckle of the thumb!

It's an aggressive contact sport too though! Not as brutal as rugby, but definitely more so than soccer. Here are more technical fouls of the game first though:

Going four steps without releasing, bouncing or soloing the ball. (Soloing involves kicking the ball into one's own hands)
Bouncing the ball twice in a row (It may be soloed continuously)
Hand passing a goal (the ball may be punched into the goal from up in the air, however)
The field is rectangular, similar to soccer... but in Australia they play on an oval field.
The goal itself... looks like a soccer net at the bottom, with two upright poles coming up on the top! If the ball is passed (punched, not thrown) or kicked between the uprights on top of the goal, you are scored 1 point! If the ball is kicked into the bottom net part, you score 3 points. The ball cannot be passed by hand into the lower net part.

The level of tackling allowed is more robust than in soccer (football), but less than rugby:
Shoulder to shoulder contact and slapping the ball out of an opponent's hand are permitted
, but the following are all fouls:
Using both hands to tackle
Pushing an opponent
Striking an opponent
Pulling an opponent's jersey
Blocking a shot with the foot
Sliding tackles
Touching the goalkeeper when he/she is inside the small rectangle
Wrestling the ball from an opponent's hands

Girls of all ages play gaelic football in Ireland! I've seen pictures of girls of primary age playing! Outside of Ireland, there are also teams in Canada, all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Asia, and the U.S.... there is one team in the U.S. which happens to be in Seattle! The "Seattle Gaels"! They are looking for recruits:) http://womensfootball.seattlegaels.com/

I will absolutely be checking it out.
Here are more links for pictures and history on Gaelic Football!
You better believe there will be a Gaelic Football Princess added. This is a contact sport for women in it's finest. Irish women are hardcore! If I get stuck in London due to the flight restrictions, maybe I'll hop a ferry over to Ireland to see more....

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