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Plymouth Woman Represents U.S. In Australian Football International Cup

By Derrick Grams | August 11, 2011

After a little prodding, it didn’t take long for Becky Kraft to appreciate playing Australian Rules Football.

The Plymouth native, who played Gaelic football while studying abroad in Ireland, returned to Minnesota and began playing Twin Cities Gaelic football. Some of her teammates also played Australian Rules Football, but the sport’s physicality deterred her initially.

“It took them a full year to convince me to play because I was terrified about being tackled,” Kraft said. “When they finally convinced me to try the game, I fell in love with it, and the rest is history.”

From Aug. 13-27, Kraft will be competing in the International Cup of Australian Football for the U.S. National team—the U.S. Freedom—in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.

The tournament will include teams from Canada, Ireland, Papua-New Guinea and Australia.

Tryouts for the U.S. National team began in February in Austin, Tex. Players who made the team were trained by Brett Kirk, a retired professional player from Australia.

Australian Rules Football is a contact sport in which players can tackle using their hands or using their whole bodies to obstruct opponents.

This style of football is an extremely popular sport in Australia and is played at an amateur level in several countries.

According to the Australian Rules Football official website, points can be scored by passing the ball through the opponent’s goal. The main way to score points is by kicking the ball between two goal posts, and the team with the higher total score at the end of the match wins unless either a draw is declared or a tie-break is used.

Kraft has played two total games for the U.S. Freedom, according to the team’s official website.

Like an NBA player’s sixth-man role, Kraft said she’s available to give the team a spark off the bench and enthusiastic encouragement from the sidelines.

“I play numerous positions and am kind of the team’s utility player,” she said. “While I won’t be a star, I will be ready to be thrown in whenever the team needs me.”

As for her initial fear of the contact sport, Kraft said she’s never been severely injured playing the game.

“Knock on wood, the worst injuries I have sustained are a number of bumps and bruises as well as a foot injury,” she said.

When the U.S. team traveled to Canada last summer, injuries included fractured noses and dislocated shoulders, Kraft said.