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Australia or Bust!

Welcome to your window seat on the US Freedom Tour. Please fasten your seatbelts because it is going to be a bumpy ride from this point forward!

Starting on Aug 5, departing Los Angeles to Sydney Australia, the Freedom will probably face a myriad of unknowns that often surround adventures to new places. Questions may arise, regarding everything from: “Who forgot their #$^& cleats?” to “Who knows whose bags will make it to Sydney?” The questions will even continue from there to: “Who played well?”, “How did she get that nickname?” and “Who is on the injured list….yada, yada, yada?”

Basically, these questions bring us to the purpose of this Blog!

Our intentions are to provide you with continual updates regarding the fantastic happenings of our tour (Of course, some of those happenings will NEVER make it to written word, but we will do our best to provide you with the essentials). We also hope that this will serve as a vehicle for growing this amazing sport both for women and youths as well as those who are unfamiliar with “Aussie Rules” or “Footy” as it is often called.

Consider this your back stage pass!

You will have access to interviews from the players & coaching staff. We will take the time to give you an in depth peak into the world of each player. Accordingly, we understand that some of you are just following one of your friends who may be a player on the U.S. Freedom Team. So we love “rookies”, and we will gladly take the time to educate you along the way. We, furthermore, encourage “hellos”, “well wishes”, thoughts, prayers, questions, answers and even some good-natured ribbing. We guarantee to entertain you with some great stories and memories, if you check us out each day.

The team will play 4 matches over 9 days in several Australian cities to include: Sydney, Cairns, Melbourne and Bendigo. This is the first ever tour by the U.S. Women's National Team, and each player is pleased to be a part of this historic event! Each player will even attest to the milestones they have had to reach in order to be able to participate in this running a 2 mile time trial before a 3 game tournament.

It has been reported on Youtube that Captain Jenny Sarbacker hopes to beat the Aussies at their game someday.

The team will be coached by Australian expatriate Wayne Kraska and U.S. Revolution player (and International Cup Representative) Dan Sarbacker. The Captains for the U.S. Freedom are Jenny Sarbacker, Helen Spink and Tina Arend. The team is drawn from across the US, with Arizona, Atlanta, Denver, Milwaukee, Minnesota and New York clubs represented.

Now if we have not bored you, take a look at our interview with Head Coach Wayne Kraska:

What is your Coaching Background?

I have coached virtually in one form or another since 1992 starting with an open age team in the Victorian Amateurs competition then to Korumburra in the Sth Gippsland area of Victoria. After 5 years, I then went back to juniors, coaching 5 years Under 12s through to Under 16s, then here in the USA with the Atlanta Kookaburras. I have coached the last five years just with the Atlanta Lady Kookaburras. Since 2007, I have been Head Coach of the USA Freedom team. I am also an accredited Track and Field coach specialising in sprints, hurdles and relays.

How many years have you played Australian rules football?

I actually didn’t start playing until I was 15 or 16, and I was really seriously till I was 18. Since then I think I have only had a couple seasons off in the late 90s to concentrate on coaching. How many years is that?....well, you better get batteries for the calculator.!

What sort of challenges does the US Freedom Team face?

As a team the challenges for the team's development are immense. Being from cities from all over the country the opportunities to practice and learn together are very limited. This distance factor that is so prevalent in the sport here, in the USA, has other ramifications especially financial, where players have to fund their own trips to play just like they have this year to go to Australia. It’s a very expensive sport at the top level here in the USA.

What are the primary differences that you see in coaching women as opposed to men?

There are only some minor differences in coaching men versus women, and most of those surround the different lifestyles and career types. From a game perspective there is little variation, teaching skills and the passing on of feedback to improve game day performance are identical. The women I have found easier to teach new things to where as the men seem to "know it already", but most times don’t put it into practice when it counts.

What do you enjoy most about coaching the U.S. Freedom?

Probably the diversity of the team and their backgrounds make for a huge challenge to get everyone on board and thinking the same way. To coach at the highest level possible is also a challenge and to represent the USA on their first trip to Australia is something I am very proud to do.

Where do you see [or want to see] the Freedom heading in the future under the USAFL umbrella?

Really, clubs and all players need to start to take more notice that although the sport went on for 100 years in Australia without women playing, this isnt the case here in the US. It took just 7 years from the first men’s game to when 'real' women’s games were being played. Women's footy can rightly claim to be as important as any part of the sports development here, and with some more administrators taking the lead in the coming years, the USAFL nationals will see just as many women’s teams as men’s in a very short time. This also means more women need to step up and drive the sport to the next level. Its equality now (just like serenity now! ;)! But it aint gonna be handed to you ladies!

If you could give any aspiring "Footy" players out there one word of advice...what would it be?


Whew that was a lot of reading! Well, if you are still flying along with us please feel free to take a look at the players’ roster and our exciting schedule while on tour:

Introducing our Freedom Squad:

Arizona Hawks: Tina Arend-VC Half Back, Karla Mascarenas-Pack- Full Back, Courtney Church-Rover, and Danica Weston-Ruck

Atlanta Kookaburras: Judith Stien-Forward, Carly Harrington-Wing, Nikki-Nicole Peoples-half Back, Dewi Mitchell- Schierholz-Half Back, and Denise Lafaver-Half Back

Denver Bulldogs: Kelli Modica-Rover and Anna Thexton-Half Forward

Milwaukee Bombers: Jenny Sarbacker-Captain-Center, Helen Spink-DVC- Half Back, Denielle Beilfuss-Rover and Suzy Thomas-Half Back

Minnesota Freeze: Sheree Stiles-Half Back, Marie LaVictorie- Wing, and Kathryn Hogg-Ruck,

New York Magpies: Christina Licata-Half Forward, Corynne Pereira- Ruck Rover, Monica Rubbins-Ruck, Siobhan McHale- Half Forward, Rebecca McHale-Half Forward and Andrea Casillas-Full Back

Coaching Staff: Wayne Kraska-Head Coach-Atlanta Kookaburras, Dan Sarbacker-Asst. Coach-St. Louis Blues, and Alan Mobley-Asst. Coach-Atlanta Kookaburras

U.S. Freedom Squad Itinerary:

Wed Aug 5th Depart Los Angeles

Fri Aug 7th Arrive Sydney (afternoon visit with the Sydney Swans)

Sat Aug 8th Game v SWFL rookies, Mahoney Reserve Marrickville

Mon Aug 10th depart for Cairns - Play CWFL - Monday 7.00pm at Cazaly Stadium

Wed Aug 12th fly to Melbourne

Thu Aug 13th V-Line sponsored trip to Bendigo. 1.00pm Schools clinic in conjunction with AFL Victoria 3.00pm Clinic for Freedom players ran by Chyloe Kurdas AFL Victoria 5.00pm Game v Bendigo development squad

Fri Aug 14th Guests of AFL Haw v Adel MCG

Sat Aug15th - Game v Latrobe University women’s team 10.00am. (Venue TBD).

Thanks for reading our Blog, and we hope to hear from our readers!


Denise and Nikki


Sounds like a great itinerary and vibrant energetic blog to let us back in the States see what's happening with the team and your journey.

Thanks and looking forward to hearing about your successful matches in Oz.


On behalf of the women's footballers in Canada, we wish the Freedom girls the best for their tour of Australia.  We hope that you all have a rewarding (and injury free) trip, and look forward to seeing you all at US Nationals in Ohio.

Jake Anson Calgary Kookaburras

Jake Anson Calgary Kookaburras

Good Luck girls Mackenzie & I will be rooting for you all down here in Arizona! We hope you all have the time's of your lives & kick some AUSSIE ASS! Wish I could be there playing on the field hip checking some gals down the field with all of you.