Australian Rules Football, also known as AFL, Footy or Aussie Rules, is Australia’s most popular sport, filling stadiums of up to 90,000 attendees for big games. The sport is played by men and women of all shapes and sizes, in different formats from South Africa to India and even here in France. Expat and AFL player Joanne Mouradian shares her thoughts on the sport and her team the ‘Cockerelles’.
How did you get into the sport?
«When I first moved to Australia, I was told that the Australian Football League (AFL) was like a religion. Having lived in Oz for over 10 years, I understand why; as soon as I tried the sport I was hooked!»
How did you get involved in the sport here in Paris?
«I have only been in the club for 3 years. I got involved because I had just moved over from Australia and was looking to make friends here in Paris. My story is not unfamiliar, and if you speak with most of the players who are currently in the club, they would tell you the same thing: it’s not only a place to get fit, to play a fun sport, but to also to be surrounded by a welcoming community of people from all over with different backgrounds.»
And did you make friends?
«Yes! The spirit of the club is incredibly inclusive. From the day I arrived, I felt very welcome. In my opinion, the club attracts open-minded and generous people – after all, you are either French playing a sport you have never heard of in another language, or you are an Australian living in a foreign land trying to teach your national sport to people who never grew up with it! Therefore both sides need to be open- minded and generous. I think this is why it works so well.»
Tell us a little about the club you play for.
«The club was originally called the Paris Cockerels (founded in 1998). In 2014 the women’s team, Cockerelles, was created and then in 2015 a second men’s team called the Paris Cockatoos was created. Hence we got the name the “Paris Cocks” as an umbrella name for the entire club. We ruffled a few feathers with this name (for obvious reasons!), but like everything in the club, people embraced it and now you can see the club members wearing the logo proudly on the back of their navy blue hoodies. Everyone always has a giggle when they see it…Having a good laugh is pretty much the Aussie sprit, so I think it worked out well!»
The club is actively looking for players and is open-minded with an open door policy.
«It’s a mixed bag of Australians, French and a few other internationals who have found their way into it. We are open to all skill levels and ages – whether you’ve never tried the sport before, or are an experienced player – we’d love to have you involved! All you need to do is come down to training to try out the sport.»
This year you’re excited about the Gallia Cup, can you tell us about it?
«Paris Cockerelles are hosting the 2019 Coupe Gallia in March. This is the first 100% all female tournament in Europe for Australian Rules Football and it will take place the day after International Women’s Day. All female clubs are invited to come along.»