The men’s Australian football team from Edmonton makes their way to the field Saturday afternoon at the Kelowna Cup in Rutland. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News

Down under: Aussie football comes to the Okanagan

Vernon and Penticton teams joined forces at the Kelowna Cup

It’s a game more commonly played down-under, but Kelowna was host to the Australian football Kelowna Cup on Saturday.

Players from across the Okanagan hosted one of the largest Australian football tournaments in Western Canada. Teams from Alberta, Edmonton and the Lower Mainland joined an Okanagan ‘super-team’ from Vernon and Penticton as the Cup returned to Kelowna for the 14th year.

The sport has been growing in Canada over the past few years and the Kelowna Cup brings wide arrays of talents, from amateur to national-level, to the Okanagan to both promote the sport in Canada and for friendly and fierce competition in both men’s and women’s games.

President of Australian Football League Canada Lachlan Griffiths said the Kelowna Cup is marked on the calendar every year for these teams and players.

“It’s a highlight for sure. We have to plan our years out and this is the first thing we play, so everything else fits around the Kelowna Cup,” he said.

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The Kelowna Cup started when two of the only Australian football teams in Western Canada, a Vancouver team and a Calgary team, wanted to meet in the middle for matches. The cup grew from there when teams from Edmonton wanted to get involved and the Okanagan teams, the Vernon Roosters and Penticton Bombers, were able to build a roster.

READ MORE: Vernon and Penticton team up for Aussie rules tourney in Kelowna

Though the Kelowna Cup is “friendly” the level of competition is hard as all teams want to out-perform their opponents before joining them afterwards for a drink at the pub with Australian meat pies.

“We’re trying to get everyone involved and have a good day of playing footy,” said Griffiths.

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