Birmingham Bushrangers Alabama's First Aussie Rules Football TeamWritten by Wayne Kraska
Great news from a tough year for Aussie Rules Football in the USA is the formation of the first ever team in Alabama. The Birmingham Bushrangers are about to join the growing South East USA footy world and ready to start and play games in 2021 when the sport gets back on it's feet. The Bushrangers are the work and passion of Aussie expat Joel Dixon a former University of Alabama at Birmingham punter, who came to the USA as part of the Pro Kick organization that helps Aussie players development the skills to make it in the College Football programs and then maybe onto the NFL itself.
Dixon is no stranger to footy either having played in Wodonga, Victoria & Melbourne as well as Brisbane where he got his first taste of footy as a youngster for the Morningside juniors, before coming over to the USA several years ago and completing his studies at UAB. Now settled into life in Birmingham, Dixon has been slowly gathering interest in the Birmingham area for Aussie Rules footy and already has 10-12 players practicing consistently, even in these challenging times. With teams just to the east in Georgia like the Atlanta Kookaburras and the Rome Redbacks and the Nashville Kangaroos just to the north in Tennessee, there is a likely a good chance that combined with the Savannah Hurricane also in Georgia and the Jacksonville Saints in Florida, a resurfacing of the SEAFL is on the cards in the future.
The Bushrangers name was not unfamiliar obviously to Dixon having been in the North Central Victoria area where the Murray Bushrangers based in Wangaratta have been part of the NAB league in Australia since 1993 (then TAC Cup), where the best 18 year olds and younger are groomed for careers in the AFL.
The challenges in front of the Bushrangers according to Dixon are many he related to USFootyNews. "We want to establish ourselves as a great alternative sport in Birmingham firstly by securing a permanent home ground and then facilitating the growth of the sport in the region with women's, youth and kids programs and teams for the community to enjoy. Getting involved in the local business community is also important to us and giving back to the community an equally important aspect of that relationship". Dixon offered.
The Bushrangers will make four new teams in the South East in the last few years, Jacksonville, Rome, Savannah & now Birmingham. If you add Tampa that came about after the USAFL delisted the St Pete Swans FL a few years back, it makes five. Where is there other similar growth in the USA? We dont know, but it has been long over due and there is possiby another two teams forming as part of the www.Footy5000.com project in the South East, so keep an eye out for that and be sure South East Aussie Rules is going to be getting some notice.