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Sports Capsule

Napa Valley Sports Capsule: Watch party for Grand Final Friday night in Napa

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2017 Australian Football League Grand Final

The 2017 Australian Football League Grand Final is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Hugely anticipated by the many Australian ex-patriates from Down Under living in the Napa Valley, the Australian Football League’s Grand Final will be shown live at the Napa Barrel Project pub, 1040 Clinton St., with the first bounce scheduled for 9:30 p.m.

The Napa Valley Cricket Club will host the viewing party as Melbourne’s Geelong Cats battle the Sydney Swans.

“Aussie Rules,” or “footy,” is played professionally only in Australia, though social leagues of varying skill levels are in existence around the world — including the San Francisco-based Golden Gate Australian Football League (visit ggafl.com for more information).

The Grand Final is the Australian equivalent of the NFL’s Super Bowl, as millions watch the game on the last Saturday of September, Australian time. It has been held at Melbourne Cricket Ground nearly every year since the early 1900s. It dates back to 1898, when the match was played at the Junction Oval in the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda. Even with a capacity of just over 100,000 at the MCG, tickets for the Grand Final are in demand and often change hands for many times face value.

“It will be a first for us to show Aussie Rules here at Napa Barrel Project,” said sales manager Tyler Easterling, “and it will be great to experience a new sport that obviously has such a passionate following. We’re excited to be serving our All-Rounder beer that evening — a collab between ourselves, the cricket club and John Fearless, one of our vendors.”

Aussie Rules traces its roots to 1858 in Melbourne and is generally thought to be a hybrid sport that drew its origins from other ball sports such as soccer, rugby, and Gaelic Football from Ireland. It is played on an oval-shaped field similar to that of cricket. The earliest leagues date back to the mid- to late-1870s.

At the highest professional level, the sport was concentrated mainly around Melbourne from then until the late 1980s. Up until that time, the sport was called the Victorian Football League and was made up of clubs exclusively from the Australian state of Victoria. In 1990, the VFL became the AFL and a number of clubs from outside Victoria were added to the league’s roster. One of the first clubs to be added was the Perth-based West Coast Eagles, who won the Grand Final in 1992 and 1994.

Aussie Rules differs from many other field sports in that interchange substitutions are allowed during the game and these are controlled by a match official on the side. The oval-shaped ball is slightly rounder on the end than that used in rugby or American football. This allows it to be both bounced while the player is running and kicked end over end so that it’s easier to be caught by a teammate.

A player can score either a six-point “goal” for kicking the ball through the middle two of four posts, or a one-point “behind” if they kick the ball between the outer and inner of the four posts. The game is four quarters long with each quarter lasting 20 minutes, which often stretches to 30 minutes with the addition of stoppages, and each team has 18 players on the field with four interchange subs on the sideline.

Australian-born Phil Bourke of the Napa Valley Cricket Club is a huge fan of the Geelong Cats, who have been strong all season long and are firm favorites to win the Grand Final. Bourke and fellow Aussie Rob Bolch held Grand Final parties at their homes for year, but their events grew to a size that they could no longer manage at their homes.

“We’re excited to be showing the Grand Final at Napa Barrel Project this year,” said Bourke. “It’s the perfect venue in downtown Napa. The team at Napa Barrel Project have been very accommodating and we’re looking forward to enjoying a great night of footy, and I’m looking forward to my beloved Cats lifting the trophy at the end of the game.

“It will obviously be a gathering of Australian ex-pats, but we’d love inquisitive locals to come down and watch the game too. Entry is free and anyone who needs to know more about what’s happening on the screens can ask any of the folks wearing the colorful Aussie Rules jerseys of their favorite teams.”

Justin-Siena needs girls soccer coaches

The Justin-Siena High School girls soccer program has openings for junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant coach for the 2022-23 winter season, which begins Oct. 31 and typically runs through the end of February.

The coaches will need to attend weekly training sessions and games and should have an understanding of technical and physical development of the players. Prior coaching experience is preferred.

Send a resume to ebfranco@justin-siena.org if interested in either position.

Optimist Youth Basketball sign-ups Sept. 22, 27, 29

Napa’s Optimist Youth Basketball league will conduct early-bird sign-ups for the 2022-23 season the Thursdays of Sept. 22 and 29 and Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Players in the seventh-eighth-grade boys and girls divisions, ninth-10th-grade boys and girls divisions, and 11th-12th-grade boys and girls divisions will be held in the Napa Valley College gym from 6 to 7:30 p.m. each day. Cost is $80 per player. Sign-ups can also be done napaoyb.org.

Practices start in November and games start in December.

For more general information, or about a preseason workout program for seventh- and eighth-graders in October, call Jake Wilson at 707-738-8115.

Evolve Volleyball open gyms start Sept. 25

Evolve Volleyball will have open gyms on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings beginning Sept. 25 and 28. The club said open gyms are a great way for players to prepare for the Evolve team tryouts scheduled Nov. 5-6.

Visit evolvevolleyballclub.com for more details.

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