Sport in Focus

Australian Football with Hilary Perry & Patricia Jaworski

Trish Jaworski
Patricia Jaworski

Team Canada players are heading to Melbourne for the 2017 International Cup and hoping to show their strength to once again be the best overseas team

Australian Football is growing in popularity and there will be eight nations taking part in this year’s International Cup in Melbourne from August 5-19th. Hilary Perry will return as Vice-Captain for Team Canada and will be joined by ruck Patricia Jaworski. Both women had diverse athletic careers before taking up the sport and they share their experiences of how they became converted to the sport. We also learn some basic rules of the game and how it involves a mix of rugby and soccer. Both Hilary and Trish are regular team members of the Calgary Kookaburras.

Podcast length: 29′ 40″

AFL 101 from Hilary:

“It starts off like Basketball, there’s a center bounce and you have two what they call ruck players that do the tap out so from there basically you’re trying to move the ball from end of the field to the other and score on some goal posts so in AFL they have four upright goal posts; two center ones they are a little bit taller and if you score in those goal posts you get six points and then there’s two other ones on the wide outside so if you kind of miss your target you are awarded one point for getting close enough to that. The way you move the ball down the field — you can run with it — you can run 15 steps and after 15 steps you must either pass the ball, dribble the ball on the ground or release it to a team mate in any way. You can kick the ball, you can hand pass the ball and I think hand passing is one of the more unique skills for us Canadian’s because we don’t usually have a sport where you punch a ball out of your hand. So in fact you can’t throw it because it’s called throwing the ball so you have to make a fist, punch the ball out of your hand to hand pass it to a team mate or you can kick it and if you do kick it and your teammate catches it successfully no tackling is allowed to happen. So while it is a contact sport, you can, if your skills are up to par, kind of control the amount of contact that does happen with being able to catch that ball in the air and then being rewarded a free kick with no contact. Other than that there’s a little bit of handball in there and soccer because you can pick it off the ground and you are also encouraged to pick it up and run with it. and the running is quite extensive seeing as the field is about 180 meters in length and about 150 meters in width so it’s quite a big field.”


Hilary Perry has always had a great passion for athletics. She got her first taste of competitive sport in hockey and after that was involved in as many activities as she could be throughout her schooling. In high school she was part of basketball, volleyball, track, cross-country and swimming. Swimming soon became her main sport and she eventually competed for the university of Alberta. Once her swimming carrier was over she made the transition into triathlons where she trained for and competed in 2 iron man Canada triathlons.

In 2011 Hilary was fully introduced to Australian Rules football and fell in love with how dynamic and diverse of a sport it was. Her athleticism and experience in a variety of sports allowed her to find success in the game quickly. She soon became a member of the Canadian national team and that summer traveled to Australia for the first ever women’s International Cup.

Since then, Hilary has captained team Alberta to a national championship, was vice captain of team Canada when they won the Australian Rules International Cup making them the strongest female team outside of Australia at the sport and hopes again this summer to VC the team to a second IC championship.

Hilary recognizes how important it is to give back to the community of sport so all young aspiring athletes are given the same opportunities she was awarded. She has been involved in youth development programs where she introduces the sport of AFL to the youth and is a high school teacher where she coaches multiple sports and helped start a women’s rugby program at her high school for the first time this past year. She has seen the opportunity sport has given her and feels strongly that everyone should have these same opportunities growing up.


Patricia Jaworski

Growing up in small town Quebec, Trish was fortunate to be involved in a variety of sports: from figure skating to equestrian and everything in between! She focused on rugby at the college (John Abbott), university (McGIll), provincial (Quebec) and developmental national levels while still in Quebec. An adventure to Fort McMurray, Alberta, for work in 2005, and a few rugby games later, Trish took up the sport of Triathlon, competing in various events in Alberta & British Columbia and at the ITU World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in 2010.

After moving from Fort McMurray to Calgary, Trish tried out Australian football with the Calgary Kookaburras in 2015. She excelled at this “new-to-her” sport, representing Alberta at the provincial level and winning the National Championships in 2016. Trish’s next achievement was being named to the National Team that same year; she is excited to represent Canada at the International Cup in Australia in August of 2017.

Trish acknowledges the many volunteers that make sport possible and had the privilege of volunteering at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics with the Bobsleigh and Skeleton events. Trish has also recently joined KidSport Calgary Area as an Athlete Ambassador with the aligned mission to remove financial barriers that prevent kids from playing organized sport.

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