In the early 1840s, a newspaper reported a form of Gaelic football played in South Australia, while similar games were played on the goldfields of Victoria in the 1850s. There is a lack of documentation of many challenge games of Gaelic football and hurling, which were played between the Irish of Melbourne and Sydney in the 1920s and 1930s.
Fast forward to 2023 and the Australasian association now comprises affiliated Australian units in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart plus Wellington and Christchurch in New Zealand. There are now more than 120 teams playing weekly in men's and women’s football, hurling and camogie. Almost 3,000 registered players made up of 60 percent males and 40 percent females participate.
Underage football and hurling in the last five years has taken giant steps with Go Games taking place in every city for 5- to 14-year-olds. Added to that are minor boards that cater for the 15 to 17 age group. The minor boards ready their teams to take part in the annual Australasian Minor Football Championships. Such has been the growth in participation that for the first time a football team from Perth travelled and took part in a 2019 Féile competition in Ireland. 2023 saw the first Féile competition in Australasia when it was held in Adelaide in March. It was a great success and we can’t wait to continue this initiative in the coming years.
The first Interstate Championship in football and hurling was played between NSW, Victoria and South Australia in 1971 in Melbourne. This has grown to the Australasian Championships being held every October in one of the affiliated state capitals. Games are now played over three or four days in minor, senior, intermediate and women’s football as well as hurling and camogie. Up to 500 players and mentors take part with the culmination being the presentation of All-Stars in each of the four codes.
In 2015, Australasia entered a women’s team into the World Games in Dubai and came very close to winning, only losing to the Middle East at the death. 2016 saw the World Games take place at UCD, Dublin where four teams from Australasia took part in men's and women's football, hurling and camogie. We won the camogie competition, and, unfortunately, were losing finalists in women's football and hurling. The men's footballers took home the shield trophy.
At the 2019 World Games we had the following teams from Australasia: Irish Born Men's and Ladies football, Hurling and Camogie and for the first time Native Born (Australia & NZ) Men's and Women’s football teams. Seven affiliates were represented with players coming from west to east (Perth to New Zealand) a distance of almost 6,000 kilometres, the management of each team did a marvellous job having everyone ready to compete in Waterford and then on to Croke Park where five of them participated in the Grand Finals. Being crowned World Games champions in camogie again along with women's football was an unbelievable achievement for us. Added to this, Australasian players in Camogie and Native Born Ladies took out the awards for best players of their Grand Finals.
Fast forward to 2023 and Australasia are once again looking forward to travelling to Derry to take part in the World Games. Six teams will be travelling, with 90 players and management taking part in Irish born men and ladies football, camogie and hurling, as well as international men and ladies football teams. We cannot wait to get involved again and look forward to a great week of competitive games, forming friendships and of course exploring Derry.