Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bellamy Sports: Bellamy Football

Continuing with the Bellamy Sports series, it's time for sport number two: Bellamy Football.

Bellamy Football became the second Bellamy Sport in early 2000. It evolved from a social kick around and quickly overtook Bellamy Tennis in popularity.

What you need for Bellamy Football is a large open field or park, an even number of players, and an Aussie Rules football (though a rugby ball will do at a pinch).

The game is a version of "Forcings Back" where one team must kick the football to their opponents' boundary in order to win. The boundaries must be determined prior to the game commencing. The original Bellamy Football game was played in a park surrounded on all four sides by fences. If no fences exist on any side, then an imaginary border must be decided upon.

There is also no requirement for the field of play to be fully open or, indeed, flat. Our official Bellamy Football field had an asphalt path running diagonally across it, trees planted every twenty or so metres on either side of the path, a park bench with a rubbish bin next to it, a children's play area at one end complete with swings and slides, and a nasty downhill slope at the other end. Any obstacles and slopes should be taken into account when deciding the starting point of the game.

A toss of a coin is held before the start of the game. The winner of the toss may decide either who starts with the ball, or which end they wish to attack. The loser of the toss has the other choice. Once ends and initial possession are decided upon, the game commences.

The team with possession starts at the designated spot - generally the halfway line - and then handballs the ball as far as possible towards their opponents' end of the ground. All handballs must be made Aussie Rules style and must be made with the person's non-preferred hand. Any handball made with the person's preferred hand will result in a penalty.

The receiving team must then catch or grab the ball as far upfield as possible. The ball must be in a players possession before it stops moving. If the ball comes to a complete standstill then the receiving team are penalised (see below). Once a player is in possession of the football, they must then kick it mightily towards their opponents' boundary.

When a player kicks the ball, they must not move their non-kicking foot from its position on the ground. That is, the non-kicking foot must remain planted firmly where it was when the ball was picked up, while the other foot kicks the football. This is the no-step kick rule that Bellamy Football employs. There are only two exceptions to the no-step kick rule.

The first exception is the one-step kick that players are allowed if they mark the ball (ie. catch it on the full from an opposition player's kick). On marking the ball a player may take one step forward with their non-kicking foot and kick at the same time.

Additionally, if a player marks the ball they earn a free handball. This allows them to handball (again, with their non-preferred hand) to a team mate further up the field before that player takes the kick. Earned handballs may be accumulated and used at any time a team is in possession of the ball, though handballs may not be carried over from game to game. For example a team may take three marks during the course of the game but not use the handballs. When they get within striking range of their opponents' boundary they can then handball three times to bring the ball even closer for a shot at winning the game. If a player attempts a handball and it is not caught by their team mate, then they immediately lose any accumulated handballs and must return the ball to the original player for a penalty kick.

A team is also allowed to use one sideline handball if the ball is within two metres of a side fence. This handball cannot advance up the field but must travel laterally or back towards that team's own boundary. Failure to adhere to this will result in a penalty kick.

Penalty kicks are the second exception to the no-step rule. Any time a team is penalised their next kick must be taken while taking one step backwards. The player must step back with their non-kicking foot and kick the ball simultaneously. This isn't quite as hard as it sounds, though it can lead to some amusing moments.

Play continues until either one team kicks the ball into the opponents' boundary or boundary area, thereby winning the game, or one team kicks the ball out of bounds, thereby immediately losing the game. The teams then change ends and play a second game. The first team to win two games is the winner.

Penalty Summary

A penalty is awarded against a team when a player from that team:

  • drops an attempted mark; or
  • drops an attempted handball; or
  • handballs with their preferred hand; or
  • takes the wrong kind of kick; or
  • moves after taking possession of the ball; or
  • allows the ball to come to a complete stop before picking it up; or
  • handballs forwards at a sideline handball; or
  • handballs when the team has no accumulated handballs remaining.

    Note: Penalties in italics also indicate the team loses any accumulated handballs.

  • And that, my friends, is Bellamy Football. Things to remember are:

  • make sure you use the correct "step" rule when you kick;
  • always handball with your non-preferred hand;
  • grab that ball before it stops rolling;
  • don't kick the ball out of bounds or you'll lose immediately;
  • have fun; and
  • wherever possible, laugh and/or jeer at your opponents.
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