Here’s a fun piece of local sporting trivia: Canberra is home to Australia’s number one ranked men’s gridiron team – the Central Spears.
The Central Spears men’s and women’s teams are also the current ACT champions, and the men’s team has won the ACT Gridiron men’s competition every year since the club began in 2012.
Club president Sean Gautusa, who has been involved with the club since it was founded, attributes its success to a great culture and talented players.
“Given that we’ve only been around for a short time, we’re pretty proud of these achievements. We are fortunate to have great players that are true athletes, and a lot of experience within the team,” he says.
“One of the things that has been key to our success is our culture. We try to make the game accessible to people. We try to make it fun and make it simple, because it can be a really technical game.”
While the Central Spears club is only a few years old, the club’s history dates back to 1998 in Hamilton, New Zealand. Back then, the team was known as the Waikato Spears and competed for seven years in New Zealand’s gridiron competitions. When key members of the club, including Sean, moved to Canberra, they decided to start their own gridiron team.
“We played for a couple of different teams but started our own club so that we could have more control over how we played the game and ran the club. Having our own club also made it easier to recruit friends and family to play, as there’s a bit more of an attraction to play for a team if you have a connection to someone who runs it.”
He says that as many of the club’s team members are from the Pacific Islands, fostering a strong family culture has been important.
“When you play for the Central Spears, we’re not just a team that you play and train with. We consider each other as part of a family. When you come to training you see our kids running around, and we all know each other and a lot of our wives and partners are now getting involved with the women’s team. It’s very much a family club.”
The gridiron season kicks off in late August and early September, and Sean says there’s still plenty of time to register and still participate in preseason training.
“We’d love more people to join our club. That would be awesome. For anyone who’s played or watched contact sports and wants to give gridiron a go, there are six clubs in Canberra and plenty of opportunities to find out what it’s all about,” he says.
Central Spears fast facts
- Number of players: Around 70 across its men’s, women’s and junior teams
- Home ground: All ACT gridiron games are played at Greenway Oval in Tuggeranong. Central Spears train at Curtin and Garran Oval
- Club president: Sean Gautusa
- Sponsors: Monkeybar and Canberra Southern Cross Club
- Social media: Find Central Spears Gridiron on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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