By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gaelic football may be an Irish sport, but in the Twin Cities it’s a melting pot of players participating in the game.

Alex Langley, who plays fullback, says his team – the Lakelanders — has players from Norway, Belarus and India.

“It kind of makes the world smaller, you know…building bridges, through this really interesting sport,” he said.

The game combines elements from a number of others, like soccer, basketball, lacrosse and even rugby.

“It plays on a field similar to soccer…but the gameplay feels a lot more like lacrosse, with the amount of contact and how fast the game goes, up and down,” said Kevin Skerett, a Lakelanders player. “It’s a very fast game, and high scoring.”

The Lakelanders have only been around for five years, but the team is competitive, having recently won a regional tournament in Kansas City. They team is co-ed, because they don’t have enough women for a separate team.

Two of the team’s female players said they liked that they are allowed to hit the boy’s, while they aren’t allowed to hit them.

Anna Yesberger said the sport was “completely new” to her before she started playing. Even now, she isn’t clear on all the rules.

“So I’m still learning,” she said. “It’s exciting; it’s a lot of fun. And you get to do more things than you would in soccer.”

For instance, you can run with the ball, if you kick the ball up to yourself. You can run for four steps with the ball in your hands before having to bounce it on the ground or kick it.

Longtime local Gaelic Football coach Peter McLoughlin said Twins Cities players are different than their Irish counterparts.

“A majority of the good players back home were the players who would just stand there,” McLoughlin said. “They’d get the ball and turn the ball away. Here, it’s like go go go go.”

For some more information on the sport, go to the Lakelanders’ club website and the Irish Fair.

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