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Falcon Soars in Wisconsin

North America

West Perth Falcons Senior player Brett Cousins has returned to Australia after six months with the Milwaukee Bombers. Cousins, a 100-gamer and premiership player for the storied West Perth Falcons helped Milwaukee to their first ever Mid-American Australian Football League (MAAFL) Championship. Brett's stint at Milwaukee is the first stage of a two-way exchange program between the two football clubs. Recently, James and Jared Brunmeier joined West Perth from Wisconsin to play the 2007 season. So far the exchange program has been a great success. According to USFooty and Milwaukee Bombers Founder, Paul "Plugger" O'Keeffe, "I hope to see 30 Brett Cousins playing in the US and 30 Brunmeier brothers playing in Australia each year."

The exchange began with West Perth supporter and sponsor Tony Fairchild getting in touch with long-time Subiaco supporter Rob Parry. Rob was one of the original players and coaches of the Milwaukee Bombers and splits his life between Milwaukee and Perth. There have been other arrangements in which Australian clubs have taken US players, the most famous were the short stints that some US players have done at the Essendon Bombers but there have also been longer stints at country clubs, suburban clubs and clubs in the major state leagues. This is the first to be a two-way exchange with US players going to the Australian club and Australian players going to the US club.

Some of the benefits to Milwaukee are obvious - the club gets a class player that can hold down a key position like center half forward or full forward. However, according to Paul O'Keefe the off-field benefits are even greater. "I think he contributed more off the field than on the field. Milwaukee does not have a lot of Australians and the Australians it does have are older. Brett was a great person to have around the club and really brought some of that Australian football club culture to Milwaukee." There are all sorts of things that are natural to an Australian football club - pie night, sportsman's night, meat raffle that are unfamiliar to Americans. The concept of a club being both a sporting club and a social club doesn't really exist in American culture.

Brett arrived in April and competed in Milwaukee's MAAFL games including wins over Chicago United, Cincinnati Dockers, Nashville Kangaroos, and Atlanta Kookaburras. Brett was a mainstay up forward for the Bombers and after finding his kicking feet was able to give the Bombers a great target. His efforts were rewarded with a best a field against Nashville. Brett also took over the coaching duties for Milwaukee's women's team, helped with coaching and skill work for the men's team and undertook kids clinics. According to O'Keefe, Brett spent almost every afternoon in footy related activities.

The second part of the exchange recently began with Jared and James Brunmeier joining the West Perth Falcons for pre-season training. This is the second visit to Australia for both men. Jared spent a few weeks with Kevin Sheedy at the Essendon Bombers and James is a former winner of the Macquarie Scholarship spending the semester with the Macquarie University Kookaburras. The brothers also had the honor of representing the USA at the 2005 AFL International Cup. James was further honored with selection into the All-International Cup team. Despite their previous experience in Australia, O'Keefe thinks they and the Bombers will get a lot out of it. "This is a different experience. On their first trips they were really an opportunity to visit Australia. This is about learning footy and moving their game to the next level. They are going to be able to have a full year at West Perth including pre-season. They will also learn about Australian club culture. I hope that when they come back they can really contribute to Milwaukee both on and off the field."