June 25, 2018 / 10:18 AM / in 10 months

Soccer-roo halts play in Australian football match

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s national football team may be nicknamed the “Socceroos” but the country’s most recognisable marsupial had shown scant interest in the game until a real life ‘roo bounded in to the middle of a match.

A game was held up about half an hour in the capital, Canberra, after the large eastern grey kangaroo hopped on to the pitch and even had a lie-down in the goal mouth, refusing to budge.

“He was quite happily watching the first part of the match and decided he’d join the field of play when the girls went off at half time,” match commentator Russ Gibbs told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Footage showed ground staff at the Sunday game between two women’s team, the Canberra Football Club and cross-town rivals Belconnen United, trying to shoo away the kangaroo by kicking a ball at it. But the ‘roo defended ably.

“It was quite happy to control it and send a good quality pass,” Gibbs said, adding it was difficult to move the kangaroo on “without aggravating it any further and making it upset.”

Australia has an estimated 45 million kangaroos, or more than double the number of people.

Although they rarely disrupt sport matches, they are a common sight in the countryside and around Canberra, which is dubbed “the bush capital”.

Eventually the Belconnen coach used his car to chase it away through an open fence, the match resumed, and his side won 2-0.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Robert Birsel

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