Australian Rules Football, commonly known as footy, is Australia’s unique national sport. The game is enjoyed all over the country, though the sport is most popular in Victoria being the state of the game’s origin. As a favourite national pastime, learning a little about the Australian Football League (AFL) is a great way to understand more about the Australian culture. Below is a general guide to the game of AFL for international students, explaining what the game is all about and how it is played.
An overview of the AFL
AFL is a big deal in Australia, with many fans all around the country. The main AFL season runs from March to October each year with the AFL grand final being one of Australia’s biggest sporting events of the year. There are major stadiums in each state where AFL is played, the most famous being the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Victoria. The games are regularly televised live on free to air TV, but diehard fans may also tune in through AFL channels available on cable TV networks such as Foxtel. Many diehard fans hold annual memberships with the clubs they support and regularly attend the games in person and competitive fans closely follow the statistics of the current season through online odds sites like Sportsbet.
How do you explain AFL to international students?
Aussie rules football is a fiercely competitive, high contact game that uses an oval shaped leather ball, similar to a rugby ball. There are two main ways that the ball can be moved around the field which are kicking and hand passing, but a player with possession of the ball can also run with it if the ball is bounced every 15 meters. The field is oval shaped and covered in low cut and well-maintained grass with the average size being 165m in length and 135m in width.
There are two teams on the oval during play. Each team has 18 players on the field at any one time and each player has a different position on the field. The idea of the game is to score a goal against the opposing team within the rules of play and the winning team is the one with the most points at the end of the game.
AFL in a nutshell
The game starts at the centre of the field. There, an umpire bounces the ball straight up into the air and a player on either team has to try and get control of the ball. Players who get control of the ball try to kick it or handpass it to another teammate. The ball can be caught or ‘marked’ by another player as long as it has travelled over 15 meters which allows them to play the ball as they see fit without being tackled by the opponent. There are four posts at each end of the oval kicking the ball between the two middle posts gives you 6 points (a goal) and 1 point (a behind) if the ball goes through the two outer posts. The entire match consists of four quarters which go for 20 minutes each.
Experience a part of Australia’s culture
AFL is known for its rough gameplay and is an intense and exciting event to watch. We highly recommend AFL for international students to experience a part of Australia’s culture and broaden their horizons in a country that truly loves its sport.