Australian Football is a contact sport in which players can tackle using their hands or their whole body to obstruct opponents. Frequent physical contests, spectacular marking, fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring are the game’s main attributes.
Australian football is also known as footy or Aussie rules and is a played by two teams of 18 players. Both the ball and the field, often a modified cricket field, are elliptical in shape. Contrary to many other forms of football, players from both teams may disperse across the whole field before the start of play. During general play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their body to move the ball. There is no offside rule like in soccer nor are there defined set positions.
A game begins after a siren is heard and the umpire (referee) bounces the ball on the ground or throws it into the air if the condition of the ground is poor. Normally, the tallest players from each team (‘ruckmen’) battle for the ball in the air on its way back down. This is known as the ball-up. A game has four quarters of 20 minutes long at professional level. The Australian Football League (AFL) is the only professional league worldwide, although this sport is also played in other commonwealth and nearby pacific countries, as well as in Germany.
The first football game identifiable as Australian Rules football was held in Melbourne in 1858. Although there are many theories to the previous origins of the game, the predominant ones point to early Irish games such as caid, an ancestor of Gaelic football, early forms of rugby football played in England, inspiration from traditional local indigenous pastimes, such as the ball game known as marn grook, or even influence from some or all of the above. Nonetheless, the AFL Commission, the game’s current governing body, officially only acknowledges that 1858 was the commencement date that the game was invented in Melbourne.
Follow Part 2 of this post to find out in what this intensive game specifically consists and its objectives in detail.