Australian Rules Football (AFL) is a unique and exhilarating sport that captivates the hearts of millions Down Under. While its roots are firmly planted in Australia, the excitement and appeal of AFL have spread across the globe, attracting newcomers eager to learn and enjoy this fast-paced game.
If you’re new to AFL or curious about this dynamic sport, you’ve come to the right place. In this beginner’s guide, we will unravel the mysteries of Australian Rules Football, introducing you to the rules, history, and the sheer excitement that makes AFL a beloved part of Australian culture. Whether you’re looking to join in the fun as a player, a fan, or simply want to understand what all the buzz is about, let’s kick off your AFL journey together!
The History of the AFL: From Humble Beginnings to Australian Sporting Icon
The Australian Football League (AFL) stands as a cornerstone of Australian sporting culture, captivating millions with its unique brand of football. Its history is a rich tapestry woven with passion, competition, and an enduring love for the game. Let’s journey through the decades to explore the fascinating history of the AFL.
Early Origins: The Birth of Australian Rules Football
The roots of the AFL can be traced back to the early 19th century when settlers in Australia, primarily of British descent, were searching for a sport that could be played in the Australian climate. Rugby and soccer were popular in England but were deemed unsuitable for the rough, uneven terrain of the Australian landscape.
In this context, Australian Rules Football emerged. It evolved from various traditional ball games and bore influences from indigenous Australian games. The first recorded game resembling Australian Rules Football was played in Melbourne’s St Kilda in 1858, setting the stage for what would become a defining sport for the nation.
Formation of the Victorian Football League (VFL)
The VFL was established in 1897 as the first professional Australian Rules Football competition. Initially comprising eight teams, the VFL expanded over the years, drawing an ever-growing audience. The VFL Grand Final quickly became one of the most significant sporting events in the country.
The Expansion Era: From VFL to AFL
In 1982, the VFL expanded beyond Victoria, incorporating teams from Western Australia and South Australia. This expansion marked a pivotal moment in the sport’s history, leading to the renaming of the league as the Australian Football League (AFL) in 1990.
The ’80s and ’90s were marked by increased television coverage, growing commercialization, and the introduction of key innovations like the national draft system. The AFL Grand Final, held annually at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, continued to captivate audiences nationwide.
The Modern Era: AFL’s National Domination
The 21st century ushered in an era of further expansion for the AFL. Teams were added from Queensland and New South Wales, solidifying the AFL as Australia’s premier football competition. The introduction of the Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney Giants in 2011 and 2012, respectively, marked this expansion.
The AFL also embraced women’s football, launching the AFLW (AFL Women’s) competition in 2017, which rapidly gained popularity and showcased the talents of female athletes.
AFL Today: A National Treasure
Today, the AFL stands as a national sporting treasure, with millions of fans attending matches and tuning in to watch games on television. It has also gained recognition globally, with international exhibitions and a growing fanbase overseas.
The AFL is more than just a sport; it’s a cultural phenomenon. It’s about community, tradition, and the pursuit of excellence. From its humble origins in the 19th century to its status as a modern sporting powerhouse, the AFL’s journey through history is a testament to the enduring power of Australian Rules Football to unite a nation in the name of sport and competition.
How Many AFL Teams Are There?
1. Adelaide Crows:
- Founded in 1990, the Adelaide Crows are based in Adelaide, South Australia. They have a strong following in their home state and have won two AFL premierships, in 1997 and 1998.
2. Brisbane Lions:
- The Brisbane Lions were formed in 1996 through a merger of the Fitzroy Lions and the Brisbane Bears. They have won three AFL premierships, in 2001, 2002, and 2003.
3. Carlton Blues:
- One of the oldest clubs in the AFL, the Carlton Blues, founded in 1864, are based in Melbourne, Victoria. They have a rich history and have won 16 premierships, with their most recent one in 1995.
4. Collingwood Magpies:
- The Collingwood Football Club, established in 1892, is one of the oldest and most iconic clubs in the AFL. They have a passionate fan base and have won 15 premierships, most recently in 2010.
5. Essendon Bombers:
- Founded in 1871, the Essendon Bombers are another of the league’s oldest clubs. They are based in Melbourne, Victoria, and have won 16 premierships, with their last one in 2000.
6. Fremantle Dockers:
- The Fremantle Dockers, established in 1994, are based in Perth, Western Australia. They have a distinctive purple and white team colors and have not yet won an AFL premiership.
7. Geelong Cats:
- The Geelong Football Club, founded in 1859, is one of the oldest clubs in the AFL. They have a strong presence in Victoria and have won nine premierships, with their most recent one in 2011.
8. Gold Coast Suns:
- The Gold Coast Suns were established in 2009 and are based on the Gold Coast in Queensland. They are one of the newer teams in the league and have not yet won an AFL premiership.
9. Greater Western Sydney Giants:
- The GWS Giants, founded in 2010, represent the Greater Western Sydney region in New South Wales. They are one of the AFL’s expansion teams and have not yet won a premiership.
10. Hawthorn Hawks: – The Hawthorn Football Club, founded in 1902, is based in Melbourne, Victoria. They have a successful history and have won 13 premierships, with their most recent one in 2015.
11. Melbourne Demons: – The Melbourne Football Club, established in 1858, is one of the oldest clubs in the AFL. They have won 12 premierships, with their last one in 1964.
12. North Melbourne Kangaroos: – The North Melbourne Football Club, founded in 1869, is based in Melbourne, Victoria. They have won four premierships, with their most recent one in 1999.
13. Port Adelaide Power: – Port Adelaide was established in 1870 and is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in South Australia. They have won one AFL premiership, in 2004.
14. Richmond Tigers: – The Richmond Football Club, founded in 1885, is based in Melbourne, Victoria. They have a passionate fan base and have won 13 premierships, with their most recent one in 2020.
15. St Kilda Saints: – The St Kilda Football Club, founded in 1873, is based in Melbourne, Victoria. They have not yet won an AFL premiership but have come close on several occasions.
16. Sydney Swans: – The Sydney Swans, formerly the South Melbourne Swans, were established in 1874. They are based in Sydney, New South Wales, and have won six premierships, with their most recent one in 2012.
17. West Coast Eagles: – The West Coast Eagles, founded in 1986, are based in Perth, Western Australia. They have a strong following in the west and have won four premierships, with their most recent one in 2018.
What Are The Rules Of AFL?
Australian Rules Football (AFL) is an exciting and unique sport that combines elements of soccer, rugby, and basketball. If you’re new to AFL, it’s essential to understand the basic rules to fully enjoy the game. Here’s a beginner’s guide to the rules of AFL:
- Teams: Two teams of 18 players each compete on an oval field. The aim is to score points by kicking the ball through the opposing team’s goalposts.
- Scoring: There are two ways to score in AFL:
- Goals (worth 6 points): A player kicks the ball between the two tall goalposts.
- Behinds (worth 1 point): If the ball goes between one of the tall goalposts and the smaller behind posts, or if it hits a goalpost, it’s worth 1 point.
- The Ball: The game is played with an oval-shaped ball that must be bounced or touched to the ground every 15 meters (16.4 yards) by the player carrying it. This rule encourages players to run and pass the ball.
- Center Bounce: The game begins with a center bounce, where the umpire bounces the ball in the center circle, and players from both teams compete to gain possession.
Moving the Ball:
- Kicking: Players can kick the ball to teammates or toward the goals to score.
- Handballing: Players can also handball the ball, which involves using a closed fist to punch it to a teammate. Handballing is often used for quick and precise passes.
- Marking: If a player catches the ball on the full (without it touching the ground) after it has been kicked by another player, they are awarded a “mark.” The player can then take a free kick from where they caught the ball.
Tackling and Disposal:
- Tackling: Players can tackle opponents to try and prevent them from advancing with the ball. Legal tackles aim to pin the opponent from the waist down.
- Possession: A player must dispose of the ball legally when tackled. This can be done by kicking, handballing, or even just dropping the ball.
- Marks Inside 50: If a player takes a mark inside the forward 50-meter arc, they are allowed to take a set shot on goal without opposition.
- Free Kicks: Free kicks are awarded for rule infringements. The player can then take an uncontested kick.
Out of Bounds:
- Boundary Throw-In: If the ball goes out of bounds, it is thrown back into play by the umpire. Two ruckmen from each team compete for the ball.
- Kick-In: When the ball goes out on the full from a kick, the opposing team is awarded a free kick from the boundary.
- AFL games are divided into four quarters, each lasting about 20 minutes of playing time. There is a short break between the first and second quarters, a longer break at halftime, and another short break between the third and fourth quarters.
- The game ends when the siren sounds at the conclusion of the fourth quarter or overtime. The team with the most points at the end wins the match.
These are the basic rules to get you started with AFL. Keep in mind that the game can be fast-paced and physical, and it may take some time to fully grasp all the intricacies. Watching games, attending matches, or playing AFL with friends can help you further understand and enjoy this unique Australian sport.
In conclusion, Australian Rules Football (AFL) is a captivating and exhilarating sport that offers a unique blend of athleticism, skill, and excitement. With its rich history, passionate fan base, and thrilling gameplay, AFL has become an integral part of Australian culture and a growing phenomenon worldwide.
Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or a newcomer looking to explore something fresh and engaging, AFL has something to offer everyone. The combination of high-flying marks, precise kicking, fierce tackles, and strategic gameplay makes it a spectacle that’s hard to resist.
There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a live AFL match. If you have a team in your city or a nearby stadium, consider getting tickets and experiencing the excitement firsthand. If you’re feeling inspired, why not give Aussie Rules a try yourself? Many local clubs offer opportunities for beginners to learn the game, make new friends, and stay active. It’s a fantastic way to get involved in your community and embrace the sport.