About Australian Rules Football
Never heard of this sport before? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Outside its native country it is barely known, in Australia however it is more popular than any other sport. The professional league is one of the five biggest in the world by attendance. The “Grand Final” at the end of a season, held at Melbourne Cricket Ground, even draws a crowd of 100,000 every year, making it the biggest national sports event in the world.
(Source: Flickerd / Wikimedia Commons)
Aussie Rules combines elements of association football, rugby and other ball sports. Many claim it was also influenced by an ancient sport played by the Indinous Australians, called Marn Grook. The result is a fast-paced, action-packed game in which various different roles and player types come together and good team play is essential.
The size of teams and pitch tops pretty much every other sport – 18 players per team are competing on an oval field of up to 185 by 155 meters. They try to kick the (likewise oval) ball through the goal posts. To get near them, they may run with the ball or pass it to their team mates by kicking or handballing.
Aussie Rules is a full contact sport, but only the player in possession of the ball may be attacked, and there are strict rules for that. Possession of the ball is generally disputed at all times. However, teams can win a free kick (and a few seconds of breathing space) when a ball that is kicked over a distance of at least 15 meters is caught directly out of the air.
To get a first impression of how Aussie Rules works, check out these beginner-friendly videos explaining some basics. And following that, we recommend YouTube and the keywords “AFL highlights” – like the “Grand Final” of 2018 or this match from the 2019 finals.