With the 2021 AFL finals series just around the corner, we thought we would take a closer look at the greatness of our game, its rich history, and how we can all get involved. For over 150 years, Australians have been enjoying AFL. Originally played in private schools in Victoria, it evolved over the decades into something totally unique. Taking inspiration from other established sports such as Gaelic Football and Rugby, Aussie rules quickly transformed into the fast-paced, high-intensity game we know and love today. But how did Aussie Rules become the most widely played, viewed, and supported game in Australia?
In 1990, AFL went to the national level with the formation of the AFL from the VFL, with the addition of Adelaide in 1991 and Fremantle in 1995, but it was popular long before that on a national scale. Many attribute the popularity of AFL to the convenience and ease of viewing and playing the game. As AFL was played in the winter months, it didn’t clash with summer cricket, leaving the cricket grounds available to footy.
Football clubs were established around suburbs, churches (some will claim it is a religion too), schools and workplaces. Because of this, football became the ‘everyone’s’ game, whereby everyone from every walk of life was free and welcome to play. For a country with a constant flow of newly arriving immigrants, joining a football club was a great way to meet people and become involved in a community. This local aspect of the game attracted many and helped establish Aussie Rules Football at the centre of the new Australian way of life.
The ever-changing sport.
Since the 1850s, Aussie Rules Football has been through many changes. Different players, tactics and technologies have all changed the way the game has been played. The first rendition of scoring in AFL involved the player passing the goal line and trying the ball like in rugby, but unlike rugby, the player could not run with the ball. It might surprise you to know that handballing only became widely used in the game as recently as 1966; before then, it was all kicking. Even this year, new rules have been introduced that change the way the game is played on a fundamental level. So, if you’re a little behind on the rules, it’s ok, you’re not the only one.
Match day traditions.
Everybody handles game day differently. For some, it’s an excuse to catch up with friends, have a pint and a wager at the pub and enjoy the banter of the evening. For others, it’s more serious. AFL can produce some of the most die-hard supporters in all of world sport. The type of supporters that never miss a game, have a reserved seat, a footy scarf adorned with player pins dating back to the pre-AFL era, and a guernsey so old it doesn’t have any sponsors on it. That being said, everyone is free to take a more casual approach. Footy can be just something to have on in the background during the day or evening.
Experience the thrill of the game.
Nothing quite beats going to a game of footy. Every ground has its unique feel, from the awe-inspiring size of the MCG, to the state-of-the-art look of Optus Stadium in Perth, through to the old-world feel of the member’s pavilion at the SCG. Arriving by train has to be the preferred method of transport to a game. The train carriage pre-footy game is where you hear everyone’s theories on how the game will be played, who will match up on who, and often a pre-mature rendition of a team’s song. It is something you miss during the off-season or when COVID presents. To get your tickets and see an AFL game or final, visit the AFL website.
Source: Yahoo Sport
Adapting to COVID conditions.
Through COVID, many supporters sought new ways to enjoy footy from the comfort of their homes. Without being able to invite over friends or family, many turned to Zoom or other video chatting software. AFL watch parties become weekly occurrences for some, with friends and family turning on the TV or streaming service and opening up a video chat, even dressing in their team’s colours. You cannot break our footy spirit!
The Grand Final Parade.
Now a national holiday… so if you’re in Melbourne and game to gamble on the weather, the Grand Final Day parade in the city is a lot of fun. A great atmosphere filled with marching bands and entertainers, and of course, the players. Find everything you need to know about this year’s parade here. Even if your team isn’t playing, there’s something exciting about Grand Final parade day, a buzz in the air across the city. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t follow football, everyone is welcome to get involved in the festivities.
Grand Final Fever.
The AFL Grand Final is a time to sit back, enjoy the day and uphold the family traditions (or even create new ones). Perhaps the most popular grand final tradition is the Aussie BBQ with prawns and lamb ever popular. A Grand Final BBQ is a great way to catch up with friends, enjoy a drink together or a little wager, and of course, don’t forget to decorate your home with your favourite grand final team colours.
Inclusive and fun for all.
Getting involved with footy has never been easier. One of the best ways to get kids involved in footy is through the Auskick program with weekly events, and the opportunity to play mini matches during half time on the biggest grounds. With over 3,500 thousand Aus Kick Centres across Australia, there’s bound to be one near you. If you are a little older and looking to get involved beyond watching and going to games, the AFL website has a page set up with everything you need to get involved with footy, however you choose to do so. Follow the link, or you can google your local footy club and see what’s on. With opportunities including umpiring, coaching, playing or just becoming involved in the community, there’s something for everyone.
So, whether you’re currently involved in footy, looking to get involved, or just excited about the final’s series, there are activities and events available for you.
The information contained in the blog is general in nature. Please refer to the AFL website for more information.