Australian rules football – also knows as Aussie rules, or just “footy” – is a team contact sport in which the objective is to kick an oval shaped ball between goal posts at each end of the field. Sounds easy, right? Well, if you think footy is the same as rugby, soccer, or American football – you might be in for a surprise!
During a game of Aussie rules, players can position themselves anywhere on the field, and use almost any part of their body to move the ball – with the primary methods being kicking, handballing, and running with the ball itself. However, actually throwing the ball is not allowed and there are penalties if you are caught and can’t get rid of the ball. So, this means that if you do not kick or handball, you better get running before you get caught and tackled!
Speaking of kicking the ball, though – another key feature of footy is the mark. This is when another player catches a kicked ball. Once a mark is taken, play stops and the player with the ball has 30 seconds to choose what they will do next (run, kick, handball, etc.). As possession contested at all times until a kick (or a penalty) is awarded, Aussie rules becomes a fast-flowing, action packed sport that sees both teams desperately trying to get the ball, tackle those that have it, and kick as many goals (worth 6 points) as possible!
Whilst dangerous contact (above the shoulders, to the back, to the legs) is against the rules, the game does feature frequent physical contests and battles of strength, wits, and speed to take great marks and kick goals. Unlike other sports, Aussie rules contests take place in the air, on the ground, and in both standing and running positions, thus Aussie rules players tend to range from very short to very tall, and every body shape in between! No matter your age, size or gender, Aussie rules is a fun sport that anyone can play – and be good at!
As a high scoring, dynamic, and exciting game, Australian football has the highest spectator attendance and TV viewership of all sports in Australia, and the AFL (Australian Football League) is Australia’s richest sporting body. However, whilst traditional Aussie Rules is played in the winter with 18 players per side (that’s a lot!), the common format here in Europe – and the rest of the world – involves 9 players per side fighting it out on football and rugby pitches during the summer.
So, now that you know a bit about football, why not join your local side? Chances are there are some great people to meet who will teach you how to kick, how to handball, and will get you involved in this fun, challenging, and rewarding team sport.