Football in Australia is truly diverse. In fact, the term “Australian Football” can actually refer to two completely different sports. On the one hand is the Football Federation Australia which is the governing body for football in Australia and the national organization is also a member of FIFA, under the Asian Football Confederation. Australian football within this context is the traditional foot and ball sport which is also known as soccer.
On the other hand, Australian football can also refer to a sport originated in Australia known as “Australian Rules Football.” This is a sport which resembles Rugby football, but as the name suggests, has a different set of rules and regulations, making it unique.
The origins of Australian Rules Football date back to the mid-19th century. The oldest set of rules was written on May 17, 1859 by the Melbourne Football Club. At that time, there were 10 simple rules decided upon, recorded, and made publicly available, paving the way to making this sport a legitimate competitive game.
Australian Rules Football is played using an oblong shaped ball, smaller than that used in Rugby, and is played on a huge oblong shaped field which can be up to 200 yards long and 150 yards wide. There is a maximum of 18 players on the field per team, with an additional 4 reserve players per team which can be substituted in and out at any time. There are no set positions, nor limitations to where players can be on the field, and no off-sides rule, but the typical structure of set up has 6 forwards, 6 defenders, and 6 mid-fielders.
The object of the game is to pass the ball through the opponent’s goal. The ball is moved and passed among players primarily by kicking or handballing and carry, and any body part can be used. Throwing the ball to teammates is not allowed. Australian Rules Football is a full contact sport and opponents may be tackled and physically obstructed, and a player must not get caught holding the ball.
This game is traditionally fast paced and high scoring. It is a major spectator sport in Australia with high participation. The most prestigious competition is the Australian Football League, and its championship game, the annual AFL Grand Final, is currently the highest attended club championship competition in the world.