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Australian football is a popular sport native to Australia. It might look a bit like rugby or soccer, but it has various specialties that make it different and unique. Read along to learn the history of Australian football and what makes it special for Australians!
History of Australian Football
The origin of Australian football is not clear. However, it has been popular since the 1850s. In the first half of the 19th century, an older form of football was played in Australian colonies. However, colonists only saw this sport as an amusement, and no evidence shows this ball game is the early form of Australian football.
In 1858, private schools in Melbourne, Victoria, began to hold a football game that would become the Australian football we know today. The first game was held on June 15, 1858, between two English public schools, the Melbourne Grammar, and the St Kilda Grammar.
Then on July 10, 1958, Tom Wills, a captain of the Victoria cricket team, announced the formation of a football club with rules to help cricket players stay fit during their off-season. In the same month, Wills’ fellow cricket player, Jerry Bryant, posted an advertisement informing a match at the Richmond Paddock.
Another match with experimental rules was held between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College. Wills and John Macadam, a teacher, was the assigned umpire of the game. It was held on 7 August and continued until the next two Saturdays before ending in a draw. Since then, these schools have competed in Australian Football annually.
This game was thought to be derived from Gaelic football, although there is no evidence confirming this suggestion. Another theory stated that Wills might have been inspired by the Aboriginal ball game called Marn Grook.
In 1860, the game spread to South Australia and other colonies. Football clubs then started touring the colonies in late 1870, and the first Australian football competition between colonies was held in 1879.
How to Play Australian Football
Now that you know the history of Australian football, we will explain how this game is played and how it differs from other ball games.
This game is played using a short oval ball on an oval field. Uniquely, there is no exact rule on how large the field should be. It can be between 110 and 150 meters in width and between 135 and 185 meters in length. The goalposts are 6 meters in height and placed 6.4 meters apart on each other end.
Australian football is played by 18 players. Players can run with the ball, but they have to bounce it or touch it to the ground at least once every 15 meters. Players can propel the ball using their foot or pass the ball using a clenched fist. However, they are not allowed to throw the ball.
The opposing player can tackle the player holding the ball. When tackled, the player must release the ball cleanly. A player can tackle the ball carrier between the knees and shoulders but is not allowed to contact the player in the back forcefully.
The Specialty of Australian Football
As you may have suggested by now, Australian Football is quite different from other ball games. Here are the specialties of Australian Football.
- The game is mainly influenced by early forms of soccer and rugby. However, it is also suggested that Australian Football is influenced by an Aboriginal game called Marn Grook.
- Australian Football is played by 18 players in a team, and 4 players are sitting on the bench. So the total membership of the team is 22.
- This sport is now played by more than 100,000 people and is played across 80 countries, such as South Africa, the USA, Denmark, Canada, and Sweden among others.
- Players are allowed to kick or handball the ball, but throwing it is not allowed.
- The losing team will be awarded an imaginary award called the ‘Wooden Spoon’. St Kilda has won 27 wooden spoons, while Port Adelaide and Adelaide have never received any yet.
If you have never watched an Australian Football game, then you should spare some time during your visit to watch this game. It is a fun and exciting game enjoyed by many Australian people and fans from other countries.
Now that you know the history of Australian Football and how it became popular in this country, then make sure to spectate the game!