World Sports Weekly #4 – Australian Football!

By: Liam Paul

Have you ever been at a restaurant or any other place, and seen a random sport with men that have really short shorts and punt the ball into a goal? If so, that sport is Australian Football, often referred to as AFL, as the AFL is the sport’s largest league.  It is based on rugby, but just like American football, it deviates a lot.

The sport started in 1858, when an Australian named Thomas Wentworth Wills wanted to find something for Australian cricketers to do in winter.  The sport then grew and spread across Australia.  There are teams all across the country, and there was a league for all teams called the Elite competition.  In 1990, however, the league was renamed to what it is called today, the AFL, short for Australian Football League.  Today, it is also the national sport of Australia.

There are 18 clubs in the AFL.  Each year, they play 22 games in a regular season, in stadiums in the capital cities of every Australian province.  Every year in september, the 2 best teams play in the grand final, for 100,000 fans at the MCG in Melbourne.

The sport is played with an oval, leather ball similar to the ball used in Rugby.  It is played on an oval of grass, but unlike many other sports, there is not as much regulation on the field size (for example the stadium in Melbourne’s pitch is a different size than the one in Sydney).  The field is marked by an oval around the outside to mark the boundaries, 2 semicircles on either side, a circle in the middle surrounded by a square, and a goal square on either side of the pitch.  There are goalposts on either side of the goal square.

There are 22 players per team.  18 players start, and 4 are on the bench.  Each player has a different position depending on his size, and skills.  Usually, 6 players are in the defensive line, 6 are on the offensive line, and 6 are in the midfield.  As there are more than 10 different positions, I will not list them all.

The object of the game is to get more goals than the other team.  Goals are scored by the forwards.  The midfield’s job is to get the ball and give it to the forwards.  As you cannot throw in AFL, they must hit the ball, much like a serve in volleyball.  The defenders match up to the opposing team’s forwards, and try and get the ball away from them.  A cool thing about AFL is that it is commonplace for a defender to kick goals.  There are also 9 umpires.  6 points are awarded for a direct goal through the middle posts, and any other kind of goal is 1 point.

Today’s matchup was the 2014 AFL grand finals.  The teams were the Sydney Swans and the Hawthorn Hawks.  The Hawks won the grand final for the second time of 2 years.  Hawthorn forward Jarryd Roughhead kicked 5.1 goals in the 63 point victory.

The stunning, sweaty-looking image above can be found HERE, a great sporty site.

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