Uniquely Australia – The Australian Football League

While the rest of the world enjoys a game of football, Australia has its own version of football. AFL as commonly known, or the Australian Football League is a very distinct sport that is unique to Australia. The game was invented in Melbourne and has rules that are a mixture of different kinds of football. The number of people who view the sport and support it in Australia is huge. This makes it the official sport in Australia which prompted it to have a name change from Victorian Football League to Australian Football League too.

The Origins of The Popular Game

Cricket was the initial official sport of Australia. It was brought to Australia by the English during the 19th century. However, during seasons when cricket was at rest, Thomas Wills, an Australian cricketer formed the sport. The main purpose of the sport was to ensure that the Australian cricket team was fit even during the winter months. Little did he know that the popularity of the sport would extend to what is today called AFL.

At the time of formation, there was no rules for football which prompted Wills to come up with his own rules for the game and including the existing rules of football into it. There was also a conflict when it came to gameplay because of the rough nature of the game. This encouraged the rule of handling the ball not for longer than is needed, to be formed. At first, the game had no rules in the number of people who could play it. However, with growing popularity, the rule of 20 players per team was set.

The Gain in Popularity of AFL

During the great depression, the number of people who attended the game was steadily declining. This was mainly because of the loss in funding that the teams and clubs suffered. The association then suggested that the clubs share their finances to keep the game alive. However, the clubs that were doing well did not like the idea of sharing their finances and decided to form the main Victorian Football League. The 8 clubs reformed the way the players were paid and brought down the number of players from 20 to just 18.

Other smaller clubs were also added to the VFL in the year 1982 and the number of teams grew. The VFL moved its headquarters to Sydney and the sport was renamed to Australian Football League. Expanding the sport nationally was a challenge as al the clubs were threatened that the AFL would always favour the Melbourne teams because it was formed there.

Fanatical Fans All Over

Over the years, the game became popular and became a very important part of Australian culture and history. There were considerations that the federation could be held privately to avoid any outburst which was quickly squashed by the fans. The fans were called “Barrackers” and they were loyal to a large degree.

The Grand Finals were clubbed to appear along with the horse races to help with the handling of the crowds of people who wanted to attend both. The television a media coverage of the events were a spectacle and the popularity grow even today. AFL is a truly Australian sport that encourages the bringing together of every state of Australia without prejudices. Another reason why the Australians favour kinship to its core.

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