AFL, Australian Football League, Aussie Rules, Footy, Aerial Ping Pong or whatever you like to call it is the names most used for the AFL here in Australia.
Although Aussie Rules is quite an involved sport, here is a simple explanation of the sport, I haven’t played AFL and it is probably one of the few sports I haven’t played but I am an avid fan of it and have only grown to like it immensely in the last few years, I am still holding out for another Qld Team to enter the fray eventually so I can be really passionate about a team, maybe one day….
AFL history started in 1858 as a way for cricketers to keep fit in the off season, who would of thought the great game would evolve into what it is now Australia wide.
AFL is professionally played throughout Australia with teams currently in VIC, NSW, WA, SA and QLD, there are also semi professional, amateur and junior competitions in every state too.
A simple explanation of AFL :
Australian Rules Football is a ball sport played between two teams, it has an oval shaped ball, there are 18 players from each team on the ground at a time and also each team also has four players on the sideline, three interchange and one substitute that are on the sidelines with the coaching staff.
The object of the matches, like many others, is to score more points than the opposition and win the match and hopefully more wins at the end of a season will result in a finals berth and a winning of a flag (Premiership Final).
How long does an AFL game go for :
An AFL match is made up of four quarters and each quarter is made up of 20 minutes of playing time, this may stretch out to more depending on what’s happening in the match, time added for lost play, injury’s and delay’s etc, so a quarter may stretch out to 26 to 30 minutes sometimes.
How big is an AFL oval :
Australian football is played on an oval field that is inbetween 135 to 180 metres in length and 110 to 140 metres in width and generally the lines are marked in white.
A large 50 metre arc at each end marks the distances from the goal.
In the middle of the ground is a centre square measuring 50 metres on each side, this also has a couple of circles in the middle marked too, one at a three metre circumference and one at ten metres.
Each end of the oval has four posts, the two middle posts, which are tallest, are the goal posts and the two shorter posts on either side are the behind posts or point posts, the four posts each stand 6.4 metres apart.
The goal square which measure nine metres in length and six point four metres in width is also marked out between the goal posts.
What positions are there for players in AFL :
AFL Players are most of the time put into four groups, Forwards, Midfielders, Backman and Ruckman.
The Forwards are players who play close to their team’s attacking goals and are usually score a majority of the team’s points.
The Midfielders, their onfield job aim is to win the ball from the middle of the ground.
The Backmen try to limit the opposition’s scoring are down the defensive end.
Ruckmen who contest bounces and the ball ups from the umpires, these are usually the AFL team’s tallest players and generally they have to duck to get through most doorways.
Players aren’t fixed in one position in AFL, so depending on what’s happening on the ground and also game plan or work ethics, players can be all over the oval doing many different jobs throughout the quarters.
The only restrictions on where the players can move on the field are at centre bounces, this is when only four players from each team are allowed in the centre square at a time.
How is AFL played :
The start of each quarter and after a goal has been scored the umpire bounces the ball in the centre circle inside the centre square in middle of the ground, then the two ruckmen compete to tap or knock the ball to one of his team’s players.
The bouncedown or ball up by the umpire are also used around the ground to restart play after a stoppage, the ball up is used generally if it’s wet or the surface is unsuitable for a decent bounce.
If a ball goes out of bounds the umpire will throw it back into play, however if a player is said to have taken the ball out of bounds deliberately or put out on the full, then a free kick is awarded to the opposing team.
AFL players can carry and run the football the full entire length of the ground, but they must bounce or touch the ball on the ground every 15 metres during this or they will be penalized.
Players may dispose of the ball by kicking or handballing it, a handball is when the football is held in the one hand and then hit with the clenched fist of the other to propel the ball forward.
Marks (Mark) are called when the ball is kicked at least 15 metres and caught on the full by a player in the same team or an opposition player, the player who marked or caught the ball is then entitled to a free kick.
If a player is tackled they must dispose of the ball or they will be penalised for holding the ball, the tackle must be a legal AFL tackle and also a disposal is generally a hand ball or the player will be penalised also, the AFL tackles must be between the shoulders and knees and there is no pushing of your opponent in the back when tackling or taking a mark also and shepherding or bumping of an opponent who does not have possession of the ball can take place within 5 metres of the ball.
If the rules are broken by a player the usual outcome is a free kick, if the player argues, over runs the mark or starts to waste too much time the umpire can award a 50 metre penalty which usually results in points being kicked, so not ideal really.
Goals are scored when player’s kicks the ball between the two middle goalposts at his team’s attacking end, these goals that are kicked inbetween the middle posts are worth six points.
Behinds that are only worth one point happen if the ball hits a goalpost, is kicked between the goalpost and the outer posts or is touched by any player before crossing the goal line, if this happens the ball is classed as out of bounds.
If a behind is scored the opposition will kick the ball back into play from the goal square, if a six pointer is kicked the match starts again from a bounce in the middle.
AFL Final Siren :
So, there you go, my take on AFL, like a said it’s a simple explanation of a very involved professional sport, I’m sure if you are a complete beginner, had no experience or didn’t grow up in Victoria this will be enough for you to at least watch a game and get a general feel for the rules and what AFL is about, whatever you do, just don’t google “Meat Loaf Performance AFL Grand Final” and you’ll be alright.