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Australian rules football: All you need to know

By: Daniel Branchflower

If you’re a stranger to Australian rules football, you may have seen it on telly and thought, “What rules?” Here’s an intro to the sport, plus some details on playing in Singapore.

There's a lot of hugging involved, by the looks of it 

The Basics
Australian rules football (commonly referred to Down Under as “Aussie Rules”, or just “footy”) is a unique sport that’s native to Australia. Players kick, handpass, bounce and catch (or “mark”) the ball in an effort to score points at one end of the ground and outscore the opponent. It’s very fast-paced game played on a large oval the size of a cricket ground.

Each team has 18 players that are zoned into forwards, midfielders and defenders. Being a demanding, full-contact sport, there are plenty of biffs and bumps, and the occasional brawl as tempers flare. Expect massive crowds and passionate fans – this is the highest attended sport in Australia.

Footy has been around almost 200 years, dating back to the early 1800s. It was played heavily in the western and south states, with the Victorian Football League (VFL) being founded in 1877. Yet it wasn’t until just before the turn of the millennium that footy would take the professional league national, introducing several teams from five states around Australia. Today, 18 teams play under the Australian Football League (AFL).

The sport has also grown internationally (though not on a professional level), and you can find a team in almost any country harbouring Australian expats, including here in Singapore.

The Superstars
Some current greats of the game include the following five.

*Gary Ablett – Gold Coast Suns
*Joel Selwood – Geelong Cats
*Scott Pendlebury – Collingwood Magpies
*Patrick Dangerfield – Adelaide Crows
*Jobe Watson – Essendon Bombers

The Form Guide
We we write, the 2014 AFL season was about a third of the way through, with “the usual suspects” (Hawthorn, Geelong, Sydney) near the top of the ladder. Relatively new club, the Gold Coast Suns, are in ninth place and doing better than many pundits expected.

AFL by numbers
1 – points received for a minor score or “behind” (i.e., kicking the ball between the left- or right-hand posts rather than through the central posts)
4 – number of playing periods (“quarters”) per game
6 – points received for a goal (i.e., kicking the ball through the central posts)
15 – number of metres you can carry the ball before it must touch the ground
16 – the highest number of premierships (or “flags”) won by a club, a record held jointly by Carlton and Essendon
121,696 – largest attendance for a game (VFL Grand Final, 1970)

Footy in Singapore
If you’re keen to get involved, there are clubs for both adults and children – from as young as age three, in fact! The Singapore Sharks Auskick programme is run by the Australian International School and is open to anyone; it’s an affordable programme that will get the kids active. For more details, check out the Singapore Sharks website.

As for the more mature players, the Singapore Wombats Football Club is open to anyone looking for a taste of AFL footy, regardless of age or skill level. It’s very social, but there are plenty of competitive games too.

 

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