AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL did not develop overnight. Its birthplace can be traced to Melbourne in 1858. There were few rules, just men determined to have a kick. There was a belief that Australians make a game for Australians that drew from the knowledge of Rugby School Rules.

It has been a rapid evolution for the game, which began as an official competition, called the VFA (Victorian Football Association) in 1877. The VFL expanded to 12 teams by 1925. In 1990, the name "the VFL" was changed to the AFL to reflect the game's reach.

The Melbourne Football Club is one of the earliest football clubs formed in the world.

The Australian Football League (AFL) is the premier sporting competition in Australia commanding high levels of corporate sponsorship, massive media coverage for twelve months of the year and huge game attendance's.

AFL Football is one of the largest sectors in Australia's sport and recreation industry. Defined as an industry, the game employs about 5000 people.

In traditional football markets such as Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, it has enjoyed a dominant position in the market in terms of participation and spectator support.

The rules of the game differentiate our game from other forms of football and reinforce some unique features such as the mark, and the bounce.

AFL has grown enormously in terms of its influence on the Australian culture and our use of leisure time.


The game is Australia's premier spectator sport attracting 13.9 million people in 1998 to watch all levels of the game across all communities.

Of that total, 50.4 per cent attended AFL matches.

The latest figures collated in 1999 show that football has the third highest number of registered players with a member base of 447,436 and a figure of 636,000 non-playing members.

In 1999, AFL football alone attracted 6, 243, 586 spectators.


AFL football, like many sports, has largely remained a male orientated sport. Women have largely played the role of spectators of the game.

However in 1998, Katrina Pressley, aged 29, became the first female to umpire in a game of AFL football.

TEAM PLAYERS: 18 players on the ground and four on the interchange bench.


The basic skills are kicking, marking and handballing and UMPIRES ensure that the transfer of the ball by the use of these skills occurs fairly. Teams attempt to gain maximum points during the game.

The AFL laws maintain that:

Ø A player with the ball can be tackled above the knees and below the neck only.
Ø A player can be bumped or shepherded only if the ball is within five metres.

Ø A mark can be paid only when the football travels at least 10 metres, untouched, and is controlled by the recipient without touching the ground.

Ø A goal is scored only if the ball is kicked, untouched, through the two tall posts at either end of the ground.

Ø A handball is legal only if the ball is held in one hand and hit by the other with a clenched fist.


SCORING: a goal shall register six points and a behind one point.

MARK: a mark is catching the ball directly from the kick of another player, not less than 10 metres distant, the ball being held a reasonable time and not having been touched in transit from kick to catch

HANDBALL: a player must hold the ball in one hand and hit it with the clenched fist of the other hand. If the ball is not handballed correctly, a free kick shall be given to the nearest opponent.

KICK: contact must be below the knee.

BALL POSSESSION: a player may hold the ball for any length of time provided he is not held by an opponent. If he runs with the ball, he must bounce it or touch it on the ground at least once within every 15 metres from the start of his run, whether running in a straight line or turning and dodging.

FREE KICKS: The player who makes the ball his sole objective shall be given every opportunity to gain possession of the ball. The player who has possession of the ball and is held by an opponent shall be given a reasonable time to kick or handball the ball. The ball shall be kept in motion.

>>For further info. about the GAME, visit the official AFL site<<

- Annemarie Failla


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