Australian Rules Football, is a variant of football played outdoors between two teams of 18 players, plus four interchange players, on large oval-shaped grass fields (often modified cricket fields), with an oval shaped ball. The game is commonly referred to as football, Aussie rules or (colloquially) as footy. In some regions, where the sport is in development, it is often known (erroneously) as AFL, after the Australian Football League, the only fully professional Australian rules football league.
To see the professional game described and in action, watch this video:
The object of the game is to score by kicking the ball between the goal posts, with the highest score being awarded for kicking the ball between the middle two posts. The team with the higher total score at the end of the match wins. Except for rare circumstances, if the score is tied, a draw is declared.
Players may use any part of their body to advance the ball. The primary methods are kicking, handballing and running with the ball. There are rules on how the ball can be handled, for example players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it on the ground. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball. Unlike most similar sports, there is no offside rule, and players can roam the field freely. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick is paid. A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch a ball from a kick (with specific conditions), are awarded a free kick. Australian rules is a contact sport, in which players can tackle using their hands or use their whole body to obstruct opponents. Dangerous physical contact (such as a pushing an opponent in the back), interference when marking and deliberately slowing the play are discouraged with free kicks, distance penalties or suspension, depending on the seriousness of the infringement. Frequent physical contests, aerial marking or "speckies", fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring are the game's main attributes.
Details of the game's origins in Australia are obscure and still the subject of much debate. Australian football became organised in Melbourne in May 1859, when the first laws of the game were published by the Melbourne Football Club.
Australian football is a major participation and spectator sport in Australia. Australian football is also played at amateur level in several countries and in several variations.
The most prestigious competition, the Australian Football League (AFL), which culminates in the annual AFL Grand Final, currently the highest attended club championship event in the world. Australian football is governed by the AFL Commission which also runs the AFL competition and the rules are decided by the AFL's Laws of the Game Committee.
Australian Football here in Canada has been around since 1989. Cananda now boasts the largest organised league outside of Australian in the Austrlaian Football League Ontario (AFLO) and also has strong leagues in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec for both men and women.
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