The Brazilians have soccer, the Canadians have their hockey, Americans have baseball, and Norwegians get their kicks with a pair of cross-country skis and a rifle: what do they do down under? It’s not just hunting crocs and drinking Fosters. No, in Australia they have soccer (football) and they have rugby but the main game can be seen as a combination of both: known to those down under as “footy” and to us as Australian Rules Football. For those with cable and late night TV habits, you may have seen a game or two on late night Fox Soccer Channel in the soccer off-season, the rest of you have probably never heard of it.
At first glance it looks like a lot of sweaty, extremely fit gentlemen running around a field kicking a ball and tackling each other. For some, that is enough to make a game worth watching. Yet, believe it or not there are rules, more rules than American Football even. Played on an oval field the object of the game is to get the ball into the goal, a vertical rectangular plane at either end (think of it as the uprights on a football field that start at the ground). There is a more organic flow to the game, more like soccer or rugby than the constant start-stop of American Football, therefore the rules are harder to figure out on your own, but they are available on the web www.afl.com.au
The AFL (Australian Football League) is comprised of 16 clubs, each with its own strong fan base and unique cheers, songs and culture. They take their cheering seriously, chanting and singing from well before kick-off till the very last whistle blows.
The sport has even made the trek across the pond to the United States, where it is growing rapidly in popularity. Cincinnati is home to one the first Aussie Rules teams in the country, the Cincinnati Dockers. The season is going on right now, so anyone interested in seeing this exiting game played live can visit www.cincinnatidockers.com for more information.
So, for all you sports fans out there looking to broaden your athletic horizons, take a look at footy, before you know it you’ll be planning your trip to Australia to catch the AFL finals, tip back a few Fosters and fight a croc or two.
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