Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All I learned about the AFL in one afternoon in Melbourne

AFL is Australian Rules Football (or footy as the locals call it), Melbourne sport scene's pride and joy, and since I was here, naturally I felt that I needed to go! Seeing how, coming in, I knew nothing about the game, here's a few observations of things I'd picked up:
- it's a long game! (a bloddy long game as the locals would say). Four thirty minute quarters!? At least it is all running clock, so it still goes faster than an NFL game (or the boredom marathon that is baseball).
- There's also a lot of players on the field: my estimates were 15 or 16 per side (I later learned it's actually 18). Surprisingly enough, at least the two teams I watched, didn't play any zone defense - seems like with that many people, it'd be highly effective.
- It's also an awfully high-scoring game (in our discussions later, we condescendingly decided that the Aussies are just trying to have fun and feel good about themselves with these unnecessarily high scores). My game ended up 129-72, I think.
- The object of the game is to kick the football through the uprights. You get 6 points for doing so. If you miss, however, there are two more poles outside of the main uprights - if the ball at least went between them, you get one point.
- You seem to be able to run with the ball as much as you like, even though after a while, the players would take a dribble (the ball is slightly less impossbile to dribble than the NFL equivalent). I think you can also pass laterally (or backwards) and kick the ball forwards. If another player on your team catches a kick, you get a whistle and a free kick, so near the end zones, that's exactly what you try to set up. If the ball is loose, it's a free-for-all, and the referees seem to ae ttempt to limit the violence to some extent, but they seem to be willing to let the players get away with quite a bit.

Mid-air fight for the ball

- and that's really about it! The crowd's pretty lively as people were yelling and cheering throughout, in spite of the game being a 40 point blow out the entire way. The North Melbourne Kangaroos are apparently pretty good, while the Melbourne team (whatever they're called) sucks. Incidentally, the vast majority of the teams in the league are actually based in the Melbourne area - the rest of the country actually prefers rugby, I've heard.

Overall, the game flows sort of like a cross between soccer and rugby, even though ultimate frisbee may be an apt comparison as well. Much like 14's rugby they play here and in New Zealand, I tend to think the game would be more fun with fewer players on the field (rugby 7's are a lot more lively in my opinion!)...

The kids play at half time

1 comment:

b mathew said...

Most importantly - do you wear a cup when you play?