Thursday, November 19, 2015

Expat Observations: Australian Rules Football

If Melbourne had a religion, it would be Australian Rules Football. Aussie Rules is the native game of the country, played on an oval field with an oval shaped ball. Players are allowed to kick and handball the ball to teammates on the field, and you score by kicking the ball through the posts - 6 points (a goal) if through the center of the tall sticks, and 1 point (a behind) if through the sticks on either side.

The game is fantastic to watch as there is such a flow of play as players run up and down the field. One of the unique features of the game is players leaping and elevating themselves onto the backs of other players to mark the ball. There are also some amazing goals that are kicked from impossible angles.

When I first arrived in Melbourne I was living in Carlton so I thought I would pick them as my team. However, my friends talked me out of that decision and I ended up becoming an Essendon supporter. While they are a proud and successful club, it has been a trying past few years with the 2012 supplements scandal still hanging over the club and players. I am hopeful this will all be over once the WADA appeal is done in December. With new coach John Worsfold (ex-premiership coach of West Coast) it may finally be the turning point the club needs to have a successful season.

You may assume that the game would be the equivalent of the NFL in popularity nationally, but that is not the case. While Victoria is firmly Aussie Rules, New South Wales and Queensland are rugby states. There really isn't a unifying sport that everyone watches around the country. Aussie Rules is also the only sport I'm aware of that seems to have significant rule changes every year because the AFL brass can't seem to help themselves.

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