National ; Melbourne, Victoria
From March to September Australian Rules Football (AFL) teams fight it out to make the top eight and qualify for the final series held in Melbourne in September. AFL is Australia’s most attended sporting league, with passionately-supported teams in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. Close to 95,000 fans pack the stands of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for the grand final while millions watch it worldwide on television. There’s nothing like being there for the final series. The entire city takes on a carnival atmosphere as excited fans cheer their teams to victory. It is a truly unique Australian experience.
Australian Rules Football (AFL) is Australia’s most attended sporting league, with passionately-supported teams in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. Games are played around the country from March, culminating in the finals series in Melbourne in September.
Australian rules football was officially born in Melbourne in 1859, when the Melbourne Football Club formed and set out the first rules of play. In 1897, they joined with Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Geelong, Melbourne and St Kilda to form the Victorian Football League. This was the predecessor to the Australian Football League (AFL), which was formed in 1989 and today has 17 teams across Australia.
The sport’s origins have been debated, but historians have pointed to a fusion of influences, including the Irish game of ‘caid’, rugby union and traditional Aboriginal games such as marngrook.
Today this high-energy and fast-paced game features two teams of 18 players, who must advance an oval-shaped ball towards the goalposts by kicking, handballing and running. The aim of the game is to score by pushing the ball through the posts or kicking it through the middle two posts. Australian Rules is a contact sport and players are allowed to tackle with their hands or obstruct other players with their bodies.
You can catch this uniquely Australian sport at more than 100 home-and-away games held between late March and September. See the Sydney Swans at the Sydney Cricket Ground; the West Coast Eagles play at the Wacca in Perth; or the Brisbane Bears display their prowess at the Gabba.
For a true taste of AFL fever, you can’t beat the Grand Final at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. The entire city takes on a carnival atmosphere as two tribes compete for victory. Grand final passions run high in Melbourne, where fans are often divided along loyalties stretching back generations.
Of all Australian sport, AFL also has the highest representation of Aboriginal players. It’s hugely popular in Aboriginal communities, including the lush Tiwi Islands near Darwin, where life comes to a standstill for the Grand Football Final in March.