Australian Football (sometimes known as Aussie Rules, AFL, or just footy) has been around since the 1850s and is now one of the most popular sports in Australia.
Would you believe that early Australian Football uniforms consisted of canvas lace-up guernseys, long trousers, socks and high leather boots? Imagine playing in all those clothes on a hot or rainy day!
In the beginning, there was no time limit on a game of Australian Football. The game would end once a team had scored two goals, if it became too dark to continue playing or, funnily enough, if the ball burst. I wonder how long the longest-ever game lasted.
The first Australian Football games were played in the parklands next to what is now the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The field was originally rectangular and about three or four times larger than the oval-shaped fields used today.
Australian Football was influenced by many well-known sports such as early forms of soccer and rugby, but did you know that it may also have been influenced by a traditional Aboriginal game called Marngrook? Marngrook involved kicking a ball, (made from animal skin and stuffed with feathers or charcoal) high into the air.
Unbelievable! In 1993 a pig was smuggled into the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and released on to the field, causing a three-minute pursuit of the little runaway. The pig was captured by a Sydney Swans player and the game continued.
Uh oh! One Saturday night in 1996, a game between St Kilda and Essendon had to be stopped half-way through because the stadium lights went out. Luckily, the teams returned to finish the game on the following Tuesday. It is the only AFL game that ever has taken place over two different days.
Although Australian Football was developed in Australia, it is now played by more than 100,000 people in over 80 countries. You can find AFL competitions in Nauru, Denmark, Sweden, the USA, Canada and South Africa, to name just a few.
Did you know that around 14 per cent of the players in the AFL come from culturally diverse backgrounds? Every year, the AFL dedicates one round (usually around the middle of the season) to celebrating Australia's multicultural population. The Australia Post / AFL Multicultural Ambassadors come from a range of backgrounds. Head to Write to a Multicultural Ambassador to find out more about each of them.
About nine per cent of AFL players are Indigenous Australians. Considering that only two per cent of the total Australian population are Indigenous, this is an impressive statistic. There have been many amazing Indigenous footballers over the years, including Andrew McLeod, Gavin Wanganeen, Graham Farmer, Michael Long and Nicky Winmar.
Indigenous players have had a huge impact on the game of Australian Football, winning three Brownlow Medals (Gavin Wanganeen in 1993 and Adam Goodes in 2003 and 2006) and numerous Norm Smith Medals (for best on ground in an AFL grand final) and AFL Rising Star awards (for the best new player each season).