All international students should experience an Australian Rules Football match while they are here. Regardless if you like sports or not, it’s fun to watch the match, hang out with friends and enjoy the local sporting culture.

AFL (or ‘the footy’) is a classic Aussie tradition. More people watch AFL than any other sport in Australia. The annual Grand Final is a major event, not only is a public holiday (in Melbourne), more than 100,000 fans attended in 2017 making it the highest attended club championship event in the world!

While it has previously been a male-dominated sport, all-female teams are becoming more and more popular, with the Australian Football League Women (AFLW) competition being created in 2017.

So what do you need to know to become an avid AFL fan?

Australian Rules Football Basics

  • Each team will usually have 22 players with 18 of them on the field
  • The game is played on an oval-shaped field with scoring posts at each end. Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between the opposing goalposts (worth six points) or behind posts (worth one point)
  • Players can kick, handball or tap the football, tackle and chase other players and kick for goal from anywhere on the oval
  • An AFL game has four quarters. Each quarter lasts for approximately 20 minutes, plus any extra time is given when the umpire calls a time-out
  • The game (or match) is won by the team which has the highest score at the final siren.

Australian Rules Football Teams

So now that you are an expert on the game rules it’s time to choose your team.

People follow their teams for many reasons – you can pick your closest local team or the team whose colours you like the most. Maybe you can choose your friends’ team or their team’s rival. Either way, we suggest you support a team that actually has a chance of winning. Losing match after match can get pretty boring.

Talking about your footy team’s performance on the weekend is a great way to bond with new friends and to start a conversation with locals.

But be warned, footy fans are passionate about their teams. No matter what team you decide to support, or ‘barrak for’, the other teams’ fans will call you a ‘loser’. Don’t worry, it’s part of the fun – you can just call them a ‘loser’ as well because obviously, your team is better than theirs.

Going to an Australian Rules Football Match

You have picked your team, now you are ready to go out to a match. Find out when and where your team is playing on the AFL website.

Going to a footy match makes for an awesome day out; you can hang out with friends and engage in the culture of the sport. At the game, you might try the traditional footy snack – a meat pie and then cheer and shout for your favourite team. The exciting atmosphere at the match will be contagious!

Footy season is March – September, so you will need to keep warm in your team’s jumper, scarf and beanie when attending a game.

Going to a match with locals is the best way to really feel like part of the home team crowd. 

Find some free hosts and connect up via sportshosts.com – your host will explain the rules and customs so you will be an expert in no time. You’ll get a real Aussie experience and also maybe make some new friends!

SportsHosts connects international students with local fans to watch live sports.  Meet new friends, practice English, learn about the local culture and check out new sports. Find your free local host at www.sportshosts.com