Aussie Rules Football, referred primarily as the AFL, has become one of the biggest sports in the world currently. It boasts crowds averaging 33,190 spectators per match, with the grand final last year in 2016 tallying in at 99,981 spectators. It is so popular, that there is an international championship every 3 years, with teams from 18 different countries competing for the Australian Football International Cup.
What makes AFL really unique is the mix of skill sets that translate across different sports. It requires the toughness to make catches in traffic like a wide receiver in American football, the kicking prowess of a striker in soccer, the dribbling coordination of a basketball player (the ball must be bounced from your hand every 15 meters or you lose possession), and even the underhand passing technique of a volleyball player. It is also worth noting that the teams are built with players that could play small forward, power forward, and center positions in basketball, and everybody runs. One of the craziest plays I’ve seen is when a player catches a long pass in traffic, then immediately turns around and sizes up a 40 yard kick for 6 points, all while an angry sea of fans are pouring on the pressure to get the player to miss. The wide receiver has turned in to Adam Vinatieri, and wins the game with a clutch kick.
With the AFL International Cup coming up this year in Melbourne, the Samurais (team representing Japan) will be looking for redemption. They were ranked as high as 8th in 2008, but have slipped down to 14th in 2014. The tournament will be played from August 5th– August 19th. I truly look forward to seeing the Samurais in action.
To learn more about the AFL, this video does a really good breakdown of the game.
Information about the Samurais can be found here: http://www.jafl.org/en/samurais/
Please check out our Samurais gear here!