Australian’s love their sport and I experienced this first hand during my first footy match at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Initially I was rather confused with the many variations of “footy”, “soccer” and “rugby” but I soon learned that when Australian’s talk about the “footy” they are referring to AFL- Australian Football League.
My first game was between Collingwood and West Coast Eagles and the atmosphere was electric. The venue – Melbourne Cricket Ground is huge and we were sat right at the top so the players on the pitch were so tiny we had to watch the big screen. You could immediately tell that the home team was Collingwood as fans were all dressed up in their team colours- black and white while chanting “Good old Collingwood forever” throughout the game. Luckily for them Collingwood thrashed West Coast Eagles 91-72 after a long match.
AFL has completely different rules to football as I know it, or “soccer”. The main difference I noticed during the game is that players can use any part of their body to move the ball up the pitch which is shaped like an oval. There were also many umpires on the pitch at once which became confusing since there were already 36 players to keep track of. Another difference is the length of the match. As it was still the middle of Melbourne’s winter we were not prepared for how long we would be sat in the cold and the 20 minute quarters turned into half hour quarters once extra time had been taken into account – making it a longer evening than anticipated. Nevertheless it wouldn’t be a proper footy match without a trip to the hot dog stand and this kept us going until the end of the game!