Australian Football Game
Recently I attended my first Australian football or ‘footy’ game at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. Footy is unlike any sport I have ever seen before. The game is played on a large oval with four large goalposts on either end. The objective of the sport is to kick the ball in between the two innermost posts while kicking through the outer ones grants lesser points. The game is fast-paced and can get very brutal at times. Much like rugby, the players do not wear any pads. One of the strangest aspects of the game is how players dribble the ball on the ground when running with it. The ball is shaped similar to an American football yet the players are still able to bounce it off the ground without it rolling out of control.
Footy is arguable Australia’s most popular sport but is most prominent in Melbourne where ten of the league’s eighteen teams play. The clubs share Etihad Stadium and the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground as home venues. There are so many teams in the area that it’s hard to miss an AFL game while in Melbourne.
The atmosphere did not seem nearly as intense as NFL games. Most people took public transport to the city due to the lack of parking and there was no tailgate before the game outside the stadium. When I arrived I simply walked up to the stadium, got my ticket scanned and walked right in. The security presence was much less apparent, as they did not check me for anything upon walking in. The one feature that impressed me with was how close fans could sit to the action. I sat up at the front on a wall that met the field, if I would have simply hopped this wall I would have been on the field. There were many times when the action was right near me, which was incredible to witness.
My first footy game was definitely interesting and made me feel immersed in the Australian culture. I am told that the Melbourne Cricket Ground is a much more lively experience, as the stadium has a capacity of 100,000. I will definitely be checking out this venue for my next game.