1. Footy, or since it is customary in Australia to shorten every word in the Websters Standard Dictionary, is short for Australian Rules Football or Aussie Rules.
2. Footy is not rugby, nor soccer nor American-style gladiator football. It doesn't resemble any of the aforementioned.
3. Footy is played only in Australia, though there are teams that play for fun in New Zealand, France and probably a handful of other countries.
4. Footy is followed in Australia with a passion akin to extreme madness, and one "barracks" for the same team that one's great-great-grandfather/mother, great-grandfather/mother, grandfather/mother, father/mother, great-great Uncle/Aunt 3 x removed, barracked for. Get it? There is serious family loyalty to a team.
5. There are 18 teams in the Australian Football League (AFL) and 9 of them are based in Melbourne where the sport originated. Think having 9 professional hockey or baseball teams from the same city!
6. There are two Footy stadiums in Melbourne: Etihad Docklands Stadium which accommodates 53,000, and the mecca to all things Footy in Australia, the iconic MCG or Melbourne Cricket Ground or well just the "G", which accommodates....wait for it....100,000! Both stadiums sell out regularly.
7. Footy Rules. Well as far as I have been able to make out, there aren't really any or if there are, they are only loosely complied with. Players handball, kick, or run and bounce the ball down the oval-sized field. The ball resembles a rugby ball but is smaller with rounded ends.
9. Footy Cool Stuff. Marking a ball which is when a player cleanly catches a ball kicked more than 15 meters without anyone else touching it or the ball touching the ground. A specky (short for spectacular mark) is when a player marks a ball by climbing onto the back of another player, very very cool. The players wear short shorts, I like that part.
10. Footy Singing. Every team has a song that is played at the beginning of each match. Supporters sing loudly, proudly, with hand on heart, and I swear with more emotion than the national anthem. They sing again if the match is won. Many of the songs are based on operatic melodies or other familiar tunes. For example: the Geelong Cats club song is based on "Carmen's Toreador", Brisbane Lions "La Marseillaise", and Collingwood Magpies "Goodbye Dolly Gray"
11. Being newcomers down under, it took a while to choose a team to barrack for. As we couldn't agree and with limited influence, J chose the Geelong Cats, I chose the St. Kilda Saints, and C2 the Collingwood Magpies, a somewhat controversial choice. One either LOVES or HATES Collingwood. It should be noted that, unhappily, after taking my mum to a match this year, she now barracks for Collingwood too...though I think only because she loves their club song and now sings it with gusto at the slightest encouragement.
12. Footy is a Fall/Winter sport played from April through August. The entire country comes to a complete stop on Grand Final Day. It's a one-game winner takes all between the two teams. Cricket fills the footy void as the summer sport of choice in Australia, yawn!
13. Footy is an equal opportunity spectator sport. Women make up at least 50% of the fan base and are equally if not more rabid than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, this has not translated to the grassroots level where it is rare to see girls participating in Footy.
14. At the grassroots level, Footy is begun around age 4 in the local Auskicks program before moving into an actual club. We are with the Caulfield Bears Club - go Bears!
|Coach Matt debriefs the U10 Grizzlies|
Got it? Good.