Australian Rules Football, Australian Football League (AFL) India, Kolkata
Australian Rules Football
4th Australian Football League (AFL) India, Gitanjali Stadium, Kolkata
The score board of the finals of the 4th Australian Football League (AFL) India, at Gitanjali Stadium, Kolkata, read Bengal Tigers: 2 – 6 – 18 and Jharkhand Crows 2 – 1 – 13, looks complicated!!! but the rules of the game of Australian Rules Football, popularly known as Footy is pretty simple.
Know Australian Rules Football: The game is played on a oval ground with a oval ball similar to rugby. There are four posts, two long and two short, on the two end of the field.
If the ball passes through the two longer post the team gets six points and if it passes through the long and short post the team gets one point. There is no height restriction in both cases.
So Bengal Tigers score of 2 – 6 – 18 would mean 2 six pointers and 6 one pointer, making a total of (2 X 6) + (6 X 1) = 18.
On the other hand Jharkhand Crows score of 2 – 1 – 13 consists of 2 six pointers and 1 one pointer making it a total of 13 points.
The original game of Australian Rules Football is 18 side game but the shorter version consists of 9 a side. The Australian Football League (AFL) India consisted of the shorter version for both senior and junior (under 16) level.
The nine side game is officiated by six umpires, consisting of two field umpires, two boundary umpires and two goal umpires.
Australian Rules Football, lovingly called footy by the Aussies, is played with a oval shaped ball, bit smaller and more roundish than a rugby ball.
Although similar to rugby, the two sports differ considerably. There is no try in Australian Rules Football and there is no scrum to restart play.
Unlike rugby, players can not throw the ball instead they have to fist it like volleyball for the short pass.
For long passes the players have to kick the ball like football (soccer) goalie and every 15 meters players need to bounce the ball, like basket ball.
If a player takes possession of the ball that has travelled more than 15 metres from another player’s kick, by way of a catch, it is claimed as a Mark.
The games stops and the player gets a free kick from the point which is marked.
Mark is one of the most prevalent skills in Australian football. Marking can also be one of the most spectacular and distinctive aspects of the game. Specky, is the Aussie term for spectacular mark. Most tournament have prizes for the best mark.
Origin of Australian Rules Football: Like Kabadi in India Australian Rules Football is a home grown sports, which is being played for centuries.
The first recorded documentations of the game dates back to 1850s. It was mainly introduced to keep cricketers fit during the off season.
Today it has far suppressed cricket and is the number one popular sports in Australia.
Two of the biggest cricket grounds in Australia, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) also host Australian Rules Football matches.
Australian Rules Football in India: Unlike Rugby, which is being played for almost a century and half, the Australian Rules Football is very new game in India.
In India, former Australian Cricketer Ricky Ponting introduced the game in Kolkata during the Indian Premier League 2008.
Ponting was playing for Kolkata Knight Riders and the programme was jointly hosted by the Australian High Commission and ITC Sonar.
Prior to that, a game of Australian Football was played in La Martiniere for Boys, Kolkata in 2006.
Today about 50 odd countries, including India, have taken up the sports. On International level India have participated in the last three edition of Australian Football League (AFL) International Cup. In 2011 India recorded their first victory by defeating East Timor and finished 16th out of 18 countries.
The Indian National Championship of Australian Football, known as Australian Football League (AFL) India was first played in Calicut (Kerala) in 2012. Followed by Goa (2013) and Mumbai (2014).
The 2015 edition was held at the Gitanjali Stadium in Kolkata and seven teams participated. The teams were:
- Bengal Tigers
- Jharkhand Crows
- Odisha Swans
- Rajasthan Eagles
- Maharashtra Giants
- Kerala Bombers (senior team only)
- Tamil Nadu Kangaroos (junior teams only)
So each of the senior and junior sections had 6 teams, which were further divided into two groups.
Each three teams of a group played in league format, with the two group leaders meeting at the final. In both the senior and junior categories Bengal and Jharkhand meet at the final.
The senior final was a close fought affair, with Bengal beating Jharkhand with a scoreline of Bengal Tigers: 2 – 6 – 18 and Jharkhand Crows 2 – 1 – 13.
But the Jharkahand whitewashed Bengal in the junior category with the score line reading Jharkhand Crows 9 – 7 – 61 and Bengal Tigers 0 – 0 – 0.
But the true winner was Australian Rules Football. Gavin Crosisca, an Aussie Rules legend who has played more than 200 games, was among those who witnessed the Kolkata tournament. He said “You guys have a lot of natural talent. You can catch well, run well. All you need is a bit more training in the the technique.”
Special Thanks: Thanks to Sudip Chakraborty, Founder & Secretary General at Australian Rules Football Association of India (AFL India) & Captain of the Indian national team of – Indian Tigers for explaining me the rules of Australian Rules Football.