Footy season started this week. In Melbourne, you will need a doctor to check you out if you do not know what footy is. It is the biggest thing on the sporting calendar for Melbournians. In fact I reckon, there are more journalists covering footy than any other sport here. I don’t know what they do off season but come footy season, they all come out of hibernation and there will be non-stop commentary about everything related to footy. Now, the official term is actually football but for 99% of the globe, that means something totally different of course. We also call it “Aussie rules football” but no matter how you spin this thing, it is NOTHING like football as you know it.
Firstly, the ball is not even round but spheroidal like a rugby ball. So, that instantly produces two problems. One – kicking the ball is an art form. Unless you get it just right, it is instant embarrassment when the ball flies left when you are aiming right. Then when the ball bounces on the pitch, it can be quite unpredictable (as you would expect). So players sometimes look like they are chasing after chickens whilst the ball bounces along in all different directions.
Secondly, you are allowed to handle the ball with your hands (so why it is called football, I don’t know). So, there’s plenty of catching and even passing using your hands, which can you believe it, they call the move “handball”!
In fact, you can run holding the ball as long as you bounce it every 15 metres. This is called a running bounce. Now if you have not seen a footy player running at full flight and bouncing a spheroidal ball, this is another art form altogether as the ball always bounces back towards him as he runs. When they cover a lot of ground, it almost looks like basketball!
Finally, there is the “mark”. This is where one player catches a ball that has been kicked allowing him a free kick. So, as you can imagine, long bombs are a favourite – right into the goal square where players launch high into the air (sometimes off their own teammates shoulders and backs) to catch the ball and make a “mark”. This is quite a spectacle and the crowds love it! Of course, none of this is played with any padding or protection other than a mouthguard. So, I am surprised there are not more injuries.
Now if nothing of this makes any sense, maybe it’s simpler to just watch what it’s all about!
Check this out from Paul Thomas –