Saturday, March 1, 2014

Australian Football aka Footy

The lovely Aurora Stadium in Launceston, Tasmania. Hawthorn Hawks v. Kangaroos
Note: There is no assigned seating in the stadium. I found that strange. 

I have attended my first Australian Football League match. Australian football is enduringly referred to as footy, so henceforth I will refer to it as such. On my first blog post I was under the impression that the game would be a mix between American football and rugby. Now that I have attended, I have gathered some facts and observations. 

Overview of Footy
There are two teams with 18 players each on the field. Meaning, 36 men in short shorts and tight tank tops are running around the field (fun fact: there is no universal size of a footy field; size of the oval field basically depends on the space available to the teams). While the ball is in play, the players position themselves anywhere on the field (no such thing as off sides) and use any part of their bodies to move the ball, usually by kicking it. If a player catches the ball from a kick, they have possession of the ball. Another way to move the ball around the field is to run with the ball. If a player runs with the ball, they must intermittently bounce the ball, which can be a challenge with a ball shaped like an American football on steroids. Apparently, throwing the ball is not allowed. Tackling is encouraged. The teams score goals worth 6 points when the ball is put between two goal posts. If the opposing team touches the ball before it goes through the posts, the team will score 1 point. The goal posts are between two other posts. It looks like 4 poles in a line. If the team gets the ball between the posts on the outside, they score 1 point. Now, I'm positive I have inadequately thoroughly explained the game. Moving on.

Aussie ballers in uniforms. 
Pre-Game Activities
Drink with friends. Mark and I had a couple friends over to drink from the house keg. We drank beer while sitting in the sun, threw the American football around, and shared some laughs. After consuming/chugging a few beers, we took a cab to the stadium.

Game Activities
Drink with friends. As soon as we got to the stadium we found our friends inside. We were a group of eight ladies and gents. Our team, the Hawthorn Hawks, were killing the Kangaroos (hi, be more Australian). We cheered, ate stadium food, and drank beer. When I ordered a chicken burger and fries, the concession lady didn't give me a funny look when I ordered though. It wasn't until later that I realized I had asked for fries. I should  start calling french fries chips, and potato chips crisps. On second thought, maybe she did give me a funny look, but I was too inebriated to notice or care. I just wanted my burger, fries, and beer! Anyway, the people watching during the game was fun too. The footy match attracted every type of community member from young to old. It was THE place to be that friday evening. 

Grace and I cheering for the Hawks.

Me: Hawks are #1.
Mark: Can I finish this beer now? 
Post-Game Activities
Drink with friends. After the game, we walked to a pub for the after-party. We had beer and wine. I had lots of beer and wine. I had to keep drinking wine, because my new friends kept giving it to me. Duh. I had a blast! We had good conversation. I showed my new homies how I like to make a circle and then pretend like I'm going to break dance, but then never actually break dance. And I learned remembered a lesson I had forgotten: chugging wine at a pub is fun in the moment, but leads to an epic all-day hangover the following day. 

My final verdict on Australian Football
I would definitely encourage anyone to go to a match. It was a fast game with a lot of action. The atmosphere was relaxed and fun. I do have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the lack of "the wave," traditional cheers/songs, and overall team spirit. Before going to the game, I had planned to get a Hawk costume in team colors, and now I'm rethinking the mascot costume idea. All things considered, I am looking forward to my next Footy match.