As the 2015 AFL season dawns on us, Australian’s across the country wait in anticipation for the nation’s most loved sport, after all, Australian Rules Football is our only indigenous football code.
Once a sport only enjoyed by Victorians, the code’s premier league, the AFL, has spread nationwide to become the most profitable and successful sport in the land.
From its humble beginnings, the AFL has grown inconceivably to multimillion dollar industry and a game that is enjoyed by millions.
The origins of Australian Football trace back to 1858 when a cricketer and sports enthusiast Tom Wills conceived a football-like game to keep cricketers fit during the winter months. This formative period slowly grew and intense competition and rivalries between clubs such as Melbourne, South Yarra, Royal Park, and Geelong meant the sport developed quickly.
As clubs were established across Victoria, other states too heard of this new sport, with Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia particularly enthused with the game.
The establishment of the Victorian Football League in 1896 saw clubs band together to compete professionally as the game expanded to Victoria’s most popular sport.
In 1990 the VFL adopted a new national perspective and began the task to create the country’s largest sporting code. Interstate teams joined the league as the newly named AFL pushed out into unfamiliar territory.
Since then, the AFL boasts the largest earnings, spectators and attendance of any sport in the country. As it turns out, despite its Victorian heritage, the game is exploding across the country and overseas.