Aaron Matthews is NUPSA President, and a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment.


 

Last month, I talked about my Harry Potter obsession and how nice I find it to escape into my fandom. Something cool that has happened in the last couple of days is that Pottermore have started releasing videos of celebrities reading a chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Daniel Radcliffe reading Chapter One, The Boy Who Lived, is up on the website now if you want to check it out.

And if you had a go at the trivia questions I had in my article last month, here are the answers. I hope you scored well!

  1. Dursley is the director of which firm? Grunnings
  2. Who loaned Hagrid the flying motorbike? Sirius Black
  3. What high school was Harry going to go to before going to Hogwarts? Stonewall High
  4. According to Harry’s Hogwarts letter, how many plain work robes (black) does he require? Three
  5. How much did Harry’s wand cost? Seven Galleons
  6. What is the name of Neville’s toad? Trevor
  7. What house is Susan Bones sorted into? Hufflepuff
  8. How many staircases are there at Hogwarts? 142
  9. What subject does Professor Binns teach? History of Magic
  10. Where do you find a bezoar? In the stomach of a goat
  11. What spell does Ron use to defeat the mountain troll during Halloween? Wingardium Leviosa
  12. Ron, Hermione, Neville, Seamus and Dean make a sign for Harry’s first quidditch match. What does it say? Potter for President
  13. What present does Hagrid give Harry for Christmas? A wooden flute
  14. What does Dumbledore say he sees in the Mirror of Erised? Thick woollen socks
  15. Who referees Harry’s second quidditch match? Snape
  16. What breed of dragon is Norbert? Norwegian Ridgeback
  17. Which centaur saves Harry in the forest? Firenze
  18. Which teacher is responsible for the giant chess set helping protect the philosopher’s stone? Professor McGonagall
  19. What is the first name of Nicholas Flamel’s wife? Perenelle
  20. By how many house points does Gryffindor beat Slytherin? 10 points

 

As much as I would like to chat about Harry Potter again, this month I shall talk about Australian Rules Football (or AFL). This is something I have enjoyed for as long as I can remember.

If you do not know anything about AFL, you are not alone. AFL is a uniquely Australian code of football (or footy) and is quite foreign to most people who have not grown up with the game. It is impossible to discuss everything about the game in one article, but I hope my introduction to the game and its history is enough to interest you and perhaps you will start watching some games.

The season is currently suspended due to COVID-19 but it will back before we know it. Channel Seven have occasionally been airing classic games on weekends, if you do want to watch some matches.

AFL started way back in 1858. It was developed by cricketers who wanted a way to keep fit during the winter. The game was slightly different to how it is now, but the core aspects of the game have remained unchanged for the past 162 years. Some AFL clubs are among the oldest football clubs in the world.

 

The original rules for the inaugural season of 1859.

 

AFL is played on an oval field with 18 players on each team. At each end of the ground are four posts. If you kick the ball between the two middle posts, you score six points (a goal). If you kick the ball between the other posts, you score one point (a behind). At the end of four quarters, the team with the most points wins. Most quarters last for around 30 minutes. An oval ball is used in AFL.

Once the ball is bounced by the umpire to start or resume play, it is a bit of a free-for-all. There are no offsides in AFL. Players can be anywhere on the field, at any time. This means that AFL players need 360 degree awareness. There are three general positions, though: forward, defender, and midfielder.

Players can move the ball in three ways: kicking, handballing, and running. AFL players can easily kick the football over 50 metres. If a player catches the ball on the full (i.e. in flight) after it has been kicked, they are said to have ‘marked’ the ball. Once they mark the ball, they can stop where they are and cannot be touched by other players and can pass the ball without pressure. This combination of kicking and marking is usually how the ball is moved down the ground towards the goal.

In addition to kicking, players can handpass the ball. This involves punching the ball whilst it rests on your other hand. Throwing the ball is not allowed in AFL. Handpassing is usually a quicker way to move the ball when close in a contest. Players can run with the ball, but they must bounce the ball on the ground every 15 metres (like a dribble in basketball). It is common to see a wave of players running and handpassing to move the ball down the ground (think of the flying V). The first time you watch the game it appears that there are no rules. Think of it as controlled chaos.

 

A match between Geelong (blue and white) and Richmond (yellow and black).

 

There are 18 teams in the AFL. After 23 rounds, the top 8 teams play in the finals, and eventually two teams meet in the grand final. The grand final is Australia’s biggest annual sporting event. The match is attended by 100,000 people, with the winning team claiming the premiership for the year. This match is always played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), where the first game of AFL was played all those years ago.

My team are the mighty Geelong Cats, or the Geelong Football Club. They formed in 1859 and in recent years have won a few premierships. It is hard to articulate the joy in watching your team win a premiership. Watching a game live is a unique experience. The atmosphere is electric and found nowhere else. There is nothing like being at the MCG on a cold and wet Saturday afternoon in winter, with ten minutes left in the final quarter and both teams tied. The game creates magic and everlasting moments.

 

Myself, my dad and uncle at a Geelong match.

 

There is much, much more to the AFL and the industry, but I hope I have given you a nice introduction to the game. Flick on the telly, chuck the footy on, grab a meat pie and cheer on your team to victory!

 

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