Australia - a great sporting nation August 19 2015
Sport is a national passion in Australia. More than half of the population participate in sport and physical activity and the other half is most likely spending at least a small portion of their week watching sport on TV or online. Sport plays an important role in Australia's culture, connecting communities and uniting the entire nation.
Us Aussies are fiercely loyal and devoted followers of ‘footy’, which is used by many to refer to Australian Rules Football (AFL) but to confuse things the word is also used to refer to Rugby Union and Rugby League. Australians play beach cricket and backyard cricket all summer and flock to Melbourne's MCG the day after Christmas to watch the iconic Boxing Day test.
Summer is the season of sport in the Land Down Under, with the Australian PGA golf championship, Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament, Santos Tour Down Under Cycling event, the Cricket test matches & international series, and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race all being held in the December - January period.
Boat in a bottle necklace
Australia boasts the third highest number of golf courses per capita in the world and hosts many premier golf events. Australia marathons attract thousands of runners from all over the world and motorsports lovers everywhere turn their attention to Australia for the Formula 1 Australia Grand Prix from 31 March - 3 April.
Babies car racing bibs
Australians participate and watch a very large range of sports, from swimming to snowboarding and even camel racing. But there are definitely a few sports which are favoured by the Aussies. Let's take a look at the most watched and played sports in the nation.
Australian Rules Football is the most popular spectator sport in Australia. Aussie Rules is unique to Australia as it is not played professionally in any other country. The sport originated in Melbourne in 1858 but is now played in every state and territory and in some states it is also the most played sport.
The highest-level national professional competition is the Australian Football League (AFL). The AFL also serves as the sport's governing body, and is responsible for controlling the Laws of the Game.
The league currently consists of 18 teams spread over five of Australia's six states. The AFL season consists of a pre-season competition, followed by a 23-round regular season, which runs from March to September. The top eight teams then play off in a four-round finals series, culminating in the AFL Grand Final, which is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground each year.
Aussie Rules Football is a full contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players. The main way to score points is by kicking the oval-shaped ball between the two white goal posts. The team with the highest score at the end of the match wins, unless either the teams draw or a tie-break is used.
The game is played with a distinctive ellipsoid ball. A red ball is used for day matches and a yellow ball is used at night. If you are looking for a great Australian Rules Football souvenir - the Australian Football Magnet by Visit Merchandise makes a fabulous gift or the perfect momento to remind you how much you love footy!
Cricket is the second most watched sport in Australia. The sport originated from England but is now played in over 125 countries and it has been played in Australia for over 200 years. The Australian national team is one of the most successful teams in the world. Australia normally plays a test series against a visiting team, and a one-day series against two other teams at home each summer, and tours overseas for the remainder of the year.
Cricket is played with a bat on a ball on a large field (called a ground) between two teams of 11 players on each side. International cricket is played in two different forms - Test matches and limited-overs/one-day games. The easiest way to tell Test and one-day cricket apart is by looking at what the players are wearing. In Test cricket they always wear 'whites' and play with a red ball, while in the shorter game they wear coloured clothing and use a white ball.
Australia is the most successful Test cricketing nation, with a higher percentage of wins than any other nation. In Test cricket, the Australian team compete for various trophies and championships.
Test cricket is viewed by both the players and serious cricket fans as the real test of playing ability and endurance in comparison with one-day international cricket. Test matches are played only between national representative teams selected from the best players within a particular country by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Cricket Australia (CA) is the governing body for professional and amateur cricket in Australia.
According to recent research by Roy Morgan swimming is the most common sporting activity in Australia, with around 1 in 2 kids and 1 in 10 adults regularly taking the plunge.
Our Olympic swimmers are feared by their competitors at every Summer Olympics as many swimming champions have come from Australia including including Dawn Fraser, Shane Gould, Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett, just to name a few.
There are so many other sports watched, played and loved by Australians including Rugby (NRL), soccer, basketball, Netball, surfing, sailing,horse racing, the Ironman events, and dozens more. At Bits of Australia we love celebrating Australia's love of sport and you will find some beautiful gifts in our online store which celebrate this important part of Australian culture, including these pieces displayed below.
MCG A4 Print (found in Bits of Australia Art Collection)
Babies nautical bibs
To find more of these Australian made gifts and souvenirs head to our exciting online gift shop at bitsofaustralia.com.au.