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World Footy Census 2004 - ambitious plan unveiled

  • Saturday, October 30 2004 @ 11:35 pm ACST
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General News

Many historians have sifted through the early years of Australian Rules football, and often found it difficult to establish exactly when and where the game was played. In modern times, the sport's spread around the globe has often been largely under-estimated, but also sometimes exaggerated. As best that worldfootynews.com can determine, there is no repository of knowledge that will accurately show just how many countries, clubs, teams and players play Australian Rules football outside of its ancestral home, Australia. As such, worldfootynews.com is undertaking the daunting task of a World Footy Census. This is also the best time, given that it is near year's end and between seasons for most leagues around the world. But we'll need the help of the clubs.

The difficulties that will be encountered have not been under-estimated (hopefully). To produce a worthwhile document on the state of the game around the world will require a great deal of work from our staff, cooperation from all the clubs and leagues outside of Australia, and agreed upon criteria for judging each statistic measured. But what of the vast numbers of players and clubs inside the game's homeland? Fortunately the AFL regularly surveys the Australian situation, and we will defer to their data.

The Criteria

At first thought, it may seem obvious whether a person should be deemed a player. However that quickly becomes problematic when one considers the number of people who play only 1 or 2 games in a year as a fill-in, then drop out, or the children who get exposed to 1 or 2 Auskick-style junior clinics. Should that count in such a survey? Or a club that is in the process of forming but hasn't played anyone (and if things do not go well, never will)?

So firstly, the criteria for the census are given below. All statistics/requirements apply to the calendar year 2004.

- In counting countries, they must have at least 1 club playing at least 4 games per year. E.g. in this criteria, I believe Spain scrapes in, because of their involvement in the Central European championships.

- In counting clubs, they must have at least 1 team playing at least 4 games per year - again, the Madrid Bears scrape in.

- In counting senior players, they must have played at least 4 games in the year, however, we are only asking for rough estimates of players who regularly played for a team in the year (e.g. 15, 20, 25, 30). In the case where more show up for home games than travelling, still count these players. So for a typical US team where they might have 40 players on their list, but about 15 travelling regularly, 30 for home games, but only 24 regularly getting a game, I'd probably score that as 25. Metro games and "touch" games do count (all part of the Australian Rules football family), but again, must have played at least 4 games in general. Note that we are not asking each club to look at team sheets etc. We or they should be able to estimate very easily whether it is around 15 or 20 or 25 or 30.

- In counting junior players, same rules as counting seniors. If they attend a series of 4 Auskick style classes over 4 weeks, that can still count, but do not include e.g. 1000 kids exposed to 1 or 2 demonstration days. We don't expect to see 30,000 kids listed because a series of demos were done at high schools - it's good work, but not what we're trying to measure here.

- When there are both regional and local teams, only count once (generally the local teams, unless they are still establishing themselves as genuine clubs). E.g. Arizona AFL we are probably calling 1 club, but 6 teams. Need to be careful with representative teams, like in the Danish AFL, where players could accidentally be counted twice. The same with US colleges.

- If a team/club has just formed and has yet to play enough games to qualify under the above criteria, they can be listed, but the statistics shown for Teams, Seniors and Juniors as 0 and commented as In Formation - better that they appear in the stats next year.


Readers might question how a survey like this could result in accurate information. We do not expect exact results, but if everyone who contributes uses the same guidelines, and honestly follows them as best they can, then the results should be around the mark. This is especially since international Australian Rules football is fairly dynamic. If a sport grows by 4% over 10 years, a survey such as this would have difficulty picking up the trend. But if say a country has 10 teams and 200 players, then 5 years later has 20 teams and 500 players, the raw numbers and growth rate are quite accurately shown by such a census, even if the data is out by several percent. So from this information, we hope to give a satisfactorily accurate picture of the growth and size of Australian Rules football around the world.

Your Help

This project will be undertaken by the worldfootynews.com staff. There is a preliminary list of clubs and countries, and we will attempt to estimate the team and player numbers where possible, but there are likely to be well over 200 adult teams. The help of our overseas readers will be greatly appreciated. If you are involved with a club and would like to help us, examine the criteria above and send us an email with the appropriate information, perhaps with a little background information on how you arrived at it. If you know of other people from your club who also read worldfootynews.com, then if possible please coordinate with them so we are not inundated with responses from any one group. In emailing us, please see the About Us section to determine who best to contact, selecting from Aaron, Brett, Jake, Julian and Matt (then click on their name, then select send email, enter your name and return email address and your information, and send - if you get a message saying it was successfully sent then it should have worked - we have had a few problems with the email system, in which case you probably won't get the success message).

We hope to compile the data over November and start delivering the results to our readers by the end of the year. Wish us luck!