Australian rules football in the Australian Capital Territory
|Australian rules football in the Australian Capital Territory|
|Governing body||AFL NSW/ACT|
|Representative team||Australian Capital Territory|
|First played||1911, Canberra|
|Single match||14,922 (4 June 2006). AFL Kangaroos v Sydney Swans (Manuka Oval, Canberra)|
Traditionally, Canberra was considered to be one of the points which define the Barassi Line, however the popularity of Australian rules football suffered substantially when teams from the national competitions were introduced in both rugby union and rugby league.
Despite Canberra not having a locally based team in the AFL, the AFL does schedule regular matches in the city. It remains a popular sport and as well as a strong local competition, national competition games are played there by neutral AFL sides. From 2012, Greater Western Sydney will act as a local side, playing four home games a year at Manuka Oval.
In 1924, the first regular league was formed in the ACT, named the Federal Territory Australian Rules Football League.
New clubs gradually entered the league, when in 1927 it became known as the Canberra Australian National Football League (CANFL).
In 1931, the Canberra Australian National Junior League was formed.
Gate takings increased by 40% in 1975, and the CANFL changed to ACTAFL.
Australian rules football was a very popular sport in the territory until the expansion of the then-Australian Rugby League club competition, to incorporate a local team, the Canberra Raiders in 1982. The team was highly successful and effectively made rugby league the most popular sport in the territory.
The introduction of a successful locally based rugby union side, the ACT Brumbies in 1996 (and a slide in Raiders on-field performance) saw rugby union overtake rugby league as the most popular sport. Some believe that a successful local team in the national competition would re-establish Australian Rules as a popular sport, however the small population is not seen as generating sustainable high crowds and sponsorship required for an Australian Football League team.
The Fitzroy Football Club expressed interest to the AFL in playing home games in Canberra. Accordingly, the AFL scheduled the first match to be played in Canberra for Round 9, 1996 match between the Fitzroy and the West Coast Eagles. Like the earlier International Rules, the match was played at the rectangular Bruce Stadium rather than Manuka Oval. Despite a frost, the match attracted a large amount of interest and a crowd of just under 12,000 attended and the Eagles defeated the struggling Lions by 28 points.
In 1998 the AFL (NSW/ACT) Commission took over operations of the ACTAFL.
Since 1998, Canberra has hosted the Barassi International Australian Football Youth Tournament.
In 2001, the Australian Football League club, the Kangaroos signed a deal with the ACT government to play some home matches at Manuka Oval. The team has drawn reasonable crowds averaging around 10,000 at Manuka Oval. However, in 2007 the Kangaroos received a more lucrative offer, to play some home games at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, Queensland, and signed a deal to that effect. In August 2006, the AFL announced that the Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs would each play home games at Manuka, to fill the void left by the Kangaroos.
Great ACT Footballers 
Over the years, the ACT has produce many top players for elite professional leagues such as the Australian Football League, including Alex Jesaulenko, Adrian Barich, Shaun Smith, Brett Allison, James Hird and Aaron Hamill.
Notable ACT Players in the AFL 
Governing Body 
Principle Venues 
Attendance Record 
Major Australian Rules Events in the ACT 
- Barassi International Australian Football Youth Tournament
- Australian Football League Premiership Season (Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Demons 'home' games)
- AFL Record. Round 9, 2009. Slattery Publishing. Page 35
- AFL ACT/NSW
- "Canberra fans get a free kick in the guts after AFL drops the ball", The Canberra Times, 14 July 2006. Retrieved 16 July 2006
- ACT Team of the Century from Full Points Footy
- Canberra Carlton Blues Supporters Club
- Kangaroos ACT Supporters Club
- Canberra St Kilda Supporters Club
- AFL NSW/ACT
- AFL Canberra