I have been involved in Aussie Rules Football (Footy) in North America since 2005 and it has constantly surprised me that there has been nowhere to buy a range of footies locally. Aussie Sports USA has been created to provide a source of footies for any occasion.
There are places to buy footies online but the range is often limited, the quality of the product can be questionable or shipping costs more than the product itself. Most of all how do you know what it is your buying? Understanding the different quality and size options can be baffling to say the least so I hope to provide some information that will hopefully help make your decision much easier!
History of the Aussie Football
First and foremost, let’s get the language right. It’s a Footy or a Football – not a Footyball. Got it? Great!
The first games of footy were played with a round ball, because footballs of that shape were more readily available. The first official game of footy was played with an English-made rugby ball in 1858. In 1860, Australian footy pioneer Tom Wills argued that the oval rugby ball travelled further in the air and made for a more exciting game than round footballs.
The use of rugby footballs became more customary in footy by the 1870s. The Australian football ball was invented by T. W. Sherrin, a saddler, in 1879, after he was given a misshapen rugby ball to fix. Sherrin designed the ball with indented rather than pointy ends to give the ball a better bounce.
A regulation Australian Rules Football, per the Laws of the Australian Football League (AFL), is 28–29 inches (72-73 cm) in circumference, and 21.5–21.9 inches (54.55–55.55 cm) transverse circumference, and inflated to a pressure of 9.0–11.0 psi (62–76 kPa). Red footballs are typically used for day games and yellow footballs for night games.
- AFL Rules - Laws of the Game
- Boyles Football Photos: The Same Game, A Different Ball
- History of Sherrin Footballs
Burley Footballs were preferred by the USAFL from 1997 to 2015 and they are endorsed by the WAFL, SANFL, WACFL, VCFL, WAAFL and the Foxtel Cup, and numerous other leagues. “Burleys” are approved by the AFL.
Sherrin Footballs are the official ball of the AFL and are preferred by the USAFL and AFL Canada. Sherrins are also used by many other leagues throughout Australia and around the world. As well as producing their high quality footy range they also produce a budget brand called Lyrebird.
Ross Faulkner is the lesser known of the three Australian football brands, but has been around nearly as long as Sherrin and Burley. I could not find any information on the use of Faulkner footies by leagues.
Official footballs used in the AFL and those used on match day for adults and junior leagues are typically made from very good quality dyed or painted cow leather and have the highest price point. Cheaper options are available and are typically made from lesser quality cow leather, sourced from India. Other materials used for footballs typically used in social leagues, school or children’s leagues include synthetic rubber or PVC (plastic). It is no surprise that pricing of footies is directly related to the quality of the materials used.
Check out this video showing the manufacturing process of Sherrin footballs: Where Do AFL Footballs Come From?
Footy sizes are delegated primarily on the basis of the player’s age and specifications are described in relation to the lengthwise circumference of the ball and the transverse circumference (around the middle of the ball).
Not all footballs are made equal with there being a slight variance between each one. Smaller novel footies in AFL club colors are often available and come in either 16 or 20cm sizes. This refers to the length of the footy from end-to-end. Therefore the lengthwise circumference is smaller than size 1.