BY – JACKSON CLARK
More than 1300 players, officials and supporters flocked to Darwin this week to participate in the 31st AFL Masters National Carnival. The AFL Masters originated in the early 1980s by founder John Hammer and other like-minded football fanatics. It was formed from the idea that men 35 years and over should be able to continue playing the sport they love, but without the heavy commitment required during their early days in the sport. It is a good way to keep healthy and active and interact in a social environment. There are five age groups with divisions catering from the over 35s to the over 55s. The players can vary greatly in ability with some of the younger ones still playing senior football while others are well into their 70s.
AFL Masters is a strong supporter of the EJ Whitten Foundation and raising prostate cancer awareness and other men’s health issues. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, with approximately 20,000 new cases diagnosed and approximately 3,300 deaths recorded each year in Australia.
The games have been played in typical hot and steamy Territory conditions across four ovals at two different venues – TIO Stadium in the Northern Suburbs and the picturesque Gardens Oval in the city. There is an emphasis on “football for fun” but matches are still played in a competitive spirit. Rough play is generally discouraged and no shirt fronts or slinging are allowed.
There is more to the AFL Masters Carnival than simply three games of football. The social aspect is one of the main drawing points that attracts people to AFL Masters. With a number of nights dedicated to social outings the carnival is a great way to meet or catch up with competitors from other states. There is also the carnival sprint and drop kick competition for each age division.
AFL Masters is a great way to continue playing footy in a semi-competitive environment without having to dedicate the time and effort that you would at other levels.
Twitter – @JClark182