Soccer is, without a doubt, one of the most popular sports in Australia. The sport ranks among the top 10 most broadcasted games in the country. It is also one of the sports that command massive crowds whenever there is a match. The growth of soccer in Australia can be seen from the four-consecutive participation of Australia in the FIFA world cup from 2006.
But the history of soccer in Australia is one of the most debated topics. How the sport came to Australia, and when the first game was played, have been debated for years. But what is the genesis of soccer in Australia? Well, if you have been wondering how soccer got into Australia, this post is for you. We have some interesting facts about soccer Australia.
History of Soccer in Australia
The history of soccer in Australia is told from many angles. However, we can say that it is largely misunderstood by many. That’s because there no clear records of soccer in Australia of the 19th century and early 20th century. Some say that soccer came to Australia after World War II when a large number of people migrated from Europe. Others say that soccer was still a sport in the late 19th century. However, one thing that two groups agree on is that soccer was introduced by European because there is no trace of the sport in Australia’s aboriginal culture.
First Soccer Game
From the research conducted by various bodies shows that soccer could have been played in Australia for more than 145 years. In fact, there are traces of soccer in Australia as early as 1870. From various material dating back in 1870, it has been shown that there was a game between Melbourne Football Club and the Police. The match is said to have been played around 1870. However, the actual dates of the match and other details are still scanty. This is said to be the first soccer match Australia that data can be found although scanty.
Second Soccer Game
The second earliest soccer match in Australia was recorded by the Victorian publication ‘The Footballer’ in 1875. The section called “Football in Queensland”, wrote that the match was played without handling the soccer ball under any circumstances. That was the rule of the game. The game took place on 7th August 1875 in Woogaroo (Goodna today) near Brisbane.
According to the Queenslander of the 14th August, it reported that the 1875 match was between Brisbane Football Club and the warders plus inmates from the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum. The match was held at the stadium of the Asylum. According to this publication, the game started at half-past 2 after agreeing to the rules of the game. This is the first soccer match ever recorded. However, most of the game’s details, including some participants, can be found.
However, the first professional soccer game ever recorded in Australia was between Wanderers and The King’s School in Sydney on 14th August 1880. The match was held at Parramatta, Sydney. That’s why Wanderers are considered to be the first team in Australia because it appears as the first recorded team in the History of Australian soccer.
Aussie Soccer Organisation History
The first soccer administrative body in Australia was called New South Wales English Football Association, which was formed by John Walter Fletcher in 1882. That’s why Fletcher is regarded as the ‘Father of Australian Soccer.’ However, the body was only overseeing soccer in NSW. By 1900, all other states had formed their governing bodies to oversee football (soccer).
It was until 1911 that the Commonwealth Football Association was formed to oversee soccer in the whole of Australia. The national governing body would later transform to the Australian Soccer Association, in 1921. The first Australian national team was constituted in 1922 under the Australian Soccer Association.
The huge growth of soccer in Australia would then come with the rise of the immigrants coming into Australia after World War I in the 1920s and more so the WWII in 1950s and 1960s. That’s when proficient soccer clubs formed around the migrant cities. Clubs such South Melbourne, Sydney Olympic, Marconi Stallions, Adelaide City, Melbourne Knights, Sydney United and Preston Lions formed during this time.
The first National Soccer League (NSL) was established in 1977 after the country had become a member of FIFA earlier in 1956.
Australian Soccer Today
For over 145-years history, soccer in Australia has not grown to the level of the larger leagues that we see in Europe. Maybe it’s because most Australian still view soccer as a foreign game. However, soccer management has been keen on improving the quality of the sport. The last for consecutive qualifications of Soccer to the FIFA World Cup shows this commitment. But we can confidently say that soccer has grown to become one of the most popular sports in Australia today.