Most Popular Sports in Australia Facts for Kids

Australians just love their sport and with such great weather all year round, you can play sport all year round! We have gathered all the fun facts about sport in Australia so you can learn about them all.

Searching for other fun facts about different countries? Check them out here.

Here are a few of the most interesting sport facts in Australia:

  • There are four types of ‘football’ played in Australia
  • Surfing is popular an is one of the oldest sports around the world
  • Australia has more than 1,000,000 swimming pools
  • Australia invented Australian Rules football
  • The Australian netball team is called the Diamonds

To learn even more about Australian sports for kids, check out this range of books.

Australian Football League

AFL, or Australian Rules as it is commonly known, is arguably one of the most popular sports in Australia. This sport was invented by the Australians and is a mix of a number of different sports.

It began in the 1850’s and is a winter sport, meaning it is usually played from March to September.

A football team consists of up to 22 players, though only 18 players can be on the field (a large oval shape) at any one time. There are 13 player positions.

Players kick a symmetrical oval shaped ball and try to score a goal (six points) by kicking it through two large posts. Just outside each of the goal posts are smaller posts and if you miss the goal, but still get it through the smaller posts, you score one point.

Players cannot throw the ball to each other, but they can handball or pass it.

The AFL Grand Final is usually attended by more than 100,000 people.

Rugby Union

Rugby Union began in the 1820’s in England when a boy picked up the ball during a football (soccer) game and, instead of kicking the ball,he ran towards the goal! It came to Australia during the 1860’s, however there are occasional reports of games being played earlier than this.

It is also played in New Zealand, South Africa, France with more than 100 other countries being members of World Rugby (the governing body).

A Rugby Union team has 15 players on the field (a large rectangle divided into thirds) at any one time, with 7 substitutes on the bench. Teams try to score the most points through tries, conversions, penalty kicks and drop goals.

Players can run with the ball but can only pass the oval shaped ball backwards.

The first Rugby World Cup was played in 1987 in New Zealand.

There are currently 5 teams that compete in the Super Rugby competition, a competition that includes New Zealand, Fiji and the Pacific Islands.

Check out this range of rugby union balls for kids, they are awesome!

Rugby League

Rugby League players on a scrum

Rugby League originated in England in 1895 when teams began to break away from Rugby Union and it was in 1907 that the NSW Rugby League team was formed. It was started because players were not being compensated for time off work to play Rugby Union, so they formed their own League teams.

Rugby League differs from Rugby Union in that there are only 13 players on the field at any one time, however they are allowed more substitutions than in Union. The number of tackles also differs.

There are currently 17 clubs in the National Rugby League competition in Australia.

Check out these great rugby league books for kids!


Cricket originated in England and was thought of as a gentleman’s game as it was played by men from affluent backgrounds. The game was started by shepherds who were bored while guarding their sheep and used a ball of wool for a ball!

Fun fact – The length of the cricket pitch is 20.12m and has not changed since 1877!

There are 3 different types of cricket matches  – a test match, T20 and ODI (One Day International).

A test match is a game between 2 international teams that can last for up to 5 days!

Fun fact – While a test cricket match usually lasts 5 days, the longest test match ever played was in Durban, South Africa and it lasted 14 days. It only finished because the ship to take the English players home was due!

A T20 cricket match is a shortened version of the game with a maximum of 20 overs.

A ODI is a game between 2 international teams that has up to 50 overs and lasts for 9 hours.

The first Cricket World Cup was held in England in 1975.

We love these books about cricket for kids!


Women playing netball outdoors

Netball is a sport played by both men and women and is most similar to basketball. In netball a player cannot move with the ball and must stop as soon as they catch it. The ball is then passed between players until it is close enough to be shot through a net.

Worldwide more than 60 million people play netball and it is played in over 70 countries.

Netball has been a part of the Commonwealth Games since 1998 and the Australian team is called the Diamonds. Out of the 5 Commonwealth Games that have included netball, Australia has won the gold medal 3 times.

Check out these awesome netball books for kids!


Soccer has been a part of Australian history since the late 1800’s however the national team, The Socceroos, was only formed in 1922. Soccer teams have 11 players on the field at one time and they kick a round ball around the field, trying to get a goal.

No one is allowed to touch the ball with their hands except for the goalkeeper.

Fun fact – Some of the first soccer balls were either made from clothing that was stuffed until it made a full round ball or a ball was made from an inflated pig’s bladder.

While most of the world calls soccer ‘football’ many Australians call it soccer because of the other forms of football being played in the country – Australian Rules Football, Rugby League and Rugby Union.

Check out this range of books about soccer for kids, they are awesome!


Swimming is not only a popular sport, but it is a favourite national pastime in Australia.

Fun fact – Australia has more than 1 million swimming pools across the country!

There are four main strokes in swimming – freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly, with breaststroke being the oldest recorded stroke.

Swimming is the most successful Olympic sport with almost half of the gold medals won being for swimming.

When you swim, you use almost all the muscles in your body, making it an excellent sport for your fitness.

The temperature of an Olympic sized swimming pool is kept between 25 – 28 degrees celsius and holds more than 2,500,000 litres of water. That amount of water is enough to take more than 9000 baths!

Check out these great swimming toys for kids here.


A women riding the ocean waves on a surfboard

For a country surrounded by water, it makes sense that surfing is popular in Australia. Surfing is a sport done in the ocean whereby someone stands on a board and rides a wave into shore. It is one of the oldest sports in the world.

Surfing was brought to Australia by a Hawaiian in 1915 and became very popular due to the good surfing conditions all year round.

Australia has many great places to surf and holds many surfing competitions. In fact, you can actually surf a wave for 2 km in Queensland, Australia!

We love these books about surfing for kids!

Most popular sports in Australia facts

We hope this article makes you want to go and start doing sport straight away! There are so many great sports around that we are sure you’ll find one you love.

A great and easy place to start a sport is with soccer. Take a look at some great soccer balls here.

You can find more of our facts for kids articles below.

Places facts for kids

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Hayley Mill

Hayley is a lover of life and has lived and worked overseas, including in Thailand, Austria and the UK. She has been writing since she can remember, with her favourite topics being travel (50+ countries and counting!) and her family. You can find her expertise on our Fun Facts About Places. She loves taking her family on adventures and believes travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you 'richer'. She has a double degree, Bachelor of International Business and Bachelor of Commerce from Griffith University, majoring in Marketing and Chinese language, but now speaks more German than Mandarin!

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