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Australian football at the 1956 Summer Olympics facts for kids

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1956 Summer Olympics demonstration match
Australian football pictogram.svg
VAFA VFL & VFA Combined Team
12.9 (81) 8.7 (55)
1 2 3 4
VAFA 6.1 (37) 9.4 (58) 11.8 (74) 12.9 (81)
VFL/VFA 1.0 (6) 6.0 (36) 6.2 (38) 8.7 (55)
Date 7 December 1956, 4:10 pm
Stadium MCG
Attendance 30,000
Umpires Les Wenker

Australian rules football was one of two demonstration sports at the 1956 Summer Olympics held in Melbourne.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) stipulated that each Summer Olympics host must organise both a "national" game and a sport "foreign" to the organising country as "demonstration sports". Australian football was chosen as the national sport, while baseball was chosen as the foreign sport. In accordance with Olympic eligibility rules, participants were restricted to amateurs, which forced organisers to select squads made up of young stars, ageing veterans and suburban-league athletes.

In front of a crowd of as large as 30,000 spectators, the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) caused an upset victory by 26 points over a combined team featuring players from both the Victorian Football League (VFL) and Victorian Football Association (VFA). VAFA captain Geoff Hibbins was adjudged by media as the victorious side's best player, while Dick Fenton-Smith and Ray Pettigrove shared leading goal-kicker honours with four goals each.

Many of the participants went on to long and decorated careers in League football, and the match itself was pivotal in guiding how Australian football would be broadcast on television in future years, with a crew commissioned specifically for the Games.

Given the limited popularity of Australian football outside Australia, and the eventual removal of demonstration sports from the Olympic programme, the sport has never again featured at any Games since its one-off inclusion in 1956.

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