16390691680_b3c2fc4b83_nAdjusting to life in a new country can be hard and sometimes even isolating, especially if you’ve left family and friends behind to set off on your Australian adventure.

Of course these challenges are more than outweighed by the rewards if you throw yourself into the experience.

Even if you’re not usually the sporty type, joining a social team is an amazing way to meet new people and get fit while you’re at it. You don’t need to be a natural athlete, just keen to work as a team, have a laugh, challenge yourself and learn new skills.

Here are just some of Australia’s most popular team sports. To find a club near you that’s looking for players, start by checking out the websites listed.

Australian Football League (AFL) 

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AFL, also known as Aussie Rules, is a unique contact sport played on a large field with 18 players a side. The goal is to kick the ball between the goal posts and the ball is moved around the field to achieve this by kicking, ‘handballing’ and running with the ball while bouncing it on the ground. Learn more on the AFL Community website.

Netball

Similar to basketball, seven players a side compete to score the most goals in an hour-long game. Netball is traditionally a women’s sport, but mixed teams are becoming more common. It’s most popular in Commonwealth nations but was officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee in 1995. Find out more on the Netball Australia website.

Football (soccer)

We bet you’re already familiar with this sport, whether you call it football, soccer, calcio, futbol, fussball, voetbal or something else. Naturally the ‘world game’ is popular in Australia too. Find a club near you on the Football Australia website.

Rugby union

Often referred to as simply ‘rugby’, this game boasts a rich history but is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a full contact sport with 15-a-side, 10-a-side and 7-a-side variations. It involves ball skills like carrying, passing, kicking and grounding the ball as well as tackling, ‘rucks’ and ‘mauls’, with the goal of invading the opposition’s in-goal area (or end zone). Learn more on the Australian Rugby website.

Rugby league

Sometimes just called ‘league’, this is another full contact sport, played by two teams of 13 players. The game originated as a faction of rugby union and these days is played around the world, especially in Northern England, France, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia. Find a club near you on the Play NRL website.

Touch football

Usually called ‘touch’ for short, this is a non-contact variation of rugby league that’s very popular with both men and women in Australia. It’s a great cardio workout and the rules are similar to rugby league, but a ‘touch’ replaces a tackle. Learn more on the Touch Football website.

Cricket

Cricket is a game based on strategy and skill that can be likened to baseball, in that you hit a ball with a bat and then run! The sport is steeped in history going back 400 years and is full of quirky rules and some strange terminology, built on a foundation of sportsmanship and fairness. Find a team near you on the Cricket Australia website.

Lawn bowls

If a slower pace is more your style, lawn bowls may be for you. It’s a precision sport where you roll balls on a grass or artificial surface known as a ‘green’. Those in the know say the game takes a second to learn, but a lifetime to master. Find out more on the Bowls Australia website.

Volleyball

You’ve probably seen a volleyball game in action since it’s played around the world – two teams of six players are separated by a net and try to score points by grounding the ball on the other team’s side of the net. Australia’s great weather and beautiful beaches make it the perfect place for beach volleyball, but you can find indoor competitions too. Learn more on the Volleyball Australia website.

Other ideas

If you’re really not into team sports, why not consider some alternatives like:

Most importantly, enjoy yourself and don’t be afraid to get chatting to the people in your team – you never know, it may just be the start of a lifelong friendship.

Image reference – Flickr: lukedcarberry / Creative Commons / Flickr: 16390691680

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