In 1993, the Munich Australian-New Zealand Stammtisch (a regular monthly meeting of many of Munich’s 540 registered Australians and New Zealanders) staged an AFL Grand Final party. The success of that event and news that Australian Football competitions existed in both England and Denmark, inspired a group of football fans and former players to form their own competition.
GARFA began in 1994 when expatriate Australians and other foreign nationals, as well as Germans, began meeting regularly in the Hirschgarten. The number attending each session ranged from ten to twenty people. Each session involved kick-to-kick, an explanation of the game to the uninitiated, as well as skills work. The session then finished with a game based upon the rules for nine-a-side Australian football.
The ability of players varied greatly. The top players all have a number of years experience in premier suburban and country leagues spread throughout Australia. Of the non-Australians, the Irish – a number of who had played Gaelic Football at a high level – proved to be the most suited for Australian Rules. The Swedes, Americans, and Germans have taken longer to come to terms with the nature of the game.
Members of GARFA organized an Australian Rules Football promotional table at the tenth anniversary celebration of the Deutsch-Australian Stammtisch, held in the Löwenbraukellar in May, 1995. More than 3000 people attended with many stopping to view video highlights of Australian Rules football, receive pamphlets, and ask questions about the sport. An exhibition game played that same month during the annual Spring Fair for the Munich International School also sparked further interest.
The increase in attendance at the training sessions, held weekly throughout spring and summer of 1995, made it possible to hold more formal games. Players were divided into two squads – the Munich Whites and the Bayern Blues (known as the Presidents) – and the teams played two organized games throughout the year. The result – one win each – forced a deciding ‘Grand Final’ held in September 1995.
At a December 1995 meeting, the ‘German Australian Rules Football e.V.’ was formed as a legally recognized German sporting organization with a formal constitution and elected board.
Parallel to the development of GARFA in Munich, a group of Germans and Australian expatriates began training in Frankfurt in 1995. The force behind the group is Malte Schudlich, a German who has lived two years in Australia as part of an exchange program. Malte, who played two years with Elsternwick in the Amateur compeitition, is a fervent convert to the game and has set about forming his own team with the aid of a number of Australian expatriates.
The Frankfurt group registered as a legally recognized sporting entity in November 1995 under the name of the Frankfurt Football Club.
GARFA and the Frankfurt Football Club have played games between teams representing the cities of Munich and Frankfurt and the two groups are working closely together to develop the code in Germany.
The GARFA is now known as the AFLG. This name was adopted in 1999 and is still used today.
Hirschgarten, 80639 München