Never having been a big fan of AFL, I was pretty sceptical going into this documentary. I foresaw two big problems; firstly, I didn’t know who Brett Kirk was, and secondly, I admittedly find most sport pretty dull. It turns out that I needn’t have worried, as Aussie Rules The World brings AFL to life, even for a non-fan.
Aussie Rules The World tells the story of ex-Sydney Swans captain Kirk, who was awarded the title of international ambassador for the AFL upon his retirement from the game. This doco follows the former player and his family as they journey across the globe to promote AFL in different countries. It may seem unlikely that such an idiosyncratically Australian sport would catch on beyond our shores, but the film shows otherwise, connecting with passionate players in amateur AFL teams all over the world.
The strength of this film lies in the connections Kirk makes as an ambassador to these far-flung teams, and it is both bizarre and fascinating to see teams in India, Germany, South Africa, and even Israel – comprising both Israeli and Palestinian members – paying their own way to come to Melbourne for the International Cup.
Directed by Michael Stringer McIntyre and narrated by David Wenham, Aussie Rules The World turns out to be a pretty fascinating documentary. Quite aside from the AFL journey, we see a snapshot into Kirky’s family life with his wife Hayley, including the challenging logistics of taking four young kids around the globe.
Kirk’s passion is contagious, both for the people he is encountering in the film as well as for the audience. And whether he makes you believe in the relevance or importance of AFL as an institution or not, it doesn’t really matter – the journey is fun regardless.
Aussie Rules The World is in cinemas now.