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Aussie Rules, Australia´s own brand of football, emerged in 1858, when a group of school-age cricket players in the southern state of Victoria were pursuing a way to keep fit during their off-season. Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar School played the first game of Australian Rules football — known usually as simply 'footy' — that year. The Victorian Football League (VFL), later renamed the Australian Football League (AFL), opened in 1896. For decades the VFL, the sport´s showcase competition, remained the exclusive domain of zealous fans in Victoria, with competitions in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania attracting only a regional following. However, in recent times, especially given the improving fortunes of the West Coast Eagles, the Adelaide Crows and the Sydney Swans, AFL has become a truly national game. The sport´s nickname, "aerial ping-pong", stems from its nature as a game of kicking and catching, of tall muscular players making strong but graceful leaps to catch the ball. The high jumps for possession, called marks, are one of the AFL´s distinguishing features.