Brief History of the Game

Touch, is derived from Rugby league which used a form of Touch for training purposes.  After passing through a development period during the 1960’s, the game became popular during the 70’s and by early in the next decade, was established in all states and territories in Australia as a sport in its own right.

It was in 1968 that the first recognised competition took place with the formation of the South Sydney Touch Football Association at Pioneer Park, Malabar.  The sport quickly took hold in a number of inner-city areas of Sydney and the New South Wales Touch Association was formed in 1972, catering for six affiliated associations and approximately 1500 registered players. The first country association was in Wagga Wagga, which was formed in 1973, and women’s touch was first played at a representative level in 1979.

Touch appealed to ex-footballers retired from the game through age or injury and to players not willing or able to play regular rugby but interested in playing.  An increased awareness in fitness in the adult population and the inability or unwillingness of former footballers to engage in another sporting activity,coaching, or nothing at all, all served to develop the game.

The earliest interstate clashes in Touch occurred when the Brisbane Touch Association representative team played a NSW (South Sydney) team in 1973, 1974, and 1975.  NSW wanted to have this match played ten-a-side but Brisbane would not allow this and the matches were played 8-a-side on a standard Rugby League field.  One of the games in the series was played as a curtain raiser to an interstate Rugby League clash.  In 1976, Touch was played as a curtain raiser to the Sydney Rugby League Grand Final.

Touch later spread to a number of other NSW country regions before it became an official sport in Brisbane. From there it spread to every other state and territory in Australia, and the Australian Touch Association (now trading as Touch Football Australia) was formed in November 1978.  The first National Championships were held on the Gold Coast in December 1980, and these championships catered for some 700 to 1000 players and officials.

International development commenced with New Zealand Touch being formed and the first international matches between Australia and New Zealand were held in Melbourne in 1985. The Federation of International Touch was formed in 1986 in Adelaide South Australia from that meeting the first World Cup was staged on the Gold Coast Australia in 1988. From that World Cup the sport has grown internationally with over 40 Nations being members of the Federation.  World Cups have also been staged every four years with Australia 2 World Cups, New Zealand 1 World Cup, USA 1 World Cup, Japan 1 World Cup and South Africa 1 World Cup and finally Scotland 1 World Cup.  Masters Divisions World Cups have been staged as a separate event as well.

FIT Around The World

With such rapid development, this sport was exported to the world by eager enthusiasts and is now played in over 80 countries internationally.

Touch is played either socially or competitively in every hemisphere around the world: throughout Australia and the Pacific; in many countries in Asia; all over the United Kingdom and Europe and in America and beyond.  The international body was formed so as to look to support the growth in numbers and enthusiasm and The Federation of International Touch (or F.I.T. as it is commonly known) a not-for-profit International Sports Federation was founded in Melbourne, Australia in 1985. F.I.T. is comprised of an international board and staff that is charged with ensuring the game of Touch is developed at every level from junior players through to elite athletes on a global scale.

There are currently 34 F.I.T. affiliated member nations with many more countries looking to become a Federation emerging nation or 'Associate Member'.The sport has been recognised on the international stage as a member of the General Assembly of International Sport Federations and complies with the World Anti Doping Agency requirements regarding drugs in sport.

F.I.T. is responsible for providing advice and assistance to member or emerging member countries in areas such as coaching and resource development, providing referee and rule resources, coordination and management of events such as World Cups and Regional Championships and for marketing and ensuring recognition of the sport at an International level.F.I.T. also conducts or assists with 5 major events worldwide, including the F.I.T World Cup (currently in its Sixth Championships since 1987), the Youth World Cup, European Championships, the Asian Club Championships, South Pacific Island Nations Championships and the World All Schools Championships.

Many events are based on tenders from member countries and boast an opportunity to showcase the sport in different countries while offering sponsors an opportunity to reach a wide audience. The longer term vision for F.I.T. is eventual acceptance as a Commonwealth Games sport and the affirmation of Touch Football as one of the most popular sports worldwide. Touch has truly captured the imagination of the worlds sporting public and is recognised as the ‘Sport for All’.