The Victorian Football League (VFL) which evolved from the former Victorian Football Association (VFA), taking its new name as from the 1996 season, is the major state-level Australian rules football league in Victoria. For historical purposes, the present VFL is sometimes referred to as the VFA/VFL, to distinguish it from the present day Australian Football League (AFL), which was known until 1990 as the Victorian Football League. The VFA was formed in 1877, immediately after the foundation of a similar body in South Australia and is the second-oldest Australian rules football league, replacing the loose affiliation of clubs that had been the hallmark of the early years of a game which was first played as early as the 1850s.
Today, the VFL is one of many regional Australian semi-professional competitions. It comprises 14 teams from throughout Victoria, nine of which have a continuous VFA heritage. Many Victorian-based clubs in the fully professional AFL are affiliated with VFL clubs, and as a result, the league partly serves as a reserves competition for the AFL.