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The Victorian Football League (VFL) is the major state-level Australian rules football league in Victoria. The league evolved from the former Victorian Football Association (VFA), and has been known by its current name since 1996. For historical purposes, the present VFL is sometimes referred to as the VFA/VFL, to distinguish it from the present day Australian Football League, which was known until 1990 as the Victorian Football League and is sometimes referred to as the VFL/AFL.
The VFA was formed in 1877 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 the game. Initially serving a primarily administrative function, the VFA premiership served as the top level of club competition in Victoria until 1896. The VFA became the secondary level of club competition from 1897 after its eight strongest clubs seceded to form the VFL. From 1897 until 1995, the VFA remained independent from the VFL as Victoria's secondary senior club competition. Although always much less popular than the VFL/AFL, the VFA enjoyed peaks of popularity in the 1940s with a faster-paced rival code of rules, and in the 1970s bolstered by playing on Sundays at a time when the VFL was played solely on Saturdays.
Since 1995, the league has been administered by AFL Victoria (and its predecessors), and serves as one of the second-tier regional Australian semi-professional competitions which sits underneath the fully professional Australian Football League. It presently comprises 14 teams from throughout Victoria, eight of which have a continuous VFA heritage. Since 2000, the VFL has served partially as a reserves competition for the AFL, with some Victorian-based clubs fielding their reserves teams in the VFL and others affiliated such that their reserves player can play in VFL teams.