Australian Rules Football or AFL plays a major role in the social and recreational fabric of Tiwi society. In 1945 organised games took place between Nguiu, Milikaptiti and Pirlangimpi. During the 1990s the Tiwi Island Football League was formed, eight teams currently compete in the senior men’s league. The game is followed and watched avidly by many Tiwi supporters.

The football season is held during the wet season from October to March. Every March the Tiwi Football League Grand Final at Nguiu attracts enthusiastic Tiwi crowds from all communities. The airport is packed with charter planes from Darwin. Teams include the Pumarali Thunder and Lightening, Imalu Tigers, Tapalinga Superstars and Magpie Geese.

The Tiwi Islanders are known for their athleticism and exceptional talent when it comes to AFL. Many Tiwi players have gone on to compete at a professional level. These players include David Kantilla, Ronnie Burns, Dean and Maurice Rioli, Austin Wonaeamirri, Jack and Michael Long and current Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli.