Aussie Rules footy is our countryís sporting lifeblood.? We have always had strong local leagues and have welcomed?the multi-million dollar juggernaut that is the AFL.? Many feel like this has been to the detriment of grassroots footy, but whatever the level?some things remain the same.? You scream for your team, you yell at the umpires, you act?unlike you would normally act and those people close to you just accept it as?normal.? Whatís more, it seems normal Ė why is that?
The typical Australian kid is brought up on a diet of footy in the winter and some things are ingrained from an early age.? We inherit a footy team from our parents, we wear their colours with pride, we cheer on our boys and boo the other mob.? We run around the backyard acting like our favourite player.? We kick at trees which are shaped like goals, we find any other kids to kick the footy with or kick with Dad and we go to sleep cradling our footy as we dream of one day playing for our team.
We watch with our parents, sometimes?they take us to the game and sometimes we watch at home on TV.? We learn that itís a?hard, tough game and these warriors quickly become our heroes.? Footy is a pure but simple game of one-on-one contests, you stand next to your opponent and try to beat him.? When you canít get the ball, make sure your man doesnít and do everything possible to help your mates.? Sheppard, block, hit, just donít let the umpire see!
The stars can make the ball talk, they can predict the bounce of the oval-shaped ball, they make the game look so easy.? We have a jumper, and a number on the back because?all we want to do is play footy like our heroes do.
As we move through our childhood, our team becomes part of our souls and one thing becomes apparent Ė you cant change teams, ever!? You stick with your team through thick and thin, pick your favourite player, yell at the?opposition and the umpire Ė everyone but your team is the enemy.? But donít even think about changing teams.
We become adults, and with maturity surely comes a change in attitude and a balanced view towards the game, right?? No way, this is tribal and we roll every punch!? As we get older, we become more opinionated, digest more and more information?about the game.? We watch media talk about our team, listen to radio commentators talk about the game, and we talk about the weekend at the water cooler at work.
We analyse how our team plays, who the key players are, applaud the coach when he gets the team functioning as a well-oiled machine and call for his head when he doesnít.? We yell at umpires more often than not, we become experts in the rules and how they are interpreted, we become drafting experts and we justify why we would trade every player in the team?if the price was right.
We have kids and buy them jumpers, tell them how good we were and that injury stopped us from playing on TV.? We raise them to support our?team?with every last breath.? We love watching them get involved and yell and scream at the TV, because thatís what we did with our Dad in a past life and the memories take us back to a time when the world was simpler, but footy was footy.
We hate the other teams, some more than others, but we?back our boys every time they set foot on the field.? Footy is simple, if you beat your man then you give your team a chance to win.? When you go to a game the person next to you becomes your best friend for 3 hours.? You ride every bump and tackle together; you scream together, cry together and cheer together.? You both yell BALL, you both tell players to KICK IT, and you both scream at that dirty prick on the other team.??Then after the game you go your separate ways and come back and do it all again next time.? You might be a doctor and they might be a brickie, but at the footy it doesnít matter, all that matters is THE FOOTY!
The one thing that never, ever changes is supporting your team.? You pick a team, you stick with them, your kids stick with them and thatís what you do because its tribal Ė us versus them.? Year after year you hop on board for the ride with the hope that it ends in glory on the last day of the season.? Itís not always a smooth ride, but its part of being a footy fan and we wouldnít change it for the world.