Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Samara and I at our first Aussie Rules Football Game

If you truly want to experience Australian culture and mingle with the locals there is only one thing you can do- go to a Footy game. Mainly popular in Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria, Australian Rules Football is a very popular winter sport. Fans battle the cold, and usually unpredictable weather, to come cheer on their home team.

Twelve of us ventured to cheer on our local team the Hawthorn Hawks on Saturday morning at the famous MCG Center (Melbourne Cricket Ground). We were pleasantly surprised to get $13 dollar tickets that allowed us to sit 5 rows behind the goal posts, a deal rarely heard of at any professional sporting event in the states! As the Hawks battled the Melbourne Devils I learned a great deal about this Australian pastime. Besides actually learning the rules of the game, I was also introduced to some common passionate (and colorful) phrases of fans, much like American sporting events. A popular way for fans to show their team spirit is to wear scarves with their team’s colors. Looking around at so many necks adorned with stripped scarves made me feel as though I belonged at a Harry Potter Festival. Another fun aspect of the game was that both teams had songs, much like anthems, that fans knew by heart and recited as their team took to the field. Although we did not know the words to the Hawks song, the tune did resemble the famous American song Yankee Doodle Dandy.

The game lasted about 3 hours (total playing time) but I was never bored or ready to leave. There was always something happening. Very few times was the game stopped for penalties, and there are no such things as “time-outs”. The game is extremely physical, bodies constantly being thrown to the ground (keep in mind players wear no types of padding). Scoring occurs relatively often, with two different types of goals. Kicking the ball through the middle post results in six points, while kicking the ball through the side posts is one point. Lucky for us, the Hawthorn Hawks came out on top and continue their run to the Grand Final. The final game is a huge event in Western Australia, one that requires the purchase of tickets months in advance. Although I will not be able to attend the game, I will definitely be watching, hopefully having a reason to wear my yellow and brown-stripped Hawthorn scarf.

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