This may sound like a story about football, but it could be a story around any sport or hobby. It could be basketball, croquet, bowls, chess, tennis, Scrabble, dominoes, darts, fish keeping, gardening, squash, yoga; I could go on, maybe I already have.
And for those of you who thought I was joking when I said croquet, this year’s “Gold Medal”, part of the Croquet National Championships, takes place at Graceville Croquet Club August 24-26. Graceville is about 25 minutes drive from my house.
Anyway, for me the story IS about football.
When I moved to Australia aged 49 and a half, it was generally felt that I would never play football again. Back in England, I played indoor five aside football twice a week. The chances of me coming out here and finding a new team to play for seemed highly remote. After all, Australia isn’t big on what they call “soccer”.
Secretly, although I didn’t openly admit it, I didn’t think I’d play again either. Why else would I have thrown away my trainers and football boots instead of bringing them with me here to Australia? Well, other than that they were a bit old and smelly.
But, incredibly, after almost 2 years here I started playing football again. I first wrote about that back in November 2009 when I introduce you to our team, Hardly Athletic, and the outdoor six aside league.
I followed that up in July of last year when we started playing in a second league, this one being an indoor five aside competition.
Well, looky here…….
Yes, we finished top in the outdoor table and second in the indoor one. These are both end of season tables and both taken from last Monday.
So, were we “champions” in one league and “runners-up” in the other? Well yes, but in the spirit of the true Champions League, the teams that finish highest in the league then go into the knockout stages.
We found ourselves in two semi-finals in one week.
How did we go?
In the first semi-final last Tuesday, in the outdoor league, we………
Lost 7 – 2.
Never mind, we had another semi-final on Thursday. How did that go?
Much better! We only lost that one 6 – 3.
Oh well, it’s not so much the winning, but the taking part, isn’t it?
Shortly before these semis we’d had an amazing run of two draws and seven victories in nine games. So, what went wrong?
I can’t tell you for sure with the first semi-final, but I think I noticed a major difference in the second one. We are not a very young team, they were. When they scored each of their six goals, there was much jumping, shouting and joy. The air would be punched. Screams of…
“Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaal!” would fill the air. There would be applause and cheering from their substitutes. High fives all around!
Yet when we scored each of our three goals, nothing of the sort occurred.
Just knowing nods, stroking of chins and maybe, if you listened closely enough, you’d hear one of us say “well done mate”.
When we played this team in the league, we beat them 2 – 1. But this was a semi. They showed up with extra testosterone.
Anyway, the point is this. Whatever your sport, hobby or pastime, it is very likely that people are participating in that sport, hobby or pastime here. If you think that by moving to Australia you are going to have to sacrifice some kind of personal pleasure because they don’t have it here, think again.
The Australians seem to have a club, association, venue, community, working bee party or organisation to cover just about everything. Seek and ye shall find. Australia loves it sport.
Anyone for croquet?