Why Australians Love Sport. And Dislike It

Sport. Most Australians love it and it’s almost a religion in Australia. If we don’t play sports, we usually watch it: Aussie Rules Football (AFL or footy, a ball game played with hands and feet), cricket, rugby, netball and soccer to name a few. We also host numerous sporting tournaments each year like the Australian Open (tennis, golf), F1 and Melbourne Cup (horse racing).

Li Na keeps an eye on whizzing tennis balls during Australian Open tennis practice | Weekly Photo Challenge: Blur.

Li Na keeps an eye on whizzing tennis balls during Australian Open tennis practice | Weekly Photo Challenge: Blur.

When I was a kid living in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, P.E. classes consisted of playing sport, usually baseball or obstacle courses where you stepped through tires to get to the finish line. The teacher picked two athletic classmates as team captains and the latter picked their teams. Skinny Asian me was always the last student left standing alone, waiting to be chosen…

…but that didn’t stop me from paying attention to sport. Watching AFL matches on TV was something I did each week up until the end of university. It was a fun few occasions when I went to the Australian Open tennis. On and off again, I look up to see how Liverpool are kicking soccer balls in the English Premier League. I’m not a die-hard sport fanatic, but I don’t hate sport either.

We love sport because often it brings us together through common interest. Sport has been played in Australia since the colonisation of the nation in 1788 and it’s arguably a part of our cultural citizenship, our national identity. Once on a trip to Pakistan, former Prime Minister John Howard showed off his less than perfect cricket bowling and batting skills, making the national news. One time I sat at Federation Square watching the footy finals on the big screen and noticed I was the only Asian person where I was sitting. Nobody bothered me; everyone’s eyes were on the screen.

Australians are passionate about sport because sport is about mateship, and many Aussie sports players share the true blue Aussie spirit. Olympic track athlete John Landy stopped to help fellow fallen Aussie runner Ron Clarke during the 1956 Australian National Championships. Australian tennis legend Pat Rafter showed the same sportsmanship at the 2001 Wimbledon final, losing graciously to Goran Ivanisevic after a see-sawing five set battle. Play nice, play fair.

Aside from competitive affairs, sport is also about recreation. There’s generally good weather all year round Down Under which makes it practical for outdoor sport – and the average laid-back Aussie with the “easy as” attitude loves the great outdoors, BBQs and camping to pass the time, so naturally why not play or watch sport too.

Many Australians also hold the “work hard, play harder” spirit, all the more reason to revel in the cheerleader side of sport. Millions of Australians watch sport each year; the AFL Grand Final was the most watched program on TV last year. A few times I worked on the Melbourne Cup public holiday: when the main horse race started at 3pm, the whole office always stopped work and crowded around the TV to watch it. Some of my colleagues were die hard sports fans, some not so.

Sometimes it’s not all fun and games when it comes to sport Down Under. Sport divides; some sports are more popular in certain states. Queensland, soccer. Sydney, rugby. Melbourne, footy – and if you don’t have anything to say when a Melburnian asks you which footy team you barrack for, the conversation can get awkward. There’s also the Melbourne versus Sydney sporting rivalry, the two states forever fighting to claim the mantel as the nation’s sporting capital, fighting to host sporting events like the F1 and Australian Open tennis. Friendly rivalry, perhaps.

Maria Sharapova hits whizzing tennis balls during Australian Open tennis practice.

Maria Sharapova hits whizzing tennis balls during Australian Open tennis practice.

At grassroots level, sport helps young migrants settle into Australia. But then there’s not forgetting that cultural discrimination and masculine dominance revolves around Australian sport on the bigger stage, such as how time and time again Aboriginal football players are racially taunted on-field and the stances they have to take to get the recognition they deserve within local sport. Sadly, for some of us Australians who are avid followers of sport, we think we’re a class up from others around us under the guise of white privilege. Though we might have a common interest in sport and watch sporting games together, it doesn’t always mean sport brings us together as a nation, as people.

I’m pretty sure the way my Chinese-Malaysian parents raised me has nothing to do with my rather petty interest in sport. My parents didn’t mind much that my Caucasian classmates didn’t want me to be on their sport teams. In fact, they rather I didn’t play contact sport, warning me “don’t fall down” before P.E. school days probably so I could continue memorising formulas during the next Maths class like the typically studious Asian. On the other hand, they were very encouraging of swimming when I went to high school in Singapore and Malaysia, enrolling me into swimming lessons. Oddly enough, I remember enjoying coming in last in the obstacle courses way more than doing laps in pools all to myself .

Is it un-Australian to not have much of an interest in sport? I don’t join in the footy conversations at work, or play the footy tipping office games. And no one at work seems to mind. Liking sport or not usually boils down to personality. And it’s in the Australian spirit to go, “anything goes”.

So probably not.

Are you a fan of sports? Are/were you good at sports in school?

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147 thoughts on “Why Australians Love Sport. And Dislike It

  1. Hi Mabel,

    While I think highly of sports and have tried my best to develop a liking for some games, sometimes watching them out of interest, I could never play well when I was growing up! I was always scared that I would fall and hurt myself!! Ha ha! Most of my childhood memories are about this fear albeit I have conquered all my fears but I am not sure about this.

    Given the choice, I would never watch sports channels but my hubby is a sports freak…all kinds of games whether it is tennis, cricket or football, his favorite pastime is watching sports! So I have reconciled to the sound of all the games around me. The only request I sometimes make rather rudely…could you put the volume down!

    Thanks for sharing this informative post.

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    • Definitely! If we don’t want to play sports, we can certainly get into the spirit of the competition by watching and cheering from the sidelines. I heard cricket is very popular in India and many Indians will turn up in droves to watch cricket matches at the stadiums on the weekends.

      Maybe someday you will be able to conquer your fear of playing sport. Perhaps try non-contact sport, like golf 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Noooo!!! I thought we’re the Commonwealth countries, how can football still be called soccer Down Under?? That’s what the Yanks does!!!

    I played many sports at school: badminton, basketball, softball, volleyball, FOOTBALL. But I was a jack of all trades, never really good at any specific sports. Good thing is that when people talk sports, I usually won’t be lost in a sea of confusion.

    I agree that on a grassroots level, sports divide more than they unite. It is easy to see the “better” players refusing to team up with “weaker” players, ethnic groups forming their own teams, and the very so lovely cross town rivalries. The only time sports unite, I think, is when it involves the national teams. Like when we are cheering Malaysia/Australia on in the Olympics or the World Cup. Those are the only times where I see everyone come together and unite our voices in support of the same group of people fighting for national pride.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Australians call the game you play kicking the ball with your foot into the net soccer. Mention football, and they will think you are talking about the Australian game of football.

      …to be honest, when I went to school in Singapore, it was called soccer…

      So many sports you’ve played. I’m sure you have an opinion on each of them and one that you like more over the others. You bring up a good point – ethnic groups forming their own sports teams at grassroots level. Unless there is a good mix of players from other cultures involved, in a sense they are creating culturally exclusive sport teams.

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  3. I remember that as school kids we all liked playing sports, but after that I lost interest. It seemed the opposite of art, and I had some resentment of the emphasis (and money spent!) on sports at university, when the arts were not supported nearly as well. The same holds true now, when the county takes our tax money earmarked for parks and diverts it to spend on a new stadium, & of course nothing for the arts. I love your photos though – love that blurry green ball!

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    • Such a good point, Sandy: that sport is still prided upon compared to the arts in many schools and universities. Not bashing on sport – it’s an art form in itself. But to be honest, without good physical conditioning, we can’t get very far making a career out of sport. Sometimes, you either have the body or not to be good at a certain sport.

      Maybe someday you’ll pick up sport again. Doesn’t have to be vigorous, it can be something as simple as walking.

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  4. Hi Mabel! Loved your post 🙂 I was also the short skinny kid picked last for sports and I always felt so humiliated that it made me stay away from sports altogether 😦 nowadays I soak up the excitement in the air when the football returns or I can see our country getting passionate about our cricket or soccer team but I don’t play myself. It’s just nice to feel their excitement and know that Australia is a country that really values sport and team activities. I guess that is what being Australian is all about! You don’t have to love sport but you can cheer from the sidelines 🙂 x

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    • So sorry to hear that you were picked on at school for not keeping up with others at sport! Not all of us are able-bodied to do sports, it’s something we must remember.

      It is exciting when sport starts in Australia, I agree with that. Sport is more than just games and luck – it’s also about strategy, working around the rules and moving the body. It’s funny how elegant AFL footy can be when the TV plays slow-mo footage of players jumping in the air trying to catch the oval ball!

      Thank you for reading and supporting, Rebecca 🙂

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  5. In Germany there is only football (soccer) important for the past half century. Sometimes also other sports shortly get famous such as tennis, handball etc but only when someone is winning an important competition.

    The problem in Germany is that sports don’t get you really fed. Sure football players in the first leage all ear millions of euros a year and same applies to formula one driver, tennis players but then it pretty much stopped. An friend of my who swam just in late autumn at the world championships a world record and became world champion quitet shortly afterwards to open up an ice cream store, just because he barely was able to survive solely with swimming and due to this Germany is in decline for many years in the Olympic sports.

    When I was younger I enjoy pe classes but that changed towards the last five years of my school life as the teachers I had generally didn’t like me so much it seems. One offered me a solution to the whole problem: either chose swimming in which I have no chance anyways or concentrate on pe classes. I chose swimming and made it as far as the European champs while my pe grades dropped to ricidilous bad numbers though I was one of the bests in any sports activity. Thankfully I chnaged to a sports high school to do my high school degree and school life improved drastically

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    • Love how you wrote about sport and making a career out of it in your part of the world. Not only do you need an able-body and dedication to train to make it big in sport and make the good money, you need a lot of luck too… Someone can be very good at swimming, but one bad race in qualifying can disqualify you the chance at the world title.

      Congratulations to your friend, swimming to a world records and now having an easier life. I wish him well.

      Sounds like you had quite a bit of glory as a swimmer in your younger days, Crazy. Glad you got the opportunity to go to a swimming school, and I’m sure you brought home a few medals back then 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey Miss Mabel, hope you’ve been having a good week. 🙂

    As always, an interesting & thought provoking post. Just today I ducked out to the sports shop to buy a footy scarf as a gift for the boy I kinda like. It sparked a conversation in the office about sport, whether it was good or bad to be REALLY into it, whether you were a true Aussie if you didn’t dig it, basically all the things you talked about. Lol! Its like you were here.

    I dont really follow sport, although I do rather enjoy going to live sports games, and dressing up in team attire, go figure. I did join in on the World Cup tipping comp, it was a lot of fun, we’d all meet at the pub in the middle of the night, on ‘school’ nights often to watch games. But again, I dont follow the sport.

    I am relatively good at sports, I used to play netball and softball as a kid, and was on a baseball team last year, but would rather go to yoga than run around a field or court. 🙂 Not big on team sports these days.

    Haha… so you are not into swimming, Im not much of a fish either. 🙂

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    • So nice of you Anna to give your crush a footy scarf. I hope he likes it, and just in time for winter too! Hope he likes you too 😉

      I think you’re more of a sports fan than me since it sounds like you go to the live games more often than me. If it’s winter, chances are I won’t go to a live game – too cold! And you play on a regular basis too, which is really good exercise. Yoga is certainly a form of sport, just like walking as well.

      Sitting on a boat is okay, but I’m definitely am not a huge fan of swimming…you know me too well, Miss Anna!

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  7. Mabel I played all kinds of sports and as you know continue to be active. I have never been very fast or very strong but I am keen to try. I seem to like individual sports better than team sports. I think I don’t want to let anyone down or not have the pressure other than my own on myself.

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  8. Not being sporty or liking sports has nothing to do with one’s nationality according to me. It’s a personal choice. Otherwise I would have ling stopped being an Indian as I have no interest in cricket! Imagine that…coming from a cric crazy country!!

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    • You said it. Liking sport or not is really a personal choice, just like how we like certain fashion or like certain foods. I heard that in India, a lot of Indians spend their weekends going to the cricket. About as cricket crazy as Australia too!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved playing sport at school. In Queensland in winter rugby league and rugby are prefered over soccer. I have no idea what AFL is. It’s a game that has never interested me. I think because of school I still take a great interest in swimming, water polo, still water life saving, surf life saving, rugby, rugby league and rowing. I think the greatest sporting contest in Australia remains the rugby league state of origin series held annually. On average they are the greatest contests available to watch, the only better game I’ve watched was a Australia New Zealand Commonwealth Games netball gold medal game which Australia won.
    It’s not unAustralian to not like sport, I really get annoyed when something is called unAustralian just because it’s a position that people don’t agree with. If people don’t like participating and/or watching sport that’s their business, it doesn’t make them unAustralian. I do believe though that if someone is an Australian citizen or permanent resident, supporting Australian national teams is desirable. Going for another country just isn’t cricket.

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    • I am not really surprised to hear you say you aren’t sure what AFL is. Most of the AFL games are played in Melbourne and most of the teams are Melbourne-based, so really no surprise it’s a Melbourne, isolated sort of sport. However, I’ve read in the media AFL is gaining popularity in China.

      Sounds like you were a bit of a sports guy at school and still today. Good way to stay fit and healthy. I agree with on your sentiments on rugby being a great sporting contest. Not only is it a sport that many Australians have heard of and follow, it’s a competition in Australia that does garner a bit of international attention and draw eyes to our lovely nation.

      Wishing all teams well in local sport is always desirable 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I like sport, doing it, not watching. I loved PE lessons, also in high school. I was usually one of the three girls that didn’t slack on PE, and when the rest of class wanted to “have some free time because we have a difficult test” later on (and revise) – we had PE. I had a “very good” mark despite not always having the top results. 😛
    I’m not too sporty now, most often I just walk (on Easter Sunday I had a walk for 5 hours in the forest) or sometimes ride a bike. I didn’t practice judo or horseriding for a long time, which is a pity.
    Sport is fun, when one finds something that gives them fun.
    Cheers!

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    • Ah, you’re both smart at sport and smart in the classroom. Amazing. Good to hear you liked PE lessons and didn’t slack off on them – it’s good exercise.

      Walking is a sport in its own right. Glad that you like walking, I like it too. But I don’t think I could walk 5 hours without a rest or two in between!

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      • Well, my schoolyears is a long forgotten story. 😉 I never wrote I walked without a rest or two. I had plenty of rest during taking photos. 😀 I made a hundred or two. And I had a “real” rest too. There is no fun in just walking. Resting and focusing on observation (or just gazing at the environment) is needed too.

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        • Good to hear you had some rest and took some photos. Photos always help us remember where we’ve been.

          “no fun just walking”. Well said. There is no fun just doing a sport or anything repetitively. We might feel bored and tired from it. Best to rest every now and then 🙂

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  11. Nicely written Mabel. Sport is good in terms you were mentioned above. Me? I am not a sporty man myself. Hahahaha. Only do swimming and some walking.

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  12. Very interesting. I remembered being at a conference in London last June, and there was an Aussie (a professor, he was maybe 50 years old) that was sat next to me, and he couldn’t hep but watch the tennis online on his computer while following the conference. I don’t know why, but your post brought back that memory 😀

    I did a lot of sports when I was at school (high school and university as well), like fencing, sailing, aikido, swimming, diving… but I’ve never been “good”. It was more for my own enjoyment than for the sake of winning, I don’t know if it makes sense. I don’t like to battle to win so at that time, people didn’t like having me on their team… that’s why I chose individual sports (as you can see in my list)

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    • The professor must have been watching the Wimbledon Grand Slam on at that time of the year! It could have been his favourite player playing at that time of the conference.

      That is a lot of sport you did at school. Sounds like you didn’t bring home a million medals (so sorry about that!), but I’m sure it trained you to have the endurance to walk and travel all around the world, like you do today 😀

      Competition can certainly take the fun out of sport – when we make a wrong move and lose the game, it can be demoralising. So you are right. Having fun with sport without much competition is the way to go, at least for most of us regular people!

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  13. I passionately dislike footy and let me tell you that does not go down well in a town run by its football club. I’ve hated watching the club put its hand out to the council and state government year after year for millions and millions just so a few more people can go to a footy match. There is so much need in our area where money could be better spent. Friends try and tell me how good the club is for the community but it’s only good if you’re a supporter. If you’re one of Them. Otherwise it’s alienating. And if the team is losing, the whole town seems to sink into a depression. Way too relient on the success or otherwise of a few blokes with a ball. There’s plenty of other things we could be proud of if we looked beyond the footy team.
    [takes a breath] Ooh, you shouldn’t have got me started… 😀

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    • Now you’ve got me guessing which town you live. I should brush up on my footy knowledge…

      You bring up a point here that none of us have and a very important one: that behind a sport is a community, a community in the form of a town. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve always been under the impression that say if you’re from Melbourne, most of the time you’ll barrack for Melbourne because who wants to be alienated.

      The example you shared highlights the dangerous side of sport. Sometimes it can be too influential on our lives – how can we truly live if we let the club’s wins and losses overly dictate our lives. There’s more to life than just sport.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just think of a one-eyed footy town with a cockatoo for a mayor and you’ll work it out. 🙂
        Barracking for a team other than the home side is frowned upon but tolerated because at least you love your footy. But declaring you only barrack for the end of the season is unforgivable (and confusing -they don’t get it at all).

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        • I see…poor you to live in such a footy mad town when you’re not a big sports fan.

          Barracking for the end of the season…I suppose some of us do that because we don’t want to feel left out of the celebratory atmosphere. Don’t think these are the ones who are crazy enough to splash out money for Grand Final tickets.

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  14. I’ve never been very sporty. When I was in school they made us choose a sport in PE class, the options were soccer, basketball and volleyball. I chose volleyball because there were less people haha. Also, soccer and basketball were played by people who knew how to play and I had no idea… In volleyball none of us knew how to play 😀
    In Spain people get crazy with soccer. Every day of the week there is some match on tv…

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    • Volleyball seems to have been a wise choice for you. It’s a sport about hitting the ball over the net and away from you. So if you are afraid of sports balls hitting you, this is the sport to play 😀

      I remember watching the World Cup a few years ago and Spain was very good!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great topic!! I love sports, not only watching, but practising too.
    I was never good at sports at school, maybe because they played the ones I wasn’t good at hahaha. After a grew up I discovered my passion for horse show jumping… but I stopped practising it after I moved to Germany, as it is very expensive around here.
    I love Formula 1 (you know it :D) and I enjoy football, volleyball and tennis, even though I can’t play none of them hahaha. Nowadays I run and I do yoga…. I miss jumping with my horse 😀

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  16. My racehorse, Abi Scarlett, whoum I part own came second in the past hour after racing her heart out only to be clipped on the line leading to her being beaten a neck by the odds on favourite. Surprised Mabel you don’t mention horseracing when it is so popular in Australia.

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    • Sorry to hear that about your racehorse, but I’m sure she did her best and put on a great performance. Horse racing is quite popular in Australia. I did mention the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s biggest horse racing event on the calendar 🙂

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  17. You might not have ever heard of it, but I like something American’s call “Base Ball”.
    (Just kidding, I know that Australia has even sent teams to the World Baseball Classic)

    I didn’t have the size for (American) Football, and I liked the strategy of baseball.

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    • I really don’t know much about baseball in Australia. Most sport in Australia gets overshadowed by AFL or Australian footy.

      Always thought baseball was a game of luck and chance. Hard to tell how the ball will be thrown.

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  18. I played many kinds of sports at school – basketball, soccer, floor hockey, etc. However, the one that I was actually really good at was volleyball and I was on my school volleyball team for all of high school.

    It may not come as a shocker, but the popular sport in Canada is hockey. I know many of my friends talk about the NHL teams and during this time of the year with the playoffs nearly here, it is the talk of social media. I don’t really follow it though since I moved to Taiwan.

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    • You sound very athletic when you were younger! You must either be quite tall or have strong hands to hit the ball back over the net. Of the few times I’ve played volleyball, each time the ball came to me, I hit it into the net.

      I completely forgot about hockey. I’m assuming it’s ice-hockey you play on a rink…or maybe it’s a different kind of hockey that’s really popular in Canada.

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  19. Very nice post, and a good reach as it is something quite far from the mindset you grew up with (parents and family culture not focused on sports). Granted, I am from the States so my views are biased in how I lived in this culture. Sports and the sports environment is pretty simple: if you grow up in that culture, you will be accepted by all (it is absolutely encompassing as a player/fan…race and culture biases in my experience almost non-existent). It has played a huge role in my life (schooling, friends, jobs, etc…) and I suppose to a certain extent always will.

    Today, there are kids specializing in sports and taking all summertime to play in sanctioned leagues and it is something that has really changed in the States (no real summer vacation or working like we all use to). While I do think that the enthusiasm and borderline mania towards sports is unhealthy (there is a great life to be lived outside of the arena), it does bring some enlightenment if viewed as the occasional participant. For children I think it is a vital part of growing up and being healthy…of course I say this as it was how I was brought up 🙂 Cheers to a great coming weekend ~

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    • Very interesting to hear your perspective as someone who grew up with sport and likes it. You hit the nail on the head there talking about acceptance: sport is a community, and sport is a culture. It always seems that there’s something binding those truly interested in sport.

      Being a sports player, maybe one tends be a little competitive, and more dedicated, proactive and outspoken…the games rub off on you and you are attracted to similar people with similar interests. This is also probably why it’s good for kids to get involved in sport at a young age.

      I think sport is a part of each country that we’re from (just like in the States as you mentioned), and it’s fascinating to see which sport is more popular in certain cultures. Growing up in Asia, the popular sports were what people there called “nerd sports” – badminton, table tennis, skipping. On the other hand, more “brawn sports” such as rugby and baseball are more popular in the Western world with kids and adults.

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      • It is something else to see all the different sports in different countries… You are right there are some things such as badminton, table-tennis are really not thought of as sport in the States. I played table tennis (ping pong) in the States and was pretty decent until I came out here and played…wow, my old colleagues in HK smoked me every time. I couldn’t believe the skill & talent needed 🙂

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        • When you watch the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, you realise that there are so many sports in this world, more than we can count. It’s amazing how these worldwide sporting events bring so many countries together side by side, each having respect for the other through such competitive interests.

          Table tennis…ping pong…I’m never sure how to call it. Maybe you were just being very nice to your HK colleagues and didn’t play your best 🙂

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          • Ha, ha…yes, I too never know what to call it. Table tennis sounds great, but just grew up calling it ping-pong. And as for the matches with my colleagues, I was definitely trying 🙂

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            • Unlike you, I grew up calling the sport table tennis. That was what my schools called it too. But I’ll say ping-pong has a nice ring to it. Ah…we can always try harder at sport and at anything…

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  20. Great post, Mabel. When I moved back to the U.S. after living in Germany, it was the height of the San Francisco 49ers era (an American “Football” — not soccer — team). On Mondays at work, it was ALL everyone talked about, as the games are played on Sundays during the season. It is a complicated game and it took me a while to learn the details. I think it does bring a region “together” and uplifts them if their team is doing well.

    Here in Northern California, the basketball team (Golden State Warriors) is leading the U.S. as far as NBA teams in wins, heading to the playoffs. And last year the San Francisco Giants baseball team won the “World Series” (though technically, only teams in the U.S. and Canada play in this “World” series so I always thought it was a rather bloated name).

    So I guess the fact that I have lived in Northern California for over 2 decades now, and because generally, one type of sports team from this area does well and has national attention, and because sports is heavily hyped here, I’ve become a sports fan, too. It is also fun to banter with family members who live in other parts of the U.S. and have their own “teams”.

    The bottom line is that it is one avenue to connect with others, and since I love connecting with others, I’ll probably continue to follow our local sports team as it makes for an easy way to strike up conversations with fellow Northern California residents / fans.

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    • Thank you, Lola, for sharing. It is very interesting to hear you perspective of sports in the States. You must have listened to the conversations about basketball and baseball very carefully and all the time in order to pick up how the games work…and more importantly how people tend to view sport, strategies, the players and how people talk about sport. Despite hearing weekly sport talk in my office over the last two years, I still don’t know how to participate in these water-cooler conversations.

      “World Series”. I also have always wondered why it’s called that in America given the rest of the world doesn’t participate 😀 It’s hard not to get swept up in sporting fever sometimes. People cheering for their favourite teams and players: there’s so much positive energy coming from that and positivity is contagious. No wonder you’re hooked on sport now 😀

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      • I think you are right about the positive energy (at least when one’s team is winning, haha) as it is infectious. We have been lucky and spoiled here in this area.

        Baseball and basketball are are easier to understand (and Filipinos love basketball, so that was much easier to watch). American style “football” — that took me MANY years to figure out. I saw a report last year that in the Washington D.C. area, a company was conducting classes to teach about football, the language and rules of the game, so that business people and foreigners working there can understand the water cooler and party talks. Sports are always a passing interest, and a doorway to connecting with others, but at the end of the day, you have to go beyond sports talk to really connect in deeper, more meaningful ways, right?

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        • I had no idea Filipinos were into basketball. When I lived in Singapore and Malaysia, didn’t hear that many basketball tournaments in the neighbourhood.

          That is great to have sport information classes in the DC area, trying to get people chatting with one another and giving them the opportunity to learn about how sport games work…or maybe trying to get foreigners to look up to or take an interest in American culture.

          You are so right. Good relationships extend beyond sport talk and playing sport side-by-side. Respect 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hi Mabel,

            I thought about you when our Golden State Warriors (the Oakland / SF Bay Area-based basketball team) made it to the NBA Finals because one of the players is from Australia. His name is Andrew Bogut, and he is a 7 Ft. tall center. The other team they are playing is the Cleaveland Caveliers, headed by LeBron James, considered one of the greatest basketball players ever to play the game. Interestingly, they (the Caveliers) also have an Australian player who has been in the news because of his valiant efforts, landing him in the hospital due to dehydration for Game 3. His name is Matthew Delladenova.

            I find it curious that of the two teams that made it to the finals, both have Australian players. And since there are more people that live in the state of California than the entire country of Australia…. I’m always fascinated that people from Australia (actors, musical talents, etc.) always seem to be in the mix — as far as popular culture anyway…

            Anyway, I thought I would add this to the comments, and ask if there is any news coverage there about the NBA Finals, because of these Australian players.

            The Warriors are up by 1 game (3 wins vs 2 wins of the Caveliers), and if they win tomorrow, they will be the NBA Champions for 2015. Since they have not won a Finals game in 40 years, you can imagine that the SF Bay Area and Golden State Fans will be crazy joyful over this… it has been an exciting series 🙂 !!!

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            • Andrew Bogut Matthew Delladenova do ring a bell – pretty sure I’ve been hearing and reading about them on the news over the last couple of weeks. Looking up the news here today, it seems the media are pitting both players against each other. Passionate rivalry 🙂

              It is interesting indeed to see the NBA recruit players from Australia. Australia has a bit of a basketball scene, though shadowed by Aussie Football, cricket and rugby. The Australian basketball league (men and women’s netball) have a number of American basketballers on board their teams. Very fascinating.

              There is general coverage of the NBA in the mainstream new here in Australia and there’s quite a following of the sport here. In fact, I know a few friends who are fans of this American basketball and follow it from the start and finish of the seasons each year.

              Liked by 1 person

              • And so last night, the Warriors clinched the finals, and are the 2015 NBA Champions… Maybe the NBA is gaining more media attention, it was an exciting series.

                I LOVE your new header, Mabel.

                Like

                • That is great to hear, such a celebratory time in America. I think it was on the evening news just now. Thanks, Lola. I love my header too. A talented illustrator called Anna/Pinodesk drew it for me. All credit to her.

                  Like

  21. I used to be so actively involved in sports activities back in my school days, I grew up playing badminton with my dad. I was an all school champion back then. Captain of my school’s Volley ball team and played on the table tennis team too. Man it’s been a while since I last touched my rackets or played any kind of sports, Now I’m so busy with studies, especially since I joined Medical It’s like everything else from my life completely disappeared.
    As far as watching sports is concerned, I used to watch football to some extent but of course cricket is basically, pretty much living breathing air here in Pakistan LOL
    Now I don’t even watch cricket. Man my life is boring… 😦

    Like

    • And you do sound like a very sporty kid, Zee! A good way to keep health back then and take a break from studying the books. As captain of your school’s volleyball team, you must have played the game very well and maybe you also coached the younger players. I’m impressed.

      When you are done with medical studies, then maybe you’ll get the time to play sports again 🙂

      To be honest, I don’t watch much sport anymore these days, let alone play sport (unless you count walking, which is a sport anyway) as work and writing is time consuming. Like you, man my life is boring…

      Like

  22. This is a wonderful coincidence that we both had sports posts, Mabel! I agree with you that sports are a way to bring people together. Being on a sports team is a good way to strengthen how you work together with others, a skill that you can apply to the workplace and to personal relationships too. I like a range of sports (to watch) but much prefer writing over sports in my life 🙂

    Like

    • Indeed. When I saw your FIFA women post, I went bug-eyed! So true. When we play sports we learn the value of teamwork which is a good skill to have in life in general. I’m like you, not really choosy about which sport I want to watch when I’m in the mood for it…but still prefer spending my free time writing as well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Have you seen the Australian movie ‘Australian Rules’, Mabel? It’s a study in the cultural discrimination and masculine dominance themes you refer to here, and a very interesting critique on the gender and racial tensions in Australian society.

    I’m not an ardent sports fan, and am certainly not a nationalistic one. I do enjoy playing and watching golf, and some of the major rugby union games, but find the veneration of major sports personalities unfathomable (how often do they make the news for behaving badly?!). However, I do think that without sports there would be a lot more wars. 🙂

    Like

    • Actually, BB, I haven’t heard of that movie. How terrible of me. At university there were a few weeks where the lecturer talked about sports and no mention of this movie either. But I’ll check it out soon.

      You are so right. Sometimes sports players’ erratic behaviour overshadow the game completely. Sometimes it’s the past players getting the attention in the news, for what I don’t know. My dad is a golf follower too. He loves it when he sees a hole in one on TV 🙂

      Like

  24. I like swimming a lot…did you play Badminton during childhood? I remember it was a popular sport in Indonesia and until now actually..I am sure it was as well in Singapore and Malaysia..

    Like

    • You are right. The top badminton players in the world come from Malaysia. Badminton was a very popular extra-curricular activity at my schools in Malaysia and Singapore. A few times the P.E. teacher did ask us to play it, but I always struggled to get the shuttlecock over the net! I am sure you played better than me!

      Like

  25. Mabel, that is a fabulous photo of Maria in action! Rare shot! Like you I was not great in sports at all in school and 1 of last remaining kids to be selected for a team. I loved softball for about 2 years just before middle school.

    As people can see I bike (and will return shortly after I heal. I sneaked in a bike ride just to make sure I hadn’t forgotten how to ride a bike.) but didn’t return to it until I was 32 yrs. old. Have been at it for nearly quarter century. Still, I don’t see myself as sporty because I don’t race nor cycle beyond 100 km. in 1 day. There cyclists do 200 km. in 1 day on a trip.

    For long term health and quality of life, it is useful for anyone to find the sport that they like so that they will do it for many years:

    https://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/a-fitness-match-made-in-heaven-your-personality-and-your-favourite-sport/

    Canadians are crazy ice hockey fans. I used to watch hockey games avidly on tv as a teen. Basketball, soccer and football fall later. I have several nephews and niece who play ice hockey in leagues. Niece is also in gymnastics. Their mother, my sister, did jog for a number of years and did a marathon. She is quite fit still …considering she had 3 children. Not everyone in my family has a sport but true when you meet all of us, my siblings and I are quite healthy(diet related). We’re all in our 50’s and late 40’s.

    Our interest in sport and engaging in it came mostly after we finished university. No, parents wanted focus on academics however my father did recognize that we walk often, etc. to be healthy.

    Like

    • Thank you, Jean. I took quite a few photos of Maria and thought this one came out best.

      I like how you said it in your sport blog post: “you need to find the right sport or physical activity that matches your personality”, and to learn if you prefer team or individual sports. I suppose when we find a sport we truly enjoy, we wake up looking forward to doing it.

      That is quite a sporting family you come from. Maybe interest in sports is inherited. It’s the opposite in my family: virtually none of my family play a sport these days, even for leisure, which I think is a pity. I do do quite a bit of brisk walking on weekends, that can be counted as sport.

      Get well soon, Jean!

      Like

      • “I suppose when we find a sport we truly enjoy, we wake up looking forward to doing it.”

        That’s the way it often is. But unfortunately, we spend a number of years, beating ourselves up for sports that we inherently are not suited for before we find what we enjoy.

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  26. I’m paying attention to the local teams, like Dallas Cowboys (football) and Spurs (basketball)! I used to play tennis and loved skiing. 🙂

    Like

    • Interesting to hear, Amy. Didn’t know you were a sports fan and a player at some point. I could never play tennis because it found it hard to get the ball over the net. Probably had wrong technique.

      Like

      • I was motivated by my friends and my hubby. 🙂 I also had played golfing religiously for a while, then it became difficult to find a field to play without a long waiting during the weekend.

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  27. It’s an interesting and complicated discussion. I’ve been an athlete. I cant stand TV sports and don’t like the fact that we create people who are somehow famous because they can hit or kick or throw a ball.

    Like

    • It’s an interesting thought you got there. Yes, funny how the media likes to hype up sports players and we buy into the celebrity side of it. I suppose the action on the sporting ground and in the stands are miles different compared to watching the game at home. And if we watch a match live, we might appreciate sport more.

      Like

  28. I love watching tennis, cricket and swimming, but other ball sports really don’t interest me at all. I was never much into sport at school, preferring reading and my music, We’re all different I guess. 🙂

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  29. Very well written Mabel and very interesting. We’re not sport watchers at all and if our tv stations here did offer channels where we could watch it, we would have, but around here you have to get DSTV to do that and I refuse to pay that amount of money. I love tennis and swimming. 😀

    Thanks for sharing. ♥

    Like

    • Thank you, Sophia. Commercial TV in Australia doesn’t offer that much sports too. Like you, if I wanted to watch sport every single night I would need to sign up to cable TV here…which is a lot of money. It’s sad how sport is a money-making entity these days. Even tickets to a sporting event doesn’t come cheap. And so is the food sold at matches… 💰

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, then it sounds as if we’re in the same motorboat. LOL! It sure is, but I guess they must make their money somehow. Just another business like the rest. That is why I prefer watching movies and series at home. At least I can choose what I want to see. 😀

        Like

        • So true. Live sport is so hard to catch on TV sometimes – all the good matches with talented players are shown while we’re at work.

          I’ve come to realise the only way you can see much at a sporting match is get as close to the game as possible. Which means going early, queuing, waiting… 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  30. I’m not into sports and I never watch it. I’ve been to perhaps 3 or 4 ice hockey games during my life time, but I’ve never seen a fotball game (or soccer like the Americans call it).
    Most Norwegians are typically extremely interested in cross country skiing just beacuse we have many good athletes in the field. Their thinking seems to be: “Mr./Mrs. Athlete is good at this sport and since we’re both paying taxes to the same state and roughly live within the same geographical area (somewhere within 385 186 km²), I should support Mr/Mrs Athlete by sitting in front of my television and watching him/her perform. If he/she wins I can feel proud, even if I had nothing to do with it.”

    It’s all about giving people the good old bread and circus I guess.

    Some years ago, some Norwegian did a good job in curlig and suddenly everyone was interested in curling. No one gave a damn about curling prior to that. The same thing happened with chess!
    “Oh, someone that’s born within the same 385 186 km² as me, is good at chess. I guess that means that I must love chess too!”

    I like extreme sports like downhill biking and skateboaring (I used to do them both), but I like the sports because I’ve been practicing them myself. There are no Norwegians in the top of any of those sports, but the day that happens, you can be sure that suddenly everyone around here will be interested…

    Like

    • I suppose another reason Norwegians like cross-country skiing is because of the weather over there. It does snow in parts of Australia during the winter and Australians do like skiing. But generally we’re way more interested in swimming and footy…although sometimes our athletes are an embarrassment to the county.

      Interesting to hear about curling too. Maybe a lot of us love a good hardworking champion. Or maybe we’re just attracted to fame and the notion of celebrity, the latter of which surrounds sports so much today.

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  31. Great shots, especially the blurred ball. I am soooo not interested in sport that it was actually a struggle to finish reading your post 😦

    But of course if you are blogging about Australianness you have to talk about sport.

    Anyway, I do like how sport is being used for social good, so I’m glad you mention that. There’s quite a few HIV prevention initiatives that use sport, including a gay football team in Sydney, and soccer programs with African communities in Brisbane & Sydney. Internationally, UNAIDS has a global HIV prevention campaign that uses soccer celebrities. the slogan is ‘Protect the goal’.

    So sport has some uses, I guess 😉

    Like

    • It’s incredibly heartening to see Australian sport supporting so many worthy causes like the ones you mentioned, both at grassroots and bigger levels. Cricket supporting breast cancer awareness is on the same wavelength too – getting everyone from women to men to kids involved.

      To be honest, I struggled writing this post and wasn’t inspired writing it. Maybe it was the topic, and maybe I don’t understand it enough…but the comments have been very insightful 🙂

      Like

      • Good on you for writing the post, especially if if was a struggle. Sport is such a huge part of Australian culture & society so it’s great that you are turning your spotlight onto it. Personally I’d prefer to have a snippet of arts & music news instead of sport every day, but perhaps that will only happen in some parallel universe.

        Like

        • I think a balance of all three wouldn’t be too bad 😉 Lunchtime netball or running with your colleagues is common, that’s what I’ve discovered working at many places. Sport is certainly ingrained in Australian culture, maybe more so these days because we want to keep fit.

          Like

          • Actually I love being physically active, and sport can certainly be community building. It’s the media obsession and sport as big business that I have no interest in, plus the idolisation of athletes, although I guess that’s a normal human response to excellence.

            Like

            • Ah, sport as a big business, and sport sponsorship too. Pity and can be disgraceful sometimes. As you might know, recently the news were all over how expensive food at AFL matches were, highlighting how sports can rip us off.

              Liked by 1 person

  32. I enjoyed this post very much – and for some reason – the Australians that I knew int he early 1990’s – were all major athletes – and this post helps me see more of their world.

    also, I despise the way schools still let people pick teams – to where there is one or two “last” – and youth groups do this and so do work teams – and when will folks get it that there is a better way to form teams.

    Like

    • Wow, you knew Australians who were into sport. They must have talked about sport with you since it’s a big part of their lives.

      I remember once when I had a stand-in PE teacher at school, she made us pick teams by lining up randomly and us counting “one, two, one, two” down the line. The Ones went into one team, and the Twos into the other. More fair that way.

      Like

      • yes, I like the pick a number – and actually – one of the australians was an ex-boyfriend – he came to the States on a full ride tennis scholarship – and so racquetball and tennis were all that his family lived and breathed. and then a couple of others we knew seemed to have athletics as a focus….

        Like

          • yeah, we played a few times – but sometime later I will have to share more of his little joinery in the states – one part is kind of funny.
            but speaking of his athletic pursuits – well in 2008 I looked up handful of ex’s – just for the heck of it and with my hubs there (because the nice thing is that even with some great ex beaus – I waited extra long for the right man for me – and it paid off with a lasting friendship and was worth the wait – not a perfect person – but so perfect for me – and sometimes that meant letting go of really great catches – which sometimes drew criticism – but i knew in my heart I would know and well – I did… )

            anyhow, I could not find much info on D, just one photo of him from Florida (guess he was still there in 2008) and guess what?- his photo was for swimming in the 100 mile swimmer’s club – or something like that. showing more support for your point about the athletic passion of aussies…

            Like

            • I will be looking forward to the day you are ready to share more about your time in the States and your ex. Sounds like a very interesting time together.

              Haha, sounds like you’re keeping a good eye on your old friends! The photo must have captured his moment in sporting glory 😀

              Liked by 1 person

              • well it was a very short time together so not much to share … ha – and the photo? quite plain as it was him and his dog – near the lake. ha – but not bad – anyhow, I also like how you wrote this “Sometimes it’s not all fun and games when it comes to sport Down Under. Sport divides…” and this post was a good read…

                Like

  33. You forgot to mention Sunday TV = nothing but sports! I grew up in Nth Qld and I would say rugby league is the main sport there. When I went to Melbourne for uni, I attended many Storm games and was just like you at Fed Square, the only (part-)Asian there! I always felt a little out of place, but I loved going anyway. I spent my whole childhood playing sports, and now that I’m living in Japan where sports isn’t as popular, I really miss it!

    Like

    • Very good point, Celia. I don’t watch TV, so thanks for filling in the blanks! Now that you mention it, I do vaguely recall my dad muttering at the TV on Sunday evening, “Still sport? Why hasn’t the news started yet?” 😀

      Sounds like you were an athletic kid. I bet sports kept you occupied and gave you something to do after school. Maybe one day you’ll pick up sports again, you never know 🙂

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  34. We both fortunately LOVE sport. We enjoy most things except motor sports…. When it’s the Olympics, the TV is pretty much permanently on if we are home. When it’s major sports events overseas, we may wake up at all godly hours to watch 🙂 We love cricket during summer and are devout Swannies fans in winter!!

    Like

    • That is amazing to hear, Monkeys. When we do catch up, you can educate me more about Aussie sport! There’s just something very cozy watching an international sporting event on the TV at home and cheering on your country. The only sport I’ve woken up to watch late at night is Wimbledon.

      I don’t barrack any AFL team, but I’ll cheer in your corner: Go the Swannies!

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  35. I hated sport at school. In fact I would do almost anything to avoid playing sport, preferring instead lessons such as Drama, English Literature or History. When I was at school I never followed sport, yet when I left and started work I stated following tennis, rugby and football.

    I’m not a huge sports fan. Unfortunately, many football games are spoilt by violence on or off the field. It’s heart breaking to watch some sports players spitting or using violence which I consider to be un-sportsmanship. I’ve also heard the fowl language used when sitting in football stadiums, with those shouting the abuse not caring that families and young children are sat nearby.

    So, I do all my watching of sport from the comfort of my sofa.

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    • I was so like you at school, Hugh. I wanted to be good at sport but due to the teasing of my classmates, I eventually tried anything to sit on the sidelines. These days I follow the tennis and EPL (I got for Liverpool) but am not a die-hard fan of either.

      So sorry to hear you unpleasant encounters in football stadiums. I’m not a fan of foul language either. One day I hope to see Liverpool play in England, though. Then I will probably know emphatically what you have experienced.

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  36. Just bring something to put over your ears if you decide to watch Liverpool play a game, Mabel. Much of the banter is friendly and fun, but a few can often spoil the experience. Strange as it may seem, it only seems to happen at Football matches. Other sports events such as rugby and cricket, I’ve never experienced foul language being used in the crowds. Just a bit of a “handbags of dawn” situation between the players on the rugby field sometimes.

    Like

    • I will take your advice Hugh and bring some earplugs to a Liverpool game. Maybe it’s because football is life for some in the UK and they feel the need to defend their team with foul language, unfortunately.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Not really a fan but I believe I am good at badminton. It is the only sport I am good at–which I only learned when I got here in Saudi Arabia. Our accommodations has a court where and I passed by it everyday when I was new. I see Indians and Shri Lankans who play almost everyday and I just kind of engaged one day. Until one of them invited me if I want to try. Of course, I played akward at until I got the hang of it. That one who invited me became a very good friend and eventually gave me my first ever racket. It’s when I decided to get serious. The Almarai Badminton Tournament had four seasons so far and I had always been on top the four, if not two, players (i.e., entered the semis and/or finals). Level A/Experienced Category.

    🙂

    Had I known that I have the edge, I should have pursued it when I was younger.

    Like

    • It’s certainly very nice of your colleague to invite you to play badminton, and from the sounds of it, the two of you bonded over the sport. Badminton is a great form of exercise. Lots of running around the court. Like other types of sports, there’s a lot of strategy involved in it too. So if you want to be good at it, you have to be in tip-top physical shape and mentally sharp.

      Keep playing, badminton, Sony. Maybe one day I will see you win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games or Olympics 🙂

      Like

  38. Love watching AFL! Even though I live in Sydney now, I spent my primary school years living in Victoria. Hence, I couldn’t really care less about Rugby League. I sort of follow a team (St. George Illawarra Dragons), but not seriously. Looking forward to going to an AFL match, in August, at Etihad Stadium (my team is Essendon). My favourite sport, though, is cricket – all formats of the game. Other sports include baseball (Toronto Blue Jays), (ice) hockey (Toronto Maple Leafs), and football (WS Wanderers, Man City, and Seattle Sounders).

    Lately, though, I’ve become very interested in watching the cycling tours. This has come about due to my intention of travelling around the world by bicycle. 🙂

    Like

    • I hope the AFL match will be an interesting encounter for you and that your team wins (one of the teams I prefer watching myself if I do have time to watch AFL on TV). AFL I keep an eye on in the news but not so much cricket, though I think it’s great to watch during those lazy summer days. As for football, I go for Liverpool 🙂

      Good luck with traveling the world by bicycle. I’m sure it will be an interesting experience planning it and the whole event itself.

      Liked by 1 person

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