When I first saw a massive and colourful crowd getting their way out of Etihad Stadium last year, I knew that one day I would be part of them, watching Australian rules football in that multi-purpose sports stadium and getting involved with the most celebrated sports culture in the kangaroo land. And that ‘One Promised Day’ finally happened last Friday when Mark took me there.
To be one of 49,669 sports enthusiasts in that grand stadium was just too overwhelming. I’m not really a sports person and, to be frank, I have never even been to any official football match at any stadium in Malaysia (except watching them comfortably on TV, of course). So, all this live sports business was an eye-opening experience for me. It was really a big deal when there were just too many distractions that I couldn’t put my eyes straight on one single thing. But after some time, I was drowned with excitement. When I realized that I had just raised my hands on the air, I think I got it. I was so hooked with the game that, while everyone around me was cheering and cursing, my eyes were wide open and my jaws dropped all the time, fascinated by the ways the players kicked, pushed and struggled to get the one and only elliptical ball in the field. I was lucky to get a middle seat on the first level, sitting right behind the reserved players and their coaches, so I could feel the ‘tension’ and ‘joy’ right in front of my eyes.
Just a week before, Mark taught me almost everything about the game – a handball, an open-hand tap, a free kick, a push in the back, or a stoppage. And since Mark belongs to St Kilda Football Club, I have to be a “sainter” too.
“Once you choose a team, you’ll be with them forever. Till death do us apart!” he said.
Okay, Mark. Thanks for the advice. However, after watching the game, I thought Mark had chosen the best team. The Saints were truly excellent. They played so well and gentlemanly. They beat their opponents, Collingwood “The Pies”, with style and dignity. Despite a serious hamstring injury of their strong captain, they won the game with a margin of 28 points.
“Go Mighty Saints!” I cheered loud and proud at the end of the game, holding the ‘sainty’ scarf around my neck, happy to be part of an aspiring footy champion. Oh, that red-white-and-black scarf had been in my closet for years. I didn’t even know that it bore St Kilda’s honorable colours until Mark told me about it. He said that I might be destined to be one of them. Haha, you’re right, Mark. I have been a lucky saint indeed.
No no no, people. This entry is not about watching a live footy game. This is about taking part in a foreign culture that is not so foreign when you see it from the inside.