I will be uploading a daily(ish) blog during my 3 week stay in Australia, and this trip is made possible by SportsHosts. The following is a part of this series. You can also find this on the SportsHosts blog here!
For real, what day is it?! Between the soccer, the rugby, the footy, and the ice sports, I couldn’t keep up with what day it was anymore! However, I did know it that was time for me to say goodbye to Melbourne and head to Western Australia. My first stop in WA, was Perth.
I often feel like Western Australia gets overlooked by many Americans, although some do make it to the capital city. I arrived and was immediately greeted by my host who would be showing me around and taking me to the big game that evening. The game was between the two teams of the state, the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers. A derby always makes for a more intense crowd!
When I arrived, I was met by the cheer squad. Cheer squad is something a little more unique here… They are the fans that sit behind the goal, but it is different than a supporters section we have in the States. Instead, they sit for the majority of the game, then stand with giant pom-poms at certain points. They intently watch every bit of the game. I chatted with one of the main members of the cheer squad and heard his perspective on the game and being a West Coast Eagle fan. I am just scratching the surface here, learning about the general sports culture, so it has been challenging to learn the nuances between the various fan groups.
The two teams play each other twice a year; each gets a home game. This was a home game Coast, meaning that the stadium would be mostly West Coast fans. The way the ticketing process works means that essentially the tickets get allocated to West Coast members for their home game. For the first half, I was sitting opposite the cheer squad with my local host. This is my third time actually watching footy; and I have to say it took me this long to really start to enjoy it. The game is so big and there is so much happening and trying to learn it while appreciating the sport is a bit overwhelming. After watching three matches though, I am really starting to love the game. I will have to find a way to keep up with it when I am in the States.
The game was a bit one sided (read: Fremantle forgot to show up, and West Coast ran all over them). I was still enjoying myself, especially since it was the home team out there kicking butt. By the second half, I met back up with my contact in the cheer squad and sat with them for the rest of the game. One thing I loved was how fans tended to not be on their phones throughout the stands – especially not in the cheer squad.
People I met in the cheer squad were die hard – painting nails, makeup blue and yellow, and even their jewelry was decked out in west coast colors. They intently watched them game, and knew every player and everything about them. They live and breathe their team. My kind of people. It was made even better by the fact that the West Coast Eagles took home a dominant victory.
Going to a derby for an AFL game in Australia and sitting with the cheer squad – never in a million years did I think that this would be possible. Connecting with locals and meeting real fans is how to do it, and I am so happy that SportsHosts has been able to connect me with locals around the world. These are the memories I’ll never forget.