Although I grew up in Victoria, Australia, I wasnít into footy as a kid. My siblings would go off to Melbourne to watch the game, or sit glued to the telly, and Iíd wander into my bedroom and get lost in a book.
"AFL International Cup 2011" by Flying Cloud
This all changed when, a few years ago, I was confined to the couch for a period of a few months due to illness. I still read, but often the best way to pass the time was to turn on the TV. We had Foxtel at the time, and football was quite literally available 24/7. Since there were no plotlines to keep track of, it was the easiest thing to watch.
My four-month romance with Australiaís favourite sport taught me many things, and certainly a lot more than just the rules and language of the game.
Firstly, perseverance. Horror tuned to grudging respect, and then open admiration, as teams who lagged hopelessly continued to fight well into the dying minutes of the game. In situations where Iím sure they thought more than once of giving up, the players would continue to give their best effort, time and time again.
Secondly, selflessness. I donít mean to say that every player had this quality, but I was struck by the players who exhibited a truly team-oriented mentality, sacrificing their own glory for the sake of the teamís success.
"Not Feeling So Great"by Eden, Janine and Jim
Thirdly, commitment. It is no wonder that we often hear news stories of sports stars behaving badly. While I donít accept that behavior, I am coming to understand it. Any group of young people, with the attention of a whole country on them, a rigorous training schedule and the stress of a cutthroat career is bound to clip up sooner or later. The sacrifices that many make to continue to pursue this career made me aware of how easily I have, in the past, thrown in the towel.
Finally, futility. So much time, money, and effort Ė not to mention blood and sweat has gone into the game. Itís doing many great things Ė uniting people, providing community and hope to millions Ė but in the end it is just a game.
As is life. Itís a long, difficult, beautiful game, and one day we will all retire. Thatís what Iíve learned from footy.