Wednesday, July 11, 2007


If you live in Melbourne, there is a general assumption that you will be footy-mad. That is, a devout fan and follower of Australian Rules Football. If you don't like it, you have to lump it, because the rest of Melbourne and especially the local media assume you do and therefore treat all things footy-related as if they were of national or international importance.

Jeez, it gives us the shits.

See, Fixit and I couldn't care less about AFL. Bizarrely, Fixit comes from a family of ardent AFL fans. But at a young age his family moved interstate to NSW where the football choices were less likely to include Aussie rules. So he learned to play soccer instead, and despite coming back to Victoria after 4 years, he never developed a proper Victorian passion for aerial ping-pong. And sure, I was a mad keen Carlton supporter at high school but this was mostly because I was best friends with Elizabeth Amos, and she was a very persuasive and charismatic girl. Of course, I then indoctrinated my sister with a passion for The Blues. So if Carlton featured on tv's match of the day we two would sit and watch it on the beanbag with my Dad - which I think he really enjoyed, looking back. I even think I cried when Carlton lost a Grand Final. But then I stopped being friends with Elizabeth Amos and went on to be a drama student and before you knew it I had an English boyfriend and suddenly the 'round ball' game was the sport to follow (you see how easily led I am?) . I even played in some women's teams over the years.

The upshot of this is that Climber is at a bit of a disadvantage in his Melbourne schoolyard, where AFL is king, swap cards are a monotonous feature of Show & Tell, discussions on ladder positions rife and team jumpers worn with pride.

The poor kid has had to learn fast. He gets no support from us. But somehow he has sorted it all out; hell, the other Grade One Boys are more than happy to tell him all about it. Tellingly he has not committed to a particular team yet, an excellent sign we hope.

In the meantime, I decided to strike a blow for the anti-AFL brigade by sending Climber off to a School Holiday program devoted to soccer.

I wish I could show you the photo of him the night before when he just HAD to try on his new football apparel. He's wearing his pyjama top, his red undies and the new white socks pulled up to his knees and he's shaping a kick. I'll be bringing that photo out at every significant celebratory event for the rest of his life.

He wanted to wear his brand new shin-guards to bed after the first night. If we hadn't been worried about his circulation being cut off, we probably would have let him.

The second day started with a very photogenic fog.

Cherub found it all very exciting but thankfully accepted it as a Big Boy's Activity and was content to join the morning kick around before formal activities began.

The program was fantastic - they rotated each group through various stations where they concentrated on different skills. Below you see Climber lining up for an activity involving passing and shooting for goal. (He missed)

This is a similar one where they had to firstly perform what Fixit calls a Nutmeg. You step over the ball, then send it sideways with your back foot to get round the defender, then you shoot for goal. (I think he missed again)

In the background of this next shot you can just see a kid, airborne and horizontal, learning how to do that very spectacular scissor kick over your own head (before landing on a nice soft crashmat !). I was so impressed that this particular skill was being taught, considering how young the kids are, but then I realised that you'd have to start this one when they were young before they developed FEAR!!

This is one of the inflatable playing fields, seen here with all the kids at the end of the program.

And this is my happy graduate, who told me he wanted to do it every school holiday.

Maybe one day he'll be a Socceroo.


  1. Oh - that is so gorgeous !!
    Was it only a two-day clinic then ?!? Great photies !!

    I come from the 'Mad Pies' family and married into the 'Mad Cats' family. On one of our first dates, I was invited over. I did not know it was GF Day ( I am not into footy ). i thought we'd go for a nice walk or have lunch somewhere.

    No, I was invited to sit at his parent's house and read old "Womans Days" of his mothers while they all ignored me and watched the game. It was a shit day and I was bored completely.

    I can't save my son though. At least he loves all sports ( a bit like his dad ). I like all sport with the same dispassionate disinterest ( although I don't mind going to the tennis live )

    Go Climber !

  2. I loathe football, too (soccer doesn't count - it isn't played by neckless thugs). I find it ever so slightly embarrassing when people ask stupid questions like "What did you think of the game last night, ey?" and I have NO CLUE who was playing.

  3. I never knew "nutmeg" could be such a versatile word!

    Loved the pics - especially the foggy ones. See, the climber must already be a hardened devotee if he goes back the next day in the fog! You may have turned him from the dark side....(says someone from NSW who does not have a clue about AFL, or soccer for that matter; but soccer players seem a little less boofy and their great actors!)

  4. Aagghh, I hate football (AFL) season! The world could have ended and the local paper will still have footy on the front page. Some of our local businesses live and die by whether or not the local team wins or loses their game. We love to play soccer, although still not keen to watch it or most other sports!

  5. Beautiful photos! What a happy boy.

    As an anti footballite (all shaped balls I'm afraid) I play a game at finals time, seeing how long I can go without discovering who is in the GF. It involves lots of running for the volume switch or la-la-fingers in ears....well it keeps me amused.

  6. Uh-oh. Fixit just checked my blog.

    So, um. Two mistakes. My bad.

    1. Fixit took up soccer because he only has one kidney (the other was removed when he was 18months) and Rugby and Aussie Rules were deemed too risky. Soccer is allegedly a non-contact sport.

    2. A "nutmeg" is actually when you kick the ball between the defender's legs as s/he goes to tackle you.
    Apparently there is no name for the manouevre Climber was taught. My suggestions of either "a cardamom" or "a cinnamon" were met with a slightly scornful but still amused smile.

  7. H&B: I now have a rule of never visiting anyone on Grand Final day. You were lucky to have the Woman's Days as distraction, I reckon.
    Kirsty: same, except I'm not embarrassed when I say I don't know.
    Nutmeg: see below, I got my terminology a bit mixed up - which is not really surprising.
    H&S: WELL SAID!! That's what we complain about too. Even in the off-season they carry on about drafts and coaches.
    Jenny: The ratio of boys to girls in your house probably means that you'll continue to win your game. You would not believe how much football talk I have to listen to from the schoolyard via Climber. Lalala indeed.

  8. Incidentally -- at least in the USA -- soccer has more injuries per participant than any other sport.


  9. Go Climber! Soccer rules! Where does the Jokster get his stats? What about American football?[which , incidentally, has very little to do with the foot?]

  10. Great pics! Climber looks the picture of health- & so does Cherub.

  11. I'm so meh about AFL...(or most other sports involving balls for that matter)...but it is hard to ignore it in Melbourne. I try.

    The girls, for some bizarre reason, have chosen to become one-eyed Collingwood supporters (which went down a treat when we lived in the heart of Eagles country last year).

    Soccer is probably not a bad choice when it comes to ball sports...but give me the glamour sports (gymastics, synchro swimming, dancesport) any day! Synchro swimming may be a hard sell to boys though...

  12. As a New South Wales abider it seems that every second little boy and increasingly little girl plays soccer and then something (I am not sure what) HAPPENS and they start playing rugby league or union. All games which mean very little to me I'm afraid.However the playing of them by your kids does provide for some lovely memories. My eldest is now 11 and has been playing since he was five - where he was very well known for staring at the clouds with his tongue sticking out waiting for it to be rained on - of course whilst the game raged on around him. If not a socceroo then at the very least an oval full of memories!

  13. I much prefer football/soccer to american football and rugby, esp now that I have boys. I sooo don't want them playing any hard contact sports. I'm not even going to want them heading balls!

    Glad he had such a great time!

  14. OOOH, I want to be like Nutmeg, I want to be able to kick someone between the legs and then have the manouvre named after me!

    I reckon the "Aunty Evil".. where I get to trip you, stomp on your head, kick you in the ribs and then punch you when you stand up....oh wait, they already have a name for that, it's called Rugby League!

    I agree with you, the world had enough boofheads, soccer is such a refined, gentleman's sport, and they get to lie down a lot too! :)

  15. Great photos!

    He looks like such a Happy Bunny!

  16. Too funny. We have similar issues here in the States where 'sport' is in everyone's life blood.
    Best wishes

  17. That's a good-looking crop of kids you have! Sounds like a wonderful day, all in all.

  18. Socceroos are full of deadset spunks, your boy is a shoe in.

  19. My son did the whole soccer thing these hols too... (he's 6)... he loved it as well. I couldn't help but scour your photos to see if it was the same one (slim chance lol) - that wasn't Eltham was it?

  20. I don't get the rules of Aussie rules. Or AFL for that matter. Are they the same??

    That last photo just sums up all his excitement, doesn't it?! How wonderful to find something he loves.

  21. I loathe football too. hate it.

    My little son has been inducted into the soccer frnezy by his father for the last five years, but this year, out of the blue, he has developed an unhealthy obsession with Rugby League,

    oh the horror....


Don't let the cat get your tongue.