Sunday, April 1, 2012

Full-on Footy

The term "full-on" is often used by Aussies to describe something that is intense, complete, or busy. They might describe a crazy night of partying, a hard workout, a difficult class assignment, or even a holiday as being "full-on". Right now, the Australian Football League season has just gotten underway, and I would describe the first weekend (also known as Round 1), as full-on. The first game was Thursday night, and I'd guess that most of the state of Victoria was tuned in to watch at least a bit of the game. Games continued on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and with each game seemingly came excitement surrounding the beginning of a new season. Because we arrived towards the end of the Footy season last year, we didn't totally immerse ourselves into the footy culture. We did watch the Grand Final (like the Super Bowl), but we did not own a television for the first few months of our time here, so it was not easy to watch the games.
Two players in "the ruck". This is similar to a jump ball in basketball. A ruckman is usually one of the taller guys on the team and he generally has sensational vertical jump height!
We got in on some of the Round 1 action today, as we headed to a game with a few friends. At this point we haven't completely decided who we are going to cheer for during our time in Oz. A common question that is asked this time of year is "who do you barrack for?", meaning "which team to you support?". I'm leaning towards the Essendon Bombers, because we lived in Essendon for a few weeks when we first arrived. I'm also a bit partial to Geelong, because they won the first footy game we attended even though they were the underdogs. We learned their victory song right away that night (yes, every team has a victory song), and it stuck with us for the last few weeks of the season. Geelong won the Grand Final last year, and they certainly aren't lacking supporters, so that might help me make my decision of which team to support! Today's game was a team from Perth (the largest city in Western Australia) versus a team from Footscray, which is actually where Erik's work is located.
The game requires an aerobic capacity similar to soccer, but with the addition of a physical component of tackling like American football (commonly called gridiron by the Aussies!) or rugby.
We were cheering for the team from Footscray today, but unfortunately they ended up on the losing side of the match. Regardless, it was fun to watch the game live and it was a beautiful fall day to be outdoors watching a sporting event at yet another stadium in Melbourne.
Our first sporting event at Etihad stadium. Lots of red, white, and blue from the Footscray supporters.
In addition to the AFL (which would be comparable to the NFL if we were talking "gridiron"), there are "feeder" leagues of footy. Then there are also district level footy leagues across various regions of Melbourne and presumably throughout Australia. Let me introduce you to a few of the guys who are on our footy team!
That is their promotional video for the 2012 season. Some of the guys get paid to play for the team, though I think what they make is generally equivalent to gas money for the week or money for beers and dinner on the weekend after games. We've had 3 practice matches and the regular season starts in 2 weeks, just after the Easter holiday. The team is coming off of a really bad season, but they have made some changes and they seem optimistic that this year will be better. They certainly keep me busy with lots of injuries and I'm enjoying getting to know the guys on the team. It's nice that Erik is playing as well, because it's something we can enjoy together. Impressively, Erik actually scored his first goal (worth 6 points) this weekend, in only his second game of footy!

We also continued our search for delicious Mexican food this weekend, as we met friends for dinner at a Latin American restaurant, Los Latinos, that happens to be a short walk from our house. The prices were very reasonable and the food was quite good. Erik and I split a delicious Chilean appetizer called "arepas de mascora", or seared yellow corn cakes topped with melted cheese, grilled chorizo, and sour cream. I was a bit disappointed that they did not serve margaritas on the rocks, but they did have a great selection of yummy frozen margaritas, so I indulged in a mango flavored drink. I also saved room for dessert, and the tres leches cake topped with whipped cream and berries was amazing! I'm hopeful that we'll make a trip back there when we start to crave Mexican-flavored food, which seems to happen quite often in this house. :)

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