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NRL 2020: The Footy Fan in the Time of Coronavirus

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by Belladonna (subscribe)
Loves going out and about, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing about her adventures!
Event:
What happens when you can't watch the greatest game of all

"We interrupt this marriage to bring you football season." Anonymous

When March rolls around every year, I usually start thinking about chocolate eggs and hot cross buns and autumn leaves and the end of summer and daylight savings. My husband, on the other hand, thinks about just one thing: the return of the footy season. More specifically, the NRL (National Rugby League) football season. And that means almost seven long months of cheering on his favourite team, the Canberra Raiders, as well as turning all blue for NSW during State of Origin time!

Thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 NRL football season has been suspended-that is, until May 28, when it will be up and running again. But things won't be the same, and the season will look very different to how it's been in previous years.

If you are rugby league mad like my husband, then you would be feeling very keenly the 'loss' of the game this year. But like everyone else, footy fans have had to adapt too during this time of coronavirus and lockdowns. I spoke to three rugby league fans, and they shared with me their footy lives under lockdown.

The Bulldogs fans: Carmen and Kylie.

Carmen has been a rugby league fan since she was four years old. But back then, her father used to drag her to Parramatta Eels games because he was an Eels fan. However, after moving to the country, she became more of a Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs fan, much to the horror of her father. "I had to hide the fact that I was cheering for the Bulldogs in the 1984 grand final," she tells me. "I told him after that game, I couldn't hide my joy of the victory. I still remember the day and his face clearly!"

If there was no pandemic right now, Carmen would most definitely be at every Bulldogs game cheering her heart out. "Either coming out of the game on a high after a win or a low after a loss, we are so invested in our club that we are right out there with them," she says. "We take every tackle with them, we cheer every great play, we feel every decision against us. I suppose you can say it's personal. It's how Bulldogs fans are, we are emotionally invested in our club."

Carmen loves to keep the spirit of the Bulldogs alive in her house all year long. Her house is decorated with Bulldogs merchandise, and even her Christmas decorations are proudly blue and white!


But the best thing for Carmen about supporting the Bullodgs is that she met her best friend, Kylie, through it.


Carmen's advice for footy fans out there having withdrawals is this: "Your clubs need you now more than ever, so if you can, please become a member next year! Buy merchandise, keep them going so you can enjoy the great times they give you in return."

Like Carmen, Kylie has been a Bulldogs supporter practically her whole life. Growing up in Bulldogs territory in Sydney, her entire family were and have always been supporters of the Dogs.

Kylie has been a season ticket holder for Bulldogs games since 1992. "I'd go with friends to the footy & when they lost interest in it, I used to go on my own," she tells me. "Because I had the same seats at every game, I got to know the people around me so it wasn't so bad going on my own. When my nieces were born, I'd take them along too."

Kylie is very loyal to her team. "The club asked if we'd pledge our membership to keep the club afloat during this pandemic," she says. "I agreed. I'd rather give up my $450 for 2 tickets, then see my club go under."

With the season suspended, Kylie has been getting her footy fix by catching up on all the NRL news via social media as well as watching all the NRL shows on FOXTEL. "As well as crossing all my fingers & toes that nothing goes wrong & the competition has to halt again!" she says.

Her advice for all the footy fans out there? "Just hold tight, the footy will be back soon!"
footy fan in the time of coronavirus
Source:https://www.facebook.com/NRL.Bulldogs/photos/a.132420003441305/3329577157058891/?type=3&theater



THE ROOSTERS FAN: FIONA

Fiona was destined to be a Sydney Roosters fan because of three things: 1. She was born in Roosters territory, in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney; 2. She was born in 1975, the year when the Roosters won the Grand Final that year against St George; and 3. Her father represented the Roosters in his younger days.

Both Fiona and her father are staunch supporters of the 'mighty tricolours'. "My father and I have season tickets and we never miss a game together," she tells me. "It's our thing that we do together and have done for 25 years. When I got married my husband was shocked that I wouldn't let him join us but I stood firm on my belief that it was mine and dad's time together."

If there wasn't a pandemic right now, Fiona would be attending every Roosters game. But not only that, she would also be watching EVERY OTHER game (and not just Roosters games) on Fox Footy. "So you can imagine how much of a gaping hole this pandemic has left in my life," she says.

Fiona was very disappointed when the game went behind locked doors in Round 2. "I was cranky because it was a Roosters home game," she tells me. "But I soon overcame that selfishness when I settled for at least being able to watch the game on TV. Something was better than nothing, I reconciled with myself. And I strongly believe that the game will not be affected hugely in the long run by the coronavirus."

Fiona's advice for all footy fans who are missing the game is to follow their club via the club's website. For example, the Roosters players have Q&A sessions with the fans and stream past games on their website. "And wear your team colours even though there is no footy," Fiona says. "I am a primary school teacher and I recently made a welcome to term two video for my students wearing my Roosters gear and sharing my merchandise with them. I even have different Roosters virtual backgrounds for my Zoom meetings with my class."
footy fan in the time of coronavirus
Source:https://www.facebook.com/officialsydneyroosters/photos/a.10150208960625385/10163453347540385/?type=3&theater

Fiona adds that footy fans need to understand that the competition this year will be like no other that we have seen since the infancy of the game due to the war periods. "People don't like change but people love their footy and it's for that reason that I think people will adapt easily and accept such temporary changes just so we can watch the footy," she says.
footy fan in the time of coronavirus
Source:https://www.facebook.com/officialsydneyroosters/photos/a.10153229024220385/10163189916385385/?type=3&theater


Some of you reading this will probably not understand people like Carmen, Kylie, Fiona, or my husband. I don't understand my husband sometimes during footy season. "It's just a game!" I say to him in frustration everytime he yells at the TV over some unfair referee decision or some terrible mistake one of his beloved Canberra Raiders has made.

But I am absolutely wrong, you see. Because rugby league is more than just a game. As Carmen says, "We look forward to this time of the year, it's our outlet, it's our thing and taking it away from us is like losing something important to us. It's hard for people to understand, but for us, the Bulldogs are part of us. They are in our DNA."
footy fan in the time of coronavirus
Source:https://www.facebook.com/RaidersCanberra/photos/a.10150090146173923/10158473495803923/?type=3&theater

"Our game is the greatest game of all, let's do what we can to keep it that way!" Fiona

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