This post is sponsored by Bupa.
Being a sports fan is new to me. It wasn’t big in my own family but it was huge in my husband’s. A family of basketball stars and football fanatics. Now we are growing our own. Our seven year old is obsessed with soccer and is a keen lover of AFL and NRL. Our three year old has a knack for winning the family tipping competition. Yep, we are part of an extended family that runs a footy tipping competition. The kind of family where my husband helps coach the kid’s soccer team. The kind of family that holds season passes. The kind of family where sport is important.
Not just playing it but watching it, discussing it and being excited by it. Barracking for our favourite teams and going to games as a family. It’s part of our household DNA. What makes us us.
In a scene repeated around the country, our Saturday mornings are spent at sport — cheering and playing. An afternoon footy game on TV will see us snuggled on the couch together, sharing popcorn and my eldest cracking us up with his “commentary”. A few times during the AFL and NRL seasons, we will go to live games as a family. The kids dress up in team colours and excited smiles. When a particularly big soccer match is being televised live, my husband and my seven year old will wake before dawn and watch it together, cosy under a blanket. In all of this, I can see memories being made.
I believe we all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. I think that’s why playing and particularly following sport is so popular in Australia. There is a palpable sense of excitement in the air when a big game is on — a contagious desire for the home team to win. The volume at our place when a well-loved team narrowly wins a game goes beyond an 11. And we often hear the same whoops of joy from next door. It’s an elated feeling to share with hugs and high-fives all around. And when our team doesn’t do so well it’s a good lesson in how to handle disappointment and build resilience. With the emotional investment made by all involved, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were part of the team. And to be honest, I think the kids feel that they are.
My son’s class was recently asked to write an assignment on their favourite place. Somewhere they felt a strong connection to. He couldn’t decide between his local soccer club, the Gabba or Suncorp Stadium. His local club narrowly won out. Sport provides him with a such a strong sense of place and identity. Whether it’s playing with his mates or barracking for his favourite team, it forms a part of his emerging identity. It gives him a feeling of belonging.
Some knock sport as an opiate of the masses, some believe our nation is far too blinkered by sport to the detriment of other things. I understand that thinking — I grew up with it. But when I watch my boys enjoying a live game or watching it on the television, I see something more than an obsession. They are learning and dreaming. When my eldest notes a bit of play, he’s not just admiring it, he’s thinking about how he might emulate it. Because the beauty of loving sport as a child is that it’s not only entertaining, it paves the way for dreaming. It inspires them to go outside, play and test their dreams. And it inspires me to do that with them.
How does sport draw your family together?
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