Contributed by: WFN Administrator Thursday, August 10 2017 @ 03:15 pm ACST
AFL International Cup Day: Dancing and smiling, wind and rain
by Jack Banister at The Footy Almanac[*1]
International footy is rare. The ovals of Royal Park lack the glamour you might find at a FIFA World Cup, but in the wind and the rain on Sunday, the visiting nations provided the sort of diversity of culture and style that befits a global event.
My favourite game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup was between Japan and the Ivory Coast in the group stage. It summarised perfectly what you want from an international contest – a clash of styles, as well as a meeting of cultures.
The Japanese side are an OCD sufferer’s dream. They are technically wonderful and superbly disciplined. Their defensive line moves in perfect sync, as if the players are actually on a foosball table, bound together by a cold steel rod. I imagine that their wardrobes are perfectly coloured coded.
The Ivorians, on the other hand, are flamboyant and free, exuberant at times and exasperated at others. Their players often attack alone, arms and feet moving this way and that, luring their Japanese defenders into a merry dance. They would be comfortable playing anywhere, in any numbers, on the street or at the World Cup.
When I arrive at Royal Park, the South African Lions and the GB Bulldogs are already warming up, ready to open the Division 1 Men’s tournament.
The all-black South African side begins singing and dancing well before the national anthems. Their hips and arms move in sync, without music but with style and grace. Everything they do is enthusiastic. Even the windy Melbourne morning can’t dim their exuberance.