Contributed by: Wesley Hull Tuesday, April 20 2021 @ 02:50 pm ACST
Over the past twelve months, as the world has come to grips with the ravages of COVID-19 and its fallout, Australian Rules Football has had its own journey. Whilst on the home front, footy continued at the highest level (though not really at more grassroots levels), a different story played out elsewhere.
In the United States, local sport ground to a halt. Most people rode the situation patiently waiting for their beloved sports to return to playing fields or cable TV. But many stumbled across Aussie Rules with Foxtel matches live and through replays capturing a whole new breed of fan.
Among those is Rosanna. From a life where our game did not have a place in her life, she now has her own podcasts and social media platforms under the banner of AFL Obsessed where she discusses the game with anyone wanting a chat, and also supports her beloved Essendon Bombers to anyone who will listen - I do! But how is is that a young woman in New York City can become so fixated with our game in a relatively short period of time?
Here is my interview with Rosanna explaining just that.
I love living in NYC at the pulse and intersection of so many industries! Something about the vibrancy and infectious energy of the people, and the diversity of culture and perspectives. Sadly Covid really ravaged parts of the City and lockdown was a particularly rough period. The virus spread like wildfire through the dense neighborhoods and many of them emptied out in the months following. My partner Andrew and I took some time away in the last few months so we could spend time outdoors and with more space in the western US. We’re just getting back and the buzz in the city is electric!
I work in fashion and previously would never have considered myself to be a sports fanatic.
I’ll never forget the first time I ever saw a game in an apartment in the East Village. Andrew was “checking on his team” and it was the Anzac Day game of 2016. He turned on the tv and I immediately thought I was hallucinating. I assumed I’d heard of every sport in the world at that point and couldn’t even describe what I was seeing or make sense of it. I had a million questions about what was happening and could barely keep up with the action. I was really distracted by the field shape and the fluidity of the game…and there was so much whistling! Andrew wasn’t happy with how the game was progressing and snapped it off just as I was getting accustomed to following the ball and its movement. I couldn’t wait to see more! I’ve always considered and described it to be like Quidditch without the broomsticks and a little physics.
There’s so many aspects of the game to delve into, discover and really engage in…from player stories, coaching strategy and team dynamics to footy shows, podcasts, documentaries, books, films, etc. It’s like a whole new world and language that I want to learn and be fluent in.
I’m definitely more on the passionate side. There’s nothing greater in my opinion than immersing yourself in a team's history, culture and current players. It's so easy to be invested in and become attached to the people, coaches and clubs in my opinion. Plus- it's really fun!
I really love the sport! I love researching how every club in the AFL got their start, historical figures and players related to the sport, and learning about how the game and rules have changed over time. There isn't an angle of the game I'm not fascinated by. I really wish I had exposure to the game growing up because I think I would have loved to play as a kid and learn how to execute all of the different kicks.
That said, I think you have to elect a team to really grasp the highs and lows of the emotional sports performances themselves.
There was a moment in time last year when I felt like the AFL captivated sports-starved American fans and I just kept hoping the viewers would stick around. I’m always hopeful Americans will tune in but I know the time difference and access to games overall can be challenging for anyone new to the AFL. Fingers crossed more Americans will stumble on Making Their Mark!
I actually learned [the scope of the USAFL] last year! Just as everything was getting shut down across the state and nation. I was delighted to learn of a local team and was planning to check out a practice match that ended up getting cancelled. I'm looking forward to supporting the USAFL going forward. There is a remarkably extensive footy community here and I was surprised to learn how long the league has been around.
I genuinely wish I grew up with the game and knew about the amazing women's comp here in the USAFL previously. I absolutely think this is an exciting factor for the growth of the game and for future generations who will get to grow up seeing the sport so close to home. There aren't a huge number of alternative full-on contact sports that women can play here, as far as I know.
I'll be supporting in spirit versus strapping on the boots!
I really think this is the greatest sport in the world!
You can listen to Rosanna's podcasts and follow her on both Twitter and Facebook by searching for "AFL Obsessed" on either platform.