Have you ever wondered why football is termed the ‘beautiful game’? Perhaps it is how it bonds communities and brings people together. Kids gather to play in the neighbourhood. Families come together to watch it in their homes. No one bats an eyelid seeing football jerseys of different nationalities and leagues being worn as everyday attire, even when said team is not playing that day. And during the World Cup, not only the usual bars and restaurants, but community centres and fast food joints, screen the matches and are almost always packed with fans.
Starting a lifelong love for soccer from a young age
Football was always a big part of my life in Singapore, when I was growing up – a lifelong passion, in fact. For over two decades, weekends were spent watching football with my dad, while in the last couple of years I would play futsal about twice a month.
While preparing to move to Melbourne at the start of this year, I had a great sense of anticipation. After all, Melbourne was the most liveable city in the world then (we have unfortunately since moved to the second spot)! Aside from being familiar with the city (having visited loved ones over the years), I also looked forward to having different experiences while living there. One thing familiar to all who move away from home is the somewhat unnerving yet wholly satisfying experience of going out of one’s comfort zone, adapting and trying new things.
Keeping active when I was still living in Singapore
I am glad that in the past year, football has helped me settle into the community and allowed me to make new friends. Although now that I’m in Australia, I came to realise that ‘football’ refers to an entirely different sport here! Australian Football, also colloquially known as ‘footy’, is the biggest sport in the country, complete with a dedicated Public Holiday for the League’s finals in Melbourne! (Okay, ‘soccer’ it is then.)
Back to my favourite sport and the new experiences that came with it. To keep active, I decided to try out a weekly soccer group here in Melbourne. I was initially apprehensive about joining this group, as there were over a hundred unknown numbers in the WhatsApp group chat! I decided to give it a shot (pun intended), and it turned out to be a whole lot of fun. It’s probably one of the most diverse groups I have ever participated in, with people of different nationalities who had moved here for various reasons. Playing in 10-degree weather with Melbourne winds was also quite a thrilling (and chilling) experience.
With fellow Singaporeans at a recent soccer match in Melbourne!
Another experience I appreciated was going to watch a live soccer match with other Singaporean families. I had met these families through the course of work at a soccer clinic organised by the Overseas Singaporean Unit (more on that here), and we thought it would be fun to catch an A-League (Australian League) soccer match. Though our lengths of stay in Melbourne varied from less than one year, to more than ten years, this was the first live soccer match for all of us! Not only did the match we watch kick off a new season, it was also a derby between two local Melbourne clubs, Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City FC, which promised to be a rousing battle. It was indeed a fun evening, as we cheered alongside the local fans and reminisced the Kallang Roar at the National Stadium back home.
(Fun fact: Did you know that Singaporean footballer Safuwan Baharudin signed on to Melbourne City FC in 2015? Unfortunately, a back injury prevented him from continuing the season.)
It has been an exciting journey thus far living in Melbourne, partly thanks to the ‘beautiful game’ for aiding me in getting to know people from all parts of the world. I look forward to exploring more of what Melbourne has to offer - and I guess the next ‘experience’ I’ll have to tick off my list is going to a live ‘footy’ game!