Fiji: Joining AFL

THURSDAY, MAY 5, 2016 AT 11:54AM

Travelling for extended periods of time, living as an expatriate, and even being out of School for many years has all lended myself to missing team sports incredibly.

Whether it’s because of the comraderie, the rush of adrenalin of needing to perform under pressure, the exhilaration of winning, of supporting each other during loss, of feeling fit and healthy, or even feeling like you have an extra place to belong all matter in my life, wherever and whatever the source.

The Australian Football League (AFL) season has just started in Fiji, and I’ve been to 4 of the training sessions already. It’s a good feeling to finally be able to wear my football boots again since the All China Games (Gaelic Football) in Beijing back in 2013. I am rusty, and kicking about a rugby shaped ball is a whole new skillset for me, but i’m enjoying it and i’m willing myself to improve week by week.

AFL in Fiji is still young in its development, with Papua New Guinea being the ones to beat in the South Pacific as they won the Australian Football International Cup in 2014 (the cup runs every 4 years), with Ireland and Papua New Guinea holding the most titles overall. In terms of training here in Suva, the women join later in the season (i’ve only seen 3 other girls since i started training), we don’t always have changing room access and drinking water, and we don’t always start on time. Despite that, the passion on the pitch battles through any temporary funding or organisation woes. Furthermore, the work AFL does in the communities to promote healthy lifestyles, to encourage girls to partake more in sports, and lending help to the rebuilding efforts after Cyclone Winston demonstrates a positively holistic and wonderful approach to inspire youths to do something for themselves in the name of sport and Fiji!

The social aspect is fun, too, and i’m learning all sorts of useful Fijian sports phrases on pitch, as well as less useful things off pitch.

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