This article was written by Inaugural Parramatta Eels Members Councillor and Sydney FC member, Melissa Muscat.
It’s so good to be back. As an avid sport fan, four whole months is a torment to be denied access watching your favourite sporting teams play live, so thankfully Friday night saw the return of almost 7000 Parramatta Eels members to Bankwest stadium to cheer on the team in person once again. What a welcome feeling it was. For some, sport is more than just a team to follow. It’s a social connection, an identity, a way of life, and as the last few months have proven, the saying, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, rang very true. More importantly, live sport is also crucial to our youth for something greater to aspire to other than a technology fix. It’s been evident and welcoming that the young in society have also been yearning to watch their teams play once again.
Most Australians can identify with at least one sporting team. Depending on state of residence, the most common include NRL, A League, AFL or NBL. What has disconcerted me though for the last few seasons, is the absence of fans in the stands. Understandably life is busy, especially in a big city like Sydney, but the livelihood of our clubs are quite dependent on member and fan support, particularly on match day. Not every person can hold a fully ticketed membership, for various reasons, but most clubs have multiple membership options including three game flexi passes. I am of the belief that if you support a team, at the very least, you should be able to show that support in person at least three times throughout the season within a six to seven month period.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, I chose to pledge my support for both the teams I hold membership for, The Parramatta Eels and Sydney FC. Understandably, not everyone is in a financial position to do so, but my take on the matter is that for a one off payment which costs less than half my weekly income, I wanted to ensure my teams were still around after this global period of uncertainty. I couldn’t fathom not having a rugby league or football team to support in the future. Even greater than that, not having an NRL or A League competition to follow. As was reported regularly, there were many teams in both competitions who were almost unable to survive the pandemic financially.
Live sport is also a crucial motivator for our youth to aspire to greater things. It’s a healthy outlet and welcome distraction away from school, social and technological pressures for a few hours a week in which they realise a greater purpose with future goals, rather than purely the here and now in an increasing world of instant gratification. With the FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand in 2023, what a wonderful time to expose our future generation to the inspiration of professional sport and athletes by attending A League and W League fixtures in preparation for one of the biggest sporting tournaments in the world, fortunately in our own backyard. Quite possibly a once in a lifetime event.
So when the time comes for sporting events to become fully open to all members and fans once again, let us remember how paramount live sport is to our way of life. It provides a significant form of entertainment for many, enhances the wellbeing of young people and increases the likelihood of much loved teams surviving should another unprecedented event occur. If you truly have a team, support them by attending live matches where possible. Even for those not as committed as some, can you really imagine life without live sport? What a calamity that would be.