It was Love a First Sight When Kaif was Introduced to Footy and the Demons and Now He Wants More People to Experience the Magic of Melbourne
It isn't often that you fall in love with a club before you know the sport. But for Kaif, AFL and the Melbourne Demons happened together. An international student, footy was alien to him, so he decided to take a look at what the fuss was all about. He didn't have to wait for the hooter to blow though. The atmosphere, the spirit and the warmth of the fans were enough for him to commit himself to the sport and the club.
Considering that I only started following them this season, I am a relatively new Demons fan. However I entered the footy world last season when my friends got me to watch the Grand Final. They had often told me that Football is like a religion in Melbourne and soon I realized they weren't wrong. It is fascinating how you can have an engaging conversation with almost anyone in Melbourne about football.
Why Melbourne Football Club?
The reason I fell in love with MFC is because my first experience with the AFL was with this team. I was offered a volunteering opportunity through the University of Melbourne and it piqued my interest because it was about football. MFC was organizing it and I hadn't been formally introduced to them yet. So I decided to look into the team. I have to be honest, their recent past failed to impress me. They had a magnificent history but their recent exploits were not enchanting enough for an international student getting into footy for the first time.
But I was totally caught off-guard during the day of the volunteering event. The warmth shown by all Melbourne staff was overwhelming. It was a Student Match Day experience, which meant they invited students from all over Melbourne, did a free footy workshop and let them watch the game for free. I was assisting them through this process and seeing the staff work with so much dedication was impressive. Surely, with so much effort being put in on and off the field, the Demons' fortunes had to improve!
And the clincher was when the fans showed up. The atmosphere they created as I watched my first footy game in person was amazing. From that moment, I knew I was going to be loyal to Melbourne Football Club for the rest of my life and that this club would bounce back to glory pretty soon. This season has shown all the positives so far and it is mighty pleasing to see the hard work paying off.
What do you love most about the club?
I have noticed that the club displays a lot of fighting spirit-something I admire. Nathan Jones and Hogan are my favorites. The amount of struggle they went through and seeing them perform motivates me so much. Needless to say, my favorite gear now is my MFC scarf and polo shirt. They are the symbol of my pride and dedication towards the club.
How do sports and travel go together for you?
This isn't the first time I have experienced sports while traveling though. The Cricket World Cup was on in Australia in 2015 and I had traveled down for that. I watched a game with my family. Even though I didn't know any locals, I started chatting to the friendly couple sitting next to us. Even though we where cheering for opposite teams we had a good time. It was a fantastic experience getting to know their point of view and sharing the love for the game.
Is it important to meet locals when you travel?
And to underline the importance of meeting locals while traveling, I'll go back to my first and most memorable experience of footy . Before the first game, I had no knowledge of footy. But my friends patiently walked me through the game. That helped me in not just gaining insights about the game but also the culture and the psychology of people living here and loving the sport. Interacting with the locals, in my opinion, is the right way to truly understand what a city is really about. To connect with the culture, tourists must connect with the people.
Why do you want to share Footy and the Demons with others?
My friends are also the reason I'm willing to be a host today. The way they guided me through the game inspired me to do the same to other people, to get them to love this fantastic sport. Australian Rules Football is a beautiful game. But to experience it to the fullest, one must understand it first. And that is why I was so keen on being involved with an idea like SportsHosts. An idea that allows me to spread the love of football amongst the numerous tourists and vast group of immigrants living in Melbourne.
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