Picking Sides

A practice night – the kids got their faces painted in team colours and I did some cooking. Then we watched a movie.

My friends at work were very supportive when they heard I was going to write some posts around the NRL finals for IGA.

“You?! Petero Civoniceva walked into the office and you didn’t even know who he was! Do you even know what NRL stands for?” they scoffed.

Well, no, I didn’t actually. In fact, I had to Google which code we were talking about. But, you know, baby steps.

The idea of introducing our kids to the joys of barracking for a sporting team is something Tracey and I have been discussing for a while. Well, more grumbling about really. We aren’t all that interested ourselves, but our kids have started asking about it as the topic of footy teams comes up in conversations with their friends at school. We managed a small trial run during the State of Origin this year, where we successfully managed to fob the kids off to Nanny and Poppy’s place for the matches, but we think the time has come to step up and get involved. Actually it’s more Tracey who thinks this: I’m sort of here by default.  And by default I mean under sufferance.

But then Tracey always has a way of getting me tuned in to her ideas.

“On the bright side,” my wife told me, “if we’re going to watch football someone will need to cater.”

She knows me so well. Football has always been about food for me. Growing up, my father tried and tried to interest me in the game. He’d take me to stadiums to watch his beloved Magpies but, to be honest, my eyes were never on the field. I’d be watching for those unsung heroes of the code, the hot dog guys.

Now Tracey had explained the game plan to me, I threw myself into preparations. I raced to our local IGA and returned home with bags of food. We were going to have a practice run so I could get some photos for this post.

“I’ll BBQ some honey and soy chicken skewers,” I told my wife, “because they’ll be easy for the kids to eat in front of the telly. But I’m making the dips.”

“Shouldn’t the kids pick their teams first?” Tracey asked. She was standing by with the face paint.

“Good point,” I said, and at this point realized I had no idea who was even playing.


Fifteen minutes later, armed with all the footy smarts my brain could hold, I sat down with Miss9 in the lounge room. “You have to adopt a team to cheer for,” I explained to her.  And then I told her something most kids probably don’t hear from their fathers. “You can pick any team you like.” And I rattle them off.

I didn’t get to pick my team growing up. I was a Magpies supporter. Between bites.

In any case, it soon became obvious my children’s footy education was as lacking as mine.

Miss9 seemed overcome by choice. “Who’s winning?” Miss9 asked me eventually.

“Umm…” I was up on teams mascots and colours. I didn’t think this was going to be a test. I ducked over to consult my screen. “The Roosters are on top of the ladder.”

“Chickens play football? That’s funny, Dad. Can I do the chicken dance?”

“I think it’s compulsory,” I told her.

“Okay, well, I choose them,” she said. “What do we win if our teams score the most goals?” she wanted to know.

“Glory,” I told her. “And bragging rights.” She didn’t look too impressed. “Which means you can say ‘in your face!’ to your brother.” Now we were talking. Master8 and Miss9 are fiercely competitive.

Miss6 was next.

“I want to be on Santa’s team!” she said, probably because I watched Arthur Christmas again with the kids today. It seemed Miss6 wanted to be a footy elf. I don’t blame her. Santa is big news in a large household where you only get new toys at Christmas or your birthday or with a Kids Meal.

“Um…I don’t think Santa has a football team,” I told my daughter, but I did another Google search, just to make sure.

“The Easter Bunny has a team, though!” suggested Tracey.

“I want to be on the Easter Bunny’s team!” squealed Miss6 predictably. Chocolate is a great new toy substitute.

“Okay,” said Tracey, and Miss6 ran off happily. My wife pointed at the screen. “Put her down for the Rabbitohs,” she told me. She’s so clever, my wife.

“Storm!” announced Master8 a few minutes later. “They’re cooool.” He wouldn’t know them if their team bus pulled up in our driveway. What he likes is their mascot – a guy throwing lightning bolts. At first I thought he was envisaging Percy Jackson but it turns out it was Thor from The Avengers. He even has the costume.

“Good call,” said Tracey. Although, like most the ladies at work, I think she thinks Thor is more hot than cool.

Which left little Miss3.

“Who do you want to go for?” I asked her. I rattled off the eight teams in the finals, hoping one would pique her interest. “We’ve got Roosters, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Knights, Sharks, Cowboys, Rabbitohs or Storm.”

“I want to be a cowgirl,” she said.

“Okay. The Cowboys it is.”

“NO!” she bellowed. “I am not a boy. I am a girl, Daddy. I will be a cowgirl.”

Done. She’s waving her hat for the Cowgirls. They’ll be thrilled to hear it.

 So for the next month the kids will be cheering on The Easter Bunnies, The Chickens, The Avengers and The Cowgirls, and I’ll be making snacks and keeping them fed. 

For the qualifying finals I’ve invited Grandad to come sit with the kids and explain the rules and show them how to properly yell at the screen when a decision goes against their team. Meanwhile I’ll be making Guacamole, Refried Bean Dip and Parmesan Dippers. That’ll keep me happy too. I’ll also be taking advantage of our local IGA‘s selection of chicken skewers from the deli (honey soy being a family favourite), frozen mini pies and enough potato chips to have brought Ireland through the famine of 1847.

Check out the local IGA specials available in your area, and may the best team win.

Now we’re started preparations I’m really looking forward to spending a few weeks listening to my kids dis each other and get excited about sport. Let’s see how this little family experiment works out.


When not typing away over here and checking his stats every two minutes Bruce Devereaux hangs out at his ‘BIG FAMILY little income’  Facebook Page.

 ’raising a family on little more than laughs’

This has been a sponsored post for IGA 🙂 But the love of finding an excuse to eat is all our own.

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