AFLQ Community footy writer, Beth Newman, jumped on a plane this week in the name of research.
I went on my first interstate footy trip last weekend, ironically not actually with my own team.
I travelled with the NEAFL rep sides to Adelaide, for their matches against the SANFL.
You can check out how the guys went in the seniors, and 22s, here, and some of the finer details of the trip (from my point of view) here.
Some highlights of the trip included: an aisle seat both ways on the plane, the largest chicken schnitzel I’ve ever seen and getting free food, water and Powerade all weekend – you know, to fuel my writing hand.
Five things I learnt from a weekend with the NEAFL interstate team:
1. State games are serious business
Ice baths, eating right and staying hydrated are all crucial elements preparing for a footy match. But it wasn’t just a couple of stretches and water bottles on match day, it was wearing Skins on the plane, early nights and one-on-one discussions with coaches to ready themselves for their opponents. The thing that I noticed the most was the level of professionalism within the group – everyone was super focused on the task at hand and the players, coaches and all the support staff did everything to make sure that they were totally prepared for the task at hand.
2. People really do go over the vision.
I have heard so many coaches talk about watching the tape or reviewing the vision, at various levels of football, and never really had a second thought about it.
What I didn’t realise was exactly what this involved – individual clips of dangerous players and detailed analyses of teams, players and particular matches.
3. Match day involves more than just players and coaches.
There are so many behind the scenes people who work incredibly hard to make major games run smoothly.
Arriving at the ground at 7:30am, making sure the jumpers are laid out, water bottles are filled and the massage tables are ready to go.
And that doesn’t even include the actual help required during the match – aside form coaches, there’s a person to do the magnets, keep track of interchanges, monitor opposition stats, among a myriad of other tasks.
Without everybody pitching in, these games would not be able to go on.
4. Being a part of a footy team is an instant bond.
With the NEAFL spread out over four different states and territories, many of the players hadn’t met before arriving in Adelaide.
But you wouldn’t have known it, with everyone sharing stories and working together, and playing for each other in the games.
Playing in a state game is a rare opportunity and the guys involved will always have the memory and a connection between each other.
That’s something so many people love about footy, and one of the great things about rep footy.
5. Footballers can eat. Like, a lot.
I’ve heard of carbo loading and I know athletes need to keep themselves fuelled, but it’s still impressive the amount that some people can eat.
I would consider myself a big eater for my size, but after seeing one particular guy go back to the breakfast spread four times the morning after the matches, I realised I was not even in the same universe in terms of my eating abilities.
After a glimpse into semi-professional football world, it was off the plane and back to the women’s league, and a bit of a reality check.
Two free kicks, two panicked stuff-ups, and a major achievement: getting winded for the first time ever.
Clearly, efficiency is still not my strong point, but I’m working on it.
This weekend is a huge opportunity for the UQ Red Lionesses, with our second home game, against Palm Beach, and a chance to be a part of history (touch wood).