Aussie Football, Rules!
Join Clayton on his high-speed rail adventure to Guangzhou to play Aussie Rules Football!
Living overseas can sometimes make you feel like you’ve lost part of your identity. I don’t know whether it’s being surrounded by Brits every day or what, actually yes it’s definitely being surrounded by Brits... I’ve started to speak slower and clearer, talk about things like Brexit and Gregg’s (who even is Greg?) and changed my vocabulary so people don’t look at me too funny when I put on my thongs. However, enough was enough. It was time to do something about it. Time to to get true blue ridgy-didgie Aussie once again. Time to play some Aussie Rules Football. (No, Aussie rules is not ‘what we call rugby in Australia’, it’s Australia’s largest sport with 18 professional teams in the Australian Football League - check it out here).
After a quick Google search for a Hong Kong team, I got in contact via email with the HK Dragon’s Team (a community of expats who represent Hong Kong in the South China Australian Football League!). Not long later, I received a call from the team captain asking if I was keen to play in Guangzhou the following weekend. And that was that. Now the pressure was on to get a mainland Chinese visa. Thankfully, a Chinese Travel Agent (CTS Travel) offered a single entry visa for $300. They filled out all the paperwork for me and explained the bits I didn’t understand. 5 working days later and a train ticket in hand saw me waking up early on Saturday morning to get the train to China.
The newly built HK West Kowloon station is home to the new speed rail connecting Hong Kong and Guangzhou via Shenzhen and makes such a trip an absolute breeze. Getting there an hour early, I cruised through immigration and found my assigned seat. The 350kmp/h train saw us reach Shenzhen within 30 minutes through an underground tunnel and 30 minutes later, we were pulling into Guangzhounan station. The trip was so fast, I had barely any time to revel in the scenic (yet suspiciously overcast) Chinese countryside. A bus from the station took us to a Rugby ground in the city which was to be our makeshift footy field. After a quick change of clothes and warm up, it was time for the first bounce.
So how did I fare on the field you ask? I was awful. I don’t quite possess the skills of my 18-year-old self but it was great fun nonetheless! Both my team and the opposition had great comradery as it was just all about having fun. After the match, we all went to the pub together and had pizza and beers. It was the best day of my life.
Hong Kong has such a brilliant expat community and it was really great to get involved with a sport I haven’t played for a few years and make some new friends while doing so. Because of the transiency, everyone is used to new and friendly faces, so don’t be scared to join in. If you want to get involved with a sport or a activity, make sure you check social media in HK! Most clubs and interest groups have pages that you can like and follow for more information. Also, if anyone wants to have a go with me and the Dragons, all are welcome, boys and girls! Check out their facebook page here.