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I’m a Queensland boy, born in Brisbane but raised a couple of hours drive away in the country.
In my younger days, Brisbane was not a place I liked very much. If I had to move to a major city, Brisbane would have been pretty much at the bottom of my list.
Prior to the 80s there was a real sense of inferiority about the place, a sense that everywhere else was bigger and better.
But the attitude of Brisbane was changing. It is no coincidence that a new feeling of confidence and belief in the state as a whole was reflected by the birth of State of Origin, which was very much a Queensland idea, and the hosting of the 1982 Commonwealth Games.
After the 1988 World Expo, Brisbane, and Queensland, came of age and would never be the same again.
Brisbane may not always be the biggest and best at everything, but that is no longer anything we are ashamed of. We are proud of what we do have and the things we have achieved.
Why relate this story?
Well I get a real sense that football is the same.
For years we have had an inferiority complex. As the poor second cousin to the other football codes, we have always had to find excuses.
Poor media coverage, poor crowds, and poor public perception were always some one else’s fault.
Well that is all changing.
The birth of the A-League gave the sport the thing it needed most, a professional competition and administration.
Initial good crowds, combined with the Socceroos reaching the 2006 World Cup put the sport at the forefront of public perception.
Despite a number of setbacks along the way, the past ten years has seen the sport steadily grow and become stronger year by year.
Gone are the days when a negative press article can threaten the very progress of the sport. The general public is now informed enough to make up their own mind, and to see that type of journalism for what it really is.
We are responsible for how our game is viewed. Our actions as supporters, players and administrators of this great sport control the future of our game.
Media coverage is improving and increasing, not because we have clamoured for it for years, but because we deserve it, and have grown too big to ignore.
It is time for us to stand up and be proud of our competition and our achievements, and stop comparing ourselves to the other ‘more established’ codes.
The AFL, NRL and Rugby have a hundred years of records and traditions behind them. Good for them. We are making our own traditions and records.
Those sports have bigger crowds and more money. Who cares? We have our own, growing supporter base, and will continue to grow with or without more money.
What do we have? We have the Socceroos, Australia’s only truly national football team.
We have a flourishing national football competition, and growing international recognition, as amply demonstrated by the arrival of del Piero, Hesky, and Ono.
On the whole then, I am sick of hearing about what we don’t have compared with the other codes. I respect what they have and what they have achieved, but I no longer feel inferior about my chosen sport.
We are football, and I am proud of it!