As my interest in American sport grows, the daunting task of choosing an NBA side looms larger and larger.
Do I pick a side with an Aussie? The best team? The worst?
The pros and cons ultimately always lead to the same conclusion: I’ll decide next season.
A similar predicament arises for those new to AFL, or the young ‘uns yet to choose a side. While I was lucky enough to have my team forced upon me from an early age (in the most loving, fatherly way possible), many don’t have this luxury. This is why I’ll make the decision easy for you, from both ethical and self-fulfilling perspectives.
North Melbourne, a club which almost followed the fate of Fitzroy, is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the pokie-fueled competition.
Having ditched the one-armed bandits 11 years ago, it took until 2017 for even one other Victorian club to take the same initiative. Now, almost half the competition are initiating financial plans to free themselves from pokies, thanks in part to the glass ceiling – or should I say glass slot machine – broken by the Kangaroos.
It is remarkable that a club previously derailed by such financial troubles has been the trailblazer for progression.
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And progression it is, with North’s Arden Street facilities now among the best in the competition. The club is also now attracting the finest coaches and trainers, most recently Cleveland Cavaliers’ high-performance coach Alex Moore.
Financially, the club’s remaining debt is now very manageable, and on the field, the Kangas seem committed to playing attacking football. North ranked ninth for points scored in 2017, despite a lowly 15th ladder placing, and have carried this offensive game style into 2018, to now be ranked fourth for points scored.
Their real piece de resistance, however, is The Huddle.
This not-for-profit program was established in 2010 to bring young people of all cultures together. It gives more than 60,000 young people opportunities to participate in sport, community work and support programs that help guide their learning and career paths.
The club has opened their arms to refugees, with success stories aplenty. Asma Kassem’s journey, just one example, will melt your heart.
In a time of such disunity across cultures and religions, one football club is using its resources to help bring people together with the almighty power of sport.
The cliched ‘Shinboner spirit’ was founded upon aggression that would likely see players front the match review officer in 2018, but North Melbourne has formed a new legacy to adhere to modern expectations, one which gives supporters a reason to be proud.