When it comes to family footy rivalries there’s no bigger battle.
Here’s how to stack the cards in your favor and ensure your little people get on the right side of barracking! Your side. Of course.
When you first met your partner, admit it…it was a hell of a lot of laughs to support rival football teams, wasn’t it?
Yep, it was all fun and games, until…. children. Now there is NO way in hell your child is going for any other football team besides yours. It’s unacceptable that our offspring could support their father’s team and not ours – it’s simply not on.
So, if you’re like me and feel that this is one battle you must win, here’s a guide to making sure your child will go for the right team. Remember though…approach this task like a sport itself! There can be no getting distracted from the job at hand because once you do, you know that your other half (who, unfortunately, by then, will see what you are doing) will swoop in and take matters into his own hands. Take no prisoners! This is life or death! This is the important parenting stuff they do not tell you at baby classes. #priorities. (Okay, that may be all an exaggeration…but remember you are setting your child up for life with a football team to support here, so toughen up and let’s get into it!)
It’s all about the mascots and the colours – sell them, and sell them hard
I have the upper hand with this argument in our household. I go for the St George-Illawarra Dragons and my husband goes for the Manly Sea Eagles. Lucky for me, Dragons are generally bad-ass while Sea Eagles…. don’t have a reputation of being much – besides endangered! It helps that my son is also all-round obsessed with dragons, so #winner. If you’ve got a team with cool colors or an engaging mascot work this to your advantage. Start buying merch and randomly assimilate it into the home… stealth is key. Oh, what a cool dragon toy that is… no, I have NO IDEA where that came from, maybe your mum honey?
Move to the area of your team…. And use peer pressure to your advantage!
Living in the geographic area of your team is definitely a good thing. Your little one will be going to school and, more than likely, be making friends with people who go for the local team. Even better if your other half’s team is not well-liked in the area… who wants to go for the team that people HATE? Especially at this age when young ones want to fit in, use peer pressure to your advantage. This is one circumstance where it is perfectly acceptable to use pack mentality to manipulate your child.
Spend time with the grandparents on the weekend… who ‘just happen' to go for the same team
If your parents go for the same team as you, this is a big, big win. You know your children love their grandparents? And they love to go visit, right? Sport is played on weekends (duh!) so chances are they are going to spend time with their grandparents while they are in “the zone”, watching their team play. Use people-power-meets-grandparent-appeal to further promote your agenda. It’s very hard to barrack against nanny, poppy and mummy when everyone’s really going nuts… Cheer, cheer, cheer.
Brainwash like crazy
This is how I am sure I go for the Dragons myself. My dad has always said that he encouraged my brother and me from an early age. And it worked. My brother and I have never had to decide who we went for. It was always the Dragons. Jerseys, t-shirts, pajamas, memorabilia and coaching clinics… if it was anything to do with a football team, it was St George. Hell, we were both born in St George Hospital! (Now that’s commitment to the cause, Dad!)
It’s not just materialistic brainwashing you must employ though, you must also remind your children why your team is so great. Tell them about your favorite players, watch games with them and you must also show your support. The great thing about brainwashing is that it isn’t really a hard thing to do. Just support your team and make sure your children are watching. And this leads to point number five…
Use positive reinforcement. Use it hard.
Much like we toilet-trained with such false enthusiasm to get the result we wanted, the same level of completely OTT zeal must be applied to your team. Talk of them regularly, sing their Club song in the car, look at YouTube videos of them winning and regularly jam their general awesome superiority down your child’s throat. (In a totally sane and not at all manipulative way of course!)
Side note: It does very much help your cause if your team is beating your partner’s. This isn’t really something you have control over though. Don’t become desperate. I wouldn’t really recommend asking a player if they are interested in match-fixing for your child. That’s actually illegal.
However, always remember it’s only a game and none of this should be taken too seriously. What’s the worst that can happen? Your child and you support different teams! They may even support a team that neither of you support, which is completely fine as you want to encourage your child to be comfortable in their individuality. They aren’t going to love you any less because of footy. So remember that all this is all just harmless fun and is not to be taken too seriously.
Just kidding. You should be taking this seriously.