Post-Covid, active support is more important than ever

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I truly fell in love with the A-Leagues when I was drenched in beer, sweat, and flare smoke.

Standing in the RBB during Western Sydney Wanderers’ first season was like taking a drug I’ve been unable to kick in the years since.

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While my hit now does come in a different section, it was active support that hooked me on the A-League as it was then known.

In the years since, I’ve watched with real sadness as active support across the competition has been compressed and mismanaged to a point of oblivion.

The old FFA used certain sections as a scapegoat and in turn burnt one of their biggest bridges to acquiring greater mainstream support.

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Though COVID-19 certainly hasn’t helped the active support cause over the past 18 months, the time is coming for it to be unleashed if the A-Leagues truly hope to move forward on their best footing.

Football Australia and the Australian Professional Leagues have both stressed recently how important fans are to the game but actions will ultimately speak louder than words.

The new A-League Men’s season was pushed back to mid-November to allow fans to attend matches and COVID-19 shouldn’t be used as an excuse to gag active support any longer than it has to.

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When and if states hit 90 per cent vaccination rates, any remaining shackles on stadium events will likely be removed.

While crowded active support sections obviously pose COVID-19 risks, they’ve always been a slightly dangerous place to be and Europe has shown they can largely return once vaccination targets are met.

If fans are vaccinated and accept the risks, they should be allowed to reunite in active support sections with relatively few restrictions.

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As we saw before the pandemic, over-management of active support is a recipe for disaster and COVID-19 shouldn’t be used as an excuse to maintain bad habits any longer than they must.

After an all too quiet 18 months in Australia as it’s battled admirably against the pandemic, active support in full voice is the perfect prescription to give the A-Leagues an early boost and lure those previously not interested in it across.

Anyone that watched the Euros this year could see the difference fans make to a match, and a revived active support would do wonders for the A-Leagues.

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With the new seasons fast approaching and vaccination rates across Australia rising just as quickly, I for one am most excited to see the football masses reunited, hear a stadium-wide chant echo out again and savour the smell of a sneaky flare.

The time has come for active support to be reignited.

Feature image credit: Steve Christo

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James Taylor
A freelance writer for various websites and organisations, James follows many sports but is life-long fan of football in Australia.

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