Football is truly the game for all. On our football journey with TheWomensGame, we meet so many extraordinary and passionate fans.
But there is no-one like Nichole Conolly and her love for Brisbane Roar. A team that has been there for her as much as she has been there for them.
As I lay here on my bed and 10pm listening to the rain as it falls heavily on the roof and grounds outside my bedroom window, I began to ponder a question that I am quite often asked by football fans and non football fans alike; why do you put so much time and effort into supporting a football team?
This makes me think.
It is not really a question I can answer in the small 1-2 minute timeframe that people quite often expect you to answer in but one of immense thought and great detail that sounds as though I am telling you my life story.
Perhaps because for me it is so intertwined within my life that every moment of my journey that I take with my team forms a part of me.
The story actually begins many many years before the W-League was even established, and to save you the time of all the ins and outs of that particular journey and time of my life, I will start a bit later.
I was introduced to the W_League by a dear friend of mine who mentioned the new competition and that she would be playing for the then Queensland Roar.
I had a deep passion for soccer and so began my journey of travelling approximate 6 hour round trips every home game, wearing my orange shirt and maroon gymnastics Queensland track suit (due to the colours at that time).
Over the years the Brisbane Roar W-League girls have reignited my passion for soccer. Not just because I enjoy watching them play, we can’t deny that they are great players, but also because of the goings on off the field.
The girls will stand and chat to fans, sign autographs and pose for photos for long periods after games. Their interaction with the people who make the effort to come down to support them every weekend is amazing. Quite often it goes on and on until the coach nearly literally drags them into the dressing rooms post game.
I have a bit of a personal story too.
I have Aspergers. Aspergers is a “disability” on the Autism Spectrum. Those on the spectrum often have trouble socializing and communicating.
I had this conversation with my friend above and we were talking about how much I’ve grown and how when we first met I couldn’t hold a conversation.
Why am I telling you this?
Because I would be naive if I said that this isn’t attributed to the girls in some part. They have allowed me to come watch them every week in week out. They probably found my quirks of dressing up, and travelling long hours that often outdid the game time itself, a little weird at first but in that sense I feel like I’ve pretty much become part of the furniture.
The girls are extremely patient with me when I talk to them and usually it takes me a while to get over anxiety and anxiousness with people but I feel as though I am able to approach all of the girls quite freely.
They don’t care if you have Aspergers or are in a wheelchair like other sports people I’ve met who shun you, they talk to you and treat you as a normal human being and that acceptance is a huge thing for someone like me.
Also to see the girls team up with my football program and help train and develop people like me with all abilities is magic.
They take time out of their busy lives and voluntarily help.
Because of these reasons and the sense of belonging I have within the Brisbane Roar W-League community, I will continue to dress up crazily and travel long hours to support the girls who support me not only in football but as a person.
I don’t think they realized how much impact they had on me in that sense and I hope they get a chance to read this.