Australians love their sport, even me. The Sydney Olympics was the best ever. People bought tickets to anything and volunteers provided a huge amount of support so we broke even in the end. The Greeks didn’t have the money or interest so they are consequently in massive debt. When that plane risked crashing in the US fairly recently, one of our talk-back radio announcers ‘called’ what he could see on the CNN feed exactly like a race or footy game commentator would, even though it was a life or death situation. The nation effectively stopped for the Melbourne Cup horse race, where Makybe Diva won for the third time in a row in spectacular style. The attention is similar for all the big events. The main football games are Rugby League, which is fast and very rough, Union, which is more static, and Australian Rules, a less popular but more athletic game. Football, usually referred to as soccer here, is my personal favourite, although it has been much less popular. It used to be called ‘wog ball’ due to the fact that its following was mostly comprised of European immigrants. That has changed now. The soccer World Cup qualifier game was on Wednesday night. Australia vs Uruguay. I was worried that not enough people would go to support the Socceroos. I would have gone myself, but I was busy earlier on. The news readers had all entreated people to go along as well, but we need not have worried. Almost 100, 000 people went to see the game, as well as millions on TV (including me). The Prime Minister apologized for being unable to attend. To win we needed to get two goals against a formidable nation who believed it was their divine right to go to the World Cup in Germany. They had been unbeaten for more than ten games in a row and we hadn’t qualified in 32 years, so there were many naysayers. The game was rough and the pressure was on for all two hours of the game. Uruguay had the ball skills and we had the teamwork, momentum and spirit. It ended in a dreaded penalty shootout but the Aussies had the luck and kept their cool, winning the game. Although we had the home, sleep and training advantage and Uruguay was plagued by injuries, we still outplayed them and won our place. This is a great boon for Australian football/soccer. It raises the strong possibility that we will actually have a decent league and team in the Asia-Pacific region. Go us! How important is sport in your own countries? Is it just another boring entertainment fitness option, or something culturally significant as it is here?