Surely, this is a no-brainer, I hear you cry. You’re an Englishman, born and bred, which means supporting England in any and all sporting fixtures. On a sentimental level, I agree. Every time I see the St. George’s Cross emblazoned on an individual’s sports jersey in any given event, I feel the stirring up of nationalistic emotions and will undoubtedly pump my fist into the air in true English style in the ensuing action.
But wait a second… if I no longer live in England and have effectively become an immigrant of another country, shouldn’t I show some respect for my new home – the place that has done so much for me by providing a different and much valued way of life – and show my support for that particular national team? If you include the fact that I’m married to an Australian and soon to claim dual nationality, it goes without saying that I should jump to the beat of the Australian (or previously Canadian) drum, shouldn’t I? Unfortunately, it isn’t always as simple as that.
There’s certainly something about sport that never fails to stir up intense national pride and feelings of belonging to a place. Since leaving the UK in 2003, I’ve tried on numerous occasions to give my full support (or at least a part of it) to the national teams of my new home but with no success. From watching the Wallabies take on the Springboks to following Canada in the Winter Olympics, every time an Englishman or woman has been part of the action, my loyalties instantly revert back to type. Fellow expats have willingly swapped the Union Jack for the Maple Leaf, or the British Lions for the All Blacks, as a way of showing ultimate allegiance to their adopted home. For me, it’s an emotional connection that I just can’t seem to shake.
My current home is one half of perhaps the greatest sporting rivalry of modern times, the ‘Australia versus Mother England’ battle, which never ceases to amaze me in terms of its intensity and seems to dominate almost every sporting aspect of my existence here in Sydney. Yet I find it troubling to change my allegiance in support of the ‘enemy’ simply because Australia is my current home. With no obvious solution to this personal dilemma, I’d be interested to learn how others have dealt with such a sporting conundrum. The Rugby World Cup is in New Zealand next year and I’m fairly sure my team will be all white not black.
An edited version of this article appeared in The Telegraph’s Expat Life section on 2 December 2010 – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatlife/8168414/Support-the-Aussies-in-the-Ashes-Thats-just-not-cricket.html