For Nasteha Mohamud, there’s only one way to immerse yourself in an AFL game; up close and right amongst the action.
“Sitting at the Huddle Bay was the best way to experience my first game. Everyone was friendly, we had great seats, and I felt comfortable, welcomed, and it was so exciting,” she said.
“Since my first game, I’ve gone to a couple more and started watching it on TV. I’ve even taken my family to a game. And I was the one explaining the rules to them.
“I’m so much more interested in the game now, and love being part of something bigger.”
Mohamud moved to Melbourne from Egypt, but it wasn’t until she started working for North Melbourne’s not-for-profit community arm, The Huddle, that she really took an interest in football.
“My first game of AFL that I went to was technically for work,” Mohamud explained.
“I hadn’t gone to a game earlier because I didn’t understand how the game worked, so I never got into it.”
The game be complicated, which often becomes a barrier to those who didn’t grow up with it.
That’s why North’s community team hosts several ‘Welcome to AFL’ sessions each season.
Held at Arden St, groups learn the skills and history of the national game before heading to Marvel Stadium to see it in action.
“After learning about the game and then seeing it in person, I definitely understand a lot more,” Mohamud said.
“The stadium was huge! And there were so many people, and it was so loud. It was a bit overwhelming.
“I never thought that it would be as big as it was.”
For Mohamud it wasn’t just the atmosphere that made the occasion memorable.
“I’m used to running into the players at work, and some of them volunteer at the Huddle,” she said.
“They are really humble. You would never know they are famous athletes until you see them in action. Watching them run out on the field, in the middle of the stadium, with thousands of people watching … it put it all in perspective.
“At the club they seem so normal and modest. But at the game you see how people look up to them and know all about them.”