A guide to how to be a fan when your team isn’t winning

Denise Duffy is a big fan of Wellington Phoenix in the A-League Women. It’s been a challenging time for all sorts of reasons since the ‘Nix’ entered the competition at the start of the 2021/22 season. Here she offers advice to fellow fans on what to do when your team is finding life tough (24/1/23).

Above: All together supporting the Phoenix – (left to right) Holly Eades, Jessie Prendergras, Denise Duffy, Rachel Heron, Melissa Cameran, and Lala. Photo via: Denise Duffy.

The Wellington Phoenix women are 3W-18L-2D since their inception. Being a supporter of any team is not always rainbows and chocolates. There will be frustration. That’s a part of being a fan of sports. However when the wins are scarce, here are a few thoughts on riding it out.

  1. Make friends with other fans. The best part of women’s sports is the people you meet along the way. Watch the matches together. Have some fun with it regardless of the outcome.
  2. Show up! Continue going to matches. Yes, winning is more fun to be a part of, however, these things can be cyclical. Being a fan before a team it starts winning makes the good times even sweeter.
  3. Be encouraging. Losing repeatedly is hard on a player’s mental health. Send them positive notes. Notice when they make progress. Say good things out loud or on social media.
  4. Be constructive. Engage with other fans on the subject of how to get their first win of the season. Don’t be a jerk when times are tough and make degrading comments. When Ella Mastrantonio got a horrible comment in her DM she was brave enough to call it out publicly. How many women on teams particularly with losing records have endured these types of terrible comments?
  5. Keep in mind that these are human beings. Friends, relatives, and even the athlete’s parents will be reading your comments about their daughters. How would you feel if you were them?
  6. These are not people who are not getting paid much money. These A-League women are making on average about 16k. The men are making approximately 9.4 times this. Female athletes don’t have teams of people protecting their brand and sanity. They are not rolling in the dough either. Be a decent human being and keep perspective on this.
  7. Calling for anyone’s job mid-season is not the way to go. Coaches and GM’s are professionals. They work their tails off. Unless they are abusive to the players, back off and let them do their job. They have already created immense pressure for themselves.
  8. Support sponsors. These companies have committed to this team. Use your spending power to do the same.
  9. The athletes are putting their best product on the pitch. They are literally chasing a ball every week for our entertainment. No one hurts as much as them during a losing streak. Find some poetry about their journey. In case you didn’t know this, that comment you make out of selfish frustration says more about you than them. Pause before you write it.
Above: (left to right) Denise Duffy, Jonathan Hagger, Blake Forbes-Gentle with Wellington Phoenix CEO David Dome. Photo: Denise Duffy.

In terms of being a fan of the Wellington Phoenix women, it’s actually quite fun. They have a courageous brand of football and are a young and exciting squad. They have been improving every week and are playing their hearts out. They are suffering from an ALeague rule specific to them that has made it prohibitive for their team to roster players from abroad, a subject for another article. Cheering them on is easy. In fact, this past weekend they won!

Finally, here’s my advice. Don’t be that person. Enjoy the season. These athletes are amazing human beings who have been training relentlessly. They are representing our nation, our league, and themselves worthy of our attention and our applause. Any thoughts or ideas on this subject? Let me know.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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