Year

2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Honours)

ANZSRC / FoR Code

1604 HUMAN GEOGRAPHY, 160403 Social and Cultural Geography

Department

School of Earth & Environmental Science

Advisor(s)

Gordon Waitt

Abstract

Previous studies have illustrated the central role of football in the cultural life of country towns in Western Australia and Victoria. Yet, little is known is about the role of football in the country towns of New South Wales. The aim of this thesis is to provide a better understanding of why men play football in NSW country towns, through a case study of the Bega Valley. The empirical data is derived from twenty-one semi-structured interviews utilising a ‘topical life history’ approach, along with participant sketches of ‘what football means to them’. Football life history interviews were conducted during August and September 2011 with adult men who play first grade rugby league and AFL (Australian Rules Football) in the Bega Valley, NSW. Narrative analysis, along with discourse analysis, is employed to provide an interpretation of the football life histories and sketches. Football players’ narratives and sketches are analysed within a performative framework drawing upon the spatial concepts of ‘the spatial imperative of subjectivity’, a ‘progressive sense of place’ and the ‘intersectionality’ of social categories. Results are divided into three chapters. Each chapter analyses and discusses different football narratives to better understand why men play football in the Bega Valley, NSW. The first chapter examines narratives of family, friends, rurality and training. The second examines narratives of mateship. The final results chapter turns to explore narratives of winning, smallness and sustainability. The conclusion outlines how this study has contributed to better understanding why men play football and a more nuanced understanding of football and footballers in the cultural life of country towns in the Bega Valley, NSW.

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