Last Saturday saw the Aviva Stadium taken over by American Football and all that goes with it! Marching bands, cheerleaders and crazy fans all descended upon Dublin for the season opening clash between Notre Dame and The Navy which was being held in Dublin 16 years after both teams first played in Ireland. Tickets for the game were like gold dust as 35,000 Americans travelled over for the game leaving Irish fans struggling to get their hands on some. This made for a great occasion though as both sets of fans were really passionate about their teams.
I've been lucky enough to have gone to some NFL games in American but the passion that College fans bring for their team outweighs that of any NFL teams support! I took in 2 highschool games in Parnell Park on Friday to practice shooting before the game Saturday. The atmosphere that was created by 5/600 people for one of those games, which was the equivalent of a secondary school game, let me know that Saturday was going to be a great day. Notre Dame have a long tradition and the Navy brought with it their military precison. The Midshipmen marched onto the field with precision before the game and I'm sure everyone in the stadium, American or not, got goosebumps during the National Anthem. I felt privileged to be on the field next to these men and women.
As for the game itself, well it panned out as to be expected. Notre Dame, even without some of it's regular starters, proved too strong for the Navy and it was over as a contest by half-time. Having pitchside access though gave me a feel for how quick this game actually is. A quickness I don't think you can appreciate from the stands or from watching on TV. It also proved a lot trickier to photograph than I thought!!!! It's a game you constantly have to move around to get positioned for shots, and unless you have a long lens then college football can be tough to shoot. They have so many players and a big bench so a lot of the pitch is blocked off. I did struggle at times.
The beauty with this sport though is that there is so much going on, both on and off the pitch, that you are never short of something to photograph!! Truth be told I wasn't overly happy with the images I got from the day but it has only whetted my appetite to improve. I wanted to get pictures of certain players, I failed. I wanted to get pictures of certain emtions, I failed!!! Yes I need better gear, yes I want better gear, but I'm determined to get the best out of the gear I have and learn how to get the pics I want.
At the end of the game both side showed the respect they have for each other and tradition by joining each other for a rendition of each Universitie's Alma Mater in front of their fans. It was a great showcase for the sport and a great day for football fans. It will definitely help the growth of the sport here and I just hope they don't leave it another 16 years before playing here again!
I enjoyed the day so much that I've sent a cheeky email off to the New York Giants enquiring about a press pass for when I travel over later this year!!! Getting a pass to shoot an NFL game would be a dream come true for me. It might not happen this year and it might not ever happen but to get shots of one of those games would be amazing!!!
No harm in asking right?