A different kind of ball game

Published 21st December 2012
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Now I’m not a big sports fan but I know the difference between football and rugby. I may not know the entire lingo to go with it but I can tell them apart. So, to make matters more complicated, a New Zealand friend of mine was talking about a footie match and I was going along thinking she meant football when she started telling me the difference between that and soccer. Turns out, footie is the New Zealand term for rugby and soccer is football.
As my friend lives and works in the UK it is taking her some time to get used to saying the right word. The footie over here is going to be something quite different to that in New Zealand.

I found it strange how these sports can vary in what they’re called whereas sports like tennis, swimming and cycling tend to be more universal. These differences in vocabulary must have been apparent in the Athlete’s Village at the Olympic and Paralympic Games where there are so many different sports and thousands of competitors from all over the world. They can’t all have called the sports by the English name all the time.

Just as one card game is called X to one person, the same game is known as Y by someone else. Why? Well there isn’t always a set reason, it could be family tradition, a shared joke or simply heard from another person. There is variation in how we refer to games within our own country, never mind abroad.

So, New Zealand can keep footie and soccer and we’ll stick to rugby and football but at the end of the day if the rules are the same, it doesn’t matter as much what you call the game.

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