A really cool thing happened when I decided to take up boxing. Well, many cool things actually. I got stronger – both mentally and physically – from the training; I made a whole new group of friends who I adore; and I met my forever gym-and-life buddy, my husband.
The best part of meeting my hubby at boxing was there was none of the pretence that I was experiencing on all the painful Tinder dates I was going on at the time. I’d always see him at the gym after work, when we’d partner together in class, which meant that he’d always see me disgustingly sweaty with the day’s eyeliner and mascara gradually smearing off my face. The workouts were tough, so we had no excess energy to pretend to be anyone but ourselves. We’d seen each other at our stinkiest and we liked it.
Boxing gyms aside, I’ve recently come across another sport that’s a bit of a love haven: touch football. Even at the elite-level tournament, the NRL Touch Premiership, there’s solid evidence of Cupid at work in the sport.
May we present exhibits A, B and C…
Exhibit A: Danni Davis and Pete Norman
Co-captain of the Parramatta Eels Women’s team, Danni Davis, 25 (who’s leading her team in the Grand Final of the NRL Touch Premiership when they go up against the Brisbane Broncos) has been dating the captain of the Gold Coast Men’s Titans team, Pete Norman, for three years.
“I met Pete at my very first Australian Touch Opens camp. I’d seen him around the touch fields for years and had a major crush on him,” she says. “Living in separate states would have made it hard for us to meet if we didn’t play touch, I’ll be forever grateful that touch footy brought us together.”
“We never play against each other as we’re always on the same team if we play Mixed, but even when we’re on the same team, we’re super competitive with each other!”
So who’s the better player then? “Pete’s faster, but let’s just say that I’m a smarter player!”
And if this isn’t the plot line of a rom-com: Danni and Pete are history repeating, since Pete’s mum and dad met through touch football too. Naaw.
Exhibit B: There are the Sams. Sammy Rodgers and Sam Brisby.
Sammy Rodgers, 24, is also in the Eels team playing the Grand Final this Sunday, and says, “Sam and I first met in 2014 when I was playing in my first Opens team for Australia. I had a crush on him since then. I saw him a few times throughout the year at other Touch events but it wasn’t until later that year that we first spoke to each other – he wished me good luck in my game! A few weeks later we were going out.
“[The sport] is such a good way to meet people because everyone is very sociable. There’s a good vibe in the community.”
Exhibit C: Emily and Dylan Hennessey
Then there’s the co-captain of the Brisbane Broncos Women’s team, Emily Hennessey, 32, who’s going up against Danni and Sammy’s team this Sunday at the Grand Final.
Emily’s married to Dylan Hennessey, who’s regarded as the best touch player in the world. They met at age 14 through playing the sport.
Emily is such a gun that she played a leading role at the 2015 Touch World Cup a few months after giving birth to her second child. The pair now have three young kids and both still play for Australia as well as in the NRL Touch Premiership. Serious #FitspoCoupleGoals
“Both Dylan and I love the competitiveness touch football provides at the elite level but also the fact that anyone can play, at any age and at all levels. We’re both looking forward to the day where we can start a family team and play alongside our kids, to introduce them to the game that’s given us so much,” she says.
Of course, these are all elite-level examples of the kinds of matches that happen every day in park touch footy competitions, which Emily sums up perfectly…
“I can’t tell you the amount of people I know who’ve met their wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends through touch football. There are local social competitions being played all year round, all over Australia – get yourself a pair of boots and join a team,” she says. “You never know where the sport could take you and the love of your life could be waiting around the corner.”
Keen to play? Find a club near you, then start rallying a team together.
And check out some of the elite action in the NRL Touch Premiership Grand Finals, 12pm this Sunday, August 18, at the Sydney Cricket Ground, or on Fox League or Kayo.
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