Getting A Sporting Fix in Bali

having a Bintang at the AFL grand final
having a Bintang at the AFL grand final

With both of us being sports fans and working in a sports related field, living in Bali and away from Australia’s strong sporting culture, it has been challenging to keep up with the latest news in sport. It has meant that we miss a lot, and have needed to be creative to get keep up to date.

The first villa we were in had no TV, but our current place has a TV with Indovision cable, the local version of Foxtel. The Australian Network Channel (now called Australia+) is great for showing ABC news and selected sporting events. The other major source of information is online. Wherever you are in Bali you can usually find free wifi, and with access to the internet you can get the latest news online, sport results and even streaming video in some cases.

the crowd watching the AFL grand final
the crowd watching the AFL grand final

We were able to watch many games of AFL last year. A couple of times the game we were interested in was not being shown, or the reception was bad, so we resorted to online and were able to find a radio streaming of the footy commentary. It is surprising how excited you can get just listening to the game on the radio, like people used to do. For the grand final we usually go to the jam-packed Wembley in Perth to enjoy the game, we missed this ritual. Our Bali alternative was going to the Lobong Cafe in Ubud, sitting at a table with a few Aussies and watching the game. Same same but different. There was still excitement, just slightly less of it!

During the Winter Olympics, it was really challenging to see events. There was no coverage at all on Indonesian TV, and due to strict IOC licencing rules, we were not able to stream any events online. Clare was keen to watch some the WAIS athletes complete, but unfortunately we did not get to see much at all.

FIFA World Cup
World Cup match at Coffee and Copper

The FIFA World Cup was another big sporting event last year, very popular in soccer-loving Bali with many houses flying their favourite nation’s flag. The matches were at ungodly hours (same as in Perth though). A local warong, Coffee and Copper, were showing the games so Rob ventured up there a couple of times in the middle of the night to watch Australia play. There was just a bunch of Balinese and a few other people, not surprising for that time of night. At other venues around town, for the major games, there were much bigger crowds.

There is no live coverage of cricket test matches on TV, so Rob did what he did back in Australia anyway, which was to have the Cricinfo ball-by-ball commentary showing on his desktop while he is ‘working’. No visuals though.

The race that stops a nation, the Melbourne Cup, is not surprisingly a minor event here in Bali. Clare went to a promoted function at our shared office space, Hubud. Herself and one other Aussie couldn’t get coverage via foxsports as expected or any other avenue. They resorted to listening to the audio of the race only, which was very uninspiring with only two people. Back home, Rob who wasn’t even that interested, was able to watch it on the TV with Australian network.

Over a year, we have missed many big sporting events, although we have been able to get just enough news to keep us in touch. The Olympics was the one main thing that we did actually miss. Often we get on board with sport because of all the excitement and hype that surrounds it, and in Bali we have had none of that at all. In some ways it was a welcome break from all the media hype surrounding famous sporting events, where we could get the results without finding out all the trivial minor details… thus focusing on This Bali Life!

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