AWs fans want pas­sion

Sunday Star-Times - - Sport - LIAM HYS­LOP

All Whites fans are promis­ing plenty of pas­sion in their sup­port of the team, but are not go­ing to en­ter into the ‘‘bat­tle’’ New Zealand Foot­ball chief ex­ec­u­tive Andy Martin is ask­ing them to wage.

Martin urged New Zealan­ders to ditch their nor­mal friendly wel­come when Peru ar­rive for the first leg of the World Cup play­off at West­pac Sta­dium on Novem­ber 11. He went as far as to liken the game to a war.

Those sen­ti­ments were met with dis­may in both New Zealand and Peru, with a Peru­vian hu­man rights law pro­fes­sor go­ing as far as to pen an open let­ter to ex­press how dis­heart­ened he was by the com­ments.

The All Whites have a fan group called the White Noise. One of their mem­bers, Tracey Hodge, said there would be no hos­til­ity to­wards Peru from them.

‘‘It might have come from a good place, but ev­ery­one took it badly,’’ she said of Martin’s com­ments.

‘‘I think we want to use the word pas­sion­ate more than any­thing. They’re go­ing to have pas­sion­ate fans, we need to be pas­sion­ate and show our sup­port for our team.

‘‘Not hav­ing a go at the other team, but sup­port­ing our own team. Pos­i­tive sup­port rather than neg­a­tive sup­port.

‘‘Peo­ple won’t re­spect us if we’re hos­tile.’’

So how should Ki­wis show that pas­sion?

Well, fel­low White Noise mem­ber Dale War­bur­ton wanted to see an­other ‘‘White Out’’ of West­pac Sta­dium, which hap­pened in 2009 and 2013 when the All Whites took on Bahrain and Mex­ico re­spec­tively in those play­off matches.

‘‘The last two play­offs the sta­dium turned from yel­low to white and it looked like quite a spec­ta­cle on the night. So we want ev­ery­one to dress in white, it doesn’t mat­ter what you’re wear­ing.

‘‘Fash­ion goes out the win­dow, you just find what you can. Whether that’s a boiler suit or some kind of costume we just want

I think we want to use the word pas­sion­ate more than any­thing. Peo­ple won’t re­spect us if we’re hos­tile. Tracey Hodge

a sea of white to cre­ate a bit of at­mos­phere that way.

‘‘The other one is to get in­volved vo­cally. The best thing about the Bahrain game was ev­ery­one joined in from aisle one to aisle 36. Ev­ery­one left their in­hi­bi­tions at the door and got stuck in. We want to see that, it could be a record foot­ball crowd in New Zealand and that cre­ates an op­por­tu­nity to set a new base­line for at­mos­phere and pas­sion in the sta­dium.’’

Fewer than 1500 tick­ets re­main for the ex­tended ca­pac­ity of 38,000 for the match.

That in­cludes roughly 1000 Peru­vian fans, who will be sure to bring the noise with a mix­ture of chant­ing, drums and trum­pets.

War­bur­ton said the strong pres­ence of the away fans would only be a good thing for the at­mos­phere, but it was up to the home fans to en­sure their team had the ad­van­tage.

‘‘They’ll bring their own kind of unique fan­dom and the way they sup­port their team.

‘‘That re­ally gives us some en­cour­age­ment to outdo them and com­pete with them to make the most noise and es­sen­tially try drown them out and cre­ate an at­mos­phere that en­sures home ad­van­tage is max­imised.’’

While a win for Peru would mean a lot to their fans, given they have not been to a World Cup since 1982, an­other visit to a World Cup for the All Whites could cre­ate an­other gen­er­a­tion of diehard fans. The 2009 win over Bahrain se­cured the All Whites a spot at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and started a long-term love af­fair with foot­ball for Hodge.

‘‘Af­ter that play­off was when I de­cided to go to South Africa. I had very lit­tle in­volve­ment in foot­ball be­fore that.

‘‘The Bahrain win spurred me to go to South Africa and that’s when I met th­ese clowns [White Noise] and from there my foot­ball ex­pe­ri­ence has just grown.’’

Re­ally, that’s what this play­off should be about for New Zealand Foot­ball, cre­at­ing an­other gen­er­a­tion of All Whites fans.

CAMERON BURNELL/FAIR­FAX NZ

The White Noise fan group want Kiwi fans to find their voice dur­ing the World Cup play­off at West­pac Sta­dium.

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