By Billy Kennedy
Moving to Australia eight years ago brought a few challenges. Some were expected and others tested my ability to adapt to change, but one caught me totally offguard.

I had never given much thought to the name we give to our teams or those team names we grew up supporting until I moved here. In England I supported and played for teams such as United, Villa or Reds which made you think of strong powerful teams. There were some team names that made you think the opposite like City, Wonderers and Town, but in the main most made you think about the representatives of that team and gave them a (somewhat slight) psychological edge.

Finding teams to join and support in Australia based on this belief has been interesting. Can you strike fear into your opponents before a whistle is blown when you are called Cats or Rabbitohs?

This column is not meant to disrespect the players or supporters of any team or the team itself, but to think about how a name can help you psyche out your opponents. While we cannot change the name of professional teams we can have an impact at amateur level.

I have played a number of sports while living in Australia and have been surprised at the team names. Cherry Poppers and Little Miss are not names that would make you think twice before leaving the dressing room. While Little Miss Confused suited, it didn’t tell the other volleyball teams I could do anything more than run around the court like a headless chicken.

Teams like Sharks, Bombers and Razorbacks have the opposite effect and make you think of those powerful forces. There are others. Most say much about their team but some defy belief.

If I had to pick the most interesting team name I have heard in the last eight years it would be the West Sydney Berries soccer team. Has anyone ever been scared of a berry?

Next time you feel nervous about facing an opponent and need a lift, think about their name. It’s these little things that can help us combat nerves before a game. Although if you are playing the likes of the Dragons, Lions or Convicts, maybe you should find something else to focus on.

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