The Tribe and The Red and Black Squad look to be the difference

As the AFL evolves at great speed on the field this season two clubs are exploring a new way to gain an advantage in the crowd.  

Adelaide and Essendon have created cheering squads whose roles are to generate stadium atmosphere and build an intimidating environment for opposition teams.   

The squads are an addition to team supporter groups who sit behind the goals.

The Crows have introduced The Tribe to their match day line up while the Bombers have formed the Red Energy Red and Black Squad to sit next to and out-cheer their opponent’s supporter group.  

Adelaide’s Fan Development Coordinator, Todd Westbury, says the concept idea of The Tribe originated from the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA.

Australian basketball player Andrew Bogut spearheads Squad 6, a group of 100 of the Bucks’ most fanatical fans, whose sole aim is to produce arena atmosphere.

The Crows are also looking to attract a younger crowd through the turnstiles at AAMI Stadium.

The initiative so far appears to be working for Adelaide as Mr Westbury labels The Tribe’s first outing a triumph.

“Overall it was a success with everyone getting involved and having a great time,” he says.

“The atmosphere on Saturday night was amazing and we had a great crowd turn out but it will be in the quieter, smaller, crowds where The Tribe really comes into its own,” he says.

While Mr Westbury believes The Tribe made a great debut he says they will improve with time.

“Like any group like this it will take time to gel, especially with coordinating chants and getting the rest of the crowd involved,” he says.

“We think with a bit of match day exposure, commitment from the group along with leaders and time that everything will roll out well,” he says.

Adelaide and Essendon both requested fans to audition for limited spots in their squads by submitting videos showcasing their levels of enthusiasm.

Approximately 60 fans make up the Crows’ crew and 50 supporters form the Bombers’ brigade where the clubs fork out for squad memberships.

Nikki, 38, of Glengowrie, who wishes to be known only by her first name, says she decided to apply for The Tribe to sit among like-minded people.

“I do like to yell and cheer and try and support the club as best I could,” she says.

“It was the opportunity to join other people with a similar vision to myself that I ultimately reasoned as my decision to apply,” she says.

Adelaide was the first club to bring the concept into the AFL with the idea of The Tribe stemming from the team.

“The players have desired to put together and champion a group of this nature for some time,” Mr Westbury says.

“They are involved heavily with the group as it moves forward,” he says.

Crows captain Nathan van Berlo and players Kurt Tippett, Taylor Walker and Rory Sloane are the key Crows involved in The Tribe.

Nikki says the players reciprocate the support they receive from the squad by providing feedback and aiding in workshopping member suggestions.

“It brings the ‘inclusive’ part of our motto to the fore,” she says.

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