Rider Report: Living the Saskatchewan Roughrider Experience

Jonathan HamelinCorrespondent INovember 11, 2009

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 25:  Mike Abou-Mechrek #67 of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders hoists the Grey Cup in celebration of a 23-19 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the 95th Grey Cup on November 25, 2007 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

This article also appeared in The Carillon: The University of Regina Newspaper

Husain Aboghodieh recently got his first taste of the Saskatchewan Roughrider experience.

Aboghodieh, a University of Regina student going for a Masters in Public Administration at the Johnson Shoyama School of Public Policy, was in the stands for his first ever Canadian Football League game on October 24th as the British Columbia Lions travelled to Mosaic Stadium to take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“Amazing,” said Aboghodieh, picking one word to describe the experience. “We were sitting in section 28 and it was pretty rowdy and crazy. It was an amazing atmosphere.”

Aboghodieh travelled to the game with friends from residence, some of whom were transfer students. He also went with a few people from Saskatchewan who had also never seen a Roughriders game before.

“I dressed in green,” says Aboghodieh. “We met up with a couple of people at the game. Guys were pretty dressed up. One guy had face paint on and one had a mask on.”

It was only fitting that the first Roughrider’s game Abodhodieh’s attended would be against the BC Lions. The Lions and Roughriders have been bitter rivals over the last couple of seasons, and their games have rarely lacked excitement.

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The Lions have pulled off plenty of late demoralizing victories over the Riders, and the Riders responded in 2007 by beating the Lions in BC for the Western Final.

The latest edition of the BC-Saskatchewan rivalry didn’t fail to deliver excitement. There were lead changes, big plays both ways, and even a mini pre-game scrum between some of the Riders players and the Lion players.

“It was an exciting game because it was back and forth,” says Aboghodieh. “The Riders were up and then BC came back so quickly. I was wondering what was going on. I was afraid. It was my first Roughriders game and I wanted them to win. It was a good time.”

The game was tied 30-30 after the fourth quarter and headed into overtime. The Roughriders scored a field goal on their first possession. On the Lions first possession, they marched deep into the Riders end, before safety James Patrick picked off a Casey Printers pass to give the Riders the win. Aboghodieh notes the stadium was electric following the play.

“We were high-fiving everyone, fireworks were going off,” says Aboghodieh.

Roughrider fans have been heralded by some as the greatest fans in the world. They seem to pack the stadium no matter where the team is playing and can be found across Canada and other parts of the world.

According, to Aboghodieh, the Roughrider fans are well deserving of their label.

“I agree completely,” says Aboghodieh. “The noise [in the stadium] was crazy. The atmosphere was electric all the time. Everybody was standing and you had to stand as well. People were standing on the benches. The cheering and chanting was good. Everyone was wearing green.

It was like a "sea of green" all over.

There has been a lot of talk about creating a dome stadium in Regina. After going to the game, Aboghodieh said he enjoyed the atmosphere of an outdoor game.

“I kind of like the atmosphere of an outdoor game,” says Aboghodieh. “I’d never been to outdoor pro game.”

On the other hand, he can see why people may want a new stadium.

“When I saw the stadium, I started to really think, now I know why people want a new stadium,” says Aboghodieh. “The infrastructure is a little old. I thought everybody would have their own seat. Maybe they could just re-vamp the stadium a little bit.”

The Roughrider experience is undoubtedly unlike any other. Fans pack the stadium from all across the province. They all huddle up in often freezing temperatures, cheering loudly and embracing their only professional sports team. Aboghodieh cherished the experience, and would definitely recommend it to anyone else who has not yet seen a Rider game at Mosaic Stadium.

“I think it is important that you go out and see a game. It’s a good experience,” says Aboghodieh. “You should support your team and your province. It was a good experience and I would recommend it to anyone. I am thinking of going again.”

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