Silence is Broken

Our apologies that we have been out of action for the past week, but there was a glitch with our website which lead to it disappearing for a few days.

In addition to this we received the news that the radio station which has hosted Not the Footy Show for the past eight and half years has closed its doors. This means at the current time that we will not be back on air in the foreseeable future, however we are exploring options to find the show a new home. We will keep you posted and will advise as soon as an alternative has been found.

In the meantime I would like to thank everyone who has tuned in over the past eight and a half years and over 400 shows. We have featured in excess of 75 sports and I believe have achieved our goal of giving female athletes coverage as well as many sports who struggled to get media coverage.

It has been a big commitment and a lot of hard work, and would not have been possible without the support of the following people: John Lee, Darren Harper, Dan Israel, Clint Ford, Michael Fontein, Mitch Woodcock, Anna Flanagan, Kodie Blay Ryan Cope, Olivia Vivien and Simon Orchard. Thank you everyone for your support.

Hopefully we will be back on air soon…

 

 

 

January 26, 2015 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

Hockey India League Proving Its Worth

According to five time World Player of the year, Jamie Dwyer,  2015 is the time for the the Hockey India League ‘to thrive rather than survive,’ and the way the tournament has started he may well be bang on the money.

Despite a break in activity for many of the international players leading into this year’s tournament, all have come to India looking fit and committed, which is a credit to them all. All of the players can hold their heads up for what has been achieved in the first two years of the competition.

The premise behind the Hockey India League was to expose young Indian talent to the best players in the world, and have them learn from that interaction, with the hope that Indian Hockey can start the long climb back to the top at international level.

In 2014 Indian Hockey had one of its best years on the International stage. It won Silver at the Commonwealth Games after a 9th place finish at the World Cup. Then came a gold medal at the Asian Games which meant India became the first team to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. India had not won gold since 1998, so this was a huge achievement. Then to round off the year the senior team beat Australia in a test seres in Australia, and finished fourth at the Champions Trophy to the same opponent, while their junior counterparts won the Sultan of Johor Cup becoming the first team to retain the title; most of that side having never been outside of India before the tournament.

The benefits of the Hockey India League are already becoming clear, and they go beyond the Indian players. The money the Australian players earn means that they can dedicate themselves to the task of keeping the Kookaburras as the number one ranked team in the world. Their financial reward for such an achievement pales into insignificance compared to their counterparts in sports such as cricket, rugby, AFL or football. Sadly that is unlikely to change in the near future. Something that mystifies the Indian hockey fans, that a World Champion team is not lauded and given the rewards due to them.

The Hero Hockey India League is crucial to the game on so many levels, and not just to Indian and Australian Hockey. The game itself needs the exposure, and the revolutionary coverage that Star Sports have invested heavily in, in order to make it more appealing to a wider audience. The reality is when India Failed to qualify for the Athens Olympics no television network would pay for the coverage of Hockey. That is why the eight year deal between the FIH and Star is crucial to lifting the game as a whole, just as Kerry Packer’s World Series has proved to be for Cricket.

There are plans for the League to expand in 2016 and if it does it is vital that the Franchises have access to their foreign imports earlier in order to enable them to help market their franchise earlier than ten days before the tournament starts. The Franchisees have invested in their teams and need to be given the best opportunity to see a return on that investment, or like many other Franchise based leagues they will pull out and leave what is proving a hugely successful and high quality competition struggling for credibility.

The future looks bright for what is undoubtedly becoming the best hockey league in the World, but if as Jamie Dwyer has stated it is to thrive all parties must work together for the greater good of the competition.

January 26, 2015 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

Scorchers and Perth Public Burnt

Perth people are accused of being parochial by many of the other states in Australia, and being the most isolated city in the world that tendency should be forgiven. However lately it feels very much as if this great sporting state is no longer a part of Australia.

In football Perth Glory were snubbed the chance to host the inaugural FFA Cup final, because the game would be too late for the television audiences over East; thanks to Australian Summer time and some states moving the clocks forward and others choosing not to.

Then the state was completely overlooked in everyday when it came to the Asia Cup currently being hosted successfully on the East coast. No ambassadors in Western Australia, no fan parks, and ABC television advertising every Socceroos game live, but then showing it on delay.

Now cricket has to suffer a similar indignity. The Perth Scorchers have been advised that they must play the final of the Big Bash League in Canberra despite earning the right to host the final for the fourth successive season.

Gone will be the support of Western Australian cricket fans and they will have to play in front of a crowd that is bound to have a very strong bias towards the Sydney Sixers. Is this Cricket Australia’s way of saying they want the title to be won by an Eastern States team?

In the first three years of the BBL, the highest-ranked team staged the final. On all three occasions, the Perth Scorchers were that team and hosted the match at the WACA Ground. Home advantage was no help in the first two seasons where they lost to the Sixers and Brisbane Heat before defeating the Hobart Hurricanes last season.

When the Scorchers beat the Melbourne Stars on Sunday, after the top-placed Adelaide Strikers lost to the Sixers on Saturday, it should have been Perth hosting the final at the WACA once again. However it appears that the decision had been made months ago.

Despite the WACA hosting no games until India plays England in the last Tri-Series clash on Friday this week Cricket Australia had booked in the BBL final for Manuka Oval in Canberra.

Cricket Australia has sais via a spokesperson that “It is important to note that staging the BBL Final in the neutral venue of Canberra is a one-off as a result of Australia hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup. Next year, we will revert to the final being played in the home city of the top-qualifying team.”

It does make senses but Western Australians understandably feel ripped off. With no Test match at the WACA why couldn’t a T20 final be played in Perth having won the right? If the WACA knew that this was to be the case, maybe they too are at fault and should have communicated the likelihood of the final being played interstate before the team made it through to the showpiece game. Maybe Cricket Australia could subsidise some airfares for WACA members to make their way to Canberra as an act of goodwill. That however is never likely to happen.

Sporting bodies in Australia need to be aware that Western Australia is beginning to grow tired of being the whipping boy when it comes to live broadcasts and being a part of national competitions. One can sense a backlash from fans coming unless things improve in the next 18 months.

January 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm Leave a comment

Searching For That “X” Factor

There is nothing better for a sporting tournament than when the host nation starts the competition well, and Australia have done that in the Asian Cup, winning both their opening games and scoring four goals in each. They are now assured a place in the quarter finals. That is before they play their last group game against their toughest opposition South Korea.

This is where the competition will start to get harder.

Despite this being the third Asian Cup competition that Australia has competed in, to many diehard fans and this writer it is still a competition that is a little underwhelming. However it is a competition Australia needs to be a part of and far better than what was on offer in Oceania.

Why is it hard to get enthusiastic about the competition as a whole? Is it because Asian football is currently going through a bit of slump? Based on last year’s World Cup which was only six months ago Asia had little to get excited about. All the Asian teams failed to progress from the Group stage and all failed to record a win. The coaches of Iran, Japan and South Korea all were sacked or quit; Australia had only just appointed theirs so that was never going to happen. To add to the misery one must also remember that the fifth best team in Asia, Jordan were thrashed by Uruguay in a play-off to get to the finals.

There is an argument that the gulf between those nations who qualified for the World Cup and the rest is what causes the lack of interest in the early stages of the competition. Without taking anything away from Australia’s performances which have been impressive, -although defensively this writer still has concerns – surely the Socceroos would have been expected to see off Oman and Kuwait? The same with South Korea, although they were less convincing than Australia in their victories. Iran were expected to beat Bahrain and Japan to beat tournament debutants Palestine. Iran would be expected to continue winning ways tonight against Qatar and Japan to do the same against Iraq. It is that predictability that makes the group stage hard to get excited about. The real competition comes alive when the Quarter Finals start; although one should never underplay the importance of momentum from the group stage, and Australia currently have that.

One cannot help feeling that the AFC have tried to run before they can walk with this tournament. In that there are too many teams who just aren’t up to a suitable standard. However the argument is that by playing at tournaments such as this one is an incentive to improve, creates interest, and the financial opportunity to improve. It is a very difficult balancing act.

With only sixteen teams competing at the Asian Cup there is little that the AFC can do to create more excitement and interest. They could cut the tournament back to being a ten team tournament, playing in two pools of five with the top two teams in each pool progressing and crossing over. The top teams playing the second placed team in the opposite group. Hockey has used a similar format very successfully. However one has to feel that to reduce the number of teams at the finals would be regressive; All the AFC can, and must do is work with the various associations in the region and try and raise the bar in terms of performances.

Sadly the same is true of the Asian Champions League. The group stages do not generate the interest that they should, as most of the big teams in the stronger leagues in Asia are almost always assured of progressing, because the weaker nations’ Champions are not good enough.

In the Asian Champions League 47 teams compete in the competition, many eliminated prior to the 32 team group stage. Yet those 47 places are not made up of the Champions of each of the 47 member associations of the Asian Football Confederation. Australia for example has three teams in that 47 when its league only has ten teams; nine in truth as Wellington Phoenix are part of Oceania and no one is sure if they would be allowed to participate should they qualify.

Surely the AFC would be better served to make this tournament one purely just for the Champions at this stage in its development? Have two tiers of competition. The lesser league’s Champions play off to win a second tier competition and that in turn wins them a place in the “main event,” the Asian Champions League.

Something has to be done to try and stimulate these two major tournaments in the region. Many will claim that they are both young competitions and will take time to get into the psyche of fans, but this is simply not true. The Asian Champions League – although it was called the Asian Champion Club Tournament in a previous life started in 1967. It folded in 1971 due to a lack of professionalism and was restarted again in 1985/86 as the Asian Club Championship, and in 2002 became the Asian Champions League. It has been around for a while in different guises and formats, but has it still not managed to capture the public’s full attention?

The Asian Cup commenced in 1956. It has been going for over 50 years, but even within Asia you can ask people which nation won which tournament an in what year and will struggle to find someone who knows. It should come as no surprise that in 15 tournaments Japan has won four, Saudi Arabia and Iran three each and South Korea two. Three of last year’s World Cup qualifiers have won nine of the 15 tournaments. Only Israel – who no longer compete under AFC – Iraq and Kuwait have been other nations to win the cup.

Iraq won in 2007, but you have to go back to 1980 to find another country outside of the four main winners to have lifted the cup. Which many may claim means that development is the issue. Yet is it?

In Europe, with their UEFA European Championship the dominance is similar, where Germany and Spain have been victorious on three occasions each and France twice. Their competition is four years younger than the Asian Cup, so there have only been 14 tournaments and eight have been won by three nations. However the remaining six competitions have been won by six different nations. Yet like Asia, Greece won in 2004 and one has to go back to 1992 to see a nation outside of France, Spain or Germany lifting the cup; Denmark being the victors that year.

So maybe it is nothing to do with development, maybe it is the way of the footballing world. However one cannot help feeling that the Asian Cup is still lacking something to capture the imagination and pull everyone in. The question is what is that something?

January 14, 2015 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Build it Properly and They Will Come

It has not been a good Asian Cup for football fans in Western Australia, apart from being completely ignored in terms of participation in the tournament on any level, many fans sat down on Friday evening to watch the opening game, Australia v Kuwait on the ABC, only to find that the game was being shown two hours after kick off. This is in spite of the fact that the ABC had been running advertisements stating that they were showing all of Australia’s games live.

As one irate fan wrote on social media why have the FFA not ensured that the games are indeed shown Live across the country? Surely if you enter a broadcast agreement with a media outlet you make sure that despite a major world event that all games are shown live?

There have been many fans who have been upset that Perth was not one of the host cities, claiming that NIB Stadium is without doubt one of the best venues in the country following the refurbishment.

The problem is once again the job was not done properly. The Western Australian government invested $95million to create a wonderful venue for watching sport. The two new stands are just what the ground and fans needed. However they did not allocate any funds to upgrade the referees or away changing rooms to meet the standards required to host international football matches.

A call to Venueswest, the Government department now running the stadium confirmed that the away changing room still only had one wash basin, one urinal, one toilet and two showers. Well below what is required to host international sporting teams.

Perth’s sporting fans can moan about the Government not investing in bringing the Socceroos or the Matildas to Perth, or even the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus, and that is a another debate as to whether tax payer money should be spent on such ventures. The question is why did the Government not invest it upgrading the changing rooms so that we actually had a stadium that met the required criteria? Who was overseeing this investment? Why were they not aware of the International standards and why did they not make sure that ground refurbishment met all of those requirements?

Let us hope they get such issues right in the new multimillion dollar all purpose stadium which is supposedly going to keep all sports happy!

 

January 13, 2015 at 1:40 pm Leave a comment

MMA Headed For the Olympics?

For all sports that are currently not a part of the Olympic Games becoming an Olympic sport is the ultimate goal, as not only does it frequently come with additional government funding, but it also gives the sport added kudos and additional media exposure.

Judo was first introduced to the Olympic Games in not surprisingly Tokyo in 1964. It was not part of the games in 1968 but has been a part of every Games since then. Taekwondo was a demonstration sport at the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games in Seoul and Barcelona before becoming an Olympic sport officially in Sydney in 2000. It has been a part of every games since. Karate has submitted a case to be a part of the Olympic Games but as yet has been unable to win over the International Olympic Committee.

In many countries all of these martial arts and others are self governed, but with the increase in popularity of the Cage fighting where many different martial arts are combined there have been moves to bring them all under one umbrella, as a Mixed Martial Arts association. One can expect one almighty struggle similar to that usually seen on the mat by some bodies if they are to hand control over to one overarching group.

However the carrot may well be that Mixed Martial Arts believe that their popularity through the cage fighting should see them become a part of the Olympic Games. Will Karate forgo its individual bid to become a part of MMA’s push?

Densign White who was the Chairman of British Judo and is himself a seventh dan, is now the head of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation and he has openly declared it is his intent to see Cage fighting as part of the Olympic Games. He has said that he even wants boxing to come under the Mixed Martial arts banner; the chances of this are extremely unlikely.

“The growth of MMA globally has been extraordinary, particularly as an amateur sport, and my job will be to raise the game in terms of governance, coaching and doping control.” White is quoted as saying. “I am convinced that we will eventually see it in the Olympic Programme.” Of course the first thing he will have to do is raise the number of female participants as the IOC want all Olympic sports to be open to both sexes. Female boxing having debuted at the London Games in 2012.

With sports such as Squash, Softball, Baseball, surfing and roller sports mounting legitimate claims to be included in the Olympic Games, one feels MMA may have a fair wait on its hands, but then again money talks.

Other sports putting their hand up for inclusion include darts, chess, pole dancing, cheerleading and believe it or not video gaming.

Which would you like to see at the games most? Let us know.

 

January 13, 2015 at 7:53 am Leave a comment

Luongo’s Lesson

You’re only as good as your last game, is a term every sportsperson should be aware of. It is crucial to remember as often while wallowing in self satisfaction and the plaudits of others for an outstanding performance you come crashing back down to earth with a mediocre one. Twenty-two year old Socceroo Massimo Luongo will be well aware of this leading into Australia’s next Asian Cup game against Oman tomorrow.

Luongo who must shoulder some of the blame for Australia falling a goal behind, after not tracking his man in a passage of play that lead to a corner and Kuwait’s opening goal bounced back and put in his best performance yet in the green and gold. Credit must go to Ange Postecoglou for realising that Luongo was ready to start in such a key game for Australia, when many pundits around the country questioned his selection.

It has been interesting to read some of the comments relating to Luongo’s performance over the past few days. Many are predicting that it will not be long before he leaves division one Swindon Town and is plying his trade in a higher division; that is a very realistic proposition, but if he helps Swindon gain promotion to the Championship he may well opt to stay where he is and where he is guaranteed first team football. He is after all only twenty-two years old.

One comment, was ‘it is a shame he is playing for such a low ranked club.’ This shows just how naive many Australian fans are about the game of football and also how they have bought into a lot of the propaganda surrounding the A-League. We have heard it said that the A-League is on a par with the second tier Championship in England; It is not and will take at least another ten years to be even close. In fact most Second division teams in Britain, – two levels below the Championship – would have no trouble disposing of the A-League teams. Do not be fooled by the performances of European sides coming out for pre-season games. These are goodwill affairs and merely a public relations execs and the chance to get some minutes in their players during pre-season. These teams would rarely be performing at more than 50-60% of their normal levels.

The other issue this comment raises is this blind belief that Australian players should all sign for Premier League clubs and once there they will gain a first team place. Luongo like many aspiring footballers went to England for trials and in 2011 impressed Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur enough for them to sign him. Note he did not play in the A-League and despite heading to the UK aged 17 there have been no pundits saying he went across to early; which makes a mockery of how often we hear that comment and how players must play in the A-League to have a hope of making it overseas.

Not surprisingly for one so young amongst big name international Luongo struggled to gain a spot in the first team. He was loaned out first to Championship side Ipswich Town and then to Division One Swindon Town. Here he was thrown straight into the first team and so well did he perform in the coming weeks playing alongside another Spurs loanee Alex Pritchard that Swindon signed him on a season long loan, and then permanently. His performances this season are a major contributing factor to Swindon Town sitting in the top echelons of Division One; how much they miss him will be clear when they play Coventry tonight.

Too many Australian players believe that signing for a big club is the be-all and end-all. It is so far from the truth. Getting game time is the key, gaining experience playing in the lower divisions is the perfect apprenticeship for making it in the top echelons of football, as Tim Cahill and Lucas Neill about how crucial their time was at Millwall before they moved to Everton and Blackburn Rovers.

As Luongo’s former team mate Alex Pritchard said after returning to Tottenham, “”it was great for me to be playing first team football at Swindon this season, I needed to get out and play competitively and I loved every minute of it.” The life of a professional footballer is a relatively short one, and it is crucial that you play as much first team football as you can. So there is no shame to drop down a division or two to gain that experience, and as Luongo has shown, by playing regularly you put yourself in with a shout of being selected for the national team, and then if you manage to back up performance’s like his against Kuwait you put yourself in with a chance of climbing up the league’s and playing for a top flight club.

There are plenty of talented Australian players currently in Europe, but too many are with clubs where they are not playing first team football. The key is playing, and playing consistently. Luongo has shown he can do that at Swindon Town under the guidance of Manager Mark Cooper, now he must do it at international level and his biggest test will come against Oman.

(As a Swindon Town fan and a Socceroos supporter I hope he can).

January 12, 2015 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

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