It was a great achievement for Pim Verbeek to get an ageing team to the World Cup Finals four years ago, which makes Holger Osciek’s achievement even more remarkable. Congratulations to him, the players and all of the team in the background.
Whether you like the coach’s tactics he achieved what he set out to do. It was never going to be easy this time around, as Captain Lucas Neill said the other nations are improving and Australia has a crop of developing international players, rather than established ones coming through.
The senior players stepped up last night when they were needed and that experience was what eventually saw Australia manage the victory they needed so badly. Osciek faced all sorts of criticism when he pulled off pin up Tim Cahill, but his move proved to be inspired with his replacement Josh Kennedy scoring the all important goal; a just reward for a man who has rarely grabbed the headlines but has always done well for his country.
One thing that appeared to help this group of players was spending three weeks together for the games against Japan, Jordan and Iraq. This time together appeared to galvanise them as a group and it showed on the park. The performances may not have been what many expected but they were effective and ultimately they achieved what they set out to do. Credit must go to all concerned for that.
The sad thing is when all of the celebrations die down Holger and his support crew will know that they have to strengthen this squad, and many who were on the bench last night will not be travelling to Brazil. As well as the defence played last night there are still question marks over the back four. Matt Mackay for one, despite his usual combative display is not a natural left back and against quality opposition he will be found out.
The good news is there are players who can come in if they play to their potential in the coming year, players like Trent Sainsbury, Rhys Williams, Shane Lowry, and Chris Herd to name a few. These players must play regular football in the coming year and be consistent. There is no doubt Holger Osciek and his assistants Robbie Hooker and Aurelio Vidmar will be following all Australian players playing around the world and hopefully have a reliable network of people keeping an eye on these players, as these will be the ones needed in Brazil in 2014. Unfortunately very few playing in the A-League will be capable of such a big step up, hence why they are still in the A-League.
It promises to be an exciting year ahead and we wish every player vying for a spot on the plane to Brazil the best season possible, as we once again congratulate all involved with the Socceroos and especially the coaching staff and leadership group for pulling them through.
Having grown up in Britain in the Margaret Thatcher era this writer was never a fan of the Iron Lady. I was however interested to read a supplement compiled by the Independent newspaper correcting many of the myths that surrounded the British leader.
One fact of which I was never aware as I was not in fact born was her proposing of the Public Bodies Bill in 1960, which she introduced in her maiden speech a year after being elected as the MP for Finchley. No doubt you are asking what this has to do with sport?
The Public Bodies Bill was passed and meant that the press were admitted into local government meetings for the first time. It is something that is readily accepted today, but maybe such a bill needs to be passed when it comes to the governing bodies of sport. Sport is big business today, and millions of dollars are invested and spent, some of it is spent wisely some of it mis-spent, and some simply squandered. Surely those who pay club memberships and registration fees as clubs or individuals deserve to have a greater insight into the way in which this money, government grants and sponsorship monies are spent?
In her speech back in 1960 she said “The public has the right… to know what its elected representatives are doing.” For elected representatives in sport many can look at the board elected to run their particular game, some do in fact have stakeholders on the board, which makes a great deal of sense.
She went on to say ” The first purpose in admitting the press is that we may know how those monies are being spent… The paramount function of this distinguished house is to safeguard civil liberties rather than to think administrative convenience should take first place in law.”
Have sporting organisations the same responsibilities as local councils? Of course they don’t and the budgets are light years apart. However people today invest a great deal of time in sport be it watching it, playing it, coaching it, volunteering, driving children to games, officiating etcetera, and all of these people deserve to know what money is coming in and from whom, and how it is being spent.
If the Federal Government is giving the governing body “x” million dollars per year, how much of that is being filtered down to support juniors, women, disability programs and other areas around the country? Surely people have a right to know?
Many sports are transparent in their financial dealings, but far too many are not, and when the board and staff are seen at the top table at major events in their sports many begin to ask whether too much is being spent at the wrong end of the game.
Maybe such a bill is needed within the sporting landscape, maybe it isn’t, but its certainly worth thinking about…
The legacy of the London Olympic Games was supposed to be more young people becoming involved in sport, and Britain becoming a healthy place for children to grow up. Sadly the honeymoon is over and reports state that there has been a marked drop off in sports participation. This should be no surprise as most sports suffer the same hangover, football and rugby being two that once a year has passed after their World Cups numbers drop.
However when it comes to the Paralympics it is a different story. In fact it is completely the opposite, as sport for youngsters with a disability is very much on the rise in the UK.
Panathon is one of the reasons for this. This is a program to give youngsters with a disability the opportunity to try competitive sports that they would never get the chance to do at school. It has helped make sport accessible to these children and with Paralympian heroes such as swimmer Liz Johnson as ambassadors the program has gathered huge momentum.
Australia is lucky that such programs already exist through organisations such as Wheelchair Sports WA. Western Australia sent 17 Paralympians to London as well as three coaches. These representatives returned with 12 medals, 2 Gold, 9 Silver and 1 Bronze medals from the London Games. The medals coming in Athletics, Handcycling, Swimming, and Wheelchair Basketball.
Wheelchair Sports WA has some great junior programs in place and children do not have to follow the elite pathway if they do not want to, it is all about participation, inclusion and having fun. The key is making the public aware of the great work being done and the inspirational athletes under our noses.
‘Its not what you do it’s the way that you do it, and that’s what gets results’ is how the song goes, and it would appear to be true of the ANZ Netball Championship.
Last night the West Coast Fever won their last home game of the season, to equal their record of five wins in a season set in 2009, and they still have one game to go.
The Southern Steel remained in mathematical contention for the finals before last night’s 14-goal loss to the Fever.Post match their coach Janine Southby who has coached the New Zealand side to a much-improved season asked for something to be done about the way the game is officiated as the differences, between Australia and New Zealand are affecting performances.
She was quoted as saying to sportsnewsfirst.com.au that officials from each country need to get together and work together on finding common ground in terms of interpretation of the rules.
“It’s frustrating because when you don’t come up against it every week you sometimes come back and forget that things are done differently. It means you have a different preparation from week to week, and I know the Australian teams find it going over our way too.I do think for the game to have some consistency from a playing perspective that it should happen. It’s hard on the players to adjust week to week not knowing what is going to get called. It is challenging.” Southby said.
Some may say that her words smack of sour grapes having seen their season come to an end against a fired up Fever side smarting from Coach Norma Plummer’s public roasting last week. However that would be unfair, this issue has been raised throughout the 2013 season and hopefully the powers that be will sit down in the off season and come up with a plan that will result in more consistency.
Fever fans will also be looking at the word consistency to see if their team can put together a similar performance away to the Melbourne Vixens in their last game of the 2013 season.
British Boxer Amir Khan is used to being the centre of attention, but last weekend he married Faryal Makhdoom at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, in what has been described as a “sumptuous wedding.” The event is said to have cost over GBP1 Million.
The happy couple then flew to Manchester for another celebration where the 4,000 guests attending were asked to sign agreements stating that they would not take photographs or reveal any details of the event as he has signed an exclusive deal with Hello magazine.
He is due to climb back into the ring in December and up a weight to take on IBF Champion Devon Alexander before a possible crack at Floyd Mayweather. Hopefully the purse from these fights will more than adequately cover the cost of his nuptials.
While the fact that he managed to attract 4,000 to the celebrations in Manchester have many small sporting organisations extremely envious as they struggle to attract such numbers on a weekly basis. Pre-match celebrity weddings may well be on the agenda in coming months!
Never try and make sense out of sport. That is a very wise piece of advice.
So often common sense goes out of the window in a sporting environment, and clever men forget the basic principles that made them successful in the business world, and they become irrational.
It would appear that another example of this has arisen in the world of football in Australia. However before we explain this example let us lay out some facts.
Australia currently has the lowest number of players playing in the top five leagues in the world for the past ten or more years. The national team despite a spirited performance against Japan are a team on the wane, old players, many past their best, mixed with young players who are not quite ready for the International stage. Which makes one wonder what has happened to the development of players in the past ten years since the FFA was created.
The FFA has for a number of years been loathe to let young talent head overseas and sign forms with European clubs, for some reason believing that these young players will be better off playing in Australia rather than living, eating and breathing football as well as playing every day in Europe. Many have been accused of going to soon, of being poached, or being misguided, all accusations which may carry some weight in certain cases, but surely that is for the individual to work out.
This talent the FFA believe should be gracing the A-League before it heads overseas. In an ideal world this would be fantastic, but the world, life, and football is not ideal. Some players are definitely better off in Europe than being at an A League club, especially if they are staying to play for a coach not prepared to give youth a chance. Ten months of football at a high level in Europe playing youth or reserve team football against quality opposition or six months in Australia with no where near the same game time, it should be a no brainer.
The other plus from some of these players heading overseas is that they open up opportunities in Australia for players who may otherwise never have had the opportunity to showcase their talent. That in turn means that the talent pool from which the national team will be selected in a few years time is far greater. More Australian players are receiving top level coaching in and outside of Australia.
So one has to question what has brought about the FFA now looking to claim that a young player heading overseas and signing up for a scholarship at a professional club’s academy, is the equivalent to his first professional contract, and therefore looking to demand development fees from the clubs. That is rich when current state league clubs are still waiting on such fees from A-League clubs!
This move will have one result. Clubs in Europe will simply stop accepting Australian boys into their academies unless they are the next Lionel Messi. Any players lucky enough to have dual citizenship are going to be forced at a young age to turn their back on Australia should they wish to pursue their dream career.
Such a move is foolhardy. It does not make rational sense, unless you are looking for a new revenue stream for your business. It is a move doomed from the start. It is a move that is likely to create a huge backlash from parents whose children have the opportunity to head overseas.
If the FFA does not want young talent to take this path then maybe they should set up similar establishments in Australia where players continue their education, are fed, play football and have a bed each night. With no similar establishments who can blame any parent allowing their son to follow such a path.
One really has to wonder who in head office gives such a narrow-minded decisions a green light.
With attention beginning to turn to the upcoming Ashes series in England we wondered how many cricket lovers had realised that the cricketer’s bible, that yellow book that comes out every year, is celebrating its 150th birthday.
Incredibly John Wisden who invented the Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack passed away 130 years ago. His business, a sports retailers he founded in 1850 went bankrupt before the second world war. The only reference to this business is a carving in the tiles above his former shop, which is now a fast food outlet, in Leicester Square.
Ironically the first Wisden published in 1864 was to challenge his major sporting retail rival, Lillywhites. Their shop remains in London but it is his Almanack that has become a veritable bible to cricket lovers.
The first edition carried so much more than cricket facts. It had the length of Britain’s canal network as well as the rules of quoits; a game many cricketing tourists played on the boats between Australia and England before air travel. It even carried information a number of ‘extraordinary matches,’ such as the game between gentlemen with one arm and gentlemen with one leg. As well as a game between the smokers and the non-smokers, which the health authorities will be pleased to know saw the latter victorious.
Wisden has for many years chronicled the deaths of cricketers each year, and in the 1915 edition with close to 2000 cricketers being lost in combat filled 48 pages with obituaries. In 1916 forty pages were dedicated to one man alone, WG Grace, who passed away and eulogies on the bearded doctor dominated the publication.
Wisden was never afraid to speak up and voice an opinion, and spoke out against Douglas Jardine and his ‘bodyline’ tactics in Australia. It cocked a disapproving eye at the world’s first one day international only recording it as a footnote!
Wisden nearly did not make it past 1938 but when new publishers came on board they made changes to the layout, placing the counties in alphabetical order rather than the order they finished in the county championship, women’s cricket was included, and the deaths were moved to the back of the book. It was at this time that two famous top-hatted cricketers graced the cover for the first time.
At times Wisden has been slow to report the facts, for example in 1882 the Oval test match between England and Australia was barely acknowledged, yet this was the game that spawned one of the greatest sporting rivalries ever, The Ashes. Even more amazing is the fact that it took the Almanack 99 years to publish the scorecard from the very first test match. Rest assured “the cricketer’s bible,” will not be so lax this time next year when the upcoming Ashes series has been laid to bed.