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On (or better still 'off') politics and footy

  • Monday, October 17 2005 @ 09:58 am ACST
  • Contributed by: Anonymous
  • Views: 3,229
Europe For purveyors of timely footy news 'and' commentary, this contribution may come a little late in the day. That 'day' being yesterday, when a story about the EU Cup winners Belgium -- a team I am currently managing -- was posted.

To sum up quickly, the story came a week after the event took place. Nevermind. It contained the basics facts, as is the practice of a sports report. It also contained a bit of political intrigue about spurned sporting bodies and the like. Mmmm.

If I was reading a reputable daily newspaper, the mixing of footy reporting with 'spolitics' might raise an eyebrow, but it's not the Times and, from what I can see, there is no editorial rule forbidding this sort of blending.

As a journalist myself, I read community websites like World Footy News -- and their 'blog' cousins -- for what they are: a source of information, interaction and entertainment. As far as facts go, if they are right, then great. If they are not, who am I going to sue? No one, of course, because I am not going to make life-changing decisions based on anything I read on the Net.

As one of probably a dozen people who attended the European Championships in Dusseldorf last year -- co-organised by Rooster, a regular contributor to this forum and well known for his love of footy -- and the recent EU Cup in London, I can say the game has a great future on the Continent.

Talk about spats between people and sporting bodies in the UK is, quite frankly, irrelevant to most of us over here. Nascent Aussie Rules sports teams in France, Belgium, Catalonia, Spain and Austria -- whether expat or locally run -- play the game because we enjoy it.

If someone goes to the trouble to organise a tournament, we'll do our best to turn up. Yesteday's ('Belgium takes out EU Cup') feedback string from the Spanish side, which apparently couldn't afford to send a team to London, proves this. The Catalonian side that did participate had an excellent time of it and visibly improved throughout the day. Not a political banner in sight.

The French side, led by Marc (I think), is also a great testament to the power of the game. Marc showed up in Dusseldorf last year because he had heard of this strange sport called Aussie Rules. He talked with people, watched how it was played and declared, over a beer after the matches, that he would start up a club in his hometown. And he bloody did. One year later, they were all in London with 'France' emblazened on their trackies, full Geelong kit worn with all the pride of the Cats, and they played their guts out all day. That is a footy success worth reporting.

Belgium might have won the tournament in Dusseldorf and now in London with rugby and expat players, but it doesn't take away the spirit of the tournaments. In Belgium, we are keen to build up our local player base. Until this happens, the handicap system for 'local' players seems to be effective at levelling the scorelines.

I'm not going to end with a cliche like 'footy is the ultimate winner' because this belittles the efforts of those on and off the field who worked hard to make pan-European events like this a success.

If Aussie Rules takes Europe by storm, in what ever format, then good luck to who ever puts in the effort to make it happen. If it doesn't, it probably won't make much difference to the way we do things over in Belgium. We won't let spolitics spoil the sport.