Melbourne Victory buying Triestina? Not really

Yesterday Melbourne Victory majority owner Mario Biasin, together with his cousin ex player and manager Mauro Milanese took ownership of an Italian team Triestina.

The thought of an Melbourne Victory owner buying an Italian team conjures up the image of a ‘City Group’ type of consortium.

However I don’t think this is the same thing as Melbourne City and the City group.  It isn’t a multinational corporate conglomerate. It appears to me that Biasin acted from the heart to rescue the team of his birthplace.

And rescuing it what the team needs.  Biasin and the other Melbourne Victory owner  Anthony di Pietro paid about $235,000 back in February to save it from bankruptcy and oblivion allowing the club to survive until the end of the season.

Currently Triestina is fifth from last in Group C of the D Series and risks relegation to the semi-professional ‘Eccellenza League‘ which is the fifth level of Italian football.

At least Biasin, being the owner of Metricon, one of the largest residential builder in Australia may not have to worry about money,  But Milanese has his work cut out to make something out of this team.

Unlike Udine, the other major city in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region with Udinese, the team representing Trieste  was never able to reach great heights since the 1950’s.

Funded in 1918, the club was part of the the first-ever Serie As eason in 1929, and played consecutively to the Italian top flight until 1956.  But then it went down and hasn’t really recovered since.  Triestina suffered its first relegation in 1957. Successively, Triestina returned to Serie A in 1958, but were relegated in their first comeback season, which is also their last top flight campaign to date.  After that the history of the team reads of a disaster after another

The team was forced to fold, because of financial insolvency in 1994.  Then it survived amongst frequent coaches and ownership changes in the lower levels of the professional leagues.

In 2012 the club was again declared bankrupt and the team was disbanded and a new entity had to be reformed called Unione Triestina 2012 Società Sportiva Dilettantistica that restarted from Eccellenza. Again the team goes from owner to owner and faces bankruptcy yet again in 2016 until  Biasin and di Pietro came in and saved the team.

I am no expert in the wheelings and dealings of international football, but I really don’t think that Triestina would be considered any great catch in its current state.  As I said before the motivation of Biasin is most likely to be emotional.  The team of his birthplace facing oblivion and he has the personal wealth to save it.  His cousin being already been a player and a coach and have the will to try to create a team.  I don’t think there is any thought of Melbourne Victory using Triestina for some underhand Anthony Cáceres type deal.  Triestina  is no Manchester City and it is in such a poor state that paying transfer fees etc. for this type of thing would certainly not be seen positively from the long suffering fans that see Biasin and Milanese ad the messiahs that can take their team to the top echelons again.

We don’t know what the future will bring.  I really hope that Biasin and Milanese will be able to bring success.  If we have had teams such as Chievo and now Carpi in Serie A, there is no reason why a team that represents one of the major cities in Italy cannot reach that level once again.

But as for Melbourne Victory…that’s a different kettle of fish.

 

James Joyce was a Rugby fan. But I’m sure he’d want the city where he lived for some time to have a successful football team/

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The ALP – Greens stoush

I have voted both ALP and Greens (and intend to do so in the future). I’ve left my ALP membership lapse about 12 years ago, mainly because overall as an organisation I felt it didn’t really a lot to a rank and file member. The decision to follow ther liberals in pandering to the xenophobic instincts of some voters in key electorates also was a deciding factor. But I also know that the ALP is not full of political hacks as some believe. There are still lots of committed people who try to promote progressive policies. The Greens’ policies are certainly most aligned with my beliefs and I tend to vote for them most times. But somehow I sense they are, in the main, a party of tertiary educated middle class people that haven’t fully grasped the reality of being socio-economically disadvantaged and being kept there.

Gough Withlam said ‘Only the impotent can afford to be pure’ and that have applied to the Greens for most of their existence. I am not saying that’s a bad thing. It is good to have a voice for progressive policies that major parties run away from while chasing the majority to form government.

Of course this confluence allows the Greens to occupy the moral high ground standing away from the ethical compromises of the major parties. The most famous term from the Greens’ creator, Bob Brown, was the ‘Laborials’.

I haven’t really dealt deeply with the issues of the reform of Senate reform that the Greens are supposed to have agreed with the Liberals or all this ABCCand Same Sex Marriage. Perhaps in the old days, when I was really into politics I would have known more. It looks very confusing and my twitter feed which has both ALP and Green supporters was a continual spat between these two camps.

 

Personally I have no issue with the Greens aligning themselves with a major party or another to facilitate legislation, whether I agree with it or not. That is what Parliaments do. However the question is raised here is whether the Greens are a party of legislation or of protest.

I suspect that a considerable proportion of Green votes are of people who are against their perceived collusion between Liberal and Labor. If they see that the Greens are playing the same games they may desert them. Or like the Democrats going down this path may create splits in the Parliamentary Party.

Some Greens protest that the ALP is spreading lies about these agreements with the Liberals, which may be true. The issue is whether this perception sticks. Unfair? perhaps, but the Greens themselves haven’t been reticent in labeling Labor as ‘the same as the Liberals’ and pushing that theme. Politics is quite a brutal game and if you are in the play you have to expect to get stuff in return. The ALP knows very well that anything that may diminish the perception of the Greens as the ‘pure progressive party’ and more of a ‘just another party’ may also diminish their vote in the seats that the Greens want to take from the ALP.

My hunch that overall the Greens will not suffer too much. Unlike the Democrats that main raison d’etre was just not being a major party, the Greens do stand on some distinct ground, asylum seekers being a prime example.

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My favourite A-League Podcasts

iPhone with headphones

Picture by Casey Fiesler used under attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence

 

 

For someone following football in Australia podcasts are a godsend.

Of course you got SBS and if you have pay TV Fox Football.  But nothing beats the accessibility of loading a poddy on my old 512 MB iPod shuffle on my commute to and from work.

I also like the fact that the technology allows the average punter to be on the same platform with the professionals. So here’s what I listen…or try to during my A-League week.

Fox Football Podcast

FoxFootball

This podcast has all the commentators from the Fox Football stable, and it’s the only chance to listen to them for a Foxtel -less person like me.

They are professionals and it shows.  The way they interact with each other and talk to the microphone, and the quality overall shows that these people main job is to present on electronic media of some kind.  As I don’t watch Foxtel football shows I can’t say whether it may be more ‘informal’ than what they present on the telly, but certainly it feels that way, especially when Simon Hill exhibits his different impressions of a variety of English and Dutch accents.

The 442 Podcast

442FM-2015

Again here we have professionals, but in this case most from the print media.  This means that the discussion and information is great, and the sound quality also is not as good as (I suspect) unlike the Fox podcast they don’t have a studio to record it.  but I feel as print journos a bit more less constrained than the Fox Football people and they are not afraid to be quite critical of protagonists and issues in Australian football.

 

Ultimate A-League Podcast

Ultimate

I am not sure if  Justin Tickner and Kristian Dwyer who create this podcast (and the associated excellent A-League website) are in the ‘fully professional media people involved in football’  or not. Justin is the editor of the site and a developer at Interact Sport  and Kristian is a freelance sports journalist, a two-time WA media guild award winner, so they may be.  Nevertheless I place this as the best weekly podcast of people that we may not associate directly with being involved in the media aspect of football as their main pursuit.  As Justin and Kristian live in two different places Justin talks to a microphone while Kristian’s voice seems to come from a skype-type arrangement.  But this is ably dealt with and this podcast very ably delves into analysis and tactics, without digressing into side issues than often other podcast can do.

 

Daily Football Show

DFS

Starting in October last year, this new kid on the block originating from the people who run Outside90.com has become a favourite of mine.  As a daily show it is great to hook up the iPad and listen while I cook dinner. Mark van Aken has that easy aussie-type demeanor (despite his Dutch background) that is reminiscent of the AFL type banter you hear on MMM or SEN (and that’s a good thing).  Benny Jones and Adrian Houghton complement the show really well.  One of the main attractions for me is that it can go from being quite serious to being a free flowing free flowing thought stream.  It has had often interesting guests in players, coaches and team’s CEO.  Also it has journalists like Sebastian Hassett from the Sydney Morning Herald or Matt Windley from the Herald Sun talk about football.  One thing is also it shows quite a bit of passion especially form van Aken as it was shown when some section of the media show a bit of ‘soccerphobia’.

 

For Vuck’s Sake

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As a podcast for all Melbourne Victory fans presented by the unofficial fan forum at MelbourneVictory.net  this may not have a wide appeal.  However as a Melbourne Victory fan I think is great and certainly one of my favourite.

As Melbourne Victory’s season is unraveling badly, I rather like to hear fellow supporters reflecting my angst.  ‘Lord Maco’ and ‘Dante Hicks’ do a great job every podcast and being done as an amateur enterprise (and by amateur here I mean the original, positive meaning of the word, look it up) it feels like the podcasters have been trained in radio by the fact that they don’t talk over each other, you can hear them clearly and the show has a clear structure.

The added bonus of this show is that the presenters are music buffs and every podcast is interspersed with a musical theme.

Behind the game

BTG

We come now to a couple of podcasts where the culture and the history of football in Australia is what is discussed, rather than results, or the weekly analysis of competitions.

Brogan Renshaw focuses on sharing in-depth stories that may not have been explored by the mainstream media.  Such as the Assyrian refugee that now follows the Western Sydney Wanderers or how Lawrie McKinna went from Rangers in Scotland to becoming the Mayor of Gosford City Council.

 

By Association

association

By Association is a fairly new monthly podcast hosted by James Parkinson which also deals with storytelling  and the connections which exists in the football community world wide.
These are short and to the point podcasts, so I know I don’t have to set aside more than an hour to listen. It has just started but so far it has shown how wide ranging this podcast can be, from hearing of an Australian fan traveling to the UK just for a match to the story behind the composition of the European Champion’s League anthem.

This podcast shows that James put a lot of work behind it.  It is not just a microphone and an interview.  It is interspersed with music and additional audio information than makes it feel like what the ABC Radio National would have done if they did a program about football.

Other honourable mentions

There are so many podcasts out there that if I had to listen to all of them they would fill all my free time.  But there are three more that I’d like to mention.  Out of our aleague is the epitome of what you’d get if you combined anarchy with a fooball podcast.  I sounds like an iphone is placed on a table where a bunch of guys sit around on couches drinking beer (sometimes beer tops hitting a hard surface can be heard). It borders on the self-indulgent but out of this apparent chaos there are some genuinely hilarious moments.

The A-League Snobcast by Stama & Rob Toddler is again a funny take on the A-League.  The description on iTunes says it best: “Monthly look at the A-League from a football journalist and a complete idiot. An “anti-Euro-Snob” football show for A-League purists. Crazy musical interludes included.

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Flares and behaviour at the soccer. The elephant in the stands

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There has been so much stuff written and said about flares in the A-league that really I thought the last thing the issue needed was a blog post/

Besides I’ve written about this many time before:

https://accidentalaussie.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/supporting-football-in-australia-the-challenge-to-the-mainstream-culture/

https://accidentalaussie.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/behaviour-at-the-football-if-we-have-a-problem-what-are-the-solutions/

https://accidentalaussie.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/misbehaviour-at-the-football-the-triumph-of-the-immature-egoist-pt-2-or-groundhog-day/

https://accidentalaussie.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/misbehaviour-at-the-football-the-triumph-of-the-immature-egoist/

So I didn’t want to repeat myself.  But one thing that I think most commentators missed was the issue of identity.

Maybe because tying the this issue to soccer has become taboo.  This is what those dinosaur AFL/NRL troglodytes do, don’t they? We don’t want to be accused to use the ‘wogball’ card.

However that would be a really shallow way to look into it.  The reason why flares are used and persist to be used by a minority is, I think, partly bound in a mix of rebellion, assertive masculinity and asserting an identity which is outside what it is perceived to be the mainstream.

Sometimes when I have raised this issues before I have been accused of being an apologist for the flare rippers.  Nothing is further from the truth.  Just read the previous posts, and ask some original members of the Melbourne Victory fan forum where I have argued against flares even before the start of the A-League.  However I think that just saying flares are illegal and should not be brought to the stadium really does not help the debate or even perhaps how to address the problem.  Lots of things are illegal. Driving way out the speed limit or the legal alcohol limit, taking recreational drugs etc. an people still do it.  Finding reasons why this behaviour occur ans why it persists despite threats of sanctions against their teams is essential if we want to address the problem.

What I think it is very important to note is that while active fans are there to support the team, for many the more emotional investment is in the support group itself, than the team.  This does not mean the whole of the active group, just the one who identifies with the type of rebellious behaviour which involves things like flares.  Psychologists have studied different forms of social identification since the 1960’s where the perception of oneness is to belong to some human aggregate.  So in the case the fans who rebel, they may define themselves in terms of the groups they belong to.  They perceive themselves as an actual member of the group and as a consequence perceive the fate of the group as their own.

This is football support mate, Australia can like it or dump it

There’s a brand new tifo
but I don’t know its name
That people from bad homes
do again and again
It’s big and it’s grand
full of tension and fear
They do it over there but we don’t do it here

Flares! Turn to the left
Flares! Turn to the right
Oooh, flares!
We are the goon squad
and we’re coming to town
Beep-beep
Beep-beep

(with apologies to the great late David Bowie)

Go around social media associated with football and eventually the idea of the ultra comes up.

 

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These are distributed around and seen as an exciting way to support football and a demonstration about how football is supported in what it is considered overseas.

The fact that flares are considered ‘not things that are accepted in Australia’ and are illegal bounds together two things that are attractive to the supporter who takes flares in the ground.  The excitement of transgression, and the fact that it is a practical demonstration of rebellion against what is perceived as a mainstream Australian way to behave within a sport.

And here is where the tension occurs.  Comments of non football supporters against flares is that that sort of behaviour is unknown at the AFL or NRL is partly an attraction to those who rip flares.  The flare is a symbol that they don’t want to be white picket mainstream Australia, that they don’t want to support the game as the AFL or NRL is supported and that (as those tweets above demonstrate) that is the way football is supported around the world and if white picket mainstream Australia doesn’t like it they can shove it.  Families won’t come to the game? They don’t care.   They could be quite happy to have 2000 people instead on 30,000 if all can rip flares and being ultras.

This viewpoint was actually very articulately explained by someone in the Melbourne Victory’s fan forum

My real concerns over the flare issue is not so much as the ripping of flares itself, but rather the way in which the Australian establishment is using it to whip the active support of our football teams into being good little boys and girls, to sit quietly and perhaps, but not too loudly, cheer on our team. If you doubt this, the support, of the supporters whom in many ways make the atmosphere at matches, by our club owners is not to be found anywhere within the media. Look at the nonsense of senior police stating they will stop games if flares are ripped, what a load of stupid rhetoric from the establishment. A pre-game news item on one of Melbourne’s major channels yesterday showed Victory supporters being harassed by TV cameras, with people stating don’t film me and pushing cameras away. Cut to lovely little thing commenting, and she says that the police took a statement from her and charges may be laid, not against the intrusion of civil liberties, but against the supporters for standing up for their rights.

I am totally sick of this put down of legitimate ways of supporting my team by the establishment. It must stop now. We mustn’t let those in power take our game away from us and make it little more than a mini Australian Rules type sport, where at least the ticket holding members do have a say on how the club is run. If me turning a blind eye to flares helps in keeping our football what it should be, so be it, I will.  And finally, I will not stop asking the black clothed, gun toting, police at our games why they are not out catching real criminals.

You can see here how difficult it is to modify the behaviour.  Punishment will only increase their sense of being ‘persecuted’ by the mainstream Australia that ‘fear football’ and the way that it is supported.  Collective punishment has the risk of increasing the sympathy towards the flare rippers as the number of those feeling the persecution will increase.  The negative commentary of journalists that are aligned with other codes such as Rebecca Wilson, Tom Elliot or Rita Panahi increase the perception that the other codes want to destroy football and the way it is supported and should not be listened to.  Unlike the FFA that betrays real football and  is servile to these anti-football sentiments,  wanting to turn support as a wishy-washy AFL/NRL type by trying to eliminate them.

Some have commented that these are not fans of the team but are there for themselves.  This could be true.  If that sense of belonging to a group (even as a sub-group within the total active support cohort as a whole) the personal desire to rebel is stronger than the loyalty to the team it is possible that the urge to act in a certain way may override any concern their action may have on the team.

That is why this is such as difficult issue to address and to resolve.  Two years ago I offered some suggestions. Basically one way would be for the support to still be outside the ‘mainstream Australian’ to satisfy the desire to differentiate but by using safer options using streamers, drums, balloons etc.  This could be combined with some approved safe pyrotechnic display.

For the game to progress this is certainly an issue that we need to resolve.  as I said two years ago, the best thing is that one day we will develop our own way to support football which is not only safe and edgy at the same time, but it is uniquely Australian and recognised around the world as such.  But we have to work at it. In good faith.

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Why the Matildas being shown on Channel 7 is good news.

Just hours before the W-League grand final it was announced that Channel 7 (through its digital channel 7Mate) will be showing the Olympic qualifiers for The Matildas, the Women National Football team.

The news was generally enthusiastically welcomed by football fans, even by those from other TV channels that would have normally shown the matches.

However – as usual when it comes to Association Football in Australia – some were much less impressed.  One reason was that Channel 7 is the Olympic broadcaster and was always going to show them anyway.

MehOlympics

Well, I disagree.  Qualifiers do not necessarily get broadcasted. Can’t recall these being done before, and I even can’t recall the Opals having their matches broadcasted last year for instance. (I may be wrong).

If we follow the argument that ‘these games were always to be broadcast’ then Channel 7 would have done so for the Olyroos as well.  Maybe they weren’t because they were played at a very unfriendly Australian Eastern Summer Time (around 3.30am) unlike the Matildas which are at much more approachable times around 9.30ish.

But I would like to think that the commercial Olympics broadcaster thought it worth while enough to show them.

And my recollection is that football matches are not shown in their entirety at the Olympics anyway.  They may be the most watched event at the Olympics worldwide but I don’t think this is the case in Australia, or at least the producers think so considering the amount of space dedicated to them in Olympic coverage.

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OK.  I do think that the matches will not exactly rate through the roof.  But I don’t think the argument that ‘it’s one of those digital channels so people won’t watch it’ really holds water.

The success of the Women Big Bash League has shown that people will watch women sport on those channels.

But what about the A-League on SBS2? I hear you cry?  Debate has been going on whether the poor ratings the A-League is having for its Friday night matches is because is on SBS2 rather than SBS1.  Well,  recent ratings suggest that since matches have been shown on SBS2 the viewership has decreased by 110,000 per week, but apart from that the fact is that the A-League games have been poorly promoted by SBS as a whole.

And also, whether we like it or not, commercial TV has a bigger reach even with their digital channels.  The example of this was last night during the Australian Open final, an event which will certainly have very high ratings, where the Matildas qualifiers were advertised.  In my twitter feed I could read tweets of  people I follow who are dedicated football fans finding for the first time this was happening.  If these ads alerted football fans that the Matildas were going to be shown on 7Mate, imagine how many more people be aware of the fact being advertised by a commercial broadcaster in a high rating show.

Not all of people would be interested of course, but a commercial broadcaster ultimately has to sell broadcast time to advertisers.  And even if it is on a low rating channel like 7Mate and with a relatively (and arguably) a sport which does not have mass following commercial channels are not charities.  It is in its interest to let potential viewers know that an event is on and ensure the maximum number of people watch it.  This is a double edged sword of course as something than doesn’t rate will be mercilessly cut, but on the other hand it will be promoted (at the start at least).

Channel_7

Finally is the long held suspicion held by many in the football community about Channel 7.

It is true that in 1998 when the television rights to the former National Soccer League were sold to Channel Seven at one point limited coverage on their main channel to one hour of highlights a week shown after mid-night.

To add fuel to the fire there was a revelation in a Federal Court case about sport TV rights that the executive in charge of C7, Steven Wise, lamented in one email that the AFL was not giving Seven credit that “we have secured the soccer rights and suffocated the sport, much to the chagrin of its supporters (by giving AFL games preference)”.

But 1998 was a long time ago.  Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) by The Offspring topped Triple J Hottest 100 and France won against Brazil 3–0 in the football World Cup final.

Things have changed.  Soccer is in a very different position that it was before the turn of the century.  I know there is a belief that Channel 7 is an AFL station and will do its utmost to thwart the growth of soccer in Australia, but as a commercial channel its decisions will be dictated by the bottom line, rather than some evil conspiracy.

So as a football supporter I am delighted that the Women National Football Team is getting more exposure, something it thoroughly deserves.  Now all the teams has to do is to qualify for the Olympics…fingers crossed!

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Librarians as actors.

The email looked innocuous enough.  Since the restructure those who managed to hold on to their jobs have been constantly been told that we are here to help students and academics, that we are in a service environment and that we are now much more accountable.

Actually this is fair enough.  Sometimes libraries lived in a world where the mentality was ‘that’s what we do, you come and get it. Take it or leave it’.  And I think every work place is like that now, and we should be no different.

The nature of the Library at universities has also changed.  I haven’t touched a book for years.  New books are not those made from dead trees anymore, they’re mostly made up of flows of electrons that students with an internet connection can access anytime, anywhere with few clicks of a mouse.  Those books who are still made up of paper are ordered automatically.  All we need to tell the suppliers is a Dewey range and subject headings and they will send the books that are relevant.

So the role of the university librarian has changed where the main focus has shifted towards helping academics in ensuring their students know how to research, use and evaluate information.  And this required us to move away from our information desks.

While the last thing I want to do is stereotype, my observation is that many librarians, while not necessarily wallpaper flowers, they are not the most extrovert out there people either.  The profession has traditionally attracted people that in past times, enjoyed the quietness of the library and interaction was limited to a few people coming to the desk asking where to find stuff.

Not anymore.  Now we are required to hold classes in lecture theatres, as lecturers do.  So our managers thought it would be a good idea to engage two professionals from the Theatre Department to conduct workshops on presentation skills. The email described these as ‘Highly practical, workshop-based sessions focusing on effective use of voice and movement while presenting.”

The email came a few days before I was going overseas.  There were going to be three sessions, two in December and one in January, and the latest one had to be the one for me.

“It’s confronting” one colleague who already did this in December warned me.  This raised alarm bells.  Confronting?  How?  I am the type of person who gets annoyed when I hear a trainer saying at the start “and now turn to the person next to you etc.”  Really? do we have to?  It is always so awkward and for me forced.  So anything which is confronting didn’t sound good.

In any case I knew then that this training wasn’t going to be  a sitting down and take notes type.  I gently explored what type of things we had to do, even though they were sworn to secrecy as apparently the trainers didn’t want those who didn’t do the training to know too much.

So the day started with some exercises.  These were not too daunting, such as being in a circle and look around and once an acknowledgement was achieved to swap places. Or to go around and shake hands and tell your name.  One that was more challenging was when we had to go around and give different stares at each other.

The other thing that made me feel a bit like a goose was when we had to move with our words, that is move around to ‘feel’ the pattern of the word.

I wasn’t against this.  I could see the value and in fact I volunteered for a few things. So much so that when the trainer asked for a volunteer and no one was coming forward a colleague turned to me and said “go on Guido. You’re the extrovert one”.  The source of me being at times uncomfortable was that it was with colleagues.  I get along really well with them all, but the relationship I have with them is a definite one within the boundaries of work.  Stretching that boundary I sometimes felt uneasy.

In my twenties I went through a phase where I threw myself in various type of therapies, including groups ones where we all played roles (often being a parent or a partner) and with the guidance of the psychologist we would act out our fears, anger, whatever.  It was heavy stuff.  Big cushions were employed to ensure that the anger surfacing during the therapy didn’t actually hurt someone.  But it was our choice and we knew what we were in for.  While the type of work in the training I did was very much less intense and much ‘safer’ if was with people I work with.  And we had to go, there was no choice in the matter.

Having said that the second day where we had to speak in the one of the largest Lecture Theatre in the University (500 seats) was invaluable.  I did see how some of the exercises we did the previous day could be used to give a better presentation.  For instance how to use a space, how to be aware of a space when talking.  How to use gestures, how to engage an audience etc.

Will this make me a better presenter?  Probably.  I will use some of the knowledge I acquired at this training, such as using more pauses and move when delivering a concept. But I must admit I was happy to go back to my safe space of my desk and my computer the next day.

 

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Rarotonga. Picture perfect Pacific island

On my way over to the Cook Islands I tried to remember songs from ‘South Pacific’. No idea why. Westeners in general makes generalisations about other cultures which often fall in the category of ‘idyllic’ or ‘hell’.  

Rarotonga, the biggest island in the Cook Islands is definitely the picture postcard image of what I imaged a South Pacific island would be.  It took me more than 40 year of living in Australia to get somewhere in the ‘Pacific’ a region close to us and linked in many ways but somewhat forgotten in our desire to look to Asia.  I am certainly guilty of that when I think of how much better football in Australia is placed in Asia, rather than in Oceania.

Perhaps the Pacific doesn’t resonate as much as cities more in the eastern seaboard like Sydney, Brisbane and certainly in North Queensland which actually face the southern Pacific, unlike the cold and broody Southern Ocean.  I had a glimpse of it though.  At Preston market there used to be a stall selling ‘South Pacific stuff’ such as corned beef which was a staple in this region not having the opportunity to have fresh meat very often.

My first impression of Rarotongan life is that those railing against the ‘nanny state’ would love it here.  There is only one real road in Rarotonga that circumnavigate the island hugging the coast, as few metres inland you encounter steep hills that are inaccessible.  The main mode of transport is the ubiquitous scooter which is ridden in singlet, shorts, thongs and definetely no helmet.  I guess with one road, going around an island with a speed limit of 50 kph chances of major accidents are reduced.

But I think that the overall attitude also helps. I have seen no aggression on the road. If someones stops, or reverses into something people just wait. No signs of nervousness or trying to get around etc.  the road will get clear again.  It could be also the unconscious religiosity of the islanders. In Australia Christians may, in certain situations be unconfortable in declaring their faith in a very secular society. Here is just part of the culture.  We went to a Christmas market which had a show for the kids and dancing.  Totally secular as it would be in Australia. So much so that the Filipino community dancers had a disco version of a religious carol which they danced in a suggestive manner.  But at the end the MC after doing jokes all night went serious and thanked Jesus Christ.

The other religion is rugby league. Not much round ball football here.  Blokes often wear NRL shirts of different teams. I did see this ad on the shops though.

And I also saw the headquarters of the Cook Islands Football Association as I was travelling one of the two buses around the island (one goes clockwise, and the other anti-clockwise and even if there are bus stops can be flagged anywhere). Not sure when they play games. Something to check out next time.

Another thing is chickens. There are chooks and roosters roaming freely around the island, an advantage of a fox free island. Also no snakes and no (according to the locals) poisonous spiders.  But there are other hazards. These signs are posted regulalry throughout the island.

The Raratongans are relatively lucky that few metres inland they have steep hills to go to.  I wonder what those living in much more low lying islands would do.

We are in the wetter season, so rain it expected, but we were lucky to get a couple of sunny days so far and maybe according to the local weather report we may get some more.

Ka kite! 


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