Monday, May 28, 2007

Try out for your favourite A-League club: Roar 23 May

Funny experience this. All the try-outs were wearing team shirts with the original players' names on them. So it started out as 'hey that isn't Packer!'

Couldn't say that anyone really took my breath away. But here are a few photos. Lack of light was a problem. I think this guy was man of the match and I've tried to make him look like Zidane.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Football: Good things from the harsh realities - more notes from the coaching dugout

So, some teams just play for results.

At the junior level some teams could do all sorts of things for results. They could put a first division team in the forth division. They could play their home games on an undersized pitch and teach their players to shoot from from outside the penalty area. They could teach their players to dive, discretely pull shirts and to hack-down opposing strikers. Perhaps make up the numbers with reserves from the 1st division from the age below. Even all these things.

But no-one would do all that at junior level would they. Why do that? That would be like fooling oneself wouldn't?

Or is it that that is what life really can be like? But just that you and I just don't want to play it that way. We want to play fair, have an even chance. See where life takes us.

So when you come up against this type of winner, you tell the boys and girls who have just played their hearts out - who have been held back by the 2nd striker to allow the 1st striker to get his 10th goal of the season, or kicked in the leg so that you can't run into the box, or had your head trodden on in a tackle - 'there are going to be days like this, some teams are just going to be like this, and next week will be more fun.' and 'We aren't that type of team, and we play fair.'

Actually, the girls and boys probably aren't that worried.

Football is the learning game. And I am not convinced it is about learning football. I think its about life. And why playing fair is right, even if you lose.

There is a Buddhist saying, 'How you do one thing is how you do everything.' It encapsulates our predetermined destiny and, paradoxically, is our hope for change and happier days.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

FA Cup Final: Triangles and Curves

Total Football. The Chelsea v Manchester United FA Cup final promised to be the biggest game of the year. And in terms of technical ball control skill, it just may have been. Dwight Yorke, Craig Foster and others pre-match views of a big Man U win or a high scoring game missed the obvious result of total football.

Chelsea held together its triangles and tight defence through the 120 minutes (90 + extra time). Perhaps the difference was split second timing problems from Man U's offside trap busters Giggs and Rooney. Their curving runs were not good enough. On one occasion Ronaldo was through by metres at the half way, but it was the offside Rooney who fielded the ball and was flagged.

Rooney was disciplined for this his biggest match since being sent off in last year's world cup rounds, while Chelsea's Drogba showed more of a tearaway streak, perhaps the only one on the field to do so. And it was enough to find space for the split second required for a goal.

And for the Man U goal that wasn't, I agree with Petr Cech, it was both over the line and a foul.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Asian Cup, More on Foxtel v Free, Own your own club

Asian Cup

Post the world cup FIFA made some clear pronouncements on simulations and diving. However, as we saw in the Australia v Paraguay game at Lang Park - 50,000 fans jeered 11 South Americans pretending to be hurt every time Australia got momentum - Asian refs have trouble telling the difference between rough football and a weaker side deliberately time wasting. Clearly, from Shanghai Shenhua's efforts we can see the Chinese are expert at this type of game. Perhaps that is why many of the Chinese domestic games that make headlines appear so spiteful. And clearly refs from Singapore don't know what to do about it.

In the other game for Australians, Adelaide played sensationally. The grace of some Shandong Luneng movements, and the ease of their goals, highlighted that it was Adelaide that opened up the lead twice. And Indonesian team Persik Kediri are the find of the cup, particularly playing in Indonesia.

ABC Radio National's Sportsfactor had two great stories on Friday morning and here. Foxtel are funding what we have in football in Australia. Without subscribers, the players head overseas and, ultimately the crowds head back to 500 per game.

I mean probably the key example in the past 12 months was the A-league Soccer Grand Final between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United, in which FoxSports, who'd paid about $120-million for exclusive rights for seven years, were caught short by a US-based streaming website,, who basically broadcast the game for free, and news of this sort of pirate broadcast was circulating in chat-rooms, in soccer chat-rooms, about five days prior to the actual Grand Final. And what FoxSports and Football Federation Australia discovered of course was that cease and desist letters don't really work that well in this situation. Brett Hutchins from Monash University's Media Studies Department on the ABC Sports factor 8:30 Friday 11 May.

Meanwhile, in the UK fans are reacting to Russian and US billionaires taking over their clubs by offering fans the opportunity to buy a share in their own club - and participate in all key decisions via online voting.

I think there were various spurs actually. I think one of them was this sense that we get in England every time there's a World Cup that fans actually seem to know more about football than the people who have paid millions of pounds to manage clubs and to run the game. It triggered this idea of seeing if we could find some way to put that to the test, which obviously would be to buy a football club and have it run by fans giving their opinions over the internet, which is what does. Tim Glynne-Jones