May 16, 2013

Horse 1484 - Kevin Sheedy and The Lesson of Irrelevancy

I believe in colour in sport. I believe in Sky Blue for Sydney FC, I believe in Red for Liverpool, I believe in Brown and Gold for Hawthorn, I believe in Tangerine for Blackpool, I believe in Gold and Green for Australia and I believe in White for England.
I also believe that the colour of the skin under the shirt is irrelevant, that where they or their parents have come from is irrelevant (though it's a good idea that if you want to play in a national side, you should probably become a citizen) and that their surname is also irrelevant.

It surprises and disappoints me then that comments like this even exist in the twenty-first century:

"All of a sudden they've got 10,000 fans and 20,000 going to a game."
Is it really that surprising? Obviously the Western Sydney Wanderers have made connections with the local community. Western Sydney, which by the way is the same region in which the Greater Western Sydney Giants supposedly operate in, according to the 2011 census is the most diverse region of cultures in the world. Blacktown City Council has people within its boundaries from 206 nations.

The lineup for Western Sydney Wanderers is as diverse as the people that they play in front of. Kwabena Appiah-Kubi was born in New Zealand and his parents are Ghanaian, Youssouf Hersi is Dutch, Shinji Ono is Japanese, Jérome Polenz is German, Mateo Poljak is Croatian... and I don't like any of them. Not because of where they come from but because they play in Red and Black for Western Sydney Wanderers. If any of them decided to play in Sky Blue for Sydney FC, I'd immediately think that they were wonderful and that's the point I'm trying to make. Partisanship and rivalry is OK, it's part of the makeup of sport; rampant racism is not.
The line is blurred a little when it comes to national teams playing each other and I'll make the point that I'll boo for someone like Del Piero which he played for Italy against Australia but stick him in a Sky Blue Sydney FC kit and I honestly don't care where he came from - it is irrelevant.
Two men were ejected from Docklands on Saturday after allegedly hurling racist abuse towards North Melbourne's Sudanese-born player Majak Daw.

Good; I hope those two never darken the doorways of a stadium again. I wholly endorse and agree with the comments of North Melbourne coach Brad Scott:
"It's got no place in footy, and it's got no place in society,"

I ask you, what do you see here? I see an incredibly gifted and steely football player. What nationality is he? Just by looking, I don't know. If he was the child of an immigrant, he'd be Australian. If he's come over; suffered terrible conditions in getting here and become a citizen, he'd still be Australian. I'll tell you what he is though, he's a North Melbourne player with an absolutely sublime right boot who has kicked 8.2.50 for the season, which is very very scary for a Ruckman.
Would he have played in Kevin Sheedy's team? Certainly not now. Personally I hope that he comes and plays for Hawthorn. I don't much like the Blue and White he's wearing but I think he'd look fantastic in Brown and Gold.

I wonder what goes on in Kevin Sheedy's mind. Would he have wanted players like Robert DiPierdomenico, Stephen Silvagni, Brendan Fevola or Nic Naitanui playing for him? How about the two Serbian Kekovich brothers?

The words of Craig Foster here are particular poignant:
All of us arrived here in different ways and we’re all equal, regardless of differences and in fact because of them, that’s the beauty of Australia.
Like the people you just insulted, Kev, I’m an ‘immigrant’, part of the original ‘boat people’. I’m also proud to call every Australian, from any background who finds a home at the Wanderers as a fellow Aussie.

Actually when I think about it, one of the most "Aussie" people I ever met, drove an XD Falcon, worked as a sparky, supported the D's (Melbourne Demons) and would go to the cricket in gold and green; wearing the Australian flag as a cape. The fact that he was born in Korea, was irrelevant.

The truth is that I won't support Western Sydney Wanderers because I follow Sydney FC - you just don't change teams. If Sydney FC hadn't been around, I more than likely would have supported them instead. I bet Kevin Sheedy though would accuse me of being recruited by the Department of Immigration too.
There was an advert for Fosters a while back which had the line: My brothers are the Smiths, the Wilsons, the Santarellis, the di Costis, the Wongs, and the Jagamurras. That sounds to me like half of the starting lineup for a football side (or a third of an Aussie Rules side); the only caveat I'd put of that is that Wong needs to move from right midfield to the centre because he's more of a turn and hold player. Of course where he was born is irrelevant.

I could say that Kevin Sheedy's words belong in another time but they don't... ever. They wouldn't have been out of place in the 1920s but they would have still been every bit as disgraceful. If he's really mystified as to why GWS hasn't quite connected with the people of Western Sydney, then maybe he needs to review the very words which came out of his mouth. Quite often, an organisation reflects the culture of management and in this case, Kevin Sheedy has put himself on the express train to irrelevancy.

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