Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Come on Canberra

Victorian Government gives local football major boost

If the Victorian Government can increase their financial support for football in AFL mad Melbourne lets hope the ACT Government continue to increase their financial support for football both at Grassroots level and Elite level.

We don't want to fall further behind do we?

Football Federation Victoria Mark Rendell said today, "We outlined in our Strategic Plan earlier this year the need to generate additional revenue to invest in the growth of Victorian Football, and this falls into line with that.

"The commitment of $750,000 from the Victorian Government is a great start to what we are trying to achieve."

The new projects, which include the Victory Schools 5-a-side, a Volunteer Recognition Program, Grassroots Certificate Training and Small Sided Games Communication Strategy, have already received excellent feedback throughout Victoria.

Victorian Government gives local football major boost

A host of Melbourne Victory stars were on hand at Telstra Dome yesterday as Football Federation Australia, Football Federation Victoria and the Victorian Government, through its Department of Sport and Recreation, announced a commitment of $750,000 towards community football in Victoria.

Victorian Minister for Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs the Honourable James Merlino made the announcement alongside FFA Head of Game Development Matthew Bulkeley, FFV CEO Mark Rendell and Melbourne Victory CEO Geoff Miles.

The Honourable James Merlino said “this funding will help FFA deliver projects to encourage participation in football at a community level, particularly in schools, through FFV and Melbourne Victory FC. Currently, no other states are running similar initiatives.”

While not in attendance CEO of FFA, Ben Buckley, was keen to show his support of this funding and said that “the FFA was delighted to be partnering with the Victorian Government to deliver these innovative programs to support grassroots football.”

“Football is enjoyed by thousands of young children around Victoria, and supported by a small army of volunteer ‘mums and dads’ without whom we could not put games on the park every weekend.

It’s terrific for us to have the opportunity to pilot these innovative projects with the support of the Victorian Government and through Football Federation Victoria,” Mr Buckley said.

The funding has been allocated to initiatives and programs that will benefit Victoria’s football community, both in a club and school context, and has provided Melbourne Victory and FFV with a unique opportunity to conduct new and exciting projects.

"We believe the funding made available by the Victorian Government will have a direct impact on football in this state," Mr Rendell said.

"We outlined in our Strategic Plan earlier this year the need to generate additional revenue to invest in the growth of Victorian Football, and this falls into line with that.

"The commitment of $750,000 from the Victorian Government is a great start to what we are trying to achieve."

The new projects, which include the Victory Schools 5-a-side, a Volunteer Recognition Program, Grassroots Certificate Training and Small Sided Games Communication Strategy, have already received excellent feedback throughout Victoria.

FFV has been a major force behind the success of the projects, which also aim to strengthen the connection between Victory and Victoria’s football community and encourage participation in school football by teachers and students alike.

CEO of Melbourne Victory, Geoff Miles, said that “we as a club were excited about the opportunity to be involved in grassroots football through the Melbourne Victory Schools 5-a-side.

We look forward to the enthusiastic participation of boys and girls who will take part with their schools, and thank the Victorian Government for their great support of football development in Victoria through this initiative.

We are confident that this partnership between the Victorian Government, Football Federation Australia, Football Federation Victoria and Melbourne Victory will deliver enormous benefits for our sport at a time of great interest and growth in all levels of the game.”


FFA respond to criticism

It's a smart organisation that hear the criticism and responds.....quickly.

The FFA have moved fast to defuse ongoing debate among the football and wider community re:the Danny Vukovic tailored decision.

Let's have a review, fair enough, and then let's state it like it is.

DO NOT TOUCH THE REFEREE AT ANY LEVEL OF THE GAME....or else you're gone, World Cup, Olympic Games, A-League Grand Final or park football, whatever form of tribunal we have.


The disciplinary regulations of Football Federation Australia (FFA) are to be reviewed in time for the next Hyundai A-League season which starts in August.

FFA CEO Ben Buckley said that after three years of the Hyundai A-League competition, it is an appropriate time for a significant review.

“I want to ensure that football’s disciplinary provisions are not only consistent with those of the sport internationally, but also with community expectations within Australia.”

Buckley said that the current disciplinary process and the decisions handed down by disciplinary committees were independent of FFA, but their decisions have been made within the framework of the existing regulations and disciplinary provisions.

“The parameters of the disciplinary regulations were set more than three years ago and it has always been my intention to undertake this review now,” Buckley said.

“It is a sign of the growing maturity of the competition that we should do so, and it gives us an opportunity to address any inconsistencies in the current provisions.”

The review incorporates analysis of other systems including FIFA’s, the Asian Football Confederation’s and other football leagues, as well as consultation with legal practitioners, former football players, the AFL, NRL, referees and the players’ association, Hyundai A-League clubs and State member federations.

Issues to be considered include whether hearings should be open to the media, hearing procedures, consistency with the FIFA Disciplinary Code, accumulation of yellow cards in the Hyundai A-League competition and public release of judgements.

The review is expected to report by the end of June


Foreign football popular in Australia

While Rugby League and AFL are quick to say how strong their game is in Australia, and AFL is of that I have no doubt, here's the weeks viewing figures from PAYTV.

How acurate the figures are, who knows, but the ranking is what interests me.

Man United Chelsea ranked number 7 highest show of the week, in Australia, in the middle of the League, AFL and oh yeah the Union seasons.

Surprised me, as Fozzie tells us and has been saying it all day, English football is well not very good! No-one listening Fozzie eh:)

Even West Ham v Newcastle pulled a crowd. What next Blackburn Derby. Wake up Australia!

And Union would surely be concerned that The S14 Waratahs home game can't outrate Man United, although it did beat Coronation Street.

What does it all mean, anything you want I guess! Ratings below.

1 LIVE: NRL COWBOYS V STORM Fox Sports 2 Sat 19:30 328 328 1,373 740
2 LIVE: NRL RAIDERS V STORM Fox Sports 2 Mon 19:00 322 322 1,200 728
3 LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL SEA EAGLES V BULLDOGS Fox Sports 2 Sat 17:30 253 253 1,211 570
4 LIVE: NRL ROOSTERS V KNIGHTS Fox Sports 2 Sun 14:00 251 251 1,182 544
5 LIVE: NRL DRAGONS V ROOSTERS Fox Sports 2 Fri 15:00 243 243 1,088 497
6 LIVE: AFL CARLTON V ADELAIDE Fox Sports 1 Sat 14:00 230 230 1,183 574
7 LIVE: FOOTBALL: EPL CHELSEA V MAN UTD Fox Sports 2 Sat 21:30 195 195 1,102 474
8 LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL W COAST V PORT ADEL Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:30 173 173 1,081 573
9 LIVE: AFL MELBOURNE V CARLTON Fox Sports 1 Sun 13:00 166 166 1,127 554

14 LIVE: AFL PORT ADELAIDE V ST KILDA Fox Sports 1 Sat 19:30 141 141 1,345 581
15 THE SIMPSONS FOX8 Wed 19:17 137 169 1,032 2,013
16 LIVE: AFL PRE GAME SHOW Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:05 121 121 1,012 217
17 LIVE: RUGBY UNION: S14 WARATAHS V SHARKS Fox Sports 3 Sat 19:30 119 119 1,370 388
18 LIVE: AFL: ON THE COUCH Fox Sports 1 Mon 20:30 118 118 1,171 204
19 LIVE: NRL SATURDAY PRE GAME SHOW Fox Sports 2 Sat 16:55 116 116 1,181 282

28 LIVE: RUGBY UNION: S14 CHIEFS V REDS Fox Sports 3 Sat 17:30 89 89 1,211 278

35 LIVE: NRL MONDAY POST GAME SHOW Fox Sports 2 Mon 20:57 83 83 1,081 243
36 DRY SPELL GARDENING Lifestyle Thu 19:31 81 104 1,189 372
37 CORONATION STREET UKTV Fri 18:00 76 88 927 339
38 LIVE: FOOTBALL: EPL WEST HAM V NEWCASTLE Fox Sports 2 Sat 23:55 76 76 509 216

40 LIVE: RUGBY UNION: S14 CRUSADERS V BLUES Fox Sports 3 Fri 17:30 76 76 968 215
41 LIVE: NRL FRIDAY PRE GAME SHOW Fox Sports 2 Fri 14:30 76 76 940 145

50 GRAND DESIGNS Lifestyle Thu 20:38 72 97 1,048 757


Which leagues pay the most?

Michael Zullo got $30,000 last year for starring for Queensland Roar according to Mr Football Les Murray in a recent article.

With the continuing drift of Australian footballers to Europe I was wondering which were the top six paying leagues in the World.

And the reply I got was interesting. We're not talking quality football here, we're talking dosh, average wage.

No peeping until you've had a darn good guess. Answer below.

In order highest first:
and the English Championship

Obviously wages vary greatly within leagues and even clubs. Some Japanese or even Australian Clubs would be paying more to certain individuals.

Celtic and Rangers would presumably pay on par with the English Championship, and even some lower EPL sides, maybe.

But for an average wage, the English Championship coming in sixth stunned me.

TV revenue is the reason.

And still wages in the Championship can vary from $50,000 a year to $700,000 a year.

Explains perhaps why Nicky Carle, David Carney and Ruben Zadkovich are heading to the Championship rather than a better standard of football.

And also makes the $150,000 Olyroo marquee figure perhaps a tad insignificant don't you think?


Sport and politics do mix

Some say Sport and Politics don't and shouldn't mix. Dream on!

Sport is a vital part of Australian life, community life, and with the coming ACT elections it's interesting to see people standing for the local assembly with a keen interest in football.

The Labor parliament are currently spending $400,000 on Hawker lighting and pitch preparation. And expect a further football announcement in next months budget.

But of course their lack of support for an A-League bid leaves me cold.

And the Liberals have a leader in Zed Seselja who lists soccer as an interest. And former Soccer Canberra CEO Steve Doszpot, Brindabella Blues Under 8 Coach and Brindabella Blues Over 45 is also standing under the Liberal ticket.

Whatever your political view, from a football bloggers one-eyed view the more football people in the Assembly the better....and about time.

And with a huge community we need to have a loud voice in the local assembly.

Got any more Assembly candidates with a football edge, let me know.


Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Former Socceroos Captain Paul Okon goes Nearpost

powered by ODEO


Nearpost Radio:
We chat to former Socceroos and Lazio star Paul Okon,
Matildas star Heather Garriock on her 100th Cap and Womens European football.
Asian Champions League and all the footballl news, dedications, quiz questions and more.

Second half: Canberra Football.
Russ Gibbs reviews the Men's Premier League.
We preview the Women's Premier League with Belwest Captain Vanessa Burdett.
Marty Smith talks Rooball with Tuggeranong United Techincal Director Eugene Lawrenz.
Scores, views and all your local football talk.


Roy Masters: And your Sydney's best sports journo?

Roy Masters is the Sydney Morning Herald's Rugby League expert. He's also on the Board of the Australian Sports Commission

In his recent article factual errors abound.

The reality is that Sydney's parallel to the MCG is at Homebush and its equivalent of the 55,000-capacity Telstra Dome is the football stadium, with one NRL club playing there. Homebush's asset is its capacity, but the only games to fill it are the Bledisloe Cup, the NRL grand final and some State of Origin matches.

Dear Roy never seen a Socceroos game sell-out at Homebush...oh an oversight Roy surely:), even for one of Australia's "finest" journo's.

And of course he starts his article with mindless Royism's

Australia's two most popular football codes are celebrating anniversaries this season. Rugby league was 100 years old last Sunday, when Wests and Balmain re-enacted the code's beginning at Birchgrove Oval.

On what criteria Roy are they the most popular?

Numbers who play?
Professional sport across most States?
Most juniors?
Biggest National Team viewing audiences?
Biggest Grand Final viewing audiences?
Most women playing?

They may be the most popular sports Roy, in your eyes and many others, but I'm not sure they'd win all the categories would they?

Anyway Roy you're the foremost Sports Commentator in Sydney, a member of the Australian Sports Commission, I'm sure you're not biased are you! You just conveniently forget to include Socceroos v Uruguay..and the forthcoming match v watch.

Here's the rest of Roy's article. Basically talked of how Sydney transport is to blame for poor League crowds compared to AFL in Melbourne.

Yeah Roy, come and have a chat next time your in Canberra at one of your Sports Commission meetings, I'll give you a dose of reality...mate!


Monday, 28 April 2008

On your marks Heather Garriock

Get set, go. The Matildas may have lost to the USA today, see FFA report below, but Heather Garriock has no time to dwell on the game.

She's flying back to Denmark for the Cup Final and then will fly back to the USA for Saturday's international in Birmingham, Alabama.

Come on Heather, hurry up, change your boots and go. And good luck!


The United States Women's Football team have grabbed a dramatic late winner to record a 3-2 win over the Matildas in an international match at Cary, North Carolina today.

The number one team in women's football appeared to be cruising with a 2-0 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of the match but late goals from Kate Gill (86th minute) and Australian captain Cheryl Salisbury (88th) saw the scores tied at 2-2 heading into extra time .

But there was one more twist to come. The USA won a free kick from 30 metres out, with the cross punched into the air by Matildas goalkeeper, Lydia Williams, only to see it fall to American midfielder Carli Lloyd who headed the ball into the back of the net to seal a dramatic win.

Torrential rain prior to kick-off saw the match delayed by almost an hour but when the match finally did get underway both teams had good chances to score early.

The USA took the lead when Natasha Kai slotted home in 35th minute after a great pass into the box from Lloyd.

Early in the second half it became 2-0 when Amy Rodriguez made a 35 yard run before crossing to Abby Wambach who headed home.

Gill's goal for Australia was set up midfielder Heather Garriock, playing her 100th full international, crossed the ball to find Gill at the back post to head home.

Soon after the restart Lori Chalupny was judged to have handled the ball in the penalty box. Salisbury 's shot was initially blocked by goalkeeper, Hope Solo, before heading home the rebound to tie the scores.

Matildas Coach Tom Sermanni said the Australians did well to stay in the match after falling behind.

"The pitch drained well and it was very slick and created a fast-paced match which suited the USA more than us," said Sermanni.

"The team responded well to going two goals behind. When you are playing the number one team in the world you could throw in the towel at that point but we didn't and that was very pleasing."

" Having said that, it was disappointing to get it back to 2-2 and then concede again but we did superbly well to draw level.

"The USA has played at least a dozen matches against top teams and there was a bit of a difference in match fitness but we did well to come back late in the game ," Sermanni said.

The Matildas will play their second match against the USA on Saturday 3 May in Birmingham, Alabama and Sermanni indicated he will make some changes.

"Several players who didn't start will be given an opportunity in the next match," added Sermanni.

"We had the chance to give some of the younger players their first really tough international match today and they played well especially Lydia Williams who made some great saves in difficult conditions."

Sermanni also paid tribute to Garriock who became the youngest Australian footballer to reach 100 caps.

"Heather had a tremendous game and it's testimony not only to her ability but her commitment that she has reached this milestone," said Sermanni.

"She is a player who you can pick every game. She is always available and it says a lot about her character and commitment ."

"Over the three and a bit years I have been in charge she has matured into a seasoned professional international player."


USA 3 (Kai 35', Wambach 49', Lloyd 90+') defeated Australia 2 (Gill 86', Salisbury 88')
at WakeMed Stadium; Cary, N.C.


AUS: 18-Lydia Williams; 3-Karla Reuter (19-Kim Carroll, 76), 5-Cheryl Salisbury – Capt., 11-Clare Polkinghorne, 16-Lauren Colthorpe; 7-Heather Garriock (2-Kate McShea, 89), 13-Amy Chapman (12-Kate Gill, 58), 14-Collette McCallum, 15-Sally Shipard (6-Amber Neilson, 65); 9-Sarah Walsh (22-Selin Kuralay, 82), 17-Kyah Simon (20-Joanne Burgess, 59).
Subs not used: 1-Melissa Barbieri

USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts (26-Rachel Buehler, 53), 3-Christie Rampone – Capt., 15-Kate Markgraf (4-Cat Whitehill, 46), 17-Lori Chalupny; 9-Heather O’Reilly (16-Angela Hucles, 67), 7-Shannon Boxx (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 68), 11-Carli Lloyd, 13-Tobin Heath (21-Kacey White, 46); 6-Natasha Kai (19-Amy Rodriguez, 46), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry

Next Match
Saturday, May 3
USA v Australia
Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama, 4pm local time (7am AEST Sunday)
Stuart Hodge


Next Canberran for the A-League?

Robbie Cattanach is getting a big wrap over at fourfourtwo

Pity we don't have our own team with all these Canberrans filling spots at other clubs. Good luck Robbie!


USA 3 Australia 2

Never say die Australia, nearly pulled off a great comeback. Instead they somehow blew it in the 93rd minute!

In the 89th minute they were 2-0 down to powerhouse USA, and somehow clawed back to 2-2. A draw was a certainty or so they must have thought.

The Matildas were 2-0 down at half-time. Cheryl Salisbury scored a penalty in the
89th minute, quickly followed by a Kate Gill goal, and then disaster struck with a late late USA goal.

Local Matildas Lydia Williams, Sally Shipard and Amy Chapman started for the Aussies against the USA this morning.

All the game details you could ever want here.


Sunday, 27 April 2008

Monday wrap:

AIS, Matildas, Paul Okon, SBS telly talk, Tony Antonis, Kanga Cup, Harry Kewell, Sydney FC and more.

Paul Okon, David Zdrillic, Michael Valkanis, Carl Veart and Steve Corica are in Canberra this week. They are all currently undertaking their B Licence Coaching certificate.

Fourteen year old Sydney boy Terry Antonis is off to Everton in England. Fozzie says it's the most crucial issue facing Australia. Young player development.

Kanga Cup ad! Kanga Cup ad on SBS. Nearly fell off me seat!

Four Canberrans in the AIS team that lost 2-1 to Melbourne Knights in Ballaret on the Anzac Day.

Dane Milovanovic, Sam Munro, Ivan Pavlak and Kofi Danning all started. And Matthew Grbesa was on the Knights side. Any Youth League places for these players?

Matildas Big game today against USA, a side Australia has never beaten. A sold out crowd in North Carolina here's hoping the Aussies get a win.

Paul Okon will be on the Nearpost radio this week.

Harry Kewell to be called up for Ghana game. SBS reported this afternoon

Sydney FC aiming for 10,000 members. SBS highlighted the work Sydney are doing, finally, in developing relationships with junior clubs. Great work Sydney.


ACT Men's Premier League Scores

Hear local football expert Russ Gibbs on the Nearpost on Tuesday, local football starts 7pm. Men's scores below

O'Connor Knights 5 Queanbeyan City 2
Tuggernong United 0 Canberra FC 1
Belconnen United 2 Canberra Olympic 1
ANU 2 Canberra City 0

Women's League
Belwest suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Woden Valley.


Victory long ball specialists

Melbourne Victory love the long ball. Hands up all those who disagree.

Okay Ernie you can put your hand down now and read with me!

Michael Lynch from The Age says,

"Merrick likes his team to play the 30 metre pass....."

I wish Michael it was only 30 metres!

The sight of the talented Kevin Muscat lifting his head to float the ball 40 or 50 yards to the head of Danny Allsopp in the Asian Champions League or Allsopp and his mate Adrian Caceres being caught offside again and again as, one can only assume,team-mates are told to pass it, pump it, float it or just hoof it long by Coach Ernest Merrick left me dumbfounded.

Did Ernie learn nothing from the season just gone? Did he not read the Victory forums this season?

Thank God the long ball playing Grant Brebner was injured for Asia.

Michael Lynch from The Age wrote what many many fans having been saying for Ages.

Melbourne played a lot of long diagonal balls into the channels which were comfortably dealt with, and it struggled to keep the ball.

Merrick likes his teams to play 30-metre passes into space for the strikers to run on to. It's a style that suits a counter-attacking team when the forwards are quick and develop a good understanding — as Thompson, Allsopp and Brazilian Fred did in 2006-07. But A-League sides largely worked them out last season and it has cut little ice in the ACL.

Thing that's gets me is when a tactic doesn't work....ever, can't a Coach change to plan B.

Ernie could be on the nose.
Can Melbourne afford to risk leaving him in the job for Season 4?


The cost of playing football.

Good job Fozzie. SBS Commentator Craig Foster has hit at the heart of many, many people's thoughts in his recent article. Craig Foster discusses registrations fees, State and Club coffers and FFA's "our hands our tied," response.

Indeed I'm forever having to defend the cost to friends of football registration compared to other codes. Like it's my fault:)

Fozzie raises some interesting questions, and more importantly stokes a solution.
The idea, mentioned in the article, that Aussie football blog world brings together many many fans and intellects is certainly correct.

Indeed I think the internet, or t'internet, as they say in Yorkshire, has saved football in this country.

T'internet has given many many fans a chance to keep up with the news of Australian football, when let's face it without it, and PayTV, who would know anything about the A-League, the Off-season or any other Aussie football chat.

So Fozzies idea to draw on this resource is a strong one. One that must surely have come from frustration with the FFA's inability to tackle the issues concerned.

It also comes from someone who is involved at grassroots level. If you're not you're probably not aware of the fees, compared to other codes, and probably not concerned what the mums and dads of interest-raising Australia are thinking.

Fozzie also raises the amount of money being poured into academies by parents. Some great, some not so skilled, but many privately run and the money goes where exactly?

All State and Territory Federations have a massive resource. Thousands and thousands of children and adults spending money on football, not just registration fees, but adcademy costs, kits, balls, boot and travel. Football has huge resources.

Are those registered getting value for money?

Is football getting value for money?

Perhaps the business community can be harnessed to increase our benefits, decrease our costs and levies. Our customer base is....huge and increasingly powerful and talented across Australia.

The questions, structure of the money, and opportunities need to be asked.
So Economists or Students with time who want to write the report for football, hey that sounds like me, contact the Foz and he may well send you on a numbers crunch to end all number crunches.

This is no easy task, and would I think require more than one bod, but it needs to be done.

Truth is football is such a huge business in Australia this report needs to be financed for "the good of the game."

Go on do it for football!


Know your Australian football?

Who is the youngest Australian to reach 100 caps?
Answer below

Matildas Heather Garriock plays her 100th game today against USA in North Carolina, and she's only 26! She's the youngest man or women to reach 100 Australia caps.

Did you know Heather plays her club football in Denmark with Fortuna Hjorring.

And she's a busy women. After playing the USA today, she is flying back for the Danish Cup Final before returning for the second USA international on May 3rd.

And then she's back for three more Danish League games. If goal-a-game Garriock's table topping side win the Danish title she expects to be back to play in the UEFA Women's Champions League next season against the likes of Arsenal.


Saturday, 26 April 2008

Matildas/Socceroos double header.

Matildas to take on Canada followed by Socceross Ghana.

Great work FFA, when would you see this in Cricket, AFL, Rugby etc. Great move I reckon.


The Matildas will revisit their historic qualification for last year's FIFA Women's World Cup quarter finals when they face a rematch against Canada as part of a double-header at the Sydney Football Stadium on May 23 preceding the Qantas Socceroos match against African powerhouse Ghana.

In possibly the most dramatic moment in the history of Australian women's football, the Matildas snatched a injury time equaliser through inspirational skipper Cheryl Salisbury to ensure a first-ever progression past the group stage in a major tournament and in the process eliminate the Canadians from last September's World Cup.

The Australian team will depart the following day for the AFC Women's Asian Cup in Vietnam where they will attempt to be the first Australian team to win an Asian championship having narrowly missed out two years ago losing the final against China in Adelaide on penalties.

The highly rated Canadians are ranked ninth in the world having recently qualified for the Beijing Olympics.

"This match will be a great opportunity for supporters to see the Matildas compete at close quarters against a top-ten nation," said coach Tom Sermanni.

"It promises to be a fantastic rematch after that memorable and tense World Cup match last year between two evenly matches teams."

The match will commence at 5.15pm to be followed by Australia v Ghana at 8pm (Gates open at 5pm).


Australia v. Canada (Women)
Australia v, Ghana (Men)
Friday 23rd May 2008
Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
Kick Off 5.15pm and 8pm
Gates Open 5 pm

Ticket Prices -
Category A - $80 – all tickets
Category B - $60 Adult, $30 Concession, $150 Family
Category C - $40 Adult, $20 Concession, $100 Family

2-Match Pass with China
Category A - $160 - all tickets
Category B - $115 Adult, $55 Concession, $285 Family
Category C - $75 Adult, $35 Concession, $185 Family
Ticket Prices are inclusive of GST & Booking Fee. Transaction charges may apply.
Concession (Pensioner, Student, Child)
Pensioner - Aged,TPI (valid ID cards) including seniors cards
Student - Full time tertiary and secondary school students (valid ID required)
Child - 4–16 years inclusive (children 3 years and under are free unless they are occupying a seat)
Family Definition
2 Adults and 2 Children or 1 Adult and 3 Children
Tickets on sale now
Via Ticketek
Phone 132 849
All Ticketek Outlets


Friday, 25 April 2008

The Weekender: Where to for Nathan Burns?

The Weekender is a football article written every week by anyone. Today it's me. It covers Canberra football or football in it's broadest sense. It's aim is to ensure Canberrans can wake up on a Saturday to an article re:football written by one of their own.

With 17,000 players that's the least we deserve!

The Daily Telegraph's David Davutovic was on Total Football this week discussing Socceroo Nathan Burns rumoured July 1, $500,000 transfer to Norwegian side SK Brann Bergen.

"I think it would be a step-up." said Dave, and he wasn't joking!

Dave, didn’t you see Shane Stefanutto's one and only Socceroos performance last year after years in the Norwegian league!

And even Dave, if as you point out, Brann Bergen are in the Champions League, whoopee do.

They are in the Qualifying rounds and when they draw Liverpool or Arsenal is Nathan really going to improve after just two games chasing Lampard and Gerrard around the park. Then what back to the Norwegian league?

Burns has the potential to create a goal. More than former Sydney FC’s Ruben Zadkovich, more than ex-Newcastle Jets tricky Nicky Carle and more than flying winger and Socceroos full-back David Carney. All three, it should be noted, have gone to England to the Championship.

And goal creation is worth big dollars in any league in modern football.

So why is Burns off to Norway?

Has Graham Arnold and co suggested it? Can’t imagine they would think a couple of years in some Norwegian backwater is going to lift his game and profile higher than playing Olympic football, A-League and potentially the latter stages of the Asian Champions League.

Maybe Burns himself is under confident. He’s not that quick, a crucial ingredient for any player no matter how skilful in the modern game.

But neither is tricky Nicky and he’s making his fortune in England, or so it seems.

Burns certainly lacks consistency. But the injuries and travelling involved for Olyroo qualifiers hardly helped his cause last season.

But Burns can score, and Burns can influence a game much more than many A-League Australians.

Burns can win a game single-handedly. How many Australians in the three years of A-League football can do that?

So Burns should stay one more year.

Then forget Norway.

Head to Holland, the English Premiership, Germany or even Italy.

85% of players going overseas never move beyond the level of club they first move to. That must be a concern for Australian fans, if not for Burns.

Imagine staying in Norway for the rest of your football days. Why bother going?

Burns is one of our shining stars. He already has a Socceroos cap, Asian Champions League, and Olyroos experience.

He’s played Grand Finals, he’s won games.

He can get you out of your seat with a flick of the hips, a slide of a pass, a dribble. How many Aussies can do that in the A-League? With his style?

Australia needs the boy from Bathurst to improve, potentially be part of our World Cup campaign, and maybe burst onto the World Stage in 2010.

It’s only 2 years away. Will he burst on to the World Cup stage from Norway?

Maybe we've overrated Burns, but many of us who saw Mark Viduka, Brett Emerton, Vinnie Grella and Jason Culina running around the old NSL have a good measure.

With Viduka the goals told us everything. Emerton ran so hard no-one could ever stop him, or Culina. Grella, was not fast, but he played the ball years above his age. Burns is not fast, but he can create.

He’s not Harry Kewell, not at 17 or even 21.

But Burns may be another Tim Cahill. A late developer. Who, in Australian football, knew Timmy at 21? Kicking around for Millwall in the Eastend of London.

Five years later, he’s as well known in Australia as any other sportsman.

It seems Burns will head to Norway. If he does it would be a disastrous move for him, and for Australia.

Is Norway the best league one of our star Olyroos can get to? Carney, Carle, Michael Beauchamp, Dario Vidosic and Zadkovich suggests not.

And Adelaide United, and the FFA, should ask who is advising him.

Dave, from the Telegraph, it’s not you is it?


Olyroos head north.

Canberra's Nikolai Topor-Stanley looks a certainty for the Under 23 World Cup being held in Beijing this year.

Interestingly the suspended Danny Vukovic is in the squad.

Qantas Under 23s head to Townsville for Olympic Games Preparation Camp

Qantas Under 23s Head Coach Graham Arnold has selected a 17-man squad which will head to Townsville from the 1-8 May for a Pre-Olympic Games Training camp.

Shortly after the 8 day camp in North Queensland, the Qantas Under 23s will fly out to Malaysia to compete at the Intercontinental U-23 Football Championship against fellow 2008 Beijing Olympic Games participants Argentina and Nigeria, along with Croatia, Ghana, Iraq, Republic of Ireland and Malaysia.

The North Queensland training venue was selected by Arnold due to the similarity in climate to Malaysia and also to simulate the conditions that the team will experience at the Olympic Games in August.

“We are expecting the conditions in Malaysia and China to be around 30 degrees with 80% humidity,” said Arnold.

“Currently, the Townsville climate is very similar to those conditions and it will give the players an opportunity to acclimatise and prepare themselves for the next 3months leading into the Olympic Games.”

“With the exception of the Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United players, most of the players are just returning from their post Hyundai A-League season break and a camp like this is important for them to re-establish match fitness and focus.”

“For some players, it will be the last opportunity to make a claim for a place in the final squad that will be selected to compete at the Olympics,” concluded Arnold.

The Qantas Under 23s will be training at the Townsville Sports Reserve and will also be conducting a number of community activities throughout the week.

1 – 8 MAY 2008

Nigel Boogaard (Central Coast Mariners), Mark Bridge (Sydney FC), Adam D’Apuzzo (Newcastle Jets), Tarek Elrich (Newcastle Jets), Troy Hearfield (Wellington Phoenix), Jason Hoffman (Newcastle Jets), James Holland (Newcastle Jets), Mark Milligan (Uncontracted), Tahj Minniecon (Queensland Roar), Stuart Musialik (Sydney FC), Nikita Rukavysta (Perth Glory), Matt Simon (Central Coast Mariners), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Perth Glory), Tando Velaphi (Perth Glory), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Ruben Zadkovich (Derby - England), Michael Zullo (Queensland Roar)


10,000 to Canberra Pre-Season Cup?

Fourfourtwo are reporting there may be a shorter Pre-Season Cup this year.

Sounds good, especially if a couple of overseas teams could tour, or Aussies could head overseas. And why not?

July and August is exactly the times when overseas clubs need games. And let's face it there are a million football clubs around the World who would like to come to Sydney and particularly Queensland in winter.

As for Canberra. Rumours abound that we will get two Pre-season games this season.Assuming the pre-season cup continues to travel. Be mad not to.

But will we get 10,000 at a game in Canberra. Wouldn't that give the FFA food for thought?

Type rest of the post here


Featured match: ACT Premier League

Featured Match:
Tuggeranong United v Canberra FC
(Kambah 2-1) kick off 3pm

Catch Russ Gibbs Premier League match report on the Nearpost Tuesday 6.30pm, and here on the podcast on Wednesday. Russ and Chris Gottaas will discuss this weeks games live on air.


Thursday, 24 April 2008

Huge turn out for Under 23 World Cup torch relay

2 of 12,000

Over 12,000 Chinese fans turned out to support the Under 23 World Cup Torch Run in Canberra today.

From a football point of view, a great turnout. From a social perspective a stunning display of aggressive, passionate nationalism by the Chinese in Australia. Simply mindblowing.

The young Chinese were simply united in their voice and desire to shout down any Tibetan protestor. A sign of the future?

Their desire to voice their support for China over Tibet in a foreign country was, to me, slightly disturbing, certainly shocking.
Back to the football,

and of course to celebrate the football Under 23 World Cup torch run, it was fitting that small sided games were played while the torch was being run on the grass around Parliament House.

And also nice to see people from other sports like swimming, archery and athletics joining with their football friends. Ian Thorpe, Matt Walsh and even Kevin Gosper and his daughter all gave the support to Danny Vukovic and the Olyroos.

Locals were shocked by the numbers of young Chinese students walking the streets of the sedate national capital carrying flags.

I was shocked. I've been to some big football games, but this display was amazing. Watching the young Chinese walk the streets of Canberra after the Torch run, all still carrying their flags in one and two's as they rode bikes or headed off to elsewhere, seemed eerie in Canberra.

The passion for their country to intimidate the Tibetan protestors was simply stunning.

It felt strange to see buses dropping load after load of students into the National Capital early this morning.

The War Memorial was one dropping point.

"Out of the fog, Chinese flags could be seen walking down Anzac Parade towards the ceremony," said one observer.

Although Australians did turnout clearly without the Chinese supporters the torch didn't seem to mean too much to the Canberrans despite local media hype, and there was plenty.

Over 50 buses came from Melbourne alone.

"I was protesting peacefully with Tibetan supporters, when a large number of Chinese surrounded us. They were very aggressive and told us, 'to go back to Tibet,' which we would if we felt safe," said a caller to the ABC.

At another point one Tibetan supporter was surrounded by 200 hundred Chinese supporters.

Apart from a reported 8 arrests, a huge amount of money spent by someone to organise Chinese student travel, flags, and very new banners, not to mention the very shiny new interstate cars in Canberra, things were reasonably peaceful.

And it made me think:

How many Chinese will turn up for the World Cup Qualifier in Sydney in June? Better get your ticket and your colours now!


Local Legend predicts ACT Premiership outcome.

Jeremy Butler: A local football visionary.

Football Tragic Jeremy Butler joined us at the Nearpost, with Matchday Reporter Russell Gibbs this week. Jeremy is Club Captain with one of the Cities biggest clubs Tuggeranong United FC. Organiser of Charity events, developing a community sporting facility and winning the Men's Premier League are all part of his dreams.

Read their Premier League Predictions below:

Don't agree with the Duo's predictions? Prove it on the park:)
Belconnen United: Top two finish

Russ: Astute signings with Dustin Wells coming back.

Jeremy says: Definitely top two. A lot of young boys coming through. Danny Macor knocks them in for fun. He's slowing but he's getting smarter, that's our problem!

O'Connor Knights:
Russ: Would have been a little disappointed to get Canberra FC the week after the Federation Cup Final. Dominic Matic at the back, runs the show. Top three for me.

Jeremy says: Will definitely finish in the top four.

Queanbeyan City: Bottom 3 or 4.

Russ: Haven't seen too much of them yet, but I think bottom 3 or 4.
Jeremy says: Bottom 3 or 4 for me

Woden Valley: Will struggle
Russ: Not a great start, Paul Gagetti mentioned his team didn't fight hard enough on the weekend. That's a worry in the first game of the season.

Jeremy says: Great Youth development program but not had a great start. If they can keep some of their young players in the future they'll be very strong.

Canberra City: Bottom 3.
Russ: A young side will find it hard
Jeremy:They will struggle I think

Canberra Olympic: Russ: Very strong side, class all over the park. On the weekend with 9 men they didn't stop playing. They could have won by more.
Jeremy says: Sometimes they turn up and sometimes they don't.

ANU FC: Middle of the table
Russ: Will give all sides a good run for their money.
Jeremy: Darren Viskovich will have this side well prepared. They will make teams earn their points.

Canberra FC: Number 1
Russ: Definitely top two, have recuited well again.
Jeremy: Always very hard to beat, Even when you think you might have them, they always step up and have the players who can.

Tuggeranong United:Definitely top four.
Russ: Over to Jeremy
Jeremy: Missed out by one point last year, and the Gaffer (Coach Scott Conlon) knows where we missed that point and will make sure we know what we need to do to get in the four this time. And we will. 3rd or 4th for us. Once you are in the final anything can happen.


Canberran moves to Newcastle

Shaun Ontong has joined the Newcastle Jets for next season.

Adelaide United FC , midfielder Shaun Ontong and has been released by the club. United Coach Aurelio Vidmar informed Ontong that he would not be part of the club’s 2008/09 plans once his contracts expire in June.

A former Qantas Young Socceroos Captain, Ontong managed 9 appearances in his debut Hyundai A-League Season, the 21 year old winning Adelaide United’s Best Team Man Award along the way.

“Shaun can find himself extremely unlucky. We made a decision that we didn’t think he would be a starting eleven player next season, and we think it is important that he finds some first team football to continue his development,” Vidmar said.

Ontong in the meantime has signed a two year deal with the Newcastle Jets and could join his new team mates before United’s 2008 AFC Champions League Group Stage campaign ends.

“While it is disappointing to be leaving Adelaide, it will be an exciting new challenge for me in Newcastle, and I look forward to cementing a spot with the Jets and moving into the next chapter of my career,” Ontong said.

“I want to thank Aurelio Vidmar and the Adelaide United Football Club for giving me an opportunity to be part of their squad and helping me to develop and improve both as a player and a person. I wish the club all the best for the future.”


Canberrans to take on USA

Canberrans Amy Chapman, Caitlin Munoz, Lydia Williams and former local Sally Shipard are in the Matildas squad to take on America in two huge internationals, first one on Sunday in North Carolina.

Chappo, as Amy is known, has forced her way into the squad since the World Cup and will be hoping to get some game time.

The team flew out today, half their luck!

FFA Release below:


The Australian women's football team, the Matildas, are aiming to break their duck against the number one team in world football, the USA, according to captain Cheryl Salisbury.

Australia is yet to defeat the United States in 18 encounters, 16 of which have been losses.

"But we've come very close to beating them in our past two or three matches and hopefully the first breakthrough will happen on this tour," said Salisbury who has played in nearly all of Australia's matches against the USA.

"The players are excited to be together again . It's the first time we have gone away since the World Cup and we have the Asian Cup in Vietnam next month so this tour will give us great preparation."

"USA is the current Olympic champion and, with Beijing not far away, they will be going all out to put in a good performance."

The Australian team departed today and will face up to the perennial superpower of women's football on April 27 in Cary, North Carolina, and May 3 in Birmingham, Alabama.

"It is fantastic that there is so much interest from other nations in playing us," added Salisbury.

"Making the quarter finals of the World Cup really put us on the map and there are nations now chasing us for matches ."

Midfielder Heather Garriock, currently playing professionally with Danish Club Fortuna Hjorring, will be looking to become the youngest Australian , at age 25, to reach 100 caps in the first match against the United States.

The Sydneysider, who will meet up with the squad in the USA, is set to join the century club alongside team mates Salisbury and Joanne Peters, as well as retired defender Anissa Tann.

The Matildas squad for the United States tour is:

Goalkeepers – Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne), Lydia Williams (Canberra)
Defenders – Di Alagich (Sydney), Kim Carroll (Brisbane), Lauren Colthorpe (Brisbane), Kate McShea (Brisbane), Karla Reuter (Brisbane), Cheryl Salisbury (Newcastle), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane)
Midfielders – Joanne Burgess (Brisbane), Amy Chapman (Canberra), Heather Garriock (Sydney), Collette McCallum (Perth), Amber Neilson (Newcastle), Joanne Peters (Newcastle), Sally Shipard (Brisbane)
Forwards – Kate Gill (Newcastle), Caitlin Munoz (Canberra), Kyah Simon (Sydney), Sarah Walsh (Sydney)
(current home city)

The Matildas are preparing for the 2008 AFC Women's Asian Cup to be held from May 28 – June 8, 2008, in Vietnam.

Tour Fixtures:
Sunday, April 27
USA v Australia
WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, Nth Carolina, 7pm local time (9am AEST Monday)

Saturday, May 3
USA v Australia
Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama, 4pm local time (7am AEST Sunday)

The Matildas moved to an all-time high world ranking of 12 following the FIFA Women's World Cup, while the United States last month reclaimed their world number one ranking after their win in the 12-nation Algarve Cup.


Burns' Night: Adelaide cruise home.

How far can Nathan go?

Nathan Burns set the Asian Champions League alight last night. It was the most stunning individual display by an Australian since the Aussies have entered the tournament.

But how far can he go?

He created three goals in ten minutes changing the game, and more importantly, winning the game single handedly for his team.

It was beautiful to watch and came at a point in the game when Vietnamese side Binh Duong were looking stronger and had just hit the post.

Adelaide won 4-1 and top the group with two intriguing games to go.

Burns well he may or may not be around for them if we believe the rumours. But where and when should he go?

Nathan Burns is an undeniable talent. Sometimes!

He has produced perhaps some of the A-Leagues best moments last season, but for large parts he struggled to reach his high standards.

He looks back to his best but can he do it next time, against more difficult opposition? Probably.

He will head off overseas, no doubt. But he should stay at least one more season.

Nicky Carle and David Carney are in the English Championship, Carle potentially ready to move to the Premier League if Bristol City go up.

Nathan Burns will be better than Carle at his age, by a long way.

Burns creates goals, and plenty of them. He also scores something Carle for all his beautiful play does neither in abundance, certainly Carle is not a regular goalscorer.

Burns should stay one more season. For the Beijing Under 23 World Cup and another A-League season where he should be really able to boss the league, and reach a far higher level of consistency.

Then he could surely head to a Premier League side, a la Adrian Leijer, or to a team higher up the Dutch or even German Leagues.

He is rumoured to be off to Norway. A waste of time.

With his talent, and a another year, surely if Ruben Zakovich can go to Derby, Carle to Bristol City and Carney to Sheffield United, Burns can claim more in terms of wages and quality.

Norway ain't it.


Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Oh Danny Boy, you lucky lucky boy

Great to see Danny Vukovic get the chance to go to the Olympics. I'm delighted, and I never felt the offence meant he should miss the Olympics, but given the timing of the actions and suspension what else could you do?

Well silly me, Danny can have a little break from suspension. Now why didn't I think of that?

Somehow his suspension will have a little break, to ensure Danny if selected, can go to the Olympics. Then when the Olympics is over he'll continue, assuming he's still in Australia, with his suspension.

I'm delighted for Vukovic, but this is a laughable decision by anyone's standards.

Perhaps the crime doesn't match the punishment. Missing the Olympics. Perhaps.

Perhaps Barry Hall, Nick D'Arcy and others in other Australian sports, has put Danny's actions into perspective.

Either way it doesn't send a good message to the Referees the players and fans of our game.

FFA Release:

23 April 2008

The independent Appeals Committee, arising from the red card (send off) offence of Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners) at the Hyundai A-League 2008 Grand Final on 24 February 2008, handed down its decision today.

The committee, comprised of John Sackar QC, Michael Christie SC and former professional player, Jeromy Harris, heard the appeal by Vukovic represented by Bob Ellicott QC on 10 April.

The Appeals Committee decided that Vukovic be suspended from all games up to 24 June 2008 and from all games from 29 August – 5 October 2008 inclusive.

The Appeals Committee also decided that Vukovic should not play in any games from 6 October 2008 – 25 January 2009 inclusive, with the latter penalty to be suspended subject to no further infringement in the period up to, and including 25 January 2009.

The Appeals Committee also fined Vukovic $10,000 to be paid to the FFA.

The Appeals Committee decision overturns the original suspension of the independent Match Review Panel in February which banned Vukovic for 15 months (of which six months was suspended), a sentence reduced to 12 months (with three months suspended) last month by the independent Disciplinary Committee.

Under FFA regulations, the independent Appeals Committee may impose a range of sanctions and determine the scope and duration of the sanction.

The effect of the Appeals Committee decision means that Vukovic will not be eligible to play in the Hyundai A-League competition again until 6 October 2008, but he is eligible for selection to the Australian Olympic team.


20,000 for Juventus/Victory already!

Everyone loves a lady, especially the Old Lady of Turin as Juventus are often called.

Melbourne Victory fans have snapped up 20,000 tickets for the May friendly, and the tickets are yet to be put on public sale.
Feels like a sellout.

Me, I like competitive games every time. Friendlies schmendlies!


Kaz Patafta to start in Japan?

Looks like Kaz Patafta may start for the Victory against Gamba Osaka tonight.
Just reading the tea leaves this afternoon and that's what they said.

Game starts 8pm on Fox. Will Kaz start his first Victory competitive game?


Capital Football Academy in Sydney

Two Capital Football Academy boys teams travelled to Sydney today to take on a Sydney Metros side.

The Under 13 side beat the Sydney Metros 4-3.

Goals from Alex Popovic, Tyson Cottam 2 and Jas Abarquez secured the win in extremely wet conditions

The Academy program aims to develop the boys through local league and other fixtures.

"The emphasis, for us, is not on winning, but we want to be competitive. The Under 14side is playing in the Under 16 league this year, and we've done okay in pre-season with a couple of wins so that will give the boys confidence against the older boys," said Capital Football Technical Director Ian Shaw.

The Under 14 boys side were leading 2-0 with a few minutes remaining.


Aussie hopes rest with Adelaide United

Asian Champions League tonight.

Both games live on Fox at the same time, 7:30pm!

Adelaide to win 3-0 against Vietnamese side Binh Duong, And Melbourne to lose 4-1 in Japan.

Adelaide are clearly a great chance to go through with two home games followed by the probable group decider against Changchun Yatai on the last day.

Melbourne, they could capitulate tonight against, I reckon, the most attacking and skilful side to come to Australia for the Asian Champions League. >


Australian Bloggers: Ahead of the game.

It's trumpet time, time to blow my own so here goes!

Football in the Capital at Blogged

Received an email from See the contents/criteria under read more below. Currently there are 290 football blogs, professional and knowledgeable, ranked from around the World.

The Football bloggers of Australia have been ranked and I'm pleased to say we are doing the Aussie footy community proud.

Nearpost has ranked number 30,
Sydney Morning Herald 31,
The Football Tragic 41
Seat at the A-League 43
Footballdownunderand beyond47
TheRoundBallAnalyst 54

And the best Celticblog came in around 133:) So much for football culture!

Dear Football in the Capital's blog author,

Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it an 8.4 score out of (10) in the Sports/Soccer (Football) category of

This is quite an achievement!

We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style.
After carefully reviewing each of these criteria, your site was given its 8.4 score.

Click on the "Show this rating on your blog!" link underneath the score and follow the instructions provided.

Please accept my congratulations on a blog well-done!!


Amy Liu

Love ya Amy, congratulations accepted:)


Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Nearpost Radio Tuesday

powered by ODEO


National Show:
Former SBS Commentator, and now Gladiators host Andy Paschalidis talks about his new football project.
Meet the new Matilda. 16 yearold, Indigenous star midfielder/forward, Kyah Simon.
Fitsum, Michella and Eamonn look forward to the Asian Champions League.
And the Big Issue of the week. Can the Olyroos qualify? Dedications, Quiz questions and more.

Local Show;
Club Focus: Tuggeranong United FC.
Russell Gibbs Big Match report: Canberra Olympic v Canberra City
ACT Men's Premier League Season preview through the eyes of Russ, Tuggers Captain Jeremy Butler and Eamonn. We're bound to get it right.
All the scores, the week ahead.
Neil Zimmerman reports: AIS in the Foxtel Cup.
And more, oh just so much more!


Should we go Dutch?

Former AIS Head Coach Steve O'Connor is gone, to Sydney FC. And despite offering to take the Young Socceroos to the Asia Cup in October, it seems the FFA have other plans.

Should we go Dutch?
Should we employ one of the 200 Englishmen who are sure to apply.
Should we stay Aussie. And is it not a tad late to get someone in place for preparations for the October tournament given the process and getting someone in will probably take three months.

Go and apply here, if you are Dutch:)

Under 20 Socceroos Coach


Six Canberrans in the Young Matildas

Canberra had a strong representation at the recent Young Matildas Camp despite what you may have thought from reading this blog!

Steph Tokich Jennifer Bisset Rebecca Kiting Bronwyn Studman Christine Walters and Maja Blasch were all part of the recent Young Matildas camps.

All played a significant in the games during the camp. However The girls names didn't appear on any FFA releases.

Apparently to keep costs down the local players stayed at home rather than at the AIS.

Still well done to the girls and we wish them well with their football futures.

And four Canberrans were nominated for the Under 17 side but were unable to attend camp due to various injuries.


Carl Valeri on the move?

It's just a rumour.....but don't be surprised to see Socceroo Carl Valeri on the move at the end of the season.

Serie A clubs were rumoured to be circling during the January break but nothing happened.

Valeri is Captain of Italian Serie B side Grosseto and looks certain to achieve the clubs target of staying in Serie B at their historic first attempt.

Valeri, has one more year of his contract to go, but with his performances for the Socceroos increasing, few expect him to be at Grosseto next year.

Seeing Ruben Zadkovich move to Derby County made me wonder would Valeri be moving to England.

Valeri, who loves living in Italy, is determined to move to a club that is best for him. That means where he gets to play.

Australia would certainly benefit if Valeri move to a Serie A club and holds down a regular spot.

Good news for the 2010 World Cup side if it comes off.

Aussie Coach Pim Verbeek pops into Grosseto this week aiming to secure Valeri's release for the Ghana game.

But with Grosseto still having two games to go around that time it may not be as easy as Pim would like, particularly if Grosseto slump towards the relegation play-off zone over the next few weeks.


Canberra's Shaun Ontong on the move?

Adelaide United's Shaun Ontong is expected to sign for the Newcastle Jets this week.

Former Australian Under 20 Captain Ontong was given a lifeline last season by United after difficult times overseas. Limited game time, however, has probably meant he's keen to move to a club where prospects of playing are increased.

Newcastle Jets Coach Gary Van Egmond is perhaps the best place for Ontong next season if he can't force his way into the Adelaide squad.

Sounds like a good move to me!


Monday, 21 April 2008

HSC Matilda off to America

But the books away, Kyah's off to America.

Meet the New Matilda: Indigenous Australian Kyah Simon .

"It would be the biggest surprise in the world to me, if I made that plane to America, " said HSC Student Kyah Simon at the Matildas recent camp.

Well she did it. And you can hear our new Matilda on the Nearpost Radio show this week. Tuesday 6.30pm or here on the podcast on Wednesday.


Olyroos: Can they get a medal?

Coach Graham Arnold hopes they can. I doubt it. But this side must be the best prepared side ever having qualified through Asia.

FFA Release below


Qantas Under 23s coach Graham Arnold believes that similarities between last night's draw for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Football tournament and the 2004 version will work to his side's advantage.

Just like in 2004, Australia drew Argentina, Serbia and an African nation (Ivory Coast in 2008 compared with Tunisia in 2004) and Arnold is hopeful of emulating the performance of four years ago when the team made it out of the group stage.

"Last time we had a similar group and we did very well to make the quarter finals," said Arnold who was an Assistant Coach in Athens in 2004.

"We know we can get through this group, we have history and also we have had such a tough schedule just to make it this far which will hold us in good stead."

"Playing in Asia has taught us a lot about the conditions we will face in China and that could give us an advantage also."

Arnold said he expects the team to play at least 12-13 games between now and the opening match.

"We have a tournament in Malaysia coming up and also it's been a bonus to have so many of the players involved with the Qantas Socceroos," added Arnold.

"The preparations will be better than I had hoped for and we will go there to be successful."

Australia's opponents have been impressive in their qualifiers with defending champions Argentina who qualified after finishing runners-up to Brazil in the 2007 South American Youth Championships, Serbia who made the final of the 2007 UEFA European under 21 Championships and Ivory Coast who topped their final qualifying group in Africa with a comprehensive five wins from six matches.

Australia is yet to win a medal at the Olympic Games having had their best finish of fourth in Barcelona in 1992.


Australia v. Serbia
7 August 2008

Australia v. Argentina
10 August 2008

Australia v. Ivory Coast
13 August 2008


The Monday wrap.

Matildas, Carl Valeri, Boca Juniors to tour Australia, Olyroos World Cup draw for Beijing, Channel 9 want football, ACT Government spending.

It's all here...

Six Matildas are playing or will shortly head overseas to play for foreign clubs as women's football continues to evolve.

Trouble getting Socceroos back for internationals, now it's the Matildas. Lisa De Vanna, Kate Gill (Sweden) Heather Garriock (Denmark) Collette McCallum, Sarah Walsh and Caitlin Munoz ( USA) will all have to readjust their club schedule if they are to play for Australia in coming weeks.

Olyroos Beijing Under 23 World Cup draw. Olyroos draw Serbia, Argentina and Ivory Coast.

Boca Juniors, The South American and Argentinean giants are to tour Australia. The game will be televised on SBS, and yes they still cover football. They will play an unnamed A-League side at Canberra Stadium. Okay I made up the venue bit. But could you imagine the future possibilities.

Canberra's Carl Valeri looks safe from relegation in Serie B. A 5-3 away win for Grosseto saw Captain Valeri's team secure a place in next year's Serie B I reckon, but will Valeri still be at the club?

Channel 9 want to show one live A-League next season. Fox won't let them. With Channel 10 showing the Beckham festical, Channel 9 after an A-League game who will show the Juventus game?
Also makes reports that football will match or beat Rugby Leagues TV Revenue in the next TV deal, admittedly many year off, not so surprising. And wouldn't 500 mill dollars change football forever in Australia.

Locally, ACT Government announce $400,000 for improved lights for Hawker Oval, and preparation for Synthetic surface and Andrew Barr expects more funds in the budget. Watch this space!


Sunday, 20 April 2008

Finally Australia beat New Zealand!

After the Australian Under 17's lost to New Zealand 4-0, twice, the Young Matildas (Under 20 side) played the NZ Under 17 side and sorted them 4-2.
FFA Release below:


The Under 20 national women's team, the Young Matildas, completed their training camp in Canberra with a 4-2 win over the New Zealand under 17 team today.

After conceding a goal in the second minute, the Australians went into half-time with a 3-1 lead thanks to two goals from Kyah Simon and a long-range strike by Teresa Polias.

Substitute Nicola Bolger came on in the 68th minute and three minutes later she slotted home the fourth for home side.

New Zealand then struck a late goal to leave the match at 4-2.

The squad, coached by Alen Stajcic, is in the early stages of preparation for their 2010 Women's World Youth Cup campaign while the Kiwis will host the Under 17 World Championships later this year.

Australia 4 - 2 New Zealand U17
Sun 20 April, 10am, AIS
Starting XI: 2 Teresa Polias, 5 Jessica Seaman, 7 Emily van Egmond, 8 Elise Kellond-Knight, 9 Monnique Kofoed, 10 Kyah Simon, 11 Ella Mastrantonio, 12 Ruth Blackburn, 13 Tameka Butt, 18 Casey Dumont (GK), 20 Samantha Spackman
Subs: 4 Karina Roweth, 6 Nicola Bolger, 15 Bronwyn Studman, 16 Danielle Calautti, 17 Vedrana Popovic, 19 Jenna Kingsley


ACT Men's Season Opener

"Canberra Olympics Ruben Ares ran the show, Ben Doyle was best for City," said Nearpost reporter Russ Gibbs.

Catch Russ Gibbs and Jeremy Butlers Premier League preview on Tuesday on the Nearpost Radio show 6.30:7.30pm.

All the scores below:

Canberra Olympic beat Canberra City 2-0 in today's ACT Men's Premier League match.
ANU 3 Woden Valley 1 won the season opener yesterday.
Canberra FC 3 O'Connor Knights 1
Belconnen United 4 Queanbeyan City 0 (Danny Macor 2, Cameron Reinhart, Callum Beaton.)

O'Connor Knights lead 1-0 but Canberra FC marked their new Stadium debut with a win. 2 goals from Paul Ivanic and 1 from Adam Spaleta sealed the win. Revenge for last weeks Federation Cup defeat, no doubt.

Olympic 2 Canberra City 0. That was the score but the main talking point was the numbers sent-off from each side.
Olympic saw Keith Mihailakis and Robert Shroder sent off while Canberra City had Zac Maybury dismissed for dissent.
Ruben Ares won the day with his performamce. The goals were scored by Scott Barsley, a header and Travis Dries.

ANU and Belconnen United both scored impressive wins on the opening day of the season.

Hear Russ Gibbs report on Tuesday. Russ will be out and about next week for more reports.


Bash em like Bazza!

Given the AFL's desire to copy most things football. Talk of a red card, substitutes, small sided games are just a few doing the traps at the moment.

Well watching Bend it like Beckham on Saturday night, no A-League on so what sport is there to watch at the moment, I was thinking about the great lift this gave the women's game and the game of football and feel sure AFL and the other codes in Australia will come out with a version soon.

Thought I'd help them with a few titles.

And in case you don't know the players I've put the names in brackets!
AFL. Bash em like Bazza. Barry "They should have sent me off" Hall
Swimming. Dunk em like Darcy. Nick D'arcy.
Cricket. Sledge em like Simmo. Andrew Symonds
Rugby Union. Hit em like Henjak. Matt Henjak
AFL. Crack it like Cousins. Ben Cousins.
Rugby League. Slump like Souths.

I'm sure you can improve on that lot. Helps if you know a few sports people from other codes. I struggled clearly:)


AIS crash 3-0

AIS suffered their third loss in a row when they went down to Green Gully 3-0 yesterday.

Read Neil Zimmerman's match report below:

Green Gully racked up their fourth consecutive win with a 3-0 victory over the AIS at a sun drenched Green Gully Reserve on Saturday afternoon.

A brace to second half substitute, Campbell Banks saw the home team run out comfortable winners over an AIS side that failed to make its amount of possession count on the scoreboard.

The match started off in a very cagey manner with the majority of play taking place in the midfield with both teams guilty of wasting their final ball.

The match finally sprang to life in the 19th minute when a heavy challenge by Green Gully's Joel Nikolic on Matthew Theodore saw the AIS player sprawled on the turf and his team mates incensed.

Nikolic received a yellow card for his trouble and the young AIS playmaker had to be helped from the field for treatment. Not long after Jason Naidovski produced the first shot on goal for the match, which was easily saved by the Cavaliers 'keeper Steve Tilovski. This chance proved to be the best opportunity for the half although in the dying moments of the half, the visitors had a series of corners but failed to make any headway.

Having dominated possession and taken control of the midfield, the AIS would have left the field at the break a little disappointed not to taken more from the half.

The second half saw a rejuvenated home side as Green Gully coach, Ian Dobson replaced an ineffective Joel Nikolic with Matthew Sanders.

The AIS almost took the lead ten minutes into the second half as Cavaliers' midfielder, Andy Vargas got his head to a free kick from the AIS' Richard Greer.

Fortunately the home side, the ball hit the top of the crossbar and out for a corner after looping over the head of Tilovski in the Green Gully goal.

Not long after, the home side took the lead as Koce Delev broke his scoring drought for the Cavaliers after rifling home a shot from close range after the AIS failed to clear the ball from their area.

AIS coach, Ray Junna responded quickly to the goal with the substitution of Matthew Theodore, who wasn't his usual influential self after that earlier clash, which had seen him leave the field of play. Coming on as his replacement was Peter Cvetanovski.

Looking to get back on equal terms the visitors kept the Cavaliers in their own half for a number of minutes and created a number of chances for themselves. The best of these were long range effort from Richard Greer which was tipped over the bar, and a deflected shot from AIS captain, Luke DeVere, which was cleared off the line via the head of Steve Burton.

The home side soon doubled their advantage as Campbell Banks, who had recently replaced goalscorer, Delev, deflected a long range effort from Emanuel Muscat past a despairing Birghitti in the AIS goal.

Four minutes later Banks, put the game beyond doubt as he scored his second goal and the Cavaliers' third after calmly slotting the ball past an onrushing AIS 'keeper after being put through on goal via a pinpoint pass from Matthew Sanders.

After the game Cavaliers' coach, Ian Dobson admitted that he thought in the first half the Cavaliers' midfield was being overrun and the forwards weren't working hard enough but after making some changes at half time it was pleasing to see the team come out in the second half and play a lot better.

He also commended his back line whom he thought defended very well for the entirety of the match, keeping the AIS attacking threats in check.

After three weeks on the road, next week the AIS will host fellow top six contenders, the Melbourne Knights, whilst Green Gully will be at home for the second week in a row as they play host to the Preston Lions.


Friday, 18 April 2008

The Weekender: Code Wars by Russ Gibbs

The Weekender: This week Russ Gibbs gives his thought on the "Code Wars" in operation in Australia.

Anyone can write The Weekender, we talk football, in its broadest sense. The aim is to provide Canberra readers with guaranteed football coverage on the Weekend.


By Russ Gibbs

It’s only a personal opinion, but I simply cannot fathom the undisguised ‘hatred’ of the differing forms of football that we see in this country.


By Russ Gibbs

It’s only a personal opinion, but I simply cannot fathom the undisguised ‘hatred’ of the differing forms of football that we see in this country.

With the emergence of football, and I’m talking the round ball game here of course, we have had hundreds of column inches dedicated to how the other codes are seeking to undermine football and how football can get one up on the other codes.

What’s this all about? Surely there is room in this country for all football codes, be it union, league, football or that other hybrid of all of them, AFL (see got me started on it all now!).

Having been brought up in the UK, only moving here in the last four years or so, I was regularly served a dish of rugby union as well as football. Indeed, five years of my life were spent watching union and commentating on the game. In no way did this deter me from my love of football.

I never really watched league until I came here, but have since come to enjoy the big hits of that version of the game.

Each game has its own unique appeal and is loved by different cross-sections of society. No one game is ‘better’ than the other. Watching top-level performers doing what they do best is a rarefied sight in any sport.

I, and many of my football playing and supporting mates, enjoy watching union and league as much as football. And I am sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, more around Australia who would feel the same way.

So for all of you out there who like to spend hours despoiling the name of one sport in favour of another – suck it in – if you don’t like union, don’t watch it.

If you don’t like league, don’t watch it. If you don’t like AFL, don’t watch it and if you don’t like football, don’t watch it. It’s quite simple. But please don’t try and spend your time justifying your ‘chosen’ sport over mine or anyone else’s. It usually is puerile and pointless and doesn’t help any code in the long run.


Matildas Asia Cup draw

Matildas will play Japan, Korea Republic and Chinese Taipei.

With two teams to go through to the semi-finals Australia would expect to be one of them, given their recent World Cup performances.

Full release below.

The Matildas have been drawn into Group B for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2008 alongside Japan, Korea Republic and Chinese Taipei at the official draw ceremony held in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam this afternoon.

Matilda’s Head Coach Tom Sermanni was optimistic about his team’s chances following the announcement of the draw.

“I think we are placed in the more challenging of the two groups, but we have experience against each of our opponent’s in recent years so it won’t be as daunting as our first Asian Cup appearance,” said Sermanni.

“Although there is no qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup up for grabs at this tournament, it is important that we finish with a high placing to make sure we are seeded for the next round of qualifiers in 2010.

“We definitely want to build on the momentum that we had at last year's FIFA Women’s World Cup and continue improving the performance of our national team on the world stage," concluded Sermanni.

The eight nation tournament will be held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from 28 May to 8 June 2008, with matches played at the Thong Nhat Stadium and the Army Stadium.

The Matildas were the 2nd seeds for the tournament behind China, who won the last AFC Women’s Asian Cup which was held in Adelaide during 2006.

Australia will open their AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2008 campaign against Chinese Taipei on Thursday 29 May, followed by the match against Korea Republic on Saturday 31 May before the final group match against Japan on Monday 2 June.

The top two teams in each group will progress to the semi-finals and meet the top two teams of Group A which features China, DPR Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.

The Matildas, are currently placed 12th in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, with China ranked at 14th, DPR Korea is currently the top ranked nation at 6th with Japan ranked at 10th.

This will be Australia’s second appearance at Asia’s premier Women’s Football competition. The Matildas were runners-up at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2006 after losing the final on penalties to China.

The Matildas will continue their preparations for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2008 with a three match tour to the United States at the end of the month, which includes two matches against the top FIFA Women’s ranked team, the USA.

For more information regarding the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2008 please visit

For more information regarding the FIFA Women’s World Rankings please visit

For more information on the Matildas click on the following link:

AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2008 – Vietnam - Draw

Seedings: 1.China PR (14), 2.Australia (12), 3.DPR Korea (6) 4.Japan(10),
Qualifiers: Chinese Taipei (30), Korea Republic (25), Thailand (34), Vietnam (37)
Note: Number in brackets indicates current FIFA Women’s World Ranking

Group A: China, DPR Korea, Vietnam, Thailand
Group B: Australia, Japan, Korea Republic, Chinese Taipei

First Round
Wednesday - 28 May 2008
Match 1: China vs Thailand
Match 2: DPR Korea vs Vietnam

Thursday - 29 May 2008
Match 3: Australia vs Chinese Taipei
Match 4: Japan vs Korea Republic

Friday - 30 May 2008
Match 5: Thailand vs DPR Korea
Match 6: Vietnam vs China

Saturday - 31 May 2008
Match 7: Chinese Taipei vs Japan
Match 8: Korea Republic vs Australia

Sunday - 1 June 2008
Match 9: China vs DPR Korea
Match 10: Thailand vs Vietnam

Monday - 2 June 2008
Match 11: Australia vs Japan
Match 12: Chinese Taipei vs Korea Republic

Tuesday - 3 June 2008 - Rest Day
Wednesday - 4 June 2008 - Rest Day

Semi Finals
Thursday - 5 June 2008
Match 13: Winner Group A v Runner-Up Group B
Match 14:Winner Group B v Runner-Up Group A

Friday - 6 June 2008 - Rest Day
Saturday 7 June 2008 - Rest Day

Finals & 3rd/4th Play Off
Sunday - 8 June 2008
3rd/4th Play Off: Loser Match 13 vs Loser Match 14
Final: Winner Match 14 vs Winner Match 14


Canberra soccer season kicks off with thousands on the team

Canberra soccer season kicks off with thousands on the team
By Merryn Sherwood

Canberra Times journalist Merryn Sherwood wrote one of the best football season openers I've ever seen in Canberra. A few people have requested the whole article.
Merryn has kindly agreed for me to republish it here.

Full article below.

Canberra soccer season kicks off with thousands on the team
By Merryn Sherwood
The cool kids at school never used to play soccer.

Boys played rugby or AFL. Girls in winter played netball.

But this year Capital Football will have more than 17,000 registered players across the men's, women's and junior leagues. There are likely to be 12,000 juniors kicking around the round ball.

''We've generally had a growth of around 3 to 4 per cent. In the last couple of years, I think thanks to the interest from the World Cup and the Matildas, it's been up around 6 to 8 per cent,'' junior league manager Alasdair Grocock said.

Two of Woden Valley's new recruits, Johnny and Connor McKenna, aren't new to soccer, but they are to Canberra.

After moving from San Francisco in January, mum Linda has signed Connor, 8 and Johnny, 5, up for teams as well as coaching Johnny's under-7s.

''In America it was quite competitive, it seems to be a bit more relaxed here and easy for the parents to get involved,'' Ms McKenna said.

Tanya Katsoulis signed up her two boys this year, Nicholas, 4, in pee-wee soccer with Belnorth Football Club, where she will be the coach, and Mikey, 7, for his second year.'

'I think compared to the likes of rugby, nothing against rugby, but as a parent, there is less chance of injury and I think it's just a safe, friendly game,'' Ms Katsoulis said. ''And Belnorth is such a family-orientated club, it's great.'

'Capital Football chief executive officer Heather Reid believes this is why soccer is flying.

''We are the only football code with a whole family approach to participation boys, girls, men, women,'' Reid said.

Ashley O'Connell, 12, of Kambah, is jumping out of her skin in anticipation of her first season at Woden.

Her mum Sally had previously ruled it out, based on a hectic schedule of jazz dancing, gymnastics and little athletics.

''As far as Ashley's concerned, she'd give anything a go, she's just so keen,'' she said.

''But her previous school had a futsal team in a tournament and she played it that, and she was just hooked.''

''They've had those classes in rugby or AFL at school ... it's all about soccer now, it seems to be the 'in thing','' Ms O'Connell said. There are more juniors playing soccer than Australian football, rugby league and rugby union and it also has the largest number of women of any football code played in Canberra.

This year the men's league which starts this Saturday around Canberra has grown to 10 divisions, up from nine, not including three Premier League competitions.

The ACT is also the only state or territory in Australia to have a dedicated masters competition.''The men's divisions have just increased exponentially across the board,'' men's league manager Ross Jones said.

''It isn't necessarily one club, or one area, it's all across the league.'

'And it seems to be a player drift back into the sport, ex-junior players who are coming back in again.''One of those is Tim Saisell, who hadn't played for 12 years, but this year organised a team of workmates from the National Sports Club in Lyneham to form Belwests' State League 9 men's team.

''About six of us have played proper outdoor soccer before, but we all love playing soccer and thought it would be a bit of fun,'' he said.Reid said facilities were approaching bursting point.

''Our biggest concern at the moment is access to grounds. We are at a maximum capacity with facilities,'' she said.``We are looking to sit down with the government to look at what other grounds are available. We are particularly looking for grounds not allocated to football and seeing if we can use them next year.''

In 2008, let the games begin.


Canberra Premier League Predictions

Nearpost reporter Russ Gibbs will focus on Canberra Olympic v Canberra City for the opening weekend of the men's Premier League.

Russ brings all his experience from calling Bath Rugby for the BBC in England. He's succinct, enthusiastic and speaks the truth!

So lads to let your feet do the talking and Russ will provide the analysis come Tuesday on the Nearpost.

My predictions for the weekend below.

Tuggers a bye!
Canberra Olympic to beat Canberra City
Belconnen United to turnover Queanbeyan City
Canberra FC to lose gain, to O'connor Knights.
And ANU to defeat Woden Valley.


Merry month of May and June and....

Do you remember the old days?

The merry month of May. When it meant FA Cup Final midnight, UEFA Cup Final 4.30am, Euro Champs Final 4.30am and for me the Scottish Cup Final midnight; all worth watching on the telly. All made life a little more interesting as winter closed in around Canberra.

Well now we have the Socceroos v Ghana in May 7.30pm, Melbourne Victory v Juventus 8pm, FOUR Australian Asian Champions League games 7.30pm , closely followed by FOUR crucial World Cup Qualifiers for the Socceroos home games 8pm.

The Merry month of May and June no longer means watching football at 2am or 5am in the morning. Hey you might even be able to function at work after watching football in May. The quality and variety is all here, and there.

And I didn't even mention the Matildas in America in early May or in the Asian Cup in late May...or the Futsalroos in the Asian Cup in May in Bangkok.

It's all too much, I'll have to have a lie down to contemplate what this all means:)


Canberrans to take on Juventus

Yes, the Italian giants are coming to Melbourne.

And the Belconnen boys Matty Kemp and Kaz Patafta are expected to line-up against the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Leading Serie A striker David Trézéguet, former World Player of the Year Pavel Nedvěd, and Bosnian midfielder Hasan Salihamidžić.
at a packed Telstra Dome on May 30.

Release from the Victory below:
Melbourne Victory will host one of the biggest friendlies

in the history of Australian football against Italian giant, Juventus FC, at Telstra Dome on Friday, 30May.

Juventus, which is the most successful club in the history of Italian football, has committed to field its strongest squad – excluding its players that will be involved in Euro 2008. Italy’s FIFA World Cup winner and Juventus Captain, Alessandro Del Piero, is expected to lead the side against Victory.

Other notable Juventus stars expected to grace Telstra Dome include Serie A’s leading striker, David Trézéguet, former World Player of the Year Pavel Nedvěd, and Bosnian midfielder Hasan Salihamidžić.

Tickets for the friendly will go on sale through Ticketmaster to Victory members on Monday, 21 April, Football Family members on Wednesday, 23 April and the general public on Thursday, 24 April.


Hats off to Merryn Sherwood

Canberra Times journo Merryn Sherwood wrote a terrific article on the coming Canberra football season, published in Wednesday's paper.

Bet there were a few phone calls from the other codes after this article was published!

But you can only write what the public are saying, and it's about time it's been published. 17,000 registered players don't lie!

So well done Merryn and well done the Canberra Times. And if you liked the article why not send the editor a note of thanks.

Below are a few of the quotes included:

"I think compared to the likes of rugby, nothing against rugby, but as a parent, there is less chance of injury and I think it's just a safe, friendly game," Ms Katsoulis, Coach of Belnorth Football Club.

Capital Football CEO, Heather Reid said, "We are the only football code with a whole family approach to participation - boys, girls, men and women."

Ashley O'Connell, 12, Kamabah, is jumping out of her skin in anticipation of her first season in anticipation of her first season at Woden.

"They've had those classes in rugby or AFL at school now, it's all about soccer now, it seems to be the 'in thing'," Ms Sally O'Connell said.


Leanne Ryan: "My kids don't want to play soccer."

Leanne Ryan, come back to soccer, it's all okay!

Cor blimey, Leanne Ryan has stuck her neck out. Talk about a big issue. Leanne,
has written in today's Brisbane Courier Mail, and she's livid about the FFA's Small Sided Games! Livid I tell ya!

She reckons she's got, or maybe had, two football loving sons, but now with the new SmallSidedGames they don't want to play.

No goalies for Under 8's, no Grand Final, no points. It's all too much for her kids who I assume are Under 8. Otherwise they could stand in goal and freeze their brass monkeys off every Saturday, and learn to be bored, as she would like.

Come on Leanne, what are your boys going to do now?

Go and get bashed up playing League or Union.
You can read Leanne's concerns below.

MY SONS are passionate about soccer. They play soccer in the lunch-hour at school, soccer in the back yard at home and even soccer in the lounge room with an inflatable ball when my interest in protecting the furnishings seems futile.

Every year, the countdown to soccer season, which kicks off for our local club tomorrow, is an affair filled with much anticipation.

But not this year. This year they don't even want to play.

The introduction of "small-sided games" by the Football Federation of Australia means they can't play the version of the game they have grown to love. And they have little interest in the watered-down alternative – a non-competitive run-around on an undersized field with a few other players, none of whom are permitted to defend the goal until they hit the older grades.

The FFA recently announced moves to axe goalies from junior soccer games, part of sweeping changes for junior fixtures it claims will tone down competition and boost ball skills, teamwork and fun.

However, while most officials and club leaders support the changes, called small-sided games or SSGs, parents and some players are less than impressed.

Apparently, under the new feel-good system they'll get to touch the ball a lot. But they don't want to simply connect boot with ball. They can do that in the back yard at home and we can save ourselves the hefty registration fee. They want the real deal – a full game in a full team on a full field, Socceroos-style. And they're not alone. It's a sentiment echoed by many of their soccer-mad friends.

The Football Federation and, indeed, society as a whole needs to give children some credit. They can handle healthy competition. They can handle being part of a team spread across a field, knowing it's not all about them and their self-esteem.

They can handle playing specific positions and even standing in goal for however long it takes for the ball to come their way. They can. They should. And they have in the past. Why take it away from them now?

Let them be bored in goal. Let them feel what it is to concede a game, to taste victory, to settle for a draw. Let them experience it all. My eldest son lost his grand final last year. Do I wish he hadn't? No. It was a valuable learning experience, a valuable life experience. Perhaps even more so than winning could have been.

And definitely more so than if the competitive element had been removed entirely. Yes, he was incredibly disappointed, but he was also grateful for the opportunity to partake in a match that mattered.

He also spent half the game defending the goal. A position he relished and excelled in, implementing the skills he'd cultivated since his debut in under-six. He would never have had that opportunity under the new regulations. He would have spent the first three years making sure he passed the ball a lot and didn't score more than his quota of three individual goals.

Sure, sport is mainly about the fun factor, but focusing on a warm and fuzzy concept of fun, trying to protect children from their own emotions, is to deny them the full sporting experience. Which has the potential to be fun in a more holistic sense.

The score, the ladder, the shot at the grand final is what inspires these children. The ball-skills naturally follow. As does the satisfaction. But without that specific motivation the enjoyment won't be as intense, the skills not nearly as important. They need a good reason to take to the field and chase the ball around.


Thursday, 17 April 2008

Derby say, "Ruben impressed us enormously in training."

Maybe, just maybe that's why The Rams have gone down:)

Derby County have agreed terms for the signing of versatile Australian Ruben Zadkovich on a two-year contract.

The 21-year-old has impressed during a trial spell at Moor Farm and is boss Paul Jewell's first signing as he prepares for life in the Coca-Cola Championship next season.

He is not eligible to play for the Rams until 2008/09 as he left Sydney FC to become a free agent at the end of his contract there in March - outside of the confines of the transfer window.

Jewell said: "Ruben impressed us enormously in training. A number of clubs have been interested in him and we wanted to make sure we didn't miss out on a fantastic talent."

Zadkovich, at home either as a centre midfielder or right back, began his career as a youth and reserve-team player at Queens Park Rangers.

He didn't make an appearance at Loftus Road but signed for Notts County in March 2005 and scored on his debut against Chester City.

Zadkovich started six games and added a further three substitute appearances for the Magpies until his departure 6 months later following the arrival of Gudjon Thordason.

His recent career has been spent with Sydney FC, where he has scored two goals in 42 Hyundai A-League games.

The Sydney-born player has also represented Australia at under-20 and under-23 level and was recently selected for the Australian senior squad.