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Football truly is the world game

Friday, 10th June, 2011

WORLDWIDE APPEAL: Aussie children in their favourite players’ strips at the Socceroos v NZ match in Adelaide. WORLDWIDE APPEAL: Aussie children in their favourite players’ strips at the Socceroos v NZ match in Adelaide.

By Peter Nash

With no local soccer this weekend it is a good time to reflect on the growing popularity of the round ball game both in Broken Hill and Australia.

I had the pleasure of joining former locals Chris and Joanne Ford at last Sunday's Socceroos ve New Zealand 'friendly' in Adelaide. Having a personal background in Aussie Rules, and an involvement in local soccer for 20-odd years, as a parent, coach, old player and administrator I can see the merits of both games. 

Sunday's game brought home the undisputed fact that football (as the world calls it) is the round ball game. Australia in one of the few countries that still refer to it as soccer, and it seems whilst the national team plays under the banner of the Socceroos the contradiction will continue. 

As the countries entered the stadium with their national flags and anthems you gained a sense of occasion that the world game has. 

Over the weekend there were about 20 friendlies or World Cup qualification games played which demonstrates this is truly the world game. This to me is the major difference in the two codes: Football not only has club games but also pits country against country whilst Aussie Rules is just a club sport.

A look through the playing list for Australia highlights the international flavour of the sport with names like Federici, Zullo, Troisi, Ognenovski, Vidosic, Jedinak, Valeri, Langerak, Brosque and Spiranovic playing for the green and gold.

Football is the world game and the career opportunities for the elite player is unsurpassed in team sports with leagues of varying standards all over the world including Spain, Britain, Germany, Italy and Asia to name just a few.

Whilst the game itself was marred by inclement weather, the skill of the players was clearly evident, none more so than in the small side games they played during the warm up. 

The players' ability to make the ball 'talk' is amazing and whilst the game has a reputation for diving etc., replays often do show the player being tripped or studded.

Further, most of the main players do a power of running, linking up at both ends of the park. Many of the modern day tactics of Aussie Rules have been borrowed from the world game - players behind the ball, switching play, going backwards, zoning off, substitution - all have come from the world game - rightly or wrongly!

Whilst Australia scored early there were long periods of play that were very competitive. In 93 minutes, three goals does not seem much entertainment but that is the nature of the game. I have seen many a 0-0 draw that has all the tension of a grand final. 

It was fantastic to see young children (like the kids in the picture) all decked out in their favourite Aussie players' strips and whilst neither Cahill nor Kewell played the kids were still very excited to be at the game. 

In Broken Hill the world game continues to grow with registrations up on previous years, especially in the younger age divisions. 

The change to Friday nights for Under 14s and Under 17s games has ensured both codes can co-exist without clashes in game times which has allowed many players to play both games. 

As the local Association prepares to host the SA Junior Country Championships in August the question to be asked is, will one of the 600 visitors (or a local) end up playing on the world stage? Dreams do come true for those prepared to make the sacrifices. 

In preparation for the carnival a working bee will be held at the soccer grounds on Sunday, July 17 from 8am to 1pm. The Association encourages all parents with children in the rep teams to donate a few hours, along with senior players and club officials (so mark it in the diary). Bring a rake /shovel etc., and make the grounds perfect for our showcase weekend. A BBQ and drink will be provided during the morning. Go the Socceroos (and Collingwood)!

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