India's Shikhar Dhawan in action (Reuters)
A lot of sports journalism is often not about the winner but about the defeated, the vanquished. In the case of the loser in a big game, the press and fans can be beastly. I have not as yet read the Indian papers after the final of the ICC world cup, though one would expect them to be savage. Of course, if you are Pakistani (or dislike the Indian team for whatever reason) the final was an amazing victory and very deserved of celebration.
For those who do not know the Pakistani National Cricket team has not played a game at home in Pakistan since the Sri Lankan tour of 2009. Their last 27 test matches have been played in the United Arab Emirates and England. They are exiled and adrift because of tensions that exist in their country which are so very complicated.
While this may give the Pakistani team an advantage when playing in England this exile must have effects on team morale. Pakistan's win and the teams current success are all the more delicious when you learn that Pakistani players are excluded from the Indian T20 series. With so much against them as a team and as players because of regional politics this victory is one to savour.
Less Blues for Melbourne and Carlton
In the AFL the recent rise of Melbourne and Carlton have been touted as successes of good recruitment decisions and well structured coaching. At Melbourne the player I would love to talk to is co-captain Nathan Jones. A man who has played through dark times and is now seeing the success that once, he may not have thought possible.
There was a time when Melbourne - equal oldest football club of any code in the world with Geelong - was going to be merged with Hawthorn. There were struggles off the field and on the field. But plans were put in motion and they were executed very well because Melbourne appears to be on the ascent. As this is a Christian publication it would be hard to resist the comment that, the Demons are on the rise.
Carlton has been in such a woeful state for some time. Coaching issues and players leaving have led some to say that Carlton's cupboard is bare of good players. Like Melbourne plans were set in place and decisions were made in the structure and ethos of the club. Before, the Administrative wing would have little to do with the Football management and players. Now they are encouraged to assist in training.
Their coach is Brendon Bolton an alumni of the Hawthorn Football Club under Alistair Clarkson. Clarkson's model of teaching and instruction has surely been core to Bolton's actions at Carlton. There is a documentary called “The Journey” being made of the changes at Carlton and that should tell a positive tale of restoration and renewal. http://www.carltonfc.com.au/video/2016-03-15/the-journey
Good sport stories can be told at the local level too. My old soccer club has bitten the bullet and left the Bendigo league to play in Melbourne Metro soccer. When I played there were good people in the habit of casual grumping about little failures other than asserting the improvements made. It was a bad habit that did not help the club.
Recently the coaching staff have made strong decisions about positive encouragement and it shows in the playing style. There is a stronger tenacity which gives the team strength to play out games even when trailing on the scoreboard. The results are coming even though the future goals of success and sustainability are yet to be fully realised.
'good' points to the Good
While some Indian fans are bemoaning the loss to Pakistan others point to the recent Hockey win for India. Though it may be deflecting, it still points to the good and denies the grumping and complaining that many fans find themselves doing when their team loses. The story Christians assert points to the Good. It begins in the Hebrew Testament with all of Creation declared as Good. That Good continues to well up like a spring and an oasis throughout Jewish history.
Similarly our Christian heritage can point to springs of blessing and goodness. All these have their source in the same God that called the Created world Good. The very same God who came as one of us and has promised a day when Good will flourish in such a way that Justice will fall like rain. That restoration, that renewal is to come, one day.
Those little goods that sport reveals to us should remind us there is a capital 'G' Good that is the beginning and the never-ending end, that is here and will always be.
Phil Hall when not playing Winter Cricket or studying Theology at the University of Divinity, Phil now sits on the sidelines when it comes to Soccer. The spirit is very willing but the flesh is not as strong as it used to be.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.