Oh what a night!
While the FFA Board and the six anxious A-League expansion bid teams were locked-in discussion and/or anticipation about who would get the nod, some rusted-on football folk in Sydney had a great night at our latest book launch.
The occasion was the launch by Ange Postecoglou of Trevor Thompson's new book, Playing for Australia: the First Socceroos, Asia and World Football. It's a read which traces our history with the Asian region (spoiler alert: it started before 2006) and presents some fascinating insights into the in-fighting between state federations (no, it's not contemporary!), individuals, and the tussle between our history (eyes towards Britain) and geography (in the Asian region).
Ange spoke about eloquently about the need for Australian football to construct a new narrative.
"There are challenges but there are also opportunities for the game, and I've always argued we should embrace the opportunities. There’s a prevailing wind at times that wants us to remain conservative, but this seems to me to be an opportunity to take the game forward.
"There’s a uniqueness, a difference, to our code compared with the others. We’ve really failed to take advantage of those. One of them is the size of the international game — and another is this huge football audience on our doorstep that we just haven’t engaged with.
"The more we can go into that sphere, and show people in Australia the differences in our game, these are things the other codes can’t compete with. It’s one of those things where sometimes we’re a bit fearful or sceptical, and we instinctively look to Europe as a market we’re familiar with when in Asia there’s fantastic opportunities to grow our game.”
Stirring stuff, a similar concept in Trevor's book where he challenges all of us to be more interested in what the Asian region has to offer us.
"Mainstream media coverage of Asian football is abysmal and Asian faces or voices are conspicuously absent in Australian discourse," he said.
If you're interested in football history, sports history, Australian history or Australia's role in Asia - and who isn't?! - this book is a terrific read, meticulously researched with the help of relatives of Australia's pioneer football families and through archives in Australia, Japan, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand, England and FIFA. You can get it here.