Deserved wins to the All Whites

February 11th, 2011 at 7:42 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Football reigned supreme at the Westpac Halberg Awards with judges and the New Zealand public agreed, 2010 was the year of the All Whites.

The round ball grabbed a hat-trick during last night’s Auckland bash – with rugby overlooked in all but one category – as Ricki Herbert was crowned coach of the year, the All Whites team of the year and the historic World Cup troop also named winners of the supreme Halberg trophy.

When three-time Halberg recipient Rob Waddell and special guest, Corporal Willie Apiata VC, announced the All Whites as the big winners, members of the team were fittingly presented with the trophy by John Adshead and Steve Sumner, coach and captain of the 1982 All Whites who reached the World Cup finals in Spain.

The team also received a personal tribute message from Fifa President Sepp Blatter.

“All the awards, for the players, for the staff, are all great, great honours,” All Whites goalkeeper Mark Paston told Fairfax Media.

I recall the way the country came to a stand-still for each of the games. They truly were our national team.

By coincidence I met Mark Paston on Wednesday night. To my great embarrassment I didn’t recognise him, and asked him what his role is at Telecom (we were both at a Telecom hosted event). A hell of a nice guy I have to say.

I told him how their victory over Bahrain in November 2009 made my Middle East trip much easier, as when in Iran heaps of the locals went out of their way to say how delighted they were that New Zealand has beaten Bahrain (most Iranians have antipathy towards Arab states).

While Richie McCaw is a legend, I thought Ryan Nelson was hard done by not getting the individual spartsman of the year award.

We never lost a game at the World Cup

June 25th, 2010 at 8:34 am by David Farrar

It is still an incredible achievement for the team that the bookies had ranked bottom to finish the pool play without having lost a game.

Go the All Whites

June 24th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I hope they will all be staying up to watch the game!

Editorials 22 June 2010

June 22nd, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald hails the All Whites:

Hats off to Ryan Nelsen, the captain of the New Zealand soccer team.

Not only for the way he marshalled his side as the All Whites claimed a hugely significant 1-1 World Cup draw against Italy, the reigning world champion, but for his straight talking after the match.

Sport is replete with players who utter only polite noises. Nelsen told it like it was. Guatemalan referee Carlos Batres, who awarded the softest of penalties to the Italians, had had “stars in his eyes” and his partiality had ruined the game.

“If he’s the best that Fifa offer up then, gee whizz, I would hate to see the worst,” Nelsen said. …

Paraguay appears to be the best team in the All Whites’ pool. While many other countries have struggled, it had confirmed its standing as the second-best qualifier from South America.

If New Zealand is to advance to the knockout stage, probably nothing less than a victory will suffice. The odds will, once again, strongly favour its opponent. But who would now bet against the All Whites?

I’ll be in Australia for that game, and making sure there is no doubt the All Whites are not an Australasian team!

The Press defends the right to protest:

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman’s decision to protest at Parliament during the visit of Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping was eminently predictable.

His party has long supported the free Tibet movement and highlighted China’s shocking human rights record. Just as his predecessor as the Greens’ male co-leader, the late Rod Donald, did in 2005 during the visit of another Chinese dignitary, Norman waved a Tibetan flag as Xi’s delegation arrived at Parliament. Norman did go further than Donald, who mounted a silent protest, by also calling out for democracy. But the attitude of New Zealand authorities in these two cases was quite different.

That is because Rod Donald did not advance on the VIP.

In 2005, police and security staff respected the right of Donald to protest and rejected calls from Chinese security guards to remove him. But no action was taken last Friday by New Zealand authorities when Norman had his flag taken from him by Chinese security personnel and a scuffle broke out. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully later lambasted Norman, saying the Green MP had abused Parliamentary privilege and his actions were calculated to give offence.

McCully was half right. Norman’s protest was a stunt aimed at provoking the Chinese and to attract publicity for the Greens and the Tibetan cause, about which China is hugely sensitive. But McCully is totally wrong to accuse Norman of abusing his position. Unlike members of the public, whose protests at Parliament are carefully controlled, Norman is an MP who has the freedom of the building and its grounds.

Not total freedom. An MP can’t enter the offices of other parties without permission for example.

He was perfectly entitled to exercise his right to freedom of speech where he did. And if his position was perceived as a threat to the personal security, rather than just the sensitivities of the visitors, it is up to New Zealand authorities to take action.

I agree. The NZ authorities should have kept Norman from getting so close to the Vice-President. If he had remained at the foot of the steps of Parliament, I would have expected him to be protected. But he rushed up to the Beehive entrance, right up against the Chinese security guards.

The Chinese security guards were wrong to try and interfere with his flag, but he was also wrong to advance so close. He should have negotiated a position to stand at where he could be clearly seen and heard (if desired) but not within spitting distance of the Vice-President.

The Chinese officials who took the flag and scuffled with Norman probably had limited understanding of Norman’s rights as an MP. New Zealand security personnel still should have stepped in to protect him.

They did.

New Zealand does have a close and valued relationship with China. This has been shown by the recent free-trade deal with it and by the emphasis placed by New Zealand on its participation in the Shanghai Expo.

But these economic ties must not obscure the fact that there are differences between us and one of these is New Zealand’s strong commitment to human rights, including freedom of speech and the right to protest peacefully.

Instead of berating those who, like Norman, exercise these rights, New Zealand ministers should have firmly reminded the Chinese that in this country, unlike their own nation, these rights are sacrosanct and must be respected by foreign guests.

As John Key has pointed out there was a continual protest outside the hotel where the VP was staying, and no one interfered with their right to do so. It’s because those protesters stayed at a distance where they could not be considered a danger.

The Dom Post talks money and morality:

Yesterday The Dominion Post reported that a Napier church had taken at least $20,000 in donations from Whetu Abraham, a rest home resident. Those caring for him had tried to stop the donations, and rest home manager Lucy Dever believes what the Oasis Elim Church has done is unethical, immoral and un-Christian.

Mr Abraham says he gave the money because of his faith, and because of his simple understanding that “you help them, they help you”.

Church pastor Bruce Collingwood says the money was given willingly by Mr Abraham “out of his own heart”, and he was comfortable about taking it after he and Mr Abraham had talked about Mr Abraham’s financial and medical situation.

Others, including the church’s national body, are not.

The relationship between churches and money has been fraught ever since Jesus drove the moneychangers from the temple. …

There is no doubt the money Mr Abraham gave will help the Oasis Elim Church, but churches depend on their moral authority as much as their bank balances. For many, accepting large sums from a sick man who had little to begin with diminishes that authority to near bankruptcy.

And the ODT also praises the All Whites:

Yesterday, much of the nation discovered the round ball belongs to a sport that delivers heroes every bit as outsized as the oval one.

A good portion of the labour force turned up for work emotionally drained, sleep-deprived and running on adrenalin, having just witnessed the best performance – and result – from a New Zealand football side.

The heroics and hyperbole of the 1-1 draw with Slovakia were cast aside as the All Whites took on the might of Italy and held those fancied, fleet-footed, blue-shirted millionaires to a 1-1 draw. …

There is no bigger tournament in world sport than the Fifa World Cup.

To qualify is a mission in itself, full of its own pulsating dramas – witness the fateful decider with Bahrain at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium earlier this year, the Rory Fallon header for goal, the Paston penalty save.

The eyes of the world are upon this tournament as they are no other, even arguably, the Olympics, and in their spectacular form-upending results to date, the All Whites will have had those eyes turning in this direction …

In the lead-up to the tournament, website predicted the All Whites had “as much chance of advancing out of group stage as a paraplegic pig thrown into a tiger pit has of walking out of there unscathed”.

That quote should be read out to the team just before the Paraguay match.

All Right

June 21st, 2010 at 10:01 am by David Farrar

The 1-1 draw against Italy is arguably the greatest achievement to date of a NZ soccer team. This is like Japan drawing with the All Blacks in rugby.

We started the tournament as the bottom ranked team (in terms of odds at Ladbrookes), and so having two points of two games is magnificent.

The Herald puts it into context – we have 25 professional footballers compared to 3,541 for Italy.

If somehow we can make the next round, I reckon there will be a de facto public holiday to celebrate!

Well done the All Whites

June 16th, 2010 at 7:03 am by David Farrar

Anything that isn’t a loss is a win. 1-1 against Slovakia got us our first points at the Football World Cup 2010.

Well done the All Whites

November 15th, 2009 at 5:33 am by David Farrar

I couldn’t get the match, btu I heard the news within minutes.

I’m not sure if those in their 20s or younger will realise how soccer mad the country will go, as the World Cup approaches. It doesn’t matter that we don’t have a hope in hell of winning – it is just about actually being in the World Cup.

In 1982 I actually won a school debate on the topic that Soccer has replaced Rugby as our national sport. The victory was impressive as the judge was Clive Currie – our social studies teacher, but also a former All Black.

But back then in 1982, soccer (sorry football) was the big thing. There were more soccer teams than rugby teams at school. Almost everyone followed the FA Cup teams (I was a Liverpool supporter) and the country watched every World Cup match as if it was a rugby test match.