Kipilan’s moka exchange
The warriors who had no name

Footie, Covid & the girl down the street


TUMBY BAY - Forget about the deaths, suffering, unemployment and massive economic calamity of Covid-19.

Because, if you believe our commercial television stations, the most serious impact of the dreaded ‘rona has been the disruption to the footie season.

If our local commercial stations don’t lead the evening news with a football story you can bet they’ll be there within a couple of minutes.

Once I’d adjusted to this typically Australian skewed sense of priorities, I was prompted to review my own glorious career as a footballer. It began and ended in 1960 when I was 12 years old.

In that year I also became infatuated with a cute red-haired girl called Mary who lived at the end of our street.

Although she was short and a little dumpy, Mary was a star of the local girls’ netball team. To impress her I decided to get involved in a sport.

In terms of masculinity and prowess football was the obvious choice. With that in mind I signed up to play for our local ‘F’ grade team.

So on a cold weekend morning in winter I found myself standing in an allocated spot in a paddock at the centre of town.

Around me were a collection of motley individuals, some of whom were overweight and others who seemed to be very bony with large teeth and an excess of freckles.

I was dressed in a pair of black shorts and a sleeveless shirt with the number ‘1.1’ emblazoned on the back. It might have been number ‘11’ but my memory fails. On my feet was a pair of uncomfortable sixth-hand boots with stud covered soles.

I was accompanied at my allocated spot by a member of the opposing team who, when he wasn’t staring daggers at me, was enthusiastically picking his nose. My attempt to strike up a conversation proved fruitless.

After a while I noticed that some sort of skirmish was occurring at the other end of the field in the vicinity of what I supposed was our side’s goal posts. Whatever it was it seemed to excite my taciturn companion.

As we watched the melee moving across the field I was starting to get quite cold. There was a stiff breeze coming down from the hills and I speculated that we would have been better off playing the game in jeans and a jumper rather than the skimpy shorts and shirts we were wearing.

Aussie rulesThis thought had to be abandoned when a whirlwind of players headed in our direction. As they got closer a ball spiralled out of the jumble and headed our way.

As it curved towards us my companion gave me a savage push in the back and ran towards it with his arms out.

I watched fascinated as the ball passed cleanly through his arms, bounced onto my chest and then fell into my hands. As I recall, it was wet and slippery and unpleasant to touch.

Having inadvertently caught the projectile I was expected to kick it onwards.

I was still feeling the aftermath of the savage push in my back and upon observing my uncouth companion dancing in front of me with his bloodshot eyes seemingly intent upon spoiling my kick I decided to teach him a lesson.

Now, it must not be assumed that I was in any way physically weak. I was, in fact extremely fit from walking and swimming in the bush.

I lined my companion up and aiming straight at his head kicked the greasy ball as hard as I could.

Unfortunately it didn’t hit him because he put his hands over his head and ducked. Instead the ball soared past him and sailed through the two tallest uprights of what I presumed to be the oppositions’ goal.

Alas, it wasn’t the goal that saved the match. When it was all over we had been done like a dinner. I think the final score was something like 50 to 6. Maybe my kick had something to do with the 6, who knows?

I didn’t show up for another game having decided that my cute red-haired paramour wasn’t worth freezing my butt off in a paddock a couple of times a week.

I thought I’d try cruising the library instead of the netball courts.

If you think about it, I suppose, there’s not a lot of different psychological determination between dicing with Covid-19 and freezing one’s butt off in a paddock.


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Chris Overland

There will be a plethora of PhD theses in psychology as a result of C19, many focussed upon how people coped with its impact upon their mental health.

It seems obvious that for many people the main coping strategy is to immerse themselves in various diversions like football or reality television or on-line shopping.

Hence Phil's reference to the media's obsession with the desperate manoeuvres of the NRL and AFL to get their seasons running, the seemingly endless adverts for the Bachelor, Love Island or Australian Ninja and the somewhat gleeful reporting of how on-line shopping is spiralling ever upwards thus dooming more traditional retail outlets to post C19 oblivion.

Another popular strategy is to persuade oneself that nothing is actually happening at all, hence the appearance of those whose often belligerent refusal to accept that C19 exists is their mental armour against reality.

Our government has decided that its coping strategy is to, firstly, solemnly intone about how terrible it all is and then, secondly, announce that it will be doubling down on the neo-liberal economic policy initiatives that have contributed so much to ensuring that the impact of C19 is much worse than it should otherwise have been.

There is an almost Micawberish belief gripping our governments that we will all burst forth into the sunlit uplands of peace, prosperity and good health just as soon as those pesky doctors and scientists develop a viable vaccine.

Sadly, history suggests otherwise.

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