AS I SEE IT (8 April) 

hockey nz olympics rio
By Terry O’Neill.

Professional sport centres on money. Who gets how much. 

And this is especially so in an Olympic year.

New Zealand hockey’s generous supporter Sir Owen Glenn has come out firing about Hockey New Zealand because it asked its current Olympic players to plead/beg sponsors for funds to finance the build-up to Rio. $12,000 has been bandied about as individual obligations. There are obvious questions. “What about Sport New Zealand’s high performance system? Doesn’t it allocate funds to sports?”  It does. But what  it doesn’t indicate is that the goose which lays the golden egg is light on eggs.

Consequently Sport NZ’s budget is reduced by a $4 million dollars through the fall in returns from lottery grants.

The government has come under criticism in spite of its investment of $62 million in High Performance Sport NZ, which in turn made funding decisions based on targeted performance results.  

Women’s hockey receives $1.3 million in High Performance funding with individual players receiving between $9000 and $20,000. Men’s hockey will get $700,000 from HPSNZ , a $300,000 drop from its previous level. The fall-off in support for national lotteries, and the absence of large payouts, has dimmed lottery buyers’ spending.

Meanwhile local rugby kicked off last Saturday with no red cards issued, a few yellow cards and no blue cards.

Blue cards? These could become part of local rugby if an innovation from the Northland Rugby Union is adopted nationally.

Head knocks and concussion are increasingly before the public. Northland introduced a system whereby a player who receives a head knock is asked a few questions by a team medic/physio and, if required, the referee then gives him a blue card which means that the player is effectively out of the game for 21 days. This has real merit.

rugby blue card front

rugby bvlue card back

Blue card front and back

Rugby opening day last weekend resulted in high scoring from Old Boys and Athletic Marist and an entertaining performance between Maheno and Kurow.  It may have been due to opening day collywobbles.

No match liaison officer was publicly named at the Stadium on Saturday, so supporters were kept in the dark over team or number changes making the provided programme far from accurate. That, combined with the lack of a Public Address system, meant that point scorers faced a bit of a lottery at that venue. At the Maheno Domain there was no such problem I believe, but at Weston no programme was available for supporters.

Not a good beginning.
I’ll excuse it because it’s the start of the season. But will rugby supporters?


The stupid German hire car…

I’ve finally got all my pictures from the UK trip sorted out and uploaded from the camera – I am amazed that so small a chip can hold the better part of 900+ pictures: a fair cry from my first big overseas excursion when I had to lug dozens of rolls of film around with me.

Anyway, this is the stupid German hire car that we had:

CLAW 09 - Stupid German Hire Car

We picked it up from Avis at Heathrow who were nice enough to hunt down a detailed UK roadmap for us (lesson: they don’t provide this automatically anymore) and then promptly dropped the ball by giving us the wrong directions out of the airport – if the guy on the security gate hadn’t set us right we’d still be doing laps of the Concorde…

Things we liked about the stupid German hire car:

[This section deliberately left blank]

Things we hated about the stupid German hire car:

  • It was called a Passat – a stupid name with no sense of coolness at all..
  • It was  manual – not the car’s fault but we’ll blame it for this accident of birth anyway – what a pain in the bum to drive around narrow twisting Brit roads and towns.
  • Reverse was down and forward from first – if you shift too energetically into first while stationary, you could find yourself in reverse, much to the consternation of people queued behind us at the lights.
  • It would take anything to from 2 to 17 nudges on the unlock button on the ‘key’ to unlock all the doors.
  • I say ‘key’ with squiggly things around it because it wasn’t really a key at all: just a chunk of plastic and chrome that fitted into a hole in the dash. We think this is EU fallout out from the car-keying incident (it was Norris, dummies!!) on Coro St a couple of months ago (in NZ; probably a decade ago in the rest of the Coro watching world) where the over-efficient Germans are trying to avoid any such recurrences of such trauma (it’s all fun and games til someone loses a spleen).
  • To start the car, you just push the ‘key’ in while depressing the clutch at the same time but if you stall it (see comment above about stupid manual German hire cars) to can’t restart it by just pushing in the clutch and pushing the ‘key’ home again…nope, too simple – you actually have to pop it most of the way out and THEN push it all the way home again…that’s not a pain – yeah right…sorry, all you folk backed up behind us on the roundabout – it’s just the Germans getting payback for that Sea Lion thing….This sort of thing probably seemed like a good idea for when the Russians broke through at interesting places like Kursk but for a family sedan…nuh…
  • There’s no handbrake…just a button on the dash – works brill for setting the brake and makes a cool whirr-clunk sound but…to release the brake you have to push in the brake pedal while pushing the brake button; not only is there no whirr-clunk sound but you need to have three feet if you want to do a hill start. We had to limit our travels to flat places only.
  • The manual was over an inch thick – no wonder it was still sealed in the original plastic. This might have told us about the cruise control that we didn’t find until the last day…

The Peace Prize and the Olympics

Word on the street is that Obama won the prize (hardly seems worth capitalising it nowadays) because Europeans like him. They like him because he at least goes through the motions of communicating with them – while still doing what he wants anyway. I suppose they should be grateful as well that he engineered the 2016 Olympics going to Rio and not to some EU city that would be forever broke afterwards. After all the grief that Venezuela has been giving the US recently (but didn’t they get dealt to so well in John Birmingham’s Without Warning??), I’m surprised that it didn’t go to Caracas – that would certainly have put them in their place and then some. The Olympic city is fast becoming a economic kiss of death for many nations and I really have to wonder if Obama’s ‘failure’ to secure the Games for Chicago was not actually a masterstroke that Machiavelli would be proud of – it’s unlikely that Brazil will be throwing its weight around too much once it sees the bill…It would actually be quite nice if the Olympics went back to the original concept of sporting excellence instead of the municipal oneupmanship it has become…

Food Blogging

Have been thinking about the food blogging thing I mentioned yesterday and think I will do this from tonight where dinner consists of all the leftovers in the fridge mixed up in a big bowl and turned into rissoles (flash name for patties), consumed between slices of homemade sourdough bread (an accident with the mix last night but tastes great) with fresh tomatoes and sliced cheese – there would have been beetroot and lettuce except I forgot the beetroot til it was too late and parley was the closest thing in the fridge tonight to greens…

From a more organised kitchen we had a great lunch at Out Of The Fog in Owhango (it’s on GoogleEarth) on Sunday (unfortunately it is now only open on the weekends – probably a reflection on the Central Plateau job market) – very fast and friendly service: I had hardly finished the front page of the paper when my snack arrived and they do a great Chai Latte too (but not as good as my homemade ones)…the Owhango Pub has just closed up so Out Of The Fog is now it for refreshment between Raurimu and Manunui…