Despite Herald Sun columnist Rita Panahi railing against the very existence of women’s sport this week, it bafflingly continues to exist.
The Matildas were reportedly devastated that Panahi didn’t particularly care whether they won or lost their round of 16 match, but bravely went on to win nonetheless – a big ask considering their whole reason for being was taken from them before the match even began.
In an even braver move, they have decided to go ahead and play their quarter-final on Saturday against Japan.
Back at home, the Australian netball selectors defiantly named an entire team of women to represent the Diamonds at August’s Netball World Cup in Sydney. This is despite Panahi’s assertion that women aren’t much good at sport really and no one should bother watching them.
It will be a real blow to the more than 18,000 spectators who have already purchased tickets to the sold out World Cup final when they realise they’ve all come to watch a bunch of women. Let’s hope this move isn’t too costly to the Diamonds.
But in the meantime, let’s examine the team and see where the selectors went wrong.
Firstly, the team announcement. The team was finalised on Sunday night and coach Lisa Alexander contacted players on Monday to tell them if they were in or out.
Rumour has it that when she phoned Susan Pettitt all she said was, “You’re cut too Shushy” and hung up. Each player in the team was also provided a list of the 12 players who had made the Diamonds. All makes sense so far.
Then the team was to be announced at a media conference at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday.
Yes, you heard that right, Wednesday. So the selectors, all the players in the mix and the staff at Netball Australia all have this information for two days and then they’ll go ahead and announce it.
What could possibly go wrong, right? Personally, I could foresee no problems with this process at all. How wrong I was.
Firstly, the players obviously told people. Presumably they told people they believed could keep a secret for two days, but they were revealed to be naïve, trusting lunatics. Approximately four million people claimed to know the team by Monday afternoon and as they all came up with the same 12 players, it was pretty clear they were right.
Then Netball Australia, bless their cotton socks, decided they would preload the player profiles on to their website so it would be easy to simply release the link once the team announcement was made. Sounds sensible, right?
Whether they were unable to work out how to save the page as a draft, or whether they simply believed that no one would look at the player profiles page without them sending out a link to it isn’t clear, but there the page was, in all its glory, 12 hours before the team announcement was made.
Wonderful news for all the journalists who didn’t need to bother turning up to the media event and could get a head start on writing their story. Not so wonderful for the people who had hoped that some people would actually turn up and get excited about the press conference.
So on to the actual team. Let’s break it down into each area of the court and find out all the glaringly obvious mistakes made by the selectors with their ‘qualifications’ that just wouldn’t have happened if they let the fans choose the team.
If you’re Victorian, you might call them ‘goalers’ or if you’re South Australian, ‘goalies’, but you’re wrong. Anyway, the selectors chose Caitlin Bassett, Caitlin Thwaites, Natalie Medhurst and Erin Bell.
The number one issue there is obviously not enough Caitlins. Caitlyn Nevins was looked at as an option, but the ‘y’ in her name and the fact that she’s not a shooter worked against her.
The second problem was that they didn’t select Romelda Aiken. Yes, I know, some traditionalists will insist that she’s technically Jamaican and not eligible to play for Australia, but when will our selectors move out of the dark ages and start thinking innovatively? Simply name her in the team and see what happens, I say. If anyone questions it, we’ll just point out that she has an Australian accent. Problem solved.
For this area of the court, the selectors went with Kim Green, Kim Ravaillion, Renae Hallinan and Paige Hadley. Once again, they started down a consistent track by naming a couple of Kims and then wussed out when it got too hard and threw two non-Kims into the mix.
Now it could be argued that there simply aren’t any other available Kims to select into the team, but we need to start looking outside the box. Why not try former Australian cricket captain Kim Hughes, or former opposition leader Kim Beazley?
Or if they’re really set on selecting an entire team of women, why not give Mrs Kim from Gilmore Girls a shot? Sure, she’s a fictional character, but it can’t be worse than having Renaes and Paiges in there messing up the symmetry.
The other option would just be to select Ashleigh Brazill, not for any particular name-symmetry reason, just because she’s awesome. And I’m sure she’d be willing to change her name to Kim if anyone bothered to ask.
This was probably the most talked about area of the court, with the selectors controversially opting for four players with entirely different first names – Laura Geitz, Julie Corletto, Sharni Layton and Rebecca Bulley. And while they’re all technically good players who get a lot of intercepts and rebounds and do all that defender-y kind of stuff, none of them are really pulling their weight off the court.
While shooters are typically referred to as ‘princesses’, defenders must therefore be the polar opposite, which is obviously ‘footballers’. So where are the stories about Geitz driving into parked cars? Why haven’t we heard about any Layton shenanigans in Kings Cross? Where are Corletto’s rowdy nights out at casinos and Bulley’s drunken text messages?
The answer is, of course, that these things simply don’t exist. Butter wouldn’t melt in these women’s mouths and it’s embarrassing to defenders everywhere.
The question we must of course ask is: ‘Is this a team that can win the World Cup?’ The answer is ‘Yes, obviously, have you seen a New Zealander catch a ball lately?’ Of course you haven’t, none of them can do it.
And while England came very close to beating Australia at the Commonwealth Games last year, when it came down to it, they realised they were England and thought better of it, so no doubt they’ll do the same thing again.
So, knowing that we could throw pretty much anyone out on court and walk away with the trophy like LeBron James taking candy from a baby or Serena Williams winning a Grand Slam, couldn’t the selectors have done something a bit more fun, like choose an entire team of Caitlins or throw Liz Ellis’ three-year-old daughter into the mix?
I mean, what is this World Cup if not a giant marketing exercise? Disappointing to see that creativity and innovation are not at the top of the selectors’ minds this time.