I think it's fair to say that this ongoing eligibility issue with New Zealand Football has rather dramatically changed public perception of the national body. This makes the news of an All Whites squad to face Myanmar music to my eyes as we actually have some All Whites football to take the focus off all that is dumb.
The All Whites head to Myanmar next month (September starts tomorrow, so later in September) and while the naming of the Rugby World Cup squad rightfully overshadowed this squad naming, there were a few selections that are interesting to say the least. Interesting and exciting as once again coach Anthony Hudson has given youth the opportunity to shine led by Under-17 player Logan Rogerson who is, by all accounts a striker with plenty of potential.
Rogerson is joined by Harshae Raniga, Liam Higgins, Max Crocombe, Sam Brotherton, Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi and Alex Rufer as players who were named and haven't earned an All Whites cap just yet. That in itself is highly exciting and I'm liking what Hudson has done by giving this younger group an opportunity while also relying on All Whites veterans such as Shane Smeltz and Jeremy Brockie to offer some experience.
One interesting thought I had goes back to this eligibility saga, which has obviously influenced the non-selections of Deklyn Wynn and Storm Roux, but there is again evidence of NZF's shrewd eligibility knowledge in this squad. Some mightn't think that NZF and eligibility knowledge are the best terms to use together, but that's what made the Deklyn Wynn issue so strange as NZF have shown many times that they know how to wriggle around eligibility rules
Themi Tzimopoulos stands out as a name that'll be foreign to most casual All Whites fans and he was selected last year despite being born in Greece. He does have the necessary kiwi connection but he is a good example of NZF doing their eligibility homework smartly, same with goalkeeper Max Crocombe who was born in Auckland but move to England at a young age. Crocombe has featured in a variety of New Zealand youth teams, again showing that NZF aren't as silly as many people think they are.
Also sneaking somewhat under the radar was news that Ronda Rousey will now headline the UFC 193 event in Melbourne. Rousey had recently announced that she would fight Holly Holm in Las Vegas early next year, but that fight has been moved forward to November 14 thanks to an injury in the Robbie Lawler vs Carlos Condit fight that was to be the main event.
Now, the most marketable (and arguably the best) female athlete in the world headlines the UFC's major push into Australia and any feelings I had about this Melbourne event being a sellout, have only intensified. The Mark Hunt vs Antonio Silva re-match could have sold out Etihad Stadium in Melbourne but with Rousey headlining, I can see UFC 193 being one of the bigger sporting events in this part of the world this year.
The National Hockey League got underway this weekend with the big winners being the Canterbury men who snuck home with a shootout win over the Southern Dogs as well as the Central ladies who beat Capital. Central are a team to watch as they have welcomed back Kayla Whitelock who has long been one of Aotearoa's best female players and with the ladies side of the draw looking very competitive, an early win over Capital will go down nicely.
Other results on the ladies side saw North Harbour beat Northland 2-1 which is a great result for Harbour, Auckland beat Midlands 2-1 and Canterbury beat Southern 4-0.
On the men's side, Canterbury will be happy to have won that shootout with Southern as Southern have made a habit recently of making their way into the finals. Central will be disappointed with their 5-0 loss to Capital and while it's very early days, Central could find themselves joining Northland as this year's battlers. Northland went down 6-3 to Harbour while Auckland managed narrow 1-0 win over Midlands courtesy of this goal from Marcus Child.
Scott Dixon, take a bow chief you are quite some guy. Dixon went into the race at Sonoma 46 points behind Juan Pablo Montoya who was leading the IndyCar Series and Dixon needed a hefty win to take home the series' bacon. Sonoma counts for double points so Dixon's win along with the fact that it was his 3rd win of the season to Montoya's 2nd win gave him the IndyCar series belt. That's his 4th IndyCar series win so big ups to him.
We've all seen the headlines and most of us have enjoyed watching Usain Bolt gallop away his way to gold medals, but I just want to take a moment to give the IAAF World Championships a big old shout out. Going into the World Champs, the only real headlines athletics was getting had to do with doping and the timing of the 'widespread doping in athletics' story couldn't have been any worse with the World Champs just around the corner.
Personally, these World Champs just reminded me why I love athletics and in turn, why I love the Olympics. I have a slightly obsessive love for sport but athletics is the purest form of sport as we get to see who can run the fastest, who can throw the furthest and who can combine speed, power, endurance etc the best. The thing with athletics, whether it be World Champs or Olympics or Commonwealth Games is that you can flick it on and just immerse yourself in whatever event is happening at that moment. You don't need to know what the fuck's going on, but you can lose yourself in trying to figure it all out while admiring the athletes on display.