Page 1975 - Week 05 - Thursday, 5 May 2011

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MR SMYTH: Whoever is playing Collingwood is a valid point. Indeed, I cast my mind back to 1987, when the Raiders got to their first grand final. We owned a newsagency at that time, a family business. You could not buy yellow, green, white or blue balloons or crepe paper for love nor money in Canberra. The town went wild. Ultimately they won the first of their grand finals. It was a coming of age for Canberra. It was a great time—Mal and the guys carrying the Winfield cup, I think it was then, down Northbourne Avenue in the soft-top Volkswagen—and it really got people thinking about what a great city this was.

As you know, it was built on some of the successes of the Cannons. Then the Brumbies turned up. They are the only Australian side to win the super 12 cup. They are a great outfit. Both sides are worthy of our support.

I think anybody who reflects on some of the inappropriate behaviour that has occurred would say that perhaps those individuals who are responsible for it might like to reflect on their behaviour. When the going gets tough, it is time for the city to get behind their teams. These guys represent us. They train hard. Sometimes it does not work. The fact that we are here probably means none of us could have been professional footballers, and that might be why we are in the Assembly and not out at Bruce stadium on the weekend. A lot of us do not get to that level. Most of us do not get to that level! They train hard. They do not go out there to lose. They go out there to win. If we are adding to their burden, then that is not a good thing.

So it really is time for the city to stand up, for people to get behind their side, to get out there. I go out as often as I can and I just love it. I have got a five-year-old, David, who is in his first year at school. All the kids were discussing what were they going to play. We said to him, “Do you want to play soccer?” And he said, “No, I want to play footy.” We said, “Do you want to play Aussie rules?” He said, “No, I want to play footy.” In the end he decided that he wanted to be a Brumby. So he plays his first game for the Vikings under 7s at Gowrie on Saturday morning at 9.30.

You look at the little ones and the influence that people like the Brumbies squad and the Raiders squad have. Greater Western Sydney hopefully will add to that one day. We have seen various soccer sides here in the territory. Indeed, our hockey sides as well have played at national level and won at national level.

Then if you go to women’s sport and you throw in the Capitals and some of those sides, this is a city that produces great, champion teams. And if the going is getting a bit tough for them, then it is up to the city to get behind them and support them so that in the future, those little ones going out to join the under 5s, the under 6s and the under 7s—and the organisations that back those junior teams, these kids—have something to aspire to. So I will keep taking my boy to the Raiders. I will keep taking my boy to the Brumbies. And I look forward to seeing other people out there supporting their team in their stadium in their city so that we are all better off in the long run.

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