Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Guy’s World: Gutted Over The Hockey

“Gutted mate, just gutted.” This choice phrase would be on the top ten to come out of any sports ground around the country, when the home team loses. Sports mad Kiwis are regularly gutted, whether it’s the All Blacks losing, the Hurricanes, or the Onslow College second IV.

I can’t often get emotionally involved enough to really feel gutted by a sports result, though I love to see our teams win. I was at the Bledisloe Cup test in Wellington earlier this year, when John Eales nailed a last minute penalty to beat the All Blacks. The final throw of the dice went against us in a good, tight game. I was disappointed, but not gutted.

But the New Zealand women’s hockey team’s draw against Spain in the medal round was a genuinely gutting experience. The girls had clawed their way to a 2-1 lead against the defensive Spanish in a typically plucky display, which should have seen them well on their way into medal contention. A questionable umpiring decision and a momentary lapse of concentration was all it took to tear months of hard work out from underneath them.

I was down with Kiwi coach Jan Borren when he ranted about the power tripping umpires stealing our match by awarding Spain a free hit, which they scored from. It made me mad every time I thought about it for the next couple of days. I can’t imagine what Borren was feeling, or indeed the players, who had worked so hard.

That moment seemed to break our hockey girls’ spirit. When they went back out to play Argentina a couple of days later they weren’t themselves. The Argentineans embarrassed them 1-7, knocking them back to 6th place in the competition and ending their hopes of a dream date with Australia in the gold medal match.

Kiwi goal keeper Helen Clarke quipped to Paul Holmes, as he raked over the coals of the hockey girls pain a couple of days later, that the team should get a cheap sports psychologist so they could get over it quickly. But even the team joker couldn’t hide the medal shaped hole in her heart.

The hockey girls won a lot of fans with their performances in Sydney, people who’d never watched hockey before and maybe never will again. I’d never watched the game – the national stadium is just up the road and I hadn’t even noticed.

But at the Olympics, where most sports are tainted by drugs and dollars, the hockey girls were a breath of fresh, Olympic spirit flavoured air. They exceeded our wildest expectations of them, playing tough and gritty hockey to notch up two wins and two draws – two more wins than New Zealand women’s hockey has ever achieved at any Olympics before.

They worked together to be much greater than the sum of their parts, like an unusually functional family. They made enormous sacrifices – holding down day jobs and giving up all their spare time to train, while some other athletes made millions just for wearing the sponsor’s product on their drug enhanced bodies. They also looked much spunkier in their uniforms than any of the other hockey teams.

The hockey girls dared to dream they could be medal contenders, and impressed the country so much with their spirit we couldn’t help dreaming with them. They rated better than the All Blacks, they even pushed One News out of it’s 6pm time slot for the do or die match with Argentina.

The team haven’t forgiven themselves yet for the way they let things slip away. They expected a lot from themselves, and as they notched up good results, we came to expect a lot from them too.

I hope when the disappointment eases the girls feel proud of their achievements. And I hope when they get home, New Zealand lets them know we’re proud of them too.

Because they’re worth it.

Feedback: guy@scoop.co.nz

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Binoy Kampmark: Funeral Rites For COVID Zero
It was such a noble public health dream, even if rather hazy to begin with. Run down SARS-CoV-2. Suppress it. Crush it. Or just “flatten the curve”, which could have meant versions of all the above. This created a climate of numerical sensitivity: a few case infections here, a few cases there, would warrant immediate, sharp lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, the closure of all non-vital service outlets... More>>

Dunne Speaks: 25 Years Of MMP - And The Government Wants To Make It Harder For Small Parties
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the New Zealand’s first MMP election. Over the last quarter century, the MMP electoral system has led to our Parliament becoming more socially and ethnically diverse, more gender balanced, and to a wider spread of political opinion gaining representation. Or, as one of my former colleagues observed somewhat ruefully at the time, Parliament starting to look a little more like the rest of New Zealand... More>>

Eric Zuesse: China Says U.S.-China War Is Imminent

China has now publicly announced that, unless the United States Government will promptly remove from China’s Taiwan province the military forces that it recently sent there, China will soon send military forces into that province, because, not only did the U.S. secretly send “special operations forces” onto that island... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>



Our Man In Washington: Morrison’s Tour Of Deception

It was startling and even shocking. Away from the thrust and cut of domestic politics, not to mention noisy discord within his government’s ranks, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison could breathe a sign of relief. Perhaps no one would notice in Washington that Australia remains prehistoric in approaching climate change relative to its counterparts... More>>



Binoy Kampmark: Melbourne Quake: Shaken, Not Stirred

It began just after a news interview. Time: a quarter past nine. Morning of September 22, and yet to take a sip from the brewed Turkish coffee, its light thin surface foam inviting. The Australian city of Melbourne in its sixth lockdown, its residents fatigued and ravaged by regulations. Rising COVID-19 numbers, seemingly inexorable... More>>