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Race Relations and Sport – Why Devoy gets it

Race Relations and Sport – Why Devoy gets it.

Given the furore as a result of Michael Jones, Irene van Dyk and Dame Susan Devoy all making the shortlist for Race Relations Conciliator I thought it was time for some inquiry into race relations on the sports field. Here goes!

The Franks brothers don't say Kevie Mealamu is a Pacific Islander so we won't prop him up. Piri Weepu does not say Dan Carter is a Pakeha from Quota Country (according to Hayden) so I will skip him and pass the ball straight to Ma’a Nonu. Dan in turn does not say SBW is a Leagie and a Muslim to boot so I won’t offend Deaker and his mates by passing to Sonny Bill, I will just kick for touch. Brilliant athlete and boxer that he is, SBW gets told by Manager Khoder Nasser that although Ma’a wears mascara and dreadlocks plus he is from Wellington, you pass the ball to him anyway because he will break the line and score and people will remember your brilliant offload. If Ma does get tackled ( he was never going to pass to Zac Guilford and that has nothing to do with his race) the first man there in Captain Richie doesn't wait for the advisory committee of Jerome Kaino and Liam Messam to consult with, but simply gets on with the job of burgling the ball, legal or not.

The reason these athletes just get on with the job is because they were inspired by Coach Ted to sign up to the game plan. That's right all 22 of them (inclusive of the reserves) are very clear on what the game plan is and are totally committed to playing their part in order for the team to achieve victory. Of course sometimes old Piri doesn't feel so inspired and Coach Ted will take him a side for a "quiet chat" and sometimes the chat is not so quiet and sometimes Piri gets a "spell" to get into shape - but he is an integral part of the team and its game plan. Sometimes old Jimmy or Young Zac steps outside the protocols and the coach sends them to the "naughty corner" but just like Piri they remain part of the wider team, unless of course the decide to take their boots and ball and head overseas.

Now Dame Susan gets this team stuff. She realises that we are 2 Primary Island and many complimentary Islands but we are one Country. She gets that we are 2 Primary peoples and many complimentary peoples but to succeed we must be one Nation. She understands that her job is to inspire the team to Nationbuilding. She gets it that she needs to understand all the perils and intricacies that stops us from achieving as a team. She totally gets it that sometimes the Referee, The Touch Judges and even the Video referee gets it wrong. Even more daunting is the fact that there are 4.3 million experts out there that apparently always gets it more than anyone else and has a monopoly on the solutions. She appreciates that Conrad needs to leave his Hurricane jersey at home; Richie needs to leave his Crusader jersey under his pillow and Ma’a needs to leave all 3 his jerseys with his mascara in his bag and only wear the Black one when they play for the National team. She also gets that when they go home, Ma’a is free to wear all his Jerseys and matching mascara.

So let’s give Coach Devoy an opportunity to mould this nation into a winning team and even when she slips up, remember how we wanted to crucify Ted after Cardiff and now we call him World Cup Champion Sir.

Let’s not judge her before we know her and even when we think we know her, let’s focus on the results. Let’s Go, Nationbuilding, Let’s Go.

Gregory Fortuin (Former Race Relations Conciliator)


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