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Former refugee leads cricket’s diversity drive

Written on September 12, 2019 at 22:03, by

Multicultural and indigenous players will be among the targets of the new community engagement manager, Sam Amaliki, who experienced an unusual introduction to the game.

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Luke Waters reports.

 

Sam Amaliki embarks on day one of what he describes as the job of a lifetime.

 

“I love the game as much as anything in my life because it’s been central in my life and I’m incredibly passionate about it because I know it’s a force for good.”

 

Colleagues at Cricket Australia offered a warm welcome but their paths to cricket headquarters could hardly be more different.

 

Sam Amaliki left war-torn Iraq as an 8-year old and was introduced to the game as a child while in immigration detention.

 

“It was at Villawood that I saw cricket being played by Tamil detainees and from there took a loving for the game.”

 

At just 15, he set up a winter cricket competition in Sydney and says he’s now ready for his next challenge.

 

“Through this role I’ll be able to ensure we engage more female, Indigenous, multicultural and all-ability cricketers and ensure their dreams come true.”

 

And recent results are encouraging.

 

Afghan asylum-seeker Fawad Ahmed last week joined the Australia-A team in England.

 

Gurinder Sandhu, of Indian heritage, is showing promise for New South Wales.

 

Nick Hatzoglou presides over the multicultural Sunshine Heights Cricket Club in Melbourne’s west.

 

The club boasts almost 40 ethnicities including Australia’s first Sudanese-born senior turf cricketer.

 

Mr Hatzoglou says cricket has been slow to embrace the multicultural market but applauds the new position.

 

“If you’re going to remain to be the most popular sport in Australia you need to have a conversation with the rest of Australia.”

 

And the proof – partially, at least – will be in the “baggy greens” of the future.

 

“For example more Singhs in our national team, more Chins, would certainly see that dream come true in terms of engaging all Australians.”

Chelsea hope Rooney will be final piece in jigsaw

Written on September 12, 2019 at 22:03, by

Mourinho, who said he had gone from being the ‘Special One’ to the ‘Happy One’ when he returned in June for a second spell as coach at his spiritual Stamford Bridge home following spells at Inter Milan and Real Madrid, has made no secret of his desire to sign the England striker.

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Rooney also seems keen to end his nine-year spell at Manchester United for a move to Chelsea but can United afford to allow their prize asset to reinforce the title claims of one of their leading Premier League rivals?

Mourinho has already had two sizeable bids for Rooney rejected and former United and England captain Bryan Robson believes he will need to wave a huge financial carrot in front of the Old Trafford hierarchy in order to seal the deal.

“The thing that makes me laugh is I’ve been told it (the latest offer) is 25 million pounds to 30 million pounds,” Robson told Talksport radio.

“For Wayne Rooney? A 27-year-old who is probably in the top six strikers in the world? What are United going to have to pay to replace him? I’m amazed at that – it’s an insult to Wayne Rooney.”

Insult or not, Mourinho is prepared to play a waiting game, content in the knowledge he can already call upon three good strikers in Fernando Torres, Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba.

Torres has often flattered to deceive since joining Chelsea for a record fee of 50 million pounds from Liverpool two and a half years ago although he showed signs of improvement last season.

The Spain striker bagged 23 goals in all competitions including a dazzling run from the halfway line to score the equaliser in the 2-1 Europa League final victory over Benfica in Amsterdam in May.

Mourinho believes Torres, who is at his best when balls are played beyond the opposition defence for him to use his pace, is capable of flourishing if his team mates utilise his strengths.

“When we see Torres with his back to goal surrounded by two or three opponents we know he is not going to produce a piece of magic,” said the coach who led Chelsea to back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006.

HULL HOMECOMING

“But this is Torres. We want the team not to learn how to play with him but to improve how to play with him,” said Mourinho who is adored by the Chelsea fans and will get a special welcome at his first game back at home to Hull City on Sunday.

“It is impossible to re-model his game but we want to adapt the team and teach the team how to use his best qualities. He is what he is and he is very good with the qualities he has got so we need to learn and support his game.”

Chelsea, who finished third in the Premier League under interim coach Rafael Benitez last season, have been boosted by the signing of Germany forward Andre Schuerrle from Bayer Leverkusen.

Mourinho also swooped for young Dutch international midfielder Marco van Ginkel in the close season while midfielder Michael Essien, winger Kevin de Bruyne and utility player Nathaniel Chalobah have returned after loan spells elsewhere.

It is the return of the charismatic Portuguese coach, however, that has attracted so much attention to 2012 European champions Chelsea.

“The Premier League requires a Jose Mourinho character more than ever,” said former United and England defender Gary Neville. “He is the biggest signing of the summer for English football.

“You can’t ignore him, the way he challenges people, works the media or celebrates on the touchline like a fan. Whoever you support you should be delighted to have Jose Mourinho back for the new season.”

(Editing by Martyn Herman)

50 million year old fossils in Brisbane

Written on September 12, 2019 at 22:03, by

A road project in the Brisbane suburb of Geebung has unearthed information about the area’s past that has scientists excited.

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It’s information that goes back tens-of-millions of years, when the area was both warmer and wetter.

 

And though that was a long time before the arrival of the first humans, there were crocodiles.

 

Laura Murphy-Oates has the story.

 

Construction on a new overpass was underway and the workers were drilling 15 metres below ground level, when there were calls to suddenly halt.

 

An engineer had noticed something unusual in the spoil, or excess dirt.

 

The discovery?

 

A collection of 50 million year old fossils, including crocodile vertebrae, fish and frog bones as well as shells, plants and pollen.

 

CEO of the Queensland Museum Network, Professor Suzanne Miller, says this is a highly significant find for Australian paleontology.

 

“That’s very unusual to be able to find such diversity and such richness. Practically every piece of rock you turn over has fossils in it, so that gives us an incredible snap shot back 50 million years in time and allows us to build up a picture of what the environment would have been like and what animals had evolved by that time”

 

Scientists at the Queensland Museum have identified the fossils as belonging to the Eocene Period, about 100 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

 

So what was Australia like when these fossils were alive?

 

Well, Australia was still attached to Antarctica and we were closer to the Equator.

 

Professor Miller says it was also much warmer.

 

“The area that is now Queensland where these fossils have been found would have been much warmer and wetter 50 million years ago so it would have been very much like rainforest with rivers flowing through, very swampy but an incredible ecosystem of different animals all living an coexisting together.”

 

Brisbane Mayor Graham Quirk thinks residents of the Queensland capital would be surprised at the discovery.

 

“Well I think that’s the fascinating part about this- you just don’t know what’s below the Earth’s surface. The last thing we expected was to find fossils of this consequence and significance. The people that have seen these fossils advise that advised that these fossils are of global significance. We know in other parts of the Queensland there have been dinosaur finds.”

 

Construction has continued on the overpass, but it’s believed there may be more fossils within the excess dirt, now donated to the Queensland Museum.

 

Queensland Transport Minister Scott Emerson says the construction has not harmed the fossils, but rather aided the process.

 

“It’s a great outcome that this project can proceed but also we are getting a great scientific discovery. The reality was is that if this project had never occurred we never would have been digging down to those 15 metres below the ground and we never would have discovered these fossils”

 

The Queensland Museum is calling for community volunteers to assist with sorting through the dirt to find more historic remains.

 

AFLPA encouraged by ASADA’s Bombers report

Written on September 12, 2019 at 22:03, by

The AFL players’ association says those investigating the Essendon supplements saga have recognised that while players were caught up in the situation, those guiding them are culpable.

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AFLPA chief executive Matt Finnis says while he can’t guarantee players won’t be sanctioned, he has heard nothing to suggest they will be and players can take encouragement from the ASADA interim report.

“There’s been a recognition amongst the people involved in the investigation that the players, through their own testimony, have indicated how they were caught up in something where they placed enormous trust and faith in those around them,” Finnis told reporters on Thursday, before meeting with Bombers players.

“Players come out of high school into footy clubs and it’s their job to put enormous trust and faith into those who have got a responsibility and an expertise to get these things right.

“There’s a recognition that culpability must lie with those that are most responsible.”

Finnis’ confidence on the players’ behalf echoes that of the Bombers, whose president Paul Little said on Wednesday night that Essendon believed players would be cleared and were urgently seeking AFL confirmation on that point.

“We’re working very hard to make sure that that confirmation – one way or the other, we believe positive confirmation – will be received,” Little said.

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley expressed similar confidence on Thursday that the Power’s ex-Essendon forward Angus Monfries would escape penalty.

There remains strong speculation the Bombers will be heavily penalised, including being stripped of premiership points, which would cost them their finals berth.

The Bombers would reportedly challenge such a sanction.

Finnis said that would still amount to a punishment for the players, as it would effectively wipe out a season’s worth of effort.

Coach James Hird, who is yet to learn whether he faces sanction for his role in the saga, remains adamant it won’t cause him to resign.

But he also said the players were the top concern.

“Our priority has always been in clearing the players. When they’re cleared we’ll go to the rest of it,” Hird told reporters.

Despite being the remaining figurehead at the Bombers following the resignations of chief executive Ian Robson and chairman David Evans, Hird said he is yet to view a copy of the ASADA report although has been briefed on its contents.

“I don’t have a copy of the report,” he said.

“That would be a stretch to say I’ve seen it. I’ve heard what’s in it but haven’t seen it.”

Egyptian Australians echo Cairo’s bloody divisions

Written on September 12, 2019 at 22:03, by

Despite being democratically elected, and the first Egyptian president to be democratically elected, the ascension of Mohamed Morsi was far from universally recognised as legitimate.

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His troubled year as president was marked by increasingly vocal protests, even from those who once instigated the toppling of dictator President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

But Mr Morsi had, obviously, millions of supporters, too.

In Australia, Egyptian Australians reflect the divided opinions of their home country, and the dramatic events yesterday have deepened those divisions.

The Australian Coptic Association’s Samir Habashy says the crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi was warranted.

Mr Habashy says the protesters were given fair warning to leave, and as they were preventing residents near the camps from leading a normal life, it was time for them to be dispersed.

He also claims the Muslim Brotherhood has been inciting violence against the minority Christian population in retaliation.

“They went around Egypt and they have received orders from the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood to do a lot of troubles around. So they’ve burned now 23 churches, two Coptic schools and they’ve killed six Copts in Egypt,” says Mr Habashy.

“But I believe that those Muslim Brotherhood, they cannot last too much in front of the population of Egypt because the Egyptian people believe quite well that those fanatics haven’t got to rule Egypt and they are behind the army and the police,” he says.

Lending weight to Mr Habashy’s claims are media reports that Morsi supporters burnt Christian-owned businesses as well as schools and churches after the security force crackdown.

But other Egyptian Australians say the army and police action against pro-Morsi demonstrators was a massacre.

Dozens of protesters gathered at Lakemba railway station in Sydney last night demanding international condemnation of the Egyptian military action.

One of those present at the protests was Mohammed Helal, who told the ABC it was a spontaneous protest to voice their concerns about the death of democracy in Egypt.

“That is a process of killing any opposition to this new interim government that came out by the military coup. Anyone who voices their opposition is being jailed or killed. And even all the media that opposes them is closed down, and this is the unfortunate thing that is happening in Egypt now,” says Mr Helal.

WATCH: Egyptian Australians protest against Cairo violence in Lakemba

According to Samir Habashy, he believes the Muslim Brotherhood camps in Cairo were filled with arms.

He says the Egyptian security forces were attacked by Muslim Brotherhood supporters and had no choice but to go in hard to disperse them.

“For sure because they had a lot of different arms and they are being supported by al-Qaeda groups and they have been supported by Hamas groups, from Palestinian Hamas groups, and they have some of them among them, it was a bit hard for the army and the police to vanquish them quickly,” says Mr Habashy.

But Mohammed Helal dismisses that argument.

“Really the interim government or that temporary government is lying all the way and they can fabricate anything to justify their brutal crackdown to a peaceful demonstration and sit-in,” he says.

The Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, says the Australian government is sending a strong message through its embassy in Cairo that the violence in Egypt must stop.

Senator Carr says the government shares the concerns of Egyptian-Australians.

“My message to all Australians with an interest in this is simply that the Australian government unreservedly condemns violence, the loss of life. We urge a return by the government of Egypt to a peaceful engagement with the demonstrators. And we want minorities in the country to be protected, ” says Mr Carr.

Bob Carr claims he is not aware of any Australians being caught up in the bloodshed.

But he has reiterated a Department of Foreign Affairs travel warning issued following the latest violence.

“The advice for Australian tourists is reconsider your need to go to Egypt. For those there, we recommend that Australians in Egypt return, it’s as simple as that. Certainly while they’re there they ought to avoid scenes of demonstrations or protests. But given the capacity of the situation to deteriorate quickly, our advice to Australians there would be to take a path back to Australia as soon as possible.”