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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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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)
A road project in the Brisbane suburb of Geebung has unearthed information about the area’s past that has scientists excited.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Workers at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant are scrambling to check 300 tanks storing highly radioactive water, after one sprang a leak that is feared to have seeped into the Pacific.
About 300 tonnes of toxic liquid was believed to have escaped from one of the tanks that hold water used to cool the broken reactors, while operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) warned some of it might have flowed into the ocean.
“We are hurriedly checking if some 300 tanks of the same type holding contaminated water have the same leak problem,” a TEPCO spokesman said.
“We have finished pumping out water from the troubled tank, while we have continued removing the soil soaked by the water,” he said.
Spokesman Tsuyoshi Numajiri said on Wednesday that traces of radioactivity were detected in a drainage stream.
“We cannot rule out the possibility that part of the contaminated water flowed into the sea,” he said.
On Wednesday, nuclear regulators said the leak represented a level-three “serious incident” on the UN’s seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), which measures radiation accidents.
The alert was raised from level one, which indicates an “anomaly”.
It is the most serious single event since the plant was declared to be in a “state of cold shutdown” – effectively indicating it was under control at the end of 2011.
The quake and tsunami-sparked meltdowns at the plant in March of that year were ultimately declared to be level seven on the INES scale. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 is the only other incident to have been given the most serious ranking.
TEPCO has said puddles of water near the tank were so toxic that anyone exposed to them would receive the same amount of radiation in an hour that a nuclear plant worker in Japan is allowed to receive in five years.
The utility did not have a water-level gauge on the 1000-tonne tank, which experts say would have made it a lot more difficult to detect the problem.
Thursday’s safety checks on 300 tanks came after Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) chairman Shunichi Tanaka on Wednesday voiced concern that there could be similar leaks from other containers.
“We must carefully deal with the problem on the assumption that if one tank springs a leak the same thing can happen at other tanks,” he said.
The company – which faces huge clean-up and compensation costs – has struggled to cope with the disaster.
More than two years after the meltdowns, it continues to be beset by difficulties, chief among which is how it should handle the vast amounts of water used to cool the broken reactors.
Around 1000 tanks of varying sizes have been installed at the site to contain it, but experts warn this can only be a temporary fix.
A series of problems, and delays in announcing them to the public, have added to the impression that the huge utility is not on top of the clean-up.
TEPCO in July admitted for the first time that radioactive groundwater had been leaking outside the plant.
This month it started pumping it out to reduce leakage into the Pacific.
The problems have led the Japanese government and the NRA to say they would become more directly involved in the operation at Fukushima.
While no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the radiation released by the meltdowns, large areas around the plant had to be evacuated.
Tens of thousands of people are still unable to return to their homes, with scientists warning some areas may have to be abandoned.
Russian authorities have given “strong” assurances that gay and lesbian competitors at next year’s Winter Olympics will not face discrimination, International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Jacques Rogge said Friday during a visit to the United Nations.
Gay rights activists have led calls for a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Games in protest at Russia’s notorious “gay propaganda” law.
The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, punishes the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors.
Activists say it can be used for a broad crackdown against gays — fuelling fears participants at the Winter Olympics could be targeted.
However, Rogge said Friday that Russian officials had assured Olympics organisers athletes would not be affected.
“We have received new and strong assurances, both verbally and in writing, that there will not be any discrimination against participants at the Sochi Games,” Rogge told reporters.
“We are reassured by the fact that the Russian Federation accepts and respects the Olympic Charter,” he added.
Under the legislation signed by Putin, foreigners can be fined up to 100,000 rubles (about $A3,346.91), detained for up to 15 days or expelled from the country.
Rogge meanwhile said he expects the climax of the race to host the 2020 Olympics next month to come down to just a handful of votes.
The IOC membership will gather in Buenos Aires for a September 7 meeting to choose the 2020 hosts from a shortlist of Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul.
“The three cities are very close to each other,” Rogge said. “(It) will not be not easy to determine the winner.
“The ultimate choice will be a matter of a difference of two or three votes, no more than that.”
Rogge was joined by tennis’s world number one Novak Djokovic at the UN on Friday as the general assembly agreed to launch the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on April 6 next year.
Property tycoon Ron Medich is attempting to suppress evidence of a number of witnesses in his committal hearing for the shooting murder of businessman Michael McGurk.
Medich, dressed in a navy suit and pink and blue striped tie, appeared calm as the hearing began at Central Local Court on Tuesday.
His co-accused, 23-year-old Christopher Estephan, sat in the dock wearing a grey suit.
Estephan’s mother was in the gallery.
During the first day of the hearing – in which no evidence was called – Medich’s barrister Winston Terracini SC made an application for an interim non-publication order on the evidence of a number of “civilian witnesses” and that of co-offenders Lucky Gattellari, Haissam Safetli and Senad Kaminic.
Mr Terracini said there had been an enormous amount of publicity surrounding the case and “some factual and other reporting nonsense”.
“We don’t want reporting on these matters before the primary witness (Gattellari) gets into the witness box,” he said.
Once the trio have given evidence, Mr Terracini said the order could be lifted and “the media can publish anything they see fit”.
Magistrate Jan Stevenson said she was reluctant to grant the non-publication order in the interests of justice and because of the amount of material already in the public domain.
It would mean no evidence could be reported for at least the first two to three weeks of the hearing, now set down for four to six weeks.
The hearing will decide whether the pair should stand trial for the murder of Mr McGurk, who was shot outside his Cremorne home in 2009.
The crown alleges 65-year-old Medich enlisted the help of one-time boxing champion Gattellari to carry out the contract killing on Mr McGurk after their business relationship began deteriorating in late 2008 and they became embroiled in several legal disputes.
Gattellari then allegedly recruited Kaminic, Safetli and Estephan to assist in the hit.
Safetli, who has pleaded guilty to murdering Mr McGurk, alleges he and Estephan went to the businessman’s home on September 3, 2009.
Upon seeing Mr McGurk drive home, he alleges the then 19-year-old Estephan grabbed a modified rifle, walked up to the businessman’s Mercedes and shot him at close range.
But Estephan alleges he thought they were going for a drive and it was the 47-year-old who fired the gun.
Ms Stevenson adjourned the matter until August 13, when media outlets are set to challenge the application.
Of the five men charged in relation to the killing, only Estephan and Medich are facing committal.
Gattellari and Kaminic were sentenced earlier this year for their part in the murder, while Safetli is due to be sentenced this week.
Djokovic, the world number one, was flawless in a 6-1 6-2 demolition of French seventh seed Richard Gasquet while Nadal was equally emphatic in a straight sets win over Australian qualifier Marinko Matosevic.
Serbia’s Djokovic and Spaniard Nadal will face off for the 36th time after the 11th seed Milos Raonic and local wildcard Vasek Pospisil compete in an all-Canadian semi-final.
Djokovic was imperious against Gasquet as he produced his best performance since returning from a month off after losing the Wimbledon final.
Unleashing his full repertoire of big serves, crushing ground strokes and plenty of touch, Djokovic barely raised a sweat as Gasquet was emphatically dispatched in just 52 minutes.
The crowd then got more entertainment when Djokovic returned to the centre court for what has become his customary celebration dance as the stadium roared its approval.
“It’s a great feeling when you’re playing this well and you beat a quality player like Gasquet,” Djokovic told reporters.
“I’m going to try to memorise what I’ve done today and how I felt and hopefully take it on the court tomorrow … same kind of feeling.”
Nadal was always in control of his quarter-final against a fatigued Matosevic, who had come through two qualifying matches on top of his three main draw victories.
The 12-time grand slam champion never looked like being seriously challenged under the lights and he let rip with a procession of thundering forehand winners on the way to a 6-2 6-4 victory which booked his place in another Masters series semi-final against Djokovic.
“It is always exciting to play against Novak in a great tournament, a Masters 1000,” Nadal said in a courtside interview. “It will be a great match and I’ll try my best as I always do.”
Local favourite Milos Raonic held his nerve to beat Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis in a thrilling quarter-final to join fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the semi-finals.
Raonic, the world number 13, kept his cool in front of a parochial home crowd as he overcame Gulbis 7-6(3) 4-6 6-4 in a two and a half hour showdown.
With the crowd willing him on and jeering Gulbis’ every shot, Raonic claimed the first set tiebreak, before his opponent forced a deciding third set through a brilliant display of shot making.
Gulbis kept swinging in the decider but Raonic’s serve got him out of some difficult spots and when his opponent wobbled, Raonic pounced to seal victory and set up a meeting with Pospisil.
“It’s a great thing, it means a lot, not just to us but to Canadian tennis,” Raonic said.
“But at the same time, it’s another tennis match. That doesn’t change.”
Pospisil won through after Russia’s former world number three Nikolay Davydenko, who had showed signs this week of a return to form, retired while trailling 3-0 in the first set of their quarter-final.
The 71st ranked Pospisil had already beaten American John Isner and Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych this week in three sets so was happy to finally have a lighter workout.
“Even in those three games, I was really trying to catch my breath,” a tired Pospisil said.
“I felt like I had a bit of sore legs … so it (quick win) came at a great time.”
Andy Murray’s singles campaign may have ended prematurely but the Wimbledon champion and partner Colin Fleming have won through to the doubles semi-finals.
They defeated the fifth seeded Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer to set up a match against the top ranked Mike and Bob Bryan.
(Editing by Julian Linden/Greg Stutchbury)
Australia sealed its place in world football’s showpiece event with a tense 1-nil victory over Iraq.
The crowd of over 80,000 fans at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium had to wait until the 83rd minute for match-winner, courtesy of a headed goal from substitute striker Josh Kennedy.
Attila Mosonyi reports.
Large crowds greeted the Socceroos at Sydney’s harbour foreshore to congratulate them on securing a spot in their third successive World Cup finals.
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop led the victory celebrations at Circular Quay by emphasising the significance of the Socceroos’ achievement.
“This is the thing that other countries want to be part of. This is important for Australian football. This is important for Australian sport. This is important for our nation. I want to congratulate our team, they have put in courageous performance on the field and just as importantly they have conducted themselves with pride and humility off the field.”
Head coach Holger Osieck has thanked the crowd for their support and promised more to come from his team in Brazil.
“I’m very happy for all you guys for your great support and that we could make it to the World Cup. And we will make you proud, for sure!”
It’s been a long and tough qualifying campaign for the Socceroos and it all came down to the final 10 minutes of their last Group B match against Iraq.
Australia controlled possession from start to finish, but was unable to convert its opportunities.
Time and time again, the Socceroos failed to convert and the stoic Iraqi defence held on until half-time.
But back again after the break, Robbie Kruse volleyed the ball into the back of the net in the 65th minute.
Celebration quickly turned to frustration as the referee disallowed the goal because of a foul.
Amid a flurry of substitutions, Coach Osieck brought on Josh Kennedy, replacing prolific goal-scorer Tim Cahill, who was visibly angry with the decision.
The substitution turned out to be a master-stoke when Kennedy’s clinical 83rd-minute header sent the crowd wild.
Here’s how it was called on SBS Radio.
“Josh Kennedy has scored. Delirium at Stadium Australia. Australia have one foot in the World Cup of 2014. Josh Kennedy, expertly with the head. And it’s Australia 1, Iraq nil.”
It was Kennedy’s first match for Australia in over a year, and speaking with SBS after the match, he couldn’t hide his delight.
“It’s amazing feeling. I guess the boss has been waiting to use me in the last game, so I think it was meant to be, yeah an amazing moment for me and for the boys, it’s a great feeling.”
Socceroos captain Lucas Neill is one of four Socceroos players – alongside Mark Bresciano, Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer – who have qualified for their third World Cup.
The veteran defender has admitted to SBS that it’s been an emotional qualification campaign.
“Relief, overwhelmed, really proud. It’s been a very hard campaign. Six months ago it was looking a little bit iffy, but we stuck together, we played some really good football in the last three games and now we get to realise a dream and that dream is that we are going to another world cup, my third and this is just great for the nation.”