A Sporting Chance

Last night will be a night that 19 year old Tom Craig will remember for a very long time, as he made is debut for the Kookaburras in the second Test against India in Perth; a game that saw the World number one side lose for the first tim win 2014.

Yet it was not memorable from that perspective for Craig, but more so because he was due to make his debut 24 hours earlier, except only when he was about to be announced in the squad was it realised that he did not have an Australian passport. Despite living in Sydney he was holding a New Zealand passport through his parents. The FIH would therefore not accept his selection and a mad scramble ensued to ensure that an Australian passport was issued so that he could make his much awaited debut 24 hours later.

One has to question why no one had realised until this very late stage that a player identified as a future Kookaburra did not hold an Australian passport. Surely someone would have realised that he would need such a document to play for Australia? The one thing his debut showed is that the Immigration department can move quickly when it has to, or when the right people are pulling the strings, as is believed to have happened in this case.

Interestingly a similar thing happened with a visa player at Perth Glory, with his permanent residency being pushed through before the required qualifying period that most others would have had to endure.

One can’t help thinking of those poor souls who are spending as much as two years in Australian Immigration Detention facilities waiting for their applications to be processed. Maybe they should push their sporting prowess when they lodge their paperwork or bring a hockey stick or cricket bat with them, and then they may find the process expedited.

Should sporting stars be afford such preferential treatment? Should Government ministers or ex members of parliament who have been entertained by various sporting bodies in their time in office be using their influence in such cases? After all it is only a game and not a matter of life and death.

It was great to see the young and talented Craig make his debut at senior level, but the manner in which it was achieved will no doubt upset many. Being just 19 years of age there would also be many who would state time is on his side and that he could easily have waited the normal time it takes to gain an Australian passport, just like the average man on the street.

A Sporting Chance
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3 thoughts on “A Sporting Chance

  • November 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm
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    Guys, Thank you for your comments. Not a good reflection on the Hockey Australia administration then as they should be across things like this. Well aware that emergency passports or priority passports are issued daily, but there is usually a great deal of jumping through hoops to get one. If only it were as easy as you make it sound!

    Have to agree Hick and Wessels a different issue, but agree this should not have come up on the eve of his debut, one would have thought someone would have checked. Hopefully his brother Ben, who played at the Sultan of Johor Cup has an Aussie Passport. Mind you it would be a great trivia question if his debut was held up for the same reason!

  • November 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm
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    Just to clarify… There was no queue jumping or a great deal of special treatment. Tom’s situation is not comparable to the examples of the Perth Glory player or Hick and Wessels who were after residency and/or citizenship being expedited.

    Tom is an Australian-born citizen. Hockey Australia were of the belief that they only required his Australian birth certificate as proof of citizenship, but unfortunately for FIH this is not the case, and they require a passport as identification and proof. Thus there was a request for an priority passport to allow Tom to play for his country of birth.

    No queue jumping, no sped up citizenship/residency… just a request (as the Australian Passport Office receives a number of daily available via their website) for an expedited passport. The only special treatment possibly received was to ensure the Priority Processing was as quick as possible.

  • November 6, 2014 at 11:28 am
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    It may sound harsh, but if the boy cannot realise that he is being developed for Australia and make sure he has the correct paperwork in order – or his parents and coaches guide him- he should not have had his passport rushed through. There are due processes and athletes should have to follow the same rules as the rest of us.

    I recall Graham Hick and Kepler Wessels having to serve their time as residents before playing for England and Australia so why is there a rule for some and not for others. I do accept that as a New Zealander he was entitled to live in Australia so slightly different but the principal is the same same.

    If politicians did pull strings they should be hung out to dry for an abuse of power.

    I love sport but it is not so important that people should jump queues in this way, and at 19 if he is any good he has a long career ahead of him, so could afford to wait.

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