Playing the game in the right spirit should be something that is commonplace, but sadly in today’s world when we witness acts of sportsmanship they stand out.
Yesterday at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia, Australia played arch rivals New Zealand. The New Zealand team are the defending Champions and after a couple of draws really needed a win to ensure their place in the final on Saturday and have a chance of winning back-to-back titles.
The game was 0-0, Australia had just had a ‘goal’ disallowed. The Blacksticks had counterattacked but the ball had run over the baseline and Australia had a sixteen. One of the Kookaburras casually pushed the ball to a team mate for him to take the free hit. Nick Wilson from New Zealand pounced on the softly hit pass and ran in on goal unopposed and fired past a bewildered Tyler Lovell in goal for the Aussies. The umpire blew his whistle and signalled a goal. The Australian defenders had not moved and stood in shock. Not one had given chase as Wilson bore down on goal.
As Wilson looked to celebrate with his team mates not only his goal but his opportunism, the New Zealand Captain Simon Child walked forward and told the umpire to disallow the goal. He knew that the free hit had not been taken, and made sure that the right action was taken. What was equally impressive was not a single New Zealand player argued with their captain.They all accepted his decision and the game carried on.
Unfortunately for New Zealand they lost 1-0 when Jamie Dwyer scored for Australia.
They may have lost the game but they won a great deal of respect and many friends for their actions yesterday. Showing that it is not necessarily about winning however you can. It is sometimes about winning the right way, and playing the game in the spirit it was intended.
Take a bow Simon Child and the Blacksticks for our actions, which may have been made so much harder as you played the old foe, and a team you have had few victories over in recent times. This made the act all the more poignant. IT was great to see and will be remembered by many.