Pacific Island footballers refuse to play for Australia.

Players of Pacific Island heritage are refusing to represent Australia in various football codes until Australia takes action to halt the climate crisis which threatens the lands of their ancestors.

Players from Rugby League and Rugby Union whose families hail from countries such as Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Fiji have united in an attempt to force the Australian government and its people to take real action which protects the environment and their homelands.

“Pacific Island nations are under threat,” began a joint statement from the players.

“Australia must stop causing the climate crisis, and must start fixing it. Until this happens, players of Pacific Island heritage will not make themselves eligible for national teams such as the Wallabies, Wallaroos, Kangaroos and Jillaroos – or Rugby Sevens teams.”

The climate crisis is already having a devastating impact on island nations throughout the South Pacific. Rising sea levels carry saltwater into fresh water lakes and onto farms where crops are destroyed. Unpredictable seasons make farming more difficult and more severe weather causes human and economic damage throughout the region. Natural disasters are an increasing threat and entire nations could be underwater as sea levels continue to rise.

Australia is a major contributor to the climate crisis. It has the highest per-capita carbon footprint of any nation on earth, due largely to a dependence on the fossil fuel industry, land clearing and traditional agricultural practices. It is lagging in the adoption of renewable energy and electric vehicles, and incentives for household solar installation are being removed. Alternative transport is not being embraced, and new coal mines are being proposed, even on the fringes of world heritage listed national parks.

Average Australians continue to vote for the politicians which implement the destructive policies, and Aussies create substantial waste and pollution in their daily lives.

“Three politicians even joked about our islands going underwater,” the players recounted.

“Peter Dutton was caught joking about it to the current Prime Minister, who claims to be a fan of rugby league, and a former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who loves rugby union. We’ll see if they’re still laughing when there are no Pacific Island players in their national teams – and whether Morrison will want to run water for a team that is always losing. Our players will also refuse selection in the Prime Minister’s XIII and XV”

The move will severely weaken national teams. 19 of the 44 players in the men’s rugby union team, the Wallabies, have Pacific Island heritage, while the women’s team, the Wallaroos, contains 14 of 31 squad members. Players like Ellia Green will also withdraw from the women’s rugby seven’s squad, as the team defends its Olympic gold medal in Tokyo later this year.

Indigenous Australian players have joined the move. The farms and mines driving climate change sit on their land, and Aboriginal people witness the destruction first hand.

“So, now you have to imagine a Kangaroos team without players like Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell, Daniel Tupou, Blake Ferguson, Xavier Coates, Jack Bird, Kotoni Staggs, Jack Wighton, Cody Walker, Dane Gagai, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Tyson Frizell, David Fifita, Felise Kaufusi, Payne Haas, Daniel Saifiti and Josh Papali’i.”

The players stressed that this was not an easy or spontaneous decision.

“We love playing for Australia. We are proud Australians, and put our heart and soul into every game we play for this country. We did not take this decision lightly, and only did it because the situation is desperate and action must be taken now. We still have family in the Pacific, and we took this action in the hope that the Australian people and politicians will start taking notice, and start taking action – now.”

The talented players will still play the game they love, even if not for Australia.

“We will play for the nations of our ancestors. Jason Taumalolo and other league players went back to play for Tonga a few years ago, and they beat Australia fair and square. A lot of league and union fans have long wondered what would happen if the Islander players united for their homelands, soon we will find out.”

The players are acutely aware that most Australians want action on climate change.

“When that happens, we will proudly pull on the green and gold.”

Image: Getty Images

What is Australian football?

What is Australian football?

It depends who you ask.

First of all, Australians call it ‘Footy’. But footy can mean Australian Rules Football, Football/Soccer, Rugby League or Rugby Union.

Footy = Aussie Rules

Australian Rules Football – Aussie Rules – AFL

Australian Rules Football holds the most legitimate claim the to the title of Australian football. ‘Aussie Rules’ is unique to Australia.

Australian Rules Football is apparently a combination of Marngrook and Gaelic Football. Marngrook is a sport played by Indigenous Australians involving a ball, two teams and goal posts, and Gaelic football was brought to Australia by Irish migrants in the early days of the colony. The two were combined and adapted to create Australian Rules Football.

AFL is Australian Football League which is the national first-grade competition with teams in most states and territories, and the entire sport is often called ‘AFL’. The heartland of the game is Victoria, especially Melbourne, and most of the AFL teams still represent suburbs in Melbourne.

AFL is also the most popular spectator sport in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania and is the number 1 sport in the Northern Territory, especially among Indigenous Australians. No matter how remote the Indigenous community, they know all about the AFL.

Aussie Rules does have devoted fans in New South Wales and Queensland, but it is definitely not the most popular code in these states.

Footy = Soccer

Soccer – Football

Aussie Rules may be Australia’s national sport, but the most popular participation sport in the country is soccer.

Australians have long called the sport Soccer, but the rest of the world calls it football, so Aussies recently started calling it Football until we realised that footy refers to three other codes in the land Down Under. So, what name do they use? It depends who you ask.

Soccer is played in every state and territory from junior to senior level, and is producing strong national teams. AFC Asian Cup victories went to the men’s Socceroos in 2015, and the women’s Matildas in 2010. Soccer will also enjoy a rise in popularity after Australia and New Zealand won the rights to co-host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.

The success of the national teams and the sport itself is due largely to the country’s migrant population. The British colonisers brought the sport to the country, but migrants built it. Club teams from the Italian, Greek and other European communities drove the early national league and The World Game is the most truly multi-cultural code in the country. The A-League and the W-League are the current national competitions for men and women and feature teams from throughout Australia.

Rugby is Australia’s national sport.

No.

Many foreigners think rugby is Australian football, but this is not true. AFL and Soccer are more popular, and ‘rugby’ actually refers to two separate codes.

Footy = Rugby Union

Rugby Union – Rugby – Union

Rugby Union is footy for students at expensive private schools in New South Wales and Queensland. The Game They Play in Heaven was the domain of the wealthy from school, to club to representative level, and this kept it contained to a very select demographic.

Rugby Sevens has broadened its appeal and another factor has attracted a different demographic to the sport – Pacific Islanders. Every club, school or representative team now actively recruits players of Pacific Islander origin. They are built to play rugby. They are big, strong, fast, agile, skilful and very hard to tackle.

Club teams fill their rosters with Pasifika players and private schools offer scholarships to talented young Pasifika boys. Representative teams at Super Rugby and national level rely very heavily on players from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand and almost half of the players in the men’s national team, the Wallabies, have pacific island heritage. Rugby Union also competes for Pasifika talent with Rugby League, as the players are just as dominant in this sport.

The arrival of many South African migrants in Western Australia has increased the appeal of the code in this state, especially in Perth.

A threat to the dominance of Rugby Union in Australian private schools is Aussie Rules. The sport pursues a very pro-active and effective junior development program and is now being played at private schools, and Aussie Rules posts have replaced rugby posts on many school ovals.

Another threat to the future of the sport is the risk of injury. Many Australian parents are concerned for the safety of their children after seeing the injuries suffered at junior and senior level among players in rugby (and league). Both of these sports have gone to great lengths to protect players, especially from head injuries, but injuries, some of which are very serious, are hard to avoid in such brutally physical sports.

The concern over serious injury has led many parents to sign their children up for soccer.

Footy = Rugby League

If you say footy in NSW and Queensland, most people will think of Rugby League. League is the most popular sport in these states. It was played only in these two states until recently. Ironically, though, the most dominant team in the National Rugby League competition in recent years, and the 2020 premiers, is the Storm – from Melbourne.

League is the working man’s game and this distinguishes it from Union, and explains its broad appeal.

So, what is Australian football? That’s a complex question. Geography and social class determine how most people answer, and even the time of year. League, Union and Aussie rules are all winter sports, but the A-League (Soccer) is played during summer. The ambiguity causes debate among some Australians, while most just enjoy the chance to watch so many sports at a high level in one country.

Images: http://www.gettyimages.com.au, http://www.sherrin.com.au

Darren Lockyer: Destroying The Country He Once Captained.

Darren Lockyer captained the Australian national rugby league team but since retiring from the sport has devoted himself to destroying the country he loves.

The Kangaroos and Queensland captain now uses his exalted status to promote the interests of the Coal Seam Gas / Fossil Fuel industry, which is attempting to expand its operations in a country whose populace is ready to embrace renewable energy.

Lockyer was enlisted as ‘safety ambassador’ for the Origin Energy Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG) project in Gladstone, QLD, in 2013.

It’s interesting that a major corporation would appoint a safety ambassador who confessed to a gambling addiction, joked publicly about a football gang rape scandal and started a drunken pub brawl.

The APLNG project was accused of causing bubbling along the Condamine River near Chinchilla, which prompted an investigation by the state government and Origin Energy. Critics also raised concerns that CSG caused health problems for locals in rural-residential estates such as Wieambilla near Tara, incidents which were also investigated by the state government.

Lockyer himself confessed to being against coal seam gas operations, before he became a spokesperson for the industry. Before Origin started paying him.

What’s wrong with coal seam gas?

The environmental and social risks of coal seam gas include:

  • Encroachment on productive farming land
  • Disruption of other land uses and industries
  • Clearing of bushland
  • Air pollution
  • Contamination or depletion of ground or surface water
  • Pollution of waterways
  • Negative health impacts on workers and nearby residents
  • Damage to biodiversity.

Coal seam gas poses a huge risk to the quality and security of water, but Lockyer promotes the practice on the driest continent on earth, which is still suffering through drought.

But lots of athletes promote companies

Yes, many sportspeople are ambassadors for corporations. They’re paid to convince the public to buy one brand of sports shoes, watches or energy drinks instead of another brand. Lockyer, however, is not being paid to convince Australians to pay one company to power their homes over another. He is being paid to promote the industry itself.

Why?

Because the industry knows it has a lot to hide. The industry knows it destroys the environment.

Do I have something against Darren Lockyer?

I admit, I’m from NSW, so I dislike Queensland league players, but I’m also Australian and Lockyer’s brilliance led my country’s national team to many victories. In fact, I saw him play his last NRL game in Sydney when the Broncos comfortably beat the Sharks.

Exporting destruction

The league legend’s path of destruction extends beyond Australia’s borders. He is currently listed as the Head of Business Affairs for Mayur Resources, an Australian-based resource company with operations in Papua New Guinea.

Lockyer’s masters recently dispatched him to PNG and his presence provoked the ire of the nation’s leaders, who claimed he was sent to ‘brainwash’ the local people into supporting a new coal mine and coal-powered power plant.

Foreign mining companies, including Australian companies such as BHP and Rio Tinto, have a tainted history in PNG. It’s Australia’s way of thanking the local people for saving us from invasion during WWII.

PNG idolises Rugby League players. They worship league stars perhaps even more than Australians do. Rugby League is their national sport and league greats are awarded almost god-like status in the developing nation.

Why does Lockyer support the fossil fuel industry?

Did he inhale coal seam gas?

Maybe that explains his permanently croaky voice. Maybe that’s why his throat is fracked.

Does he have some form of personal connection to mining?

He grew up in Roma, which is the birthplace of the state’s oil and gas industry, so he has can at least claim some personal affiliation with the industry. Then again, fellow Origin players Willie Carne and Brent Tate also grew up in Roma, as did the great Arthur Beetson.

Does he genuinely believe in the benefits of coal seam gas?

Rugby League players are not famed for their intellect, but for their toughness, skill and athletic prowess. Maybe Lockyer genuinely believes the claims of the fossil fuel industry, the claims that he himself is paid to repeat to uneducated, impressionable Australians.

Is he doing it out of patriotism?

Average people cannot truly understand the depth of patriotism instilled in athletes who have represented their country, let alone those who have captained their country. Lockyer’s pride in his country is undeniable.

The mining industry has paid advertising agencies millions of dollars to cleverly position it as central to Australia’s national identity. Apart from promoting its contribution to ‘jobs and growth’, the industry has convinced many people that miners are true Australians. Miners are as vital to our nation as diggers, farmers, lifesavers…and athletes. Mining is positioned as ‘true blue’ because real Aussies work with their hands, in the sun, working up a sweat and battling the elements. Although Lockyer wears a suit and tie in his role with the industry.

How much money does Lockyer need?

He must have earned a substantial wage during a long and successful career which included captaining Australia and Queensland, winning four premierships and multiple Origin series, and attracting lucrative sponsorship deals.

He would be paid a handsome sum to sit on the side lines and make the odd comment as part of Channel Nine’s commentary team, and he is a director of the Brisbane Broncos club.

Maybe he’s still paying off the gambling debts he accrued the mid 1990s.

Out of curiosity, does Lockyer have solar panels on the roof of his house?

Would a true patriot and former leader of a national sporting team support an industry which is scientifically proven to be destroying the country’s natural environment?

Image: Chris Brunskill / Getty Images