first_img“HE MIHI” “Te mea a tua tahi he mihi ki te atua na na nei me te whakamutunga o nga mea katoa tua rua te whare e tu nei- tena koe te papatuanuku takato nei ki waho tena koe e nga rangatira ma- tena koutou e nga koutou katoa- tena koutou no reira- tena koutou no reira- tena koutou tena koutou tena tatou koutou katoa” “The first thing to do is to acknowledge the Lord who is the creator of all things secondly is acknowledgement of this building then acknowledgment of the land and of mother earth. greetings greetings to all distinguished guests to all of us assembled here tonight, greetings greetings to everyone” This is a rough translation of a Maori thankyou speech that Wally Rifle, the coach of New Zealand’s Mens 20 years side, gave officials, coaches and selectors during an NTL function. Wally, as well as Donna Morgan, coach of the New Zealand Womens 20 years, and Tony Lagahetau, assistant coach of the Mixed 18 years, are in Australia for this year’s Open/20 year’s NTL competition. “We’re spying”, chuckles Wally. “No, seriously, not joking with you, we are”, he says. The New Zealand trio openly admit that when they flew into Australia they thought they were on a mission. Video cameras in hand they thought they were here to spy, to sneak information back to New Zealand about Australia’s Youth World Cup preparation, about the style of play and the players. They thought they were here to do it all without arousing our suspicion of three New Zealanders decked out in New Zealand national uniforms walking around with video cameras. But their visit hasn’t gone as expected. “We have been blown away by your hospitality,” says Wally. “Welcoming people is something very important in Maori culture and we think you people must have some Maori in you because you’ve been so great!” “Everyone has been very hospitable and hopefully we get the opportunity to return the favour sometime soon”, says Wally. Tony Lagahetau describes his NTL experience as not only enjoyable but as a realisation of the strength and depth of Australian touch football. “The skill level that we have seen here this week is incredible, especially the Womens 20 years, it’s all very high and we’ve seen some awesome games of touch”, he says. “It’s also become clear to us why your Open teams and style of play is so strong. We can see it is played and coached in the younger players as well. It makes it stronger and well executed at the Opens level”, says Tony. They also admitted to being impressed by how professional the tournament and sport was run here. “Everything about your tournament is outstanding. Your ethics and professionalism,” he says, “everything from your uniforms, to where your selectors are allowed to stand, to your twin towers in the commentary box!” With the three coaches heading back to New Zealand on Wednesday, we have to admit we will miss their crazy antics around the fields, they’ve been a lot of fun, added another dimension to the 2004 NTL’s and we’ve been more than glad to host them. Bring on that Youth World Cup! Rachel Moylelast_img read more