Gavel / Soccer can’t score a trick in Canberra

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MEN’S soccer in Canberra is in no man’s land with the Football Federation Australia set to again overlook the ACT as a potential destination for an A League side.

Tim Gavel.

There is enormous momentum for a team in southern Sydney that embraces Wollongong, while South Melbourne is well positioned to be a future part of the A League.

Even though there’s no bid as such from Canberra, we seem to be in a perpetual state of semi-readiness for the FFA to deem the time is right for an A League expansion. For the time being, we appear to have missed the boat this time.

This makes the proposed second-tier national competition attractive. If it were to go ahead, featuring at least one Canberra side, it would at least provide a pathway for young players who, at the moment, aspire to leave the ACT as soon as they can to further their football careers.

However, there needs to be caution, having seen many a Canberra team over the years come close to falling apart, burdened by the financial strain created by a well-intentioned desire for success.

Marathon swimmer Ben Freeman… training to face seven of the toughest ocean swims in the world.
Photo by Holly Treadaway.

I HAVE written before about Ben Freeman, the young Canberra-based swimmer who became the first ACT swimmer to conquer the English Channel. He also won the Champions of the Channel Rottnest Island Channel Swim last year.

He has now set his sights on the Oceans Seven. This is, as the name suggests, seven of the toughest ocean swims in the world ranging from the English Channel to the Catalina Channel in California, the Cook Strait, the North Channel and the Strait of Gibraltar. Many describe the Oceans Seven marathon swims as the equivalent to the seven summits in mountaineering.

Only six swimmers have ever completed all seven swims and Ben is aiming to become the first Australian to do so.

Under the rules, swimmers are prohibited from wearing a wetsuit. Given the water is generally cold, training on Lake Burley Griffin and in the Phillip pool in winter provides the ideal preparation. Harder to prepare for though, are the vagaries of the ocean such as the man of war, which has the appearance of a giant blue bottle crossed with a jellyfish.

ANOTHER Canberran I have profiled in this column is 20-year-old driver Cameron Hill. He came third in the Toyota 86 series last year, which is the support race to the Super Cars.

He will race again this year in the five rounds of the Toyota series in the hope of being picked up by a Super Car team. With a budget of between $40,000 and $50,000 it makes the cost of junior football registrations seem relatively cheap!

Cameron starts his campaign next month at Phillip Island.

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Tim Gavel
Journalist and ABC sports broadcaster

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