She shoots, she scores: then quits while she’s ahead
Australian politicians have something of a mixed record when it comes to sport.
While a number have been talented sportsmen and women, some of Australia’s most memorable TV bloopers are of politicians coming a cropper trying to exhibit their sporting prowess. Bob Hawke was felled by a bouncer bowled by a journalist. When called on to bowl in Pakistan a few years back, the former Member for Bennelong could only summon up mullygrubbers.
I have no wish at all to join them and others on that particular show reel.
It’s good to know one’s limitations and I can assure The Punch readers that I’m very familiar with the boundaries of my own sporting ability – or lack of ability to be more precise.
But being an MP means being a good sport in the broader sense and sometimes you just have to take it in your stride. And so it was my risky sporting moment came about on a portfolio trip to Perth this week.
It actually turned out better than I expected. Let me explain.
On Tuesday I joined Mayor Jon Kelly and council officers from the City of Wanneroo to look over what must be the world’s biggest netball complex.
The Kingsway Regional Sporting Complex in Perth’s northern suburb of Madeley has 57 courts that are about to get a $2.8 million upgrade as part of the Federal Government’s community infrastructure program.
Of a weekend there are netball games on every court, and the centre is filled with children and adults playing all manner of sports.
A staggering half a million people use the complex a year. As I stood under a goal ring hearing about the grand plans for the site, to my horror, somebody put a netball in my hand.
Immediately a dominant image from last year’s US campaign trail flashed across my brain.
While visiting US troops in Kuwait, the man destined to be President showed his mettle by nailing two three-pointers on a basketball court in front of the TV cameras.
Every time the footage was replayed, it just reinforced Obama’s winning edge. Was this to be my Obama moment? While not sporty I am nothing if not fiercely competitive.
“Yes I can!” I thought, channeling Barack, and I began to line up the shot as Mayor Kelly looked anxiously on.
Reaching down into some deeply-suppressed muscle memory from the asphalt playground at All Hallows in Brisbane 40 years ago I reached up and took a deep breath.
With a flick of the wrist and a straight arm follow through I sent the round orb from my hand, as the Mayor held his breath.
The ball hung in the air for a moment as it reached the top of its arc. Then it dipped and began its downward trajectory, swishing through the net as it went.
Yes I did it! And what a relief. Alas Perth’s fickle metropolitan media was nowhere to be seen. They had studiously ignored my office’s media alert from earlier in the day.
There would be no endless replays on YouTube. (On the bright side their absence has allowed me a little artistic licence with the description.)
Luckily though someone did manage to capture part of the moment for posterity, a photo of which I offer to readers of The Punch as an exclusive.
In future I’m quietly going to try to avoid such sporty photo ops. If there’s one thing I learnt from the former Member for Bennelong… it’s best to quit while you’re ahead.
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