City players learn from sacrifice of soldiers
Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce knows that comparisons between sport and war are fatuous.
But that doesn’t mean the Englishman doesn’t have a great admiration for the qualities of service personnel, and how those qualities can be adapted and employed to give a sports team edge and focus.
Joyce marked this week’s Remembrance Round by inviting City supporting former military men – Kenny Stewart and Lukas Woolley – to address his players in the build up to the match against Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday.
Both men -Stewart, 42, who has served with both the British and n forces as well as NATO, the UN and the US and Canadian authorities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Canada, and Woolley, 29, who served in East Timor as well as the Middle East – had plenty to teach his squad, Joyce said.
Footballers all too often live in a closely protected and cosseted world. Listening to men who have put their faith and trust in their squad-mates in dangerous situations could only bring a sense of perspective and a deeper understanding of what it means to stand by your team-mates, he said.
“I do see a lot of similarities between the different armed forces and the way they are, it’s a way of life for them, the way they conduct themselves. There is a lot of similarities in the way they have to put their trust in their team-mates and rely on each other.
“I know football is not life and death in the way they have to deal with it, but I want my players to have similar values: to share, to sacrifice out on the pitch for each other, to stand up and support each other. It’s about making them better people as well as players,” Joyce said.
City are on the rebound after losing their 100 per cent record last weekend when they went down 1-0 to Sydney FC in front of their own fans.
Joyce has a full squad at his disposal with the exception of Socceroo front man Tim Cahill, who is with the national team in Honduras.
Osama Malik, sent off against Adelaide, is available again while Scott Jamieson is back from the injur.
Malik, the former Adelaide midfielder, will be a contender for a return to the starting line up despite the fact that Neil Kilkenny and Luke Brattan, last season’s regular midfield pairing under John Van’t Schip and Michael Valkanis, did well last week.
“I think Ossie has been outstanding this season both as a man and as a player. The whole package has been top drawer. He is an understated player and just gets on with his game.”
Joyce is adamant that his team did enough against the defending champions to earn a point last week rather than lose by the odd goal.
“We switched off and got unbalanced in midfield. It shows you how you have to keep your concentration up all the time. I certainly don’t think they were in a different league to us, I think we were worth a draw.”
Joyce has little concern about facing a Wanderers side that will be coached for the first time by Josep Gombau.
“Our first priority is to concern ourselves with what we do. We can’t have any control over his choices, so we work on our game strategy ourselves.”
City’s men could go top of the table if they beat Wanderers following Sydney’s shock defeat to Central Coast Mariners on Friday evening.
Meanwhile City’s women will look to make it two on the spin when they face joint league leaders Newcastle Jets in the curtain raiser to the A-League match on Sunday afternoon.
The Jets are two from two after victories over Western Sydney and Sydney.
This, however, will be their first away game, and City boss Patrick Kisnorbo is confident his team can maintain the progress they showed against Victory.
“We take some good things out of that win. It was one of those games, they had nine or 10 players behind the ball, we had 80 per cent possession.”
The return of first choice goalkeeper Lydia Williams was a huge boost last week, Kisnorbo said.
“She showed why she was the Matildas number one and, when asked, she came up with some crucial saves.”