Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Sudanese Australians and sport

Gee, I hope I can get the tone of this OK.

I don't know when Australia started seeing increasing populations of Sudanese immigrants. I guess it was probably in the last 10 years or so. I started noticing them more when I arrived back, and among my first thoughts were, "my goodness, I can't wait until these folk start playing the sports I follow". The physiques of the immigrants I've seen are just remarkable, fit and long and lean and lithe. The dominant sport in Sudan is probably soccer, but I just reckon they are so physically well-suited to sports like basketball, cricket, netball (which I don't enjoy much, but whose position I respect) and australian rules.

The first Sudanese-Australian sportsperson I have seen in the news is the basketballer, Ater Majok. He was a high-profile recruit to a major US college, UConn, but declared for the NBA draft prematurely, without ever having made any real impact in the college game. He wasn't drafted, and has recently been playing a couple of short stints in the NBL here in Australia. He hasn't set the world on fire, and I've heard worries about his fundamentals and his attitude, so time will tell how far he goes.

This weekend also saw the first appearance by a Sudanese-Australian in the AFL, with Majak Daw playing in a preseason game with North Melbourne. Early reports are good, and personally I really want to see him succeed. The Kangaroos aren't my team, but I really hope if nothing else that Majak can serve as a role model to people in his community.

Here's hoping we see more and more Sudanese Australians breaking into top-level sport in Australia. I really think they have a great contribution to offer to our sporting landscape.

Monday, 14 February 2011


About 18 months or so ago, I posted about my experience playing Age of Conan. At that time I'd played for just over a year, and this week will see me finish playing after just a shade over 2 and a half years of being subscribed.

When I posted last time, I had fairly recently joined my third guild, Primal Fury. Not long after posting, PF almost fell apart, as a number of the senior players in the guild lost interest and left to play other games. I was one of a few players, and along with Vic, I'd like to think one of the main ones, who stepped up and rebuilt the guild, going back to lower level raids and introducing new players until we were able to get back to where we had been. It took a few months, but PF became a very powerful guild. At our peak, we were running 2 raids in parallel through tier 2, and we were the first guild on the server to craft an Ibis blade.

About a year ago, the guild had begun to fade slightly, focussing more on PvP (which doesn't interest me) and less on PvE (which does), and the game's expansion pack was released. I wasn't excited by the prospect of playing the xpac on a PvP server, so I rolled an assassin on the PvE server (Wiccana), and joined the Third Time Lucky guild, which my friend Misaki played with. I was fortunate that I came in playing a class in which TTL were undermanned, and I was able to quickly get gear and become a regular raider. I raided with TTL as we progressed through T3, where they have now downed Thoth-Amon.

I wasn't there for that kill, though. My interest in the game started fading about 3 months ago, and in the last 2 months I've probably only played 3 or 4 times. Given that, I've cancelled my subscription. It was difficult to do, simply because there are a lot of people in the game whose company I have enjoyed for a long time, some of them, like Misaki, going back more than 2 years. Its been very interesting to see just how solid a social group can be formed over a voice chat server, when everyone is working together to achieve a collective aim. I hope I'll be able to meet up with some of the people I've played with if I play another online game.

For now, though, "serious" gaming has somewhat lost its appeal, and I'm devoting more of my time to some activities that I've let lapse in recent years, particularly books and movies.