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Telstra taken to court over aggressive selling towards Indigenous Australians


Australia’s major telecommunications provider Telstra has been taken to court for admitting it aggressively sold mobile phone plans to vulnerable Indigenous communities.

On Thursday morning, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission confirmed it had taken legal action against the telco provider in the Federal Court following Telstra’s admittance of lobbing high cost mobile phone plans on Aboriginal people.

Telstra has admitted to breaching Australian Consumer Law between 2016 and 2018 after employees took advantage of 108 Indigenous customers and signed them up to multiple mobile phone plans without conducting credit checks or properly explaining terms and conditions.

Telstra has accepted a $50 million fine, to be confirmed by the court.

ACCC chair Rod Sims says Telstra’s wrongdoing caused severe personal financial hardship and ongoing distress for a number indigenous communities.

“These debts significantly impacted the affected individuals,” Mr Sims said.

“For example, one consumer had a debt of over $19,000; another experienced extreme anxiety worrying they would go to jail if they didn’t pay; and yet another used money withdrawn from their superannuation towards paying their Telstra debt.”

Telstra confessed that the five stores located in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and

South Australia used unfair selling tactics and took advantage of their bargaining position to sell products onto people whose first language may not have been English.

The ACCC said Telstra’s actions resulted in the customers incurring an average debt amount of $7400. Some cases were also referred onto third party debt collectors.

“In many instances, sales staff also manipulated credit assessments so consumers who otherwise may have failed its credit assessment could enter into postpaid mobile contracts. This included falsely indicating that a consumer was employed,” the ACCC said in a statement.

Mr Sims said despite Telstra becoming aware of these issues, it failed to act swiftly in rectifying the problem.

“This case exposes extremely serious conduct which exploited social, language, literacy and cultural vulnerabilities of these Indigenous consumers,” Mr Sims said.

“Even though Telstra became increasingly aware of elements of the improper practices by sales staff at Telstra licensed stores over time, it failed to act quickly enough to stop it, and these practices continued and caused further, serious and avoidable financial hardship to Indigenous consumers.”

Telstra board and senior management were unaware at the time of the serious misconduct by some of its retail staff.

The company has agreed to the filing of consent orders and joint submission of a $50 million fine, which will be decided by the court.



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Teenager ‘choked unconscious’ by security guards at Melbourne pub


Sickening footage has revealed the moment a teenage pubgoer was choked unconscious by bouncers in front of horrified patrons.

The incident occurred on November 14 at the Dorset Gardens Hotel in Croydon in Melbourne’s east, and the video was shared on social media this week before being picked up by news outlets.

In the clip, a young male can be seen being grabbed and dragged by security guards and placed into a chokehold before he loses consciousness and his body drops to the ground face-first.

A bouncer then grabs the young man by his red shirt and drags him out the door.

According to Seven News, the 18-year-old had been told to leave the venue earlier in the day due to unruly behaviour, before jumping a fence to sneak back inside and rejoin his friends.

Witness Alex Hayhow claimed security guards tried to escort the “rowdy” patron out again before he ran off, jumped behind the bar and poured himself a schooner of beer before being intercepted by security.

Witness Lousie Bambery told the network she was “just in shock” after watching the treatment of the man, while the unnamed victim claimed the bouncer showed “no duty of care” and that the fall “had the potential to kill me”.

Victoria Police told news.com.au in a statement that police were investigating “following a reported assault at a licenced premises in Croydon on 14 November”.

“Investigators have been told a male was ejected from the Dorset Road premises before returning a short time later,” the statement reads.

“An altercation occurred between the man and security before he was ejected a second time.

“The investigation remains ongoing.”

Dorset Gardens venue manager Anthony Poloso told the Herald Sun the guard had received a written warning.

“We don’t condone that sort of behaviour from the guards,” Mr Poloso told the publication.

“In the context of the situation we were extremely patient with that patron. He chose to jump the beer garden fence and he ran behind the bar.”



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Diego Maradona dead at 60: The world reacts, live blog


RIP Diego Armando Maradona

 

(Reuters)

 

Tragic news this morning for football fans, as one of the greatest of all time, Diego Armando Maradona, has died in Buenos Aires at the age of 60.

 

He’ll be remembered for a crazy, eventful life, but mostly for what he did on the football pitch. 

 

We’ll take you through the reactions from Argentina and around the world.



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Kylie Moore-Gilbert released from Iran prison in swap


Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been released from an Iranian prison as part of an inmate swap.

Iranian state media claims she has been exchanged for three Iranian citizens who have been detained abroad.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she was “extremely pleased”.

“Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release has been an absolute priority for the Government since her detention,” Ms Payne said in a statement.

“The Australian Government has consistently rejected the grounds on which the Iranian Government arrested, detained and convicted Dr Moore-Gilbert. We continue to do so.”

The Islamic studies lecturer was tried in secret for espionage and sentenced to 10 years prison, despite no evidence of her alleged crimes having been publicly presented.

She has been detained since September 2018.

The BBC quoted Iranian state media as saying Dr Moore-Gilbert was exchanged for an Iranian businessman and two Iranian citizens “who had been detained abroad”.

Video published by the state broadcaster Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting shows Dr Moore-Gilbert wearing a grey hijab and a facemask, briefly removing it to reveal her face.

She is seen getting into a van, unsmiling, before a man shuts the sliding door and gets into the front seat.

Ms Moore-Gilbert was stopped from returning back to Melbourne, where she is a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, after attending a conference in Qom in Iran in August 2018.

The country‘s Revolutionary Guard alleged that a person she interviewed for a research project was suspicious and refused to let her leave Iran.



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Diego Maradona dead at 60: From street urchin to the greatest footballer in the world


He had many nicknames — ‘Golden Boy’, ‘Moptop’, ‘Cosmic Kite’, ‘God’ — but, ironically, the name which best captured this colourful character and the operatic saga of his life was his real one: Diego Armando Maradona.

Argentina’s favourite son and one of world football’s greatest ever players died today in his home in Buenos Aires from a heart attack, bringing to an end a life overflowing with glory and gross excess.

Maradona was a street urchin from a Buenos Aires slum whose natural genius with a football was complemented by a bloody-minded will to succeed.

That he played football like a God made him a figure of worship all over the world, but particularly in his homeland and in Naples, Italy, where he played at his peak.

While he may have appeared god-like on the pitch, in reality he was just a man — and the adulation gradually crushed him.

Intense pressures on and off the field, and a penchant for the kind of debauchery that can only come when nobody in your world ever tells you ‘no’, led to years of drug abuse, controversies and bizarre behaviour.

His flaws, writ large by a voracious media, never diminished the love many Argentinians felt for him, especially the poor and underprivileged, who always saw him as their talisman, conquering the world.

“He is a divine figure.”

And Maradona did conquer the footballing world. He won club titles in Argentina and Italy and the 1986 World Cup with his national side. Many came to regard him as the best of all time, with the legendary Brazilian Pelé the other serious contender.

Perhaps to placate fans of both, or to prevent a war between Argentina and Brazil, Pelé and Maradona jointly won FIFA’s Player of the Century in December, 2000.

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Golden Boy never lost his sense of mischief

Diego Maradona in 1989
Diego Maradona enjoyed God-like status in both Argentina and the south of Italy.(Reuters)

Short and stocky, Maradona’s low centre of gravity and incredible ability with the ball made him a wriggling, slippery menace for opposing defenders.

Playing as a midfielder or forward, he also possessed astonishing vision — an ability to read a game and open it up with a single pass or dribble.

“He had complete mastery of the ball,” said former Barcelona teammate José Carrasco.

“When Maradona ran with the ball or dribbled through the defence, he seemed to have the ball tied to his boots. I remember our early training sessions with him: the rest of the team were so amazed that they just stood and watched him.

“We all thought ourselves privileged to be witnesses of his genius.”

His childlike attitude to the game could manifest itself in many ways, both negative and positive. He was petulant at times, but mostly joyous to watch. His sense of mischief saw him try things nobody else could even imagine.

‘I have two dreams’

Maradona was born on October 30, 1960 in the Villa Fiorito shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires — the fifth of eight children.

He received a football as a gift for his third birthday and from that point on, the game would consume him. The ball and Diego never parted company. He started joining in the children’s pick-up games on the dirt pitches of the neighbourhood, and it soon became apparent he was special.

At the age of eight he joined Las Cebollitas (The Little Onions), a feeder team for professional outfit Argentinos Juniors. When he first showed his skills the coaches told him to go home and bring back his ID, as they didn’t believe someone so young could do what he was doing.

Word of his talent started to spread, and soon he was performing tricks to entertain the crowd at half-time during the senior team’s matches.

Grainy black-and-white footage of a young Diego shows him playing keepy-uppy with ridiculous ease, before he says to the camera: “I have two dreams. My first dream is to play in the World Cup. The second is to win it.”

He signed with Argentinos at age 14 and made his first-division debut in 1976, 10 days before his 16th birthday.

Four months later he became the youngest Argentine to play for the national team, making his debut in a friendly against Hungary — and though he was left out of the 1978 World Cup-winning side due to his youth, he won the Junior World Championship the next year as an under-20.

From the slum to the pinnacle of football

Argentina captain, Diego Maradona, holds up the trophy after the 1986 World Cup final
Diego Maradona holds up the trophy after Argentina beat West Germany 3-2 in the 1986 World Cup final.(AP: Carlo Fumagalli, file photo)

Maradona played 490 official club games during his 21-year professional career, scoring 259 goals. For Argentina he played 91 times and scored 34 goals.

Though he became best known for his love of Boca Juniors, he spent the majority of his early career at Argentinos Juniors — five seasons saw him amass more than 100 goals and a reputation for obscene outbursts of skill. The skills displayed proved he was not just a golden child but the real deal — and as a result he became the great hope of Argentinian football.

With every team in Argentina chasing his services, the only two realistic options were the country’s greatest clubs, River Plate or Boca Juniors. Though River offered him more money, only one choice was possible for Diego; the team he’d adored since childhood, the team associated with the poorer classes and a gutsy fighting spirit: Boca.

His first stint there would be a short one, as his talents drew attention from across the world. In 1981 he led Boca to the championship, scoring 28 goals in 40 games, before promptly taking up an offer from European superpower Barcelona with a then-world-record $9 million transfer fee.

Maradona’s time at the Catalan club was not a happy one. His relationship with club officials was fraught, and he was subjected by brutal treatment from opposing players, who hacked at his legs with little consequence, until Athletic Bilbao’s Andoni Goikoetxea broke one of his ankles.

It was during this period that the young Argentine became increasingly enamoured with the Barcelona nightlife, and first began taking cocaine.

There were some highlights on the pitch, most notably when he became the first Barcelona player applauded by the crowd at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium after an astonishing El Clásico performance.

But his two seasons in Spain ended in ugliness.

After the 1984 Spanish Cup final in which he was roughed up on the pitch and subjected to racist abuse from Athletic Bilbao players and fans, Maradona was at the centre of an all-in brawl between both squads, hurling flying kicks at the opposition while 100,000 fans, including Spain’s King Carlos, watched on.

Barcelona officials had seen enough, and ended their relationship with him.

‘I saw Maradona, oh mamma, and I’m in love’

A throng of cameramen surround Diego Maradona at the top of a set of stairs leading into a stadium.
Diego Maradona on the day of his presentation for SSC Napoli, entering the San Paolo Stadium.(Supplied: HBO)

In what looked like a step backwards, in 1984 Maradona signed with unfashionable southern Italian side Napoli, again for a world-record fee — sending fans of the club into delirium.

‘Italy’s poorest club signs the world’s most expensive player,’ read one headline at the time.

His time in Naples would be the most triumphant of his football career.

Maradona inspired Napoli to their first ever title in 1987, a UEFA Cup in 1989 and another Italian title in 1990.

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For a club that had never before been able to compete with the rich northern giants, this was an extraordinary period of success. And Neapolitans had no doubt who to thank for it.

Maradona ascended to the same God-like status in the south of Italy as he enjoyed in his homeland. His fierce determination, defiant swagger and streetwise playing style made him an immensely appealing character to the residents of the tough port city.

“Maradona is a God to the people of Naples,” said Italy legend and Neapolitan Fabio Cannavaro.

“Maradona changed history … to live those years with Maradona was incredible.”

His genius on the field every weekend became the city’s primary form of escapism.

“Oh mamma, mamma, mamma,” they sung in the terraces and in the streets.

“Oh mamma, mamma, mamma, do you know why my heart is beating?

“I saw Maradona, I saw Maradona, eh, mamma, and I’m in love.”

But after seven years of glory, Diego’s time in Naples ended in scandal. His less-than-savoury extracurricular activities and criminal connections had long been common knowledge, but as Italy’s battle against the Mafia ramped up, authorities stopped looking the other way.

In 1991 Maradona was handed a 15-month ban for a positive doping test and was charged for possession of cocaine. He was also investigated for tax fraud and links to organised crime.

Even the club itself ran out of patience, suing him for damaging its image and fining him heavily for missing training and matches.

Maradona served his ban then refused to return to Naples.

He played a stint with Spanish club Sevilla, then returned to his homeland, briefly appearing for Newell’s Old Boys — where he was kicked out after being caught with half a kilo of cocaine — before ending his career with two seasons at his beloved Boca.

After leaving briefly to coach, Maradona made one final comeback for Boca before failing another drug test and retiring once and for all in 1997 on his 37th birthday.

He has taken up several short-term coaching roles since, but never enjoyed sustained success. Most notably he coached Argentina at the 2010 World Cup, where his sideline antics and hilarious press conferences outshone the team — led by his heir Lionel Messi — itself.

The ‘Hand of God’ and ‘Goal of the Century’ come minutes apart

Maradona shoots at goal with England players flailing around him.
Maradona scores for Argentina against England.(Reuters: Juha Tamminen)

It was on the international scene that Diego enjoyed his most iconic moments, including scoring perhaps both the greatest and most infamous goals of all time — in the same match.

Those who rate him as the best footballer of all time point to the 1986 World Cup victory for Argentina as proof. Never before or since has a single player had such a substantive impact on a tournament.

Maradona dragged a mediocre Argentina outfit to glory through a combination of sublime skill and sheer force of will.

He had debuted at the World Cup in 1982 in Spain, but endured a torrid time — unprotected by referees, he was fouled mercilessly and well contained by Italy and Brazil, before being sent off for violent play as Argentina bowed out to their South American rivals.

By the time the Mexico World Cup rolled around in 1986, Diego was 25 years old, the captain of his side and the best player in the world.

In the quarter-final against England, the best and the worst of Maradona was showcased in a matter of minutes.

The match was taking place just four years on from the Falklands War, which many Argentinians, including Maradona himself, still felt aggrieved by — and victory over England packed an extra emotional punch, whether it was achieved by fair means or foul.

With the game locked at 0-0, Maradona drove at the England defence before leaping for a deflected ball which lobbed towards goal. Despite being 20cm shorter than England goalkeeper Peter Shilton he managed to beat him to the ball and turn it into the net.

The referee awarded the goal as Argentinian players wheeled away in celebration. Maradona had, of course, used his hand to knock the ball in.

After the match when replays made it obvious he had cheated, Diego said the goal was scored, “A little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God.”

In the 2019 Asif Kapadia documentary about his life, Maradona showed no remorse for his nefarious goal.

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“We, as Argentinians, didn’t know what the military was up to [during the Falklands War]. They told us that we were winning the war. But in reality, England was winning 20–0. It was tough.

“The hype made it seem like we were going to play out another war. I knew it was my hand. It wasn’t my plan but the action happened so fast that the linesman didn’t see me putting my hand in.

“The referee looked at me and he said: ‘Goal’. It was a nice feeling, like some sort of symbolic revenge against the English.”

Just four minutes later scored what would become known as ‘The Goal of the Century’.

Taking possession near the halfway line, he skipped and slalomed through the majority of the English team before dinking the ball past Shilton. There was no doubting the legitimacy of that second goal, which also legitimised Maradona’s greatness in 11 breathtaking seconds.

England striker Gary Lineker could only watch in awe.

“When Diego scored that second goal against us, I felt like applauding. I’d never felt like that before, but it’s true … and not just because it was such an important game,” he said.

Maradona further enhanced his reputation with a brilliant solo performance in the semi-final against Belgium before setting up the winning goal in the final against West Germany. Argentina was world champion and Maradona cemented his status as an eternal hero to its people.

A diminished Diego carried an ankle injury into the 1990 World Cup in Italy but nevertheless still managed to guide a dour Argentina side to the final, again against West Germany. This time, in a turgid affair, the Europeans prevailed.

Four years later in his last World Cup in the USA, Maradona was sent home in disgrace after testing positive for ephedrine. His manic celebration of a goal against Greece became infamous in the wake of the doping revelations.

A life of turmoil and scandal

An overweight Diego Maradona salutes fans.
Diego Maradona salutes to the crowd prior to a football match in La Bombonera stadium.

From the time he was at Barcelona in his early 20s, Maradona’s life was beset by drug and alcohol abuse, personal turmoils and scandal. He endured numerous health scares after retirement, with his weight fluctuating wildly.

“Everything about Maradona is exaggerated — the good and the bad. As a player he was number one. He can be charming, but in his private life he broke all the rules,” La Nacion sport editor Daniel Acrucci told AP.

After leaving Spain in some disgrace following the brawl with Bilbao, Diego found himself in his element in Naples, where the locals worshipped him for bringing his immense talent and profile to the city, to the extent where he could get away with almost anything — for a while at least.

Kapadia’s documentary focuses on this time in particular, and shows a Maradona perennially in shock at the level of adulation shown him, as he gradually gives more of himself to the nefarious influences around him.

He was openly wooed by the Neapolitan Mafia, the Comorra, and began to unashamedly accept their expensive gifts and invitations to events and openings. It also meant he had an unlimited supply of cocaine. He was arrested in 1991 for soliciting drugs and prostitution.

The series of doping violations that eventually brought his career to a stuttering halt foreshadowed the serious health problems to come.

“I was, am and always will be a drug addict,” he said in 1996.

Diego Maradona looks dazed amid a throng of police officers.
Diego Maradona escorted by police as he leaves a courthouse after answering charges he shot and injured journalists outside his country home two months earlier.(Reuters)

In 2000 Maradona was hospitalised with a heart condition caused by his cocaine use and moved to Cuba for two years at the invitation of his friend Fidel Castro to undergo rehab.

In 2004 he suffered a heart attack and was forced to have gastric bypass surgery a year later.

In 2007 he was hospitalised again with the effects of excessive eating, drinking and smoking cigars and in November, 2020 he underwent surgery for a blood clot before checking into rehab afterwards for his alcoholism.

Hounded by the press as he struggled for form and fitness in the lead-up to the 1994 World Cup, Maradona shot at reporters gathered outside the gates of his house with an air rifle, injuring several of them.

It wasn’t the only time he hurt a member of the press corps. When he named his squad as coach for Argentina’s 2010 World Cup campaign, he ran over a cameraman’s leg in his car, then shouted abuse at him as he drove away.

Diego married Claudia Villafañe in 1987 but they divorced in 2003 after numerous infidelities on the part of the footballer. The pair would remain close throughout his life, though and she continued to manage him professionally.

A number of people claiming to be his illegitimate offspring have come forward, but for many years Maradona only acknowledged his two daughters with Villafañe, Gianinna and Dalma.

The Argentine media has reported he may have up to 11 children, with his lawyer recognising in 2019 that Maradona had fathered at least three during his time in Cuba.

The most famous Argentine

Diego Maradona fan outside hospital
A fan of Diego Maradona stands outside the clinic where he underwent surgery for a subdural haematoma.(Reuters: Matias Baglietto)

Argentine psychologist and author Gustavo Bernstein once said: “Maradona is our maximum term of reference.

“No one embodies our essence better. No one bears our emblem more nobly. To no other … have we offered up so much passion. Argentina is Maradona, Maradona is Argentina.”

Juan Perón, Eva Perón, Formula 1 legend Juan Manuel Fangio, Pope Francis and Lionel Messi are all known across the world, but no Argentine is as recognisable globally, or as adored at home as Diego Armando Maradona.

The debate as to whether he was the greatest footballer of all time will never be decided, it’s certainly true that for a particular generation of fans who remember El Diego in his pomp, nobody else can ever compare.

He fell well short of the God-like status bestowed on him, but the myth of Maradona will live on forever.

Shirtless Diego Maradona celebrates in front of the stands.
Diego Maradona celebrates before thousands of spectators after his team Boca Juniors, beat their rival River Plate.

Goal of the Century

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Commentary from Victor Hugo Morales:

Now Maradona has it, two marking him, he dribbles past, taking off down the right, this genius of world football.

He leaves behind a third! And is going to lay it off to Burruchaga, but it’s still Maradona…

Genius! Genius! Genius! Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta and GOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

GOOOOOOOOOL! I want to cry!

My God, long live football. Incredible goal!

DIEEEEGOOOO! Maradona!

It’s making me cry, I’m sorry.

Maradona, in a memorable run, in a play for the ages.

Cosmic kite, what planet are you from?

To leave so many Englishmen in your wake?

For the country to be a clenched fist, shouting for Argentina.

Argentina 2, England 0. Diego! Diego! Diego Armando Maradona.

Thank you, God, for football, for Maradona, for these tears, for this Argentina 2, England 0.



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Football legend Diego Maradona dies of heart attack at age 60



Argentina football legend Diego Maradona has died of a heart attack at age 60, his lawyer has confirmed.

The former midfielder and national coach had recently battled health problems and underwent successful surgery earlier this month for a blood clot on his brain.

He suffered a heart attack at his home on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Wednesday, Argentinian media and acquaintances of the former player said.

He famously captained Argentina to victory at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, winning the Golden Ball as best player of the tournament.

The tournament also featured his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the quarter-finals.

Although his reputation was tarnished by drug problems, off-field indiscretions and an ill-fated spell in charge of the national team, he remained idolised in soccer-mad Argentina as the ‘Pibe de Oro’ or ‘Golden Boy’.

Hospitalised and reportedly near death in 2000 and again in 2004 for heart problems blamed on cocaine, Maradona later said he overcame the drug problem.

Cocaine, he once said famously, had proven to be his “toughest rival”.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez declared three days of national mourning after the news of Maradona’s death.

More to come.



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Bec Goddard headlines Hawthorn’s all-female coaching panel for VFLW team the Hawks, setting new benchmark for women’s AFL


The Hawthorn Football Club has set an AFLW benchmark today without even having a women’s team in the elite competition.

The club has announced an all-female coaching panel for its VFLW team, the Hawks, spearheaded by Bec Goddard, who coached the Adelaide Crows to the first-ever AFLW premiership in 2017.

Hawthorn is paying more than lip service to the need to develop coaches who are female and who can coach teams across the gender divide in the future.

Of the 14 AFLW teams currently in the competition, only one has a female coach — St Kilda’s Peta Searle— while in the VFLW, there are five.

Joining Goddard are assistant coaches Christina Polatajko and Hayley Gregory alongside development coaches Lou Wotton, Natasha Beck and Steph Carroll.

Club president Jeff Kennett says it is not about “gender-based recognition”.

“I don’t like the term ‘breaking a ceiling’ because they’ve earned their position based on merit.

“But I do think it’s wonderful as we move towards equality in sport, people are given the opportunity based on their professionalism, based on their enthusiasm, based on their qualifications to get the opportunities Bec and the team are getting.”

Bec Goddard smiles as she is surrounded by celebrating Adelaide Crows players in a changeroom
Bec Goddard (centre) headlines an all-female coaching panel for the Hawks, which Hawthorn says has been chosen on competency and professionalism.(AAP: Dan Peled)

Goddard told The Ticket: “It’s a really significant announcement.”

“I’ve been thinking a lot during COVID about one day when they put me in the ground, how will I be remembered in footy and what contribution did I make?” she said.

“And I really wanted it to be more than just the 14 games of AFLW that I coached, I really wanted to be able to start to open doors for women coming through and to have a powerful football club like Hawthorn back this, and actually have this initiative, to be brave, and have such overt leadership, I think it’s really, really important.”

During the COVID-19 shutdown, VFLW coaching staff lost their jobs but Goddard says that sparked a conversation that has led to the club committing to invest in the future of the women’s game.

“All of the women’s coaching staff had their contracts terminated, there was no competition, so we couldn’t stay on staff and during that time I was able to start having conversations with the CEO Justin Reeves about what the future of football looks like at Hawthorn,” she said.

“It became really clear that women were a really big piece of that and not just in the playing role — if you want to be the CEO, you can be the CEO, you want to be the head of comms, you can be the head of comms, you want to be a coach then we’ve got those leadership positions available to you.”

Hawthorn chief executive Justin Reeves said he was not going to let 2020 put a handbrake on the VFLW program.

“In the current industry climate, there is a significant gap in the development pathways available to female coaches,” he said.

“By implementing an all-female coaching panel, in a structured environment with the right support and development opportunities built in … we will be making a significant and meaningful contribution to the furtherment of women’s participation in the AFL.”

Women in catch-22 over experience required to fill coaching positions

Despite having instant success as a coach in the inaugural AFLW season, Goddard struggled to find other coaching positions as she confronted all-too-common difficulties of juggling the need for a full-time job to support her part-time coaching position.

“I think there are a number of barriers that are in the way for women in coaching in the AFL and the first one of those is it’s still a part-time competition,” she said.

“None of the athletes are full time and therefore a lot of the coaches are not either.

“I simply couldn’t stay in Adelaide for another year as well as manage my full-time employment, and that was the priority.

“So I left and I suppose I’ve been trying to get back into the industry, I believe I have a lot to offer in coaching and I’ve ended up at Hawthorn where I feel really valued … I feel like they’re really innovative in the way they’re treating their women’s program.”

Adelaide Crows celebrate with the inaugural AFLW trophy
Bec Goddard coached the Adelaide Crows to the inaugural AFLW premiership in 2017.(AAP: Dan Peled)

Women at all levels of sport are in a perpetual catch-22, being constantly told they do not have the experience required for vacant positions yet being unable to get the experience to start with.

“I had some feedback provided to me once, ‘Oh well, you haven’t played 200 games of AFL and you don’t have a direct relationship with an AFL head coach, I have empathy for you because you won’t be able to coach in the industry’,” Goddard said.

“And to me, that should just not be a blocker. When we look at merit and what we want in a coach there should be nothing that immediately rules out such an important part of our community.

“There’s just no diversity and it needed to change … I mean, there is no timeframe on diversity but there is a timeframe on the door being shut.”

The club president agrees.

“At Hawthorn it’s not always about games played, it’s about an individual’s character, it’s about their knowledge, it’s about their enthusiasm,” Kennett said.

“For any job at all I don’t look for the person who’s played the most games, who’s got the most degrees, I look for the people that have sufficient knowledge, passion, enthusiasm and values that they’re going to seize this opportunity and grow it.

Kennett was ‘turned upside-down’ for prediction about women in footy

Asked when Hawthorn might have an AFLW team, Kennett says, “You’ll have to ask Gil McLachlan that cause I’ve asked him many, many times, but you know what? The AFL are like a socialist organisation and perhaps because we are operating on a commercial basis … we are not part of the mould of a typical AFL club at the moment, I’m sorry to say, but you’ll keep that to yourself, won’t you?”

He says as one of the unassisted clubs during the COVID-19 pandemic, not needing bailouts from the AFL, Hawthorn is one of the best placed to have an AFLW team.

“We will put in whatever is necessary to be successful, we will do our best,” he said.

“It won’t necessarily win a premiership in either division, but the bigger test to me is the quality of the people that we have, how they feel as part of the Hawthorn family and where we can encourage them while they are with us to prepare for life after football.”

A man in a suit stands with his arms folded among Hawthorn players.
Jeff Kennett says he does not rule out the possibility of a men’s AFL team being coached by a woman in future.(AAP: Julian Smith)

And does he ever see the day when the best coach to guide the men’s team is a woman?

“Some years ago when I was first the president of Hawthorn I made what was considered then to be an outrageous comment — that I wanted to be the first AFL male’s club to have a female player,” he said.

“I was hoo-haa’d, boo-haa’d, turned upside-down, attacked, etc … I actually think it’s possible one day that a female will play in a men’s side.

“And the reason I said it then is not only because I’ve always supported the opportunities for people regardless of gender but because in order to survive you’ve got to be commercially alive.

“Things have changed, and things are changing, so no, I don’t rule that out at all.”

Goddard is hoping she’s at the right place at the right time and the AFL allows Hawthorn to field an AFLW team in 2022.

“I’ve really changed my views about how many teams we should have in the comp … initially I was really worried about the competition expanding too quickly and what the product would look like to get the fans and sponsors on board but we’ve gone well beyond that,” she said.

“We’ve got the fans, sponsors are coming on board, people want to watch women’s sport on TV, they want to hear about it, they want to read about it in the newspapers, and if all of the AFL clubs want a licence now, the talent is there and I think we can do it.”



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PM signals tough new COVID-19 vaccine rules for international travellers to Australia


International travellers who fly to Australia without proof of a COVID-19 vaccination will be required to quarantine at their own expense.

That’s if they can get on a flight, after Qantas signalled anti-vaxxers will be banned from flying on their aircraft fleets.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison signalled the tough new rules on Melbourne’s Kiss FM radio on Wednesday.

“We’re obviously working through those issues now, but look, where people have the choice of two weeks of quarantine or being vaccinated, I think that will be an incentive, unless there’s a genuine medical reason why,” Mr Morrison said.

The cost of quarantine can run to several thousand dollars for the fortnight in a hotel, depending on what city you quarantine in.

“We’ve got a lot of those issues to work through and so do all the other countries,” Mr Morrison said.

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Health Minister Greg Hunt has also hinted at the vaccination passport plan but stressed the policy was still under discussion.

“So there’s been no final decision, but we’ve been clear, and I’ve given guidance previously that we would expect that people coming to Australia while COVID-19 is a significant disease in the world will either be vaccinated or they will isolate. That’s early guidance,’’ he said.

“The likely course of events during 2021 is if somebody comes to Australia and a vaccine is widely available, either they’ll be vaccinated with verification or they’ll have to quarantine.”

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has signalled that proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be a non-negotiable condition of international air travel.

On Monday night, he told A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw that as soon as a vaccine becomes available it will be a condition of travel.

“For international travellers, we will ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft,’’ he said.

“Certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that’s a necessity.”

If anti-vaxxers want to try alternative airlines, Mr Joyce predicted they won’t be travelling far.

“I think that’s going to be a common thing talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe,’’ he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously suggested vaccination will be “as mandatory as you can possibly make it” before walking those comments back in recent months.

“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis,” he said in August.

But just hours later, Mr Morrison told listeners on Sydney radio station 2GB that the Government would not make vaccination mandatory.

“It’s not going to be compulsory to have the vaccine,” he said.

“I mean, we can’t hold someone down and make them take it.”



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Melbourne Stars down Perth Scorchers by seven wickets to earn spot in WBBL final



The Melbourne Stars’ remarkable turnaround has continued after cruising past the Perth Scorchers by seven wickets to earn a place in their maiden WBBL final.

Last year’s wooden spooners crushed the Scorchers at North Sydney Oval on Wednesday night, securing the victory with 22 balls to spare, to advance to Saturday’s decider.

Captain Meg Lanning’s decision to bowl first paid dividends, with the Stars restricting dangerous openers Beth Mooney (27) and Sophie Devine (12) before running through the Perth line-up.

Spinner Alana King had the middle-order in knots, taking all the key wickets to finish with economical figures of 3-16.

Former Australia batter Nicole Bolton saved some face for Perth, compiling a vital 32 to help the Scorchers post 8-125 from their 20 overs.

The Stars experienced some nervous moments, particularly when medium-pacer Heather Graham clean-bowled Lanning (22) with a stunning seaming delivery.

But English allrounder Nat Sciver (47 not out) and teen sensation Annabel Sutherland (30 not out) guided the Stars home with a commanding 67-run partnership.

The Stars, who had previously never finished a season higher than fifth, will take on the winner of Thursday night’s semi-final between two-time defending champions Brisbane Heat and the Sydney Thunder in the final.



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Carlton places Eddie Betts on Blues’ rookie list ahead of 2021 AFL season



Carlton fan favourite Eddie Betts has agreed to be placed on the club’s rookie list, with the Blues describing the 33-year-old’s decision as a “selfless act”.

The AFL has confirmed clubs could move two senior players to their rookie list effective immediately.

The move from Betts means the Blues — who also retained Matthew Kennedy on their rookie list — will not need to make any further changes to their current senior squad.

It also provides the Blues with salary cap relief, given $80,000 of a rookie’s contract falls outside of the cap.

Both Betts and Kennedy will continue to be available for senior selection throughout the 2021 season.

The club’s head of football, Brad Lloyd, said Betts deserved praise for his decision to shift to the club’s rookie list.

“We approached Eddie about the possibility of making this decision and as soon as Eddie knew how this opportunity would help the club, he agreed straight away,” Lloyd said in a Blues statement.

“Eddie’s selfless act is another example of how committed he is to our football club, his teammates and his willingness to do whatever he can to help this group in its pursuit of success.”

Betts agreed to a one-year contract extension earlier this month.

The Blues said the details of Betts’s contract would remain unchanged.

Betts, who turns 34 tomorrow, will contest his 17th AFL season in 2021.

He made his debut for the Blues in 2005 and returned to the club this season after playing for the Crows between 2013 and 2019.

Betts played 15 of the Blues’ 17 matches in 2020 and kicked 13 goals. The three-time All-Australian has made 331 senior appearances during his decorated career.

ABC/AAP



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