A toast to football

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 11:22:00 +1000

As another AFL finals season approaches it is timely to remember the place of Deakin researchers in helping shape and record the game in its modern manifestation.

And also the place of Alfred Deakin in celebrating the game's 50th anniversary.

As recorded in The Australian Game of Football Since 1958 published by Geoff Slattery Publishing, at the function before the national carnival in 1908, the then Prime Minister gave the toast to Australian football:

"My days of football are past so many years that, although the memories are not clouded, I have perfect recollection that the game as I played it was conducted under rules rather foreign and much more literal than those which you now enjoy.

"But at that time, as now, I venture to think that the spirit which animated us was of no discredit to this country and no bad training for the youths of this country.

"The games of football that I have played since then have been many and various, and they have carried on in other fields, but I have yet to find the game that carries as much pleasure, as much harmless excitement, and as much stimulus as the Australasian game of football. The true sportsman, pitting himself at his best against an opponent under the rules of fair play, is the manifest man who walks this planet today.

"The sense of fair play that is first in the breast of every player is, I am sorry to say, not always the first in the breast of the man who is applauding merely for his own side. The task of football in the future is, I hope, not only to educate the players, but to educate the spectators to the same high sense of fair play.

"In this country we are bound to remain, as we always have been, a sporting people. I venture to believe that the element added to our national life by our sporting instincts is one not of the least honourable, but often one of the most efficacious. After all, a healthy mind rests upon a healthy body.

"The Australian game is becoming an Australasian game. And it may yet have an even wider scope as far as its education and practice are concerned.

 "The game is Australian in its origin, Australian in its principle, and, I venture to say, essentially of Australian development. It and every expression of the sporting spirit go to make that manhood which is competent for a nation's tasks. The fellow who can play an uphill game, and lose it with courage and good temper, is better fitted for the contests the world has in store for him.

"When the tocsin sounds the call to arms, not the last, but the first, to acknowledge it will be those who have played, and played well, the Australasian game of football before they play the Australian game of nation-making and nation-preserving."

Deakin, the University as distinct from the Prime Minister, is contributing much to the shape of the modern game.

Professor Chris Hickey from the School of Education and Associate Professor Peter Kelly from the Alfred Deakin Research Institute have written the landmark book The Challenge for the Body Mind and Soul of AFL Footballers.

Dr Paul Gastin has been working with both AFL footballers and those at the grassroots on a number of projects.

Dr Kim Toffoletti's current research projects looks at the place of women in Australia football.

Dr Pamm Kellett has written extensively on umpires in Australian football.

To view the host of Australian football stories associated with Deakin, click on the related stories link on this page.


"When the tocsin sounds the call to arms, not the last, but the first, to acknowledge it will be those who have played, and played well, the Australasian game of football before they play the Australian game of nation-making and nation-preserving.&
"When the tocsin sounds the call to arms, not the last, but the first, to acknowledge it will be those who have played, and played well, the Australasian game of football before they play the Australian game of nation-making and nation-preserving." - Alfred Deakin.
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  • Deakin's researchers are contributing much to the shape of modern Australian football.
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20th August 2012