I spent the weekend in Brisbane, flown up, accommodation paid for and car hired by Basketball Queensland because they invited me to speak at their Annual Conference. Firstly I should say that it amazes me that people think what I have to say is interesting. But, when I think that, I have to remind myself that my State body named Knox as the Association of the Year for 2006, the national body named us the "Large" Association of the Year for 2007, and, on a personal note, I have been named administrator of the year by the state body for both 2005 and 2006. So I guess I must be doing something right.
Still, readers of my other blog will know that one of the manifestations of the so-called midlife crisis is a major problem with self esteem. I am learning to deal with that.
For a society that is as homogenous as Australia is, in the big cities at least, I am constantly intrigued by the physical differences in people in both Sydney and Brisbane compared to Melbourne. I really think there are emerging cultural differences between the cities, or maybe they have always been there. Perhaps it has something to do with the types of sports we favour, or maybe the weather or even the geography. Or perhaps it is simply the unfamiliarity of a strange city that heightens the feelings of difference.
One thing I did learn was that the sport of basketball has the same issues up there as we do here - referees, coaches and lack of venues are the three overriding problems the sport faces.
I also caught up with a young bloke who used to work for me but who moved up there a few years ago with his girlfriend, only to break up with her a month later. Almost a year ago he went swimming with some mates in Surfers Paradise, and on diving into the water, shattered a vertebrae on a sand bank. He was extremely lucky not to have drowned but is classified as a partial quadraplegic being paralysed from his chest down. It was a shock to see him in this state for the first time. Whilst I have spoken to him on the phone, chatted on Yahoo and exchanged emails over the past year, to see a bloke who was full of life and a good athlete, now confined to a wheelchair was hard.
I have to say his attitude is fantastic, he joked about having shrunk 50 centimeters, and is remarkably realistic about his situation and his future. He is an only child and his mother lives in Melbourne, but he has no intention of returning to live down here, and that I think is testament to the support network of friends he has up there. I will put the word out in the basketball community in Queensland that he is looking for work, even in a part time capacity. One problem he has at the moment is that he is having bad muscle spasms which limit his mobility further but that may settle down over the next twelve months and there are some surgical options which may work for him down the track a bit.
Sometimes we can sit around and mope and feel sorry for ourselves when minor irritations occur. It is inspirational to see some people overcome enormous adversity and take so much pain and frustration in their stride.