Thursday, December 18, 2008

Five e-Minutes with Andrew Gourdie

Andrew Gourdie is a journalist who caught my eye from day one. Maybe it was his good looks. Maybe it was his dulcet tones. But most likely it was the fact he was a passionate football fan and his stories reflected this, unlike previous 'football' reporters who seemed to treat the stories as a chore. So I decided I'd send him a few questions and run a profile on him. He also has a blog which is updated every once in a while here.

Questions after the jump.
First off, how did you get into football and what is your first footballing memory [either as a spectator or player]?
I got into football through my dad's side of the family. He and his brothers all played football. It actually goes back to my grandmother who once coached the first XI at the secondary school me, my dad and my uncles all went to in Christchurch .
My first football memory was my first game when I was about 6. I played for Nomads against Malvern in Darfield. All I can remember was running around like a headless chicken chasing the ball like all the other kids. After the game I told my dad I was absolutely exhausted, so during the 30 min drive home he gave me my first lesson about positional play. I listened.

How did you get into journalism?
I was a keen sportsman in my younger days but was never going to be good enough to make a career out of it. I loved sport, so from the age of 14 i wanted to be a sports journalist. After i finished school i studied journalism at the New Zealand Broadcasting School in Christchurch .

What is your standout memory of this year's A-League season to date?
Without doubt, Shane Smeltz' screamer against Melbourne [Naly D: Good choice]. We are certainly going to miss him.

What do you think of the SPARC funding allocation, recognising the improved performance in recent times of both the men's and women's teams?
I was really impressed with SPARC's initiative in providing a funding boost for women's football. If the results of our U20 and U17 women over the last year tell us anything, it's that we can compete at this level. Hopefully this money will help our olympic and senior teams achieve the same results, if not better.
The All Whites have their best chance since 1982 to reach the world cup finals, and they are going to need all the help they can get to achieve that. Again, it shows fantastic initiative by SPARC to provide some extra help.

Do you think the creation of the Phoenix has helped this?
It hasn't helped achieve results at a national level, although having a large number of the team playing for the All Whites will help in years to come.
However the Phoenix have undoubtedly helped lift the profile of football in New Zealand , so their presence has helped make SPARC's decision a popular one among the public.

Why do you think the Auckland Knights failed and do you believe the Phoenix are safe from this?
Having spoken to one or two former players, the Knights' on-field problems were born off the field. Issues with managers, CEO's etc were a constant problem from day 1, and made it impossible to create a winning environment. Even from my days covering the team's progress, the Knights never even seemed to have a visible 'club base'. They played and trained at North Harbour Stadium, but I wouldn't know where to find the chairman or CEO there.
It's completely different with the phoenix. We all know Terry and Tony and where to find them. They are both very approachable people and easy to contact [Naly D: In my experience this is true also, and their staff are very prompt at answering questions].
In terms of the off-field setup, the Knights and Phoenix couldn't be more different. I think they're safe from any administrative problems in that respect, but it's hard to know what will come of the issues arising through the Asian Football Confederation.

Do you think the A-League is a competitive league, and could teams in the league perform against european clubs?
The a-league is a very competitive competition. I think some of the players could make the step up to playing for a european club, but i think teams would struggle playing against european opposition.
The club world cup so far has been a good example. Australian teams are still a step behind Japanese teams, who are quite a big step behind europe , but I'm sure that gap will close over time.

The Phoenix are registered to Federation Football Australia and the players are the same, but several play for the All Whites. Do you think the All Whites and Football NZ have benefited from the Phoenix and as such, do you think the Phoenix are shooting themselves in the foot by not being able to receive reward from FNZ by being registered in Australia? [Naly D:If you don't understand this either, I'm working on a story and all will be revealed soon...]
I don't quite understand your question but I'll try to answer the best i can.
Essentially, the Phoenix don't have a choice. They have to be registered in Australia or they can't compete in the a-league. As we all know, the Phoenix are in no-man's land thanks to Australia's decision to join Asia, which means their situation is completely different to other NZ teams competing in Australian competitions like the Warriors or the Breakers.
I'm not sure what kind of rewards the Phoenix could expect to get from NZF, but as a professional team they need to operate largely off tickets sales, and Terry's cheque book. They're not shooting themselves in the foot by being registered in Australia , but to ensure their future they need Asian Football Confederation and the FFA to accept that for all intents and purposes, the Phoenix is a team based on an island off the coast of Australia . Hopefully they'll be able to have some kind of dispensation to be allowed extra New Zealand players, but essentially they need to be considered an Australian team, and have the same rights as other Australian clubs.

Do you think that New Zealand football teams, such as the Under-20 women, punch above their weight, or does the lack of public interest cause us to have low expectations of the team?
Those teams undoubtedly punch above their weight against nations that pour incredible amounts of money into sport. In saying that, we don't expect our football teams to do well on the world stage so it's a bonus when we do.

Finally, here's a clip of Andrew from his bright-eyed, bushy-tailed broadcasting school days. [Starts at 1:40]

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