What Sports to See

Paul Grech Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Given time, I will watch practically any sport (well, almost) particularly team ones even though I don't really understand the finer points of some of them. The reason is that often the spectacle on the stands is as fascinating as the one being played out before them. If I'm being picky, however, there are some events that I would like to witness firsthand and this is a list of the top ten of such events.

England at Twickenham
If you like rugby, a trip to the home of the game is essential.

All Blacks play
Jonah Lomu. The legendary New Zealand powerhouse is the main reason why I follow rugby and although England remains for sentimental reasons 'my' team, it is impossible not to feel the attraction of the All Blacks.

Diamond League
Although I like watching athletics, it is undeniable that as a sport it fails to elicit the same raw emotions that team sports do. For one thing, there isn't the antagonism between two sets of supporters that inevitably fuels passion. But athletics also has its merits: the tactics in the longer runs that are played out in front of you, its pure simplicity, the sheer strength and power that goes into most events...all of this is what makes athletics so popular and why I feel the need to experience it at the highest level.

Tennis has its on and off moments for me. Much depends on the players: if there is someone who I have a particular attachment to then I tend to watch more than usual. That being so, the attraction of Wimbledon transcends that of any player: the history and tradition makes sure of that.

Rugby league Grand Final
It might not be as popular worldwide as rugby union, but in its strongholds nothing beats rugby league. Coming from Birkirkara, it was somewhat inevitable that I would fall for a club named St. Helens and my hope would be to see them play in the rugby league final. That in itself isn't a difficult ask as they've made it there for the past three years. The hard part is seeing them win as they've lost each one of those three finals!

African Nations Cup
Since this piece was kicked off well before the 2010 edition of the African Nations Cup began, the desire to take in some games from the competition still ranked highly. The shooting on the Togo squad that was heading to Angola has somewhat quelled those desires but, as yet, it is handging in there.

English play-off final
The play-offs have their critics and it is impossible not to feel for those sides who finish just outside the automatic promotion spots only to then fail miserably in the play-offs. It is equally undeniable, however, that play-offs bring about a level of drama that is impossible to match which is why there have been so many classic play-off games over the years.

Texas High School Football
Lately, I have been watching the show Friday Night Lights and, although I freely admit that I don't really understand the rules of the game, it is fascinating that there are entire towns whose existence seems to be devoted to American football.

This is linked to the previous entry because I still won't understand the rules of the game but it is built as being such a big deal that it is impossible not to want to see how it matches up in reality.

Non league game
The truth is that (ironically) every game outside of the Premiership has a strange appeal to me. Yet it is outside the football league that stories of support truly become inspirational and this choice is inspired by the desire to feel a part of that.


Having a Look Around

Paul Grech Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Up till some years ago, I never really felt the desire to travel abroad. Indeed, I even passed up a number of opportunities to do so and when I did go overseas I invariably tended to make a mess of things. Yet perhaps because I am getting older, the urge to travel is getting increasingly stronger which is why I have come up with a list of places that I would like to visit and experiences that I would like to take in.

This list is neither the most exotic nor does it reflect well on my past experience but then again, who would I be kidding if I were to put in places that I didn’t really want to go to or omit others purely from shame?

New Zealand
This being the land of the All Blacks and the setting for the filming of Lord of the Rings might have played a huge influence but this country is simply beautiful.

Had a brief taste of Barcelona during a cruise and fell in love with it. Beautiful architecture, great football, exquisite food, loads to do and the most child friendly place I’ve ever been to: I must go back for a longer stay. Equally enticing, but just losing out from making it into the top ten, is a trip to Seville.

As with Australia, there isn’t a specific part of this large country that I would like to visit but, quite simply, it is one that I have always had a liking of and would like to explore a bit. In itself, it is a bit of a strange choice given that I’ve never really had (and still don’t have) any inclination to visit it’s much larger neighbour, the USA, but perhaps some things cannot be explained.

With Bill Bryson being among my favourite authors and Down Under possibly his finest work in my consideration, then there's hardly any surprise in this choice. There isn't a specific city that I'd like to visit but simply take in as much of it as possible.

Alaskan cruise
This choice is actually largely fuelled by the TV show ‘Men in Trees’ and the movie ‘The Proposal’ both of which presented great views of Alaska that make it almost impossible not to want to go there. That said, you have to get your timing right because the weather there can get quite cold and, apart from the breathtaking scenery, I doubt there is much to do. Which is why a cruise would be just about perfect for me.

West End Musical
Again, this is probably revealing how limited my life experiences have been so far but, then again, honesty is the key. I’ve sampled my fair share of musicals and all have been of a good standard but they’ve simply whet my apetite to sample the real deal. I realise that Broadway is probably the mecca as far as musicals are concerned but experiencing one in London’s West End with be just as good for me.

African safari
For the past couple of years, National Geographic Wild has become a staple at our home as our little girl just loves watching it. This has really made me appreciate the beauty of nature and feel the need to experience it myself.

Orient express
A couple of years ago I caught a programme on the BBC with the 100 things you should do before you die and this was the one that stuck. Some breathtaking scenery coupled with silver service and a solid dollop of nostalgia make this the train ride of a lifetime.

For all of the wonders that are spread across the world and the beautiful places that exist in all corners, few can actually beat Italy. Tuscany, in particular, is blessed with extraordinary beauty in scenery, architecture, food and weather.

Music concert
By adding this I’m probably revealing what a bore of a life I’ve had so far but the fact remains that despite my love for music I’ve never really been to see a real concert, one held in some major arena with thousands of fans.
Copyright 2010 Paul Grech: Writer