Eastern University Games

I spoke in parliament last week about the Eastern University Games, hosted this year by the University of Canberra and ANU.
Eastern University Games, 7 July 2011

I rise to speak on the 2011 Eastern University Games, hosted this year by the University of Canberra and the Australian National University. The games were launched in style on Sunday night and finish up today. Canberra is playing host to 19 universities from across New South Wales, the ACT and, for the first time, New Zealand. The Eastern University Games complement the Northern, Western and Southern university games being held across Australia.

There are 1,600-plus students attending the Eastern University Games, which were opened by my good friend the ACT minister for sport, Andrew Barr. Representatives from the University of Canberra and the Australian National University appropriately took an oath on their own behalves and on behalf of all athletes to uphold sportsmanlike conduct and commit to a fair and fun week of competition. Last year's champions were the University of Technology Sydney, and all other universities are aiming to give them a run for their money this year. There are 15 sports being played at the Eastern University Games: basketball; football, futsal; handball; hockey; lawn bowls; netball; both kinds of rugby, league and union; squash; tennis; tenpin bowling; touch; volleyball; and ultimate frisbee. I would particularly like to pay tribute to the ultimate frisbee players, who have played this week in blizzard-like conditions in Canberra. To them, my hat goes off—as theirs no doubt did.

The games have been accompanied by a great social program, including 1980s nights, country and western nights and hero and villain nights. What the Eastern University Games represents is the notion that student life in Australia is alive and flourishing. Camaraderie at universities is a critical part of the student experience. The friends many of us make at universities are friends who we keep for life. On the sporting field, we not only make friends but learn new skills, such as how to win with grace and how to accept losing.

The teams that are coming together this week will in some cases be wonderfully well prepared. They will be teams that have been training together every week for the past year. But there will also be teams that have come together more recently, with not everyone feeling that they know their team mates. They will not necessarily all have been playing the sport since they were kids. I pay tribute to them as well, because they are in that great Aussie spirit of diving in and giving it a go. Good luck to all of those competing this week. May the best university win.

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