Locals to share in World Cup festivities

RYDE locals who can’t get to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup will get the next best thing if Mayor Jerome Laxale has his way – one or more ‘live sites’.

Live sites give fans a chance to experience exciting sporting events, such as the quadrennial World Cup finals and Olympic Games, on a big screen in a festive, family atmosphere.

It’s not an idea Mayor Laxale has just plucked out of thin air.

He experienced the thrill of the live site more than a decade ago in Germany at the 2006 World Cup when the Socceroos, under the leadership of Dutch maestro Guus Hiddink, had their most successful tournament to date.

“I went to the World Cup in Germany and went to a few live sites and – particularly for the footballing community – it’s a way to get together and watch a game,” Mayor Laxale told The Weekly Times.

“It’s the next best thing to being there. When you’re at a live site you’ve got a couple of thousand other people watching with you and with them you go through the ups and downs of a game for 90 minutes.

“If we can replicate that here in Ryde during the World Cup, that would be magnificent.”

He said that Ryde was “becoming a footballing city if it’s not already that”, citing increasing registrations at clubs including Ryde Panthers, the growth of the Gladesville-Hornsby Football Association and the synthetic playing surfaces at Christie Park, soon to be ready for use.

“Eastwood St Andrews AFC is one of our local clubs celebrating its 60th anniversary next year,:” he said.

“I know everyone involved in the club would love to mark the milestone at a live site (or more) in June with fellow members of the footballing community, cheering on the Socceroos.”

The ‘live site’ really captured the public’s attention during Australia’s ground-breaking hosting of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Locations around Greater Sydney were transformed into mini-celebrations where the community was also able to catch some of the sporting action on massive screens, which back then represented the latest, cutting-edge technology.

At this month’s Ryde Council meeting, unanimously supported by his 11 fellow councillors, Mayor Laxale proposed an investigation into the feasibility of one or more live sites with jumbo screens during the finals tournament in June, 2018.

The Mayoral Minute calls on council’s acting GM, George Dedes, to look into locations for the sites “at the very least, but not limited to the three Socceroo group games” and matches involving South Korea, which has a large community in Ryde.

Hopefully the lives sites can become focal points of celebration for the must-watch, sudden-death encounters should Australia progress to the Round of 16 like they did in Germany.

In football-mad Ryde, the Mayor’s on a winner.

Ryde Clr Bernard Purcell with Eastwood St Andrews Football Club representatives Michael Raff, Peter Lake, John Jones, Diane Jones, Liam Jones, Thomas Jones and Ryde Mayor Jerome Laxale.