kane & ko

My Dad loved sports and I have followed suit. While I am not much of a patriot, I do keep in touch with the fortunes of a wide range of Kiwis on the global stage, cheering them on from South India.

I cannot remember a time when I have had so much fun as a fan on the virtual sideline. The focus? Kane Williamson and Lydia Ko. [NB: More than three years ago, long before they were household names, I did turn my hand to prophecy on this topic... :)]

As 2015 comes to a close, Lydia Ko, at just 18 years of age, is undisputed as the #1 woman golfer on the planet. And remember, this is a highly contested global sport. We are not talking about netball, or rugby league, here. Countries as numerous as China, and as wealthy as the USA, love this sport.

As 2015 comes to a close, Kane Williamson, at just 25 years of age, is probably one century away from becoming the #1 Test cricket batsman in the world. I watched him score a couple of centuries against the Australian bowlers and, as my son expressed it, 'it was like his bat didn't have an edge'.

I've been asking myself, 'why do I enjoy following the fortunes of these two so much?'

One? It is their youthfulness. I delight in seeing the next generation being given the opportunity to come through and to excel. Always have. Always will. Dotlich & Cairo's 'ten unnatural acts' (in their book, Unnatural Leadership) have always been counterintuitively persuasive for me. #6? 'Trust Others Before They Earn It'. Plus, the way the Apostle Paul brought Timothy, his 'son in the faith', into his team has always impressed me. Count me in. I wanna be like my namesake. Give the younger ones a chance to succeed. Stop this control-freaking nonsense about having them 'wait for their turn'.

Two? It is their humility. Ko's brand comes wrapped-up in that smiling, winsome, unaffected manner which she has. She follows in a long line of Kiwi sportswomen who have been like this, winning hearts like mine, as they do so. Bernice Mene? Sarah Ulmer? Evers-Swindell twins? So many have these same qualities. Rather annoyingly at times, Kane's brand sticks with that Kiwi-male persona: often unsmiling and usually under-stated, wrapped up in an inarticulate mumble. But (other) people love it.

[My friend, Rhett, picked up the retiring All Black captain, Richie McCaw, doing this the other day: 'I always wanted to perform at a consistent level. When I look back on my time, not every year was as good as I'd have liked, but I'm glad to have managed to do that reasonably well.' Spare me. This is when I know I am not really a Kiwi lad. And Richie made only one mistake in his lengthy 'perform at a consistent level' career. Announcing his retirement within hours of Jonah Lomu's death. He did not manage to do that 'reasonably well'.]

Three? It is their mental strength. It is the ol' 'top two inches' cliche. Ko is on TV here in India more than she is in NZ. I watch a few minutes here and there, when I can. It is always her unflappability that is compelling to me. She keeps on keeping on. Nothing fazes her. Kane is the same. Under pressure, they show this composure. It is not a quality we see that often among our Test cricketers. Again and again, generally speaking, this is the thing that separates Kiwi sportspeople from Aussie ones. The Aussies tend to be stronger mentally. It is like a sibling rivalry - and we show so many of the characteristics of the younger, talented one who is easy to bully and so often we succumb to the pressure.

Four? It is their skill. On this one, let me reach for the words of journalists living beyond New Zealand. It is more objective. Plus, as an expatriate Kiwi myself, I am a little disillusioned with NZ sports' journalism. Too often it oscillates between a fawning sychophancy (lacking critique) and an ugly insecurity (longing to be noticed, like that younger sibling - turning us into 'the sheep that roared').

[My favourite example of this is this story about Winston Reid. Compare the headline with the actual story. Goodness me. The screaming headline celebrates a goal which Reid scored on the training ground...].

Back to their skills...  On Kane, have a look at this piece by Mark Nicholas (yes, I know, the master of sychophancy - but at least it is directed towards a New Zealander here, for a change!) on the Cricinfo site, or this commendation by the former Australian captain, Allan Border. On Ko, there is this piece from ESPN and then this one from the Guardian newspaper in the UK.

And I guess Kane & Ko is a better title for this post than KoKane - don't you think?!

nice chatting



Bevan Smith said…
Hi Paul, excellent reflection on giving youth a go. I have spent years ministering in an open brethren context which was well known for producing young preachers. Perhaps this was due to the open worship style that encouraged youngsters to get on their feet and share from God's word. Those days are mostly gone as Bretho churches have taken on Pastors with formal training in presenting the word and the open style of worship has been largely passed over. Minutes before I read this post my colleague and I were talking about how we can provided opportunity for some youth in our church and how we might given them some basic training and a vision for Biblical preaching. We hatched a plan and then I read your blog!! Soooo my question is what would be the best text to give an 15,16 and 17 year old as an introduction to preaching?
Paul said…
Excellent, Bevan. I've always admired the Brethren churches for this aspect of their heritage. In terms of a text to start with as a preacher, I'd go for Colossians 1.28-29. It is short and, while connected to context obviously, can still alone a bit. It is simple - and it has a great message for the church today. It is my default in the training I do in different countries. Best wishes. Paul
Bevan Smith said…
Thanks Paul. I was also wondering what book you would recommend for a teenage budding young preacher. You have mentioned The Glory of Preaching before but for a younger readers?
Paul Windsor said…
Hi Bevan - again. For that age and stage, I'd probably go with Tim Chester & Marcus Honeysett's GOSPEL-CENTERED PREACHING (The Good Book Company, 2014) and Greg Scharf's PREPARED TO PREACH (Mentor, 2005). Short, simple, clear. Best wishes - bring 'em on!

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