Evolution of a journey for life
A new life means new priorities for the Socceroos' most travelled fan19 September 2017 | Pablo Bateson
A new home and lifestyle in Thailand with my beautiful partner Kana from the Isan region (home also for Buriram United FC) has made a big decision easy about football involvement.
Being at Australia’s game with Syria at Malacca in Malaysia on 5 October will represent attendance at my 47th consecutive World Cup qualifiers of our Socceroos since February 2008.
However, this run had to eventually conclude and so I will not be at the second leg of the World Cup qualification play off five days later in Sydney.
Quite simply, as much I will always be passionate about football, there are even more important priorities in life. This means shared hopes and dreams for Kana's and my long-term relationship, including building and nurturing a family to live in an ecologically sustainable home.
Within this context I am embracing change. It is acceptance of impermanence, and much happiness, to be choosing a different pathway.
I will look forward to coming back to my home city in mid-November to hopefully re-establish my football supporter journey on the road to Russia 2018.
This will likely coincide with the start of a three months trip with my partner to include her further post-graduate studies, shared family times, touring experiences, and consulting work.
The sharing of any nostalgic reflections from my many incredible football travel experiences over the past decade will be held over for inclusion in a book to be published by Fair Play Publishing towards the end of 2018.
My expectations are that the Socceroos will comfortably prevail over two legs on 5 and 10 October.
For the first leg, if the Socceroos show a little more poise in front of goal than against Thailand last month then a they should come away with a victory and important cushion to complete the task.
Numerous previous ‘home’ World Cup qualifiers for Syria have been hosted at the Hang Jebat Stadium in the southern city Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of around 870,000 people.
With a capacity of around 40,000 spectators, is it home for Melaka United in the Malaysian Super League. The city can be reached in just over two hours by train from the capital of Kuala Lumpur.
Recent successes of the 'Qasioun Eagles' appear to have reached a conclusion. Let us get real; politics and football are often entwined.
There are ongoing tensions in association with the Syrian FA. These clouded the internal decision process and fuelled much media speculation for choosing the home leg venue country prior to final confirmation by the Asian Football Confederation.
The UAE and Qatar were reported in the past fortnight as being preferred options, part of an attempt to somehow gain a logistical advantage over Australia.
The President of that war torn Middle East nation is unlikely to get further opportunities to cynically milk football success for his regime’s nationalist propaganda.
When Australia take to the field at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, there will be absolutely no personal regrets about not being on the terraces.
In tuning into the live television coverage, there will be a little sad reflection that Les Murray and Mike Cockerill will not be involved in some way with the drama and post-game media analyses.
Both were giants in our game of opinions. Both had with their own unique and fearless style, with common denominators being great intellect, integrity and insight for developing our football to fulfil its potential to eventually become the number one sport in Australia.
Let us hope that the pitch surface is in optimal condition for football after it recovers from the rugby league grand final 10 days earlier.
I wish my fellow fans who attend the very best for providing unconditional support to help lift our team to victory.
In the meantime, stay tuned for my pregame and post-game reports for the first leg when I travel from Bangkok as an Aussie expat.
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