GWS and the University of Canberra (2)

On Thursday 9 September the University of Canberra signed a memorandum of understanding with the GWS AFL club. The formal signing took place in the atrium of the new NATSEM Building on the University’s Bruce Campus.

Dale Holmes (left) CEO GWS and Stephen Parker (right) Vice Chancellor, UC

In a previous post I wrote about GWS coming home to Canberra through a remarkable link with Tom Wills.

Hosting the MOU signatures in the NATSEM Building adds another dimension to the GWS-UC relationship.

The NATSEM International Microsimulation Centre is the second project completed under the Commonwealth Government’s Education Investment Fund, with the $11m building coming in on-time and on-budget. The design of the building is a completely new concept for the University, offering flexible and sustainable multipurpose spaces to house NATSEM as well as a venue with full conferencing facilities.

The project was awarded the first ever “5-star Green Star Education Building in the ACT”. Its features include a Photo Voltaic System (or solar panels), on the roof to collect and generate electricity (resulting in a predicted net reduction of greenhouse gases by 62% compared to a standard practice benchmark) as well as underground rainwater tanks to store collected water that will be used for landscape irrigation and toilet flushing.  There is also a seasonal pond which will result in biodiversity and water quality benefits to the site.

The University aims to build its links with GWS through a commitment to the club’s organic development. This approach resonates completely with the University’s ecological commitment to the Canberra and Capital Region. It resonates too with both partners’ commitments to community development.

Today is the start of the partnership. This is a link to an ABC 666 interview with Ross Solly about the partnership.

GWS and the University of Canberra

On Thursday 9 September the University of Canberra will sign a memorandum of understanding with the GWS AFL club.

The ACT4GWS campaign statement is:

After years of false starts and short term playing deals with cash strapped Melbourne based AFL teams, supporters of AFL in Canberra and the region have been offered a partnership that will benefit the game at all levels.

This partnership will enrich the AFL community of the ACT and Southern NSW region, grow participation numbers and assist AFL to compete more effectively with the other professional football codes (League, Union and Soccer).

The aim of ACT 4 GWS is to secure 5000 $50 pledges as well as significant local and regional corporate support.

In return:

  • GWS will play up to 40 games in Canberra over the next 10 years
  • AFL in Canberra and the region will have a seat on the GWS board
  • GWS will continue to invest in local talent academies
  • GWS will establish a training base in Canberra and the region
  • GWS will conduct community camps in the region
  • GWS will field a team in the AFL Canberra competition or in a second tier AFL competition that will feature Canberra clubs.

The opportunity for the AFL community of ACT and Southern NSW to join GWS has been described as the game’s best and last chance to establish a meaningful presence in the region.

This is our opportunity to become a significant part of our national game. It’s our time. Let’s secure our national game for our national capital region.

The University of Canberra in general and the National Institute of Sport Studies in particular see the memorandum of understanding as a way to grow community sport. GWS has a clear commitment to community development that resonates with the University’s plans to engage with the Capital Region.

Whilst preparing for the formal signing of the memorandum of understanding I came across Greg de Moore’s article in the Sydney Alumni Magazine (July 2010). Greg’s article The man who invented AFL provides an insight into the life of Tom Wills. Greg notes that:

The introduction of an AFL team into western Sydney is regarded by some as an invasion. But Tom Wills might disagree. In fact one could say that, when the new AFL team takes root in western Sydney and Israel Folau kicks his first goal, the game of Australian Rules football – our great and unique contribution to world sporting culture – will simply return to the family “home” of the man who started it all.

It was interesting to read that “Wills was born in 1835, near the township of Queanbeyan in NSW.” So the GWS/UC link has a double homecoming to celebrate.

Greg de Moore’s biography of Tom Wills (2008) provides a fascinating insight into the codification of football. Previously Eric Dunning had discussed in detail the development of football in nineteenth century England and provides a context for understand Tom Wills’ experience at Rugby School. J A Mangan’s study of Athleticism adds to the knowledge of the environment in which Tom Wills went to school.

As I attend the signing ceremony for the memorandum of understanding I will be thinking about Tom Wills and the role that biography plays in developing sport. I think Kevin Sheedy, the foundation coach of the GWS team and Tom Wills would have had a lot to share and discuss about their lives in sport and their visions.

It is great to think that the National Institute of Sport Studies can be part of this journey in Ngunnawal Country.

Photo Credits

Recreation Reserve Goal-Posts

KC Power

Understanding stories, connecting messages

Introduction

On 26 July the New Scientist carried news of research by Greg Stephens, Lauren Silbert and  Uri Hasson at Princeton University. New Scientist noted that “There’s now scientific backing for the old adage that when two people “click” in conversation, they have a meeting of minds. The evidence comes from fMRI scans of 11 people’s brains as they listened to a woman recounting a story.”

Research Findings

The abstract of the research paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy indicates that:

Verbal communication is a joint activity; however, speech production and comprehension have primarily been analyzed as independent processes within the boundaries of individual brains. Here, we applied fMRI to record brain activity from both speakers and listeners during natural verbal communication. We used the speaker’s spatiotemporal brain activity to model listeners’ brain activity and found that the speaker’s activity is spatially and temporally coupled with the listener’s activity. This coupling vanishes when participants fail to communicate.

The scans showed that:

  • the listeners’ brain patterns tracked those of the storyteller almost exactly…
  • though trailed 1 to 3 seconds behind. But in some listeners …
  • brain patterns even preceded those of the storyteller.

The article quoted Uri:

“We found that the participants’ brains became intimately coupled during the course of the ‘conversation’, with the responses in the listener’s brain mirroring those in the speaker’s”. Listeners with the best overlap were also judged to be the best at retelling the tale. Uri noted that “The more similar our brain patterns during a conversation, the better we understand each other”.

Take Home


The Princeton research has some fascinating insights to share with coaches and teachers. In a mixed ability group it is interesting to note how each member of the group anticipates, stays with or misses a message.

Douglas Fields in his blog post about the research notes that:

Interestingly, in part of the prefrontal cortex in the listener’s brain, the researchers found that neural activity preceded the activity that was about to occur in the speaker’s brain. This only happened when the speaker was fully comprehending the story and anticipating what the speaker would say next.

The Princeton researchers found that there was no match between the brain patterns of the storyteller and the listeners, when they heard the same story in Russian, which they could not understand. Perhaps this is the equivalent of saying “They just did not get it.”

Photo Credits

Story Time at the North Library

Getting Coaching