Usually from the middle to the end of January, our newsfeeds are often clogged up with different opinions on when Australia Day should be. You have one side who think the ‘lefties’ are back at it with their social justice warrior ways, saying that the date does not need to be changed and these ‘lefties’ are just overreacting and making a big deal out of nothing. Then you have the other side (the ‘lefties’) who advocate to change the date of Australia day because it is appalling that such a day that has affected so many native Australians is celebrated like it’s one big party. The day stirs up controversy every year without fail and it’s always the same arguments from both sides. I hear it on the news, at home and online and honestly, it’s getting a tad annoying. Year after year, it’s always the same sort of rhetoric spat out and no real changes have been made. Honestly, I just have to roll my eyes and bang my head against my desk.

But now it’s April, and gone is the hysteria associated with having a couple of beers with the fam around the barbeque whilst Triple J’s top 100 countdown plays in the background. Australia Day is not even a passing thought at the this time of year for most Australians. Hence, that’s why I’ve decided to bring it up. Something I’ve found with a lot of issues is that the controversy usually only lasts a couple of news cycles, if that, and then the media tosses it out and it’s onto the next thing. Many of these ‘controversies’ are usually rights issues, which makes it even more frustrating and leaves marginalised groups on their own again.

I’m a true blue Aussie who’s proud of her European heritage. I’m second generation Australian from my mum’s side and first on my dad’s. I’m not the typical skippy whose family has been living in Australia for generations. When my relatives first came here they experienced racism, being called wogs and being discriminated against because they didn’t have the typical Anglo last name. Even then, I’m proud to come from Australia. My dad insists that I call myself an Australian every time I say I’m Croatian. I’ve even considered getting a southern cross tattoo to which a number of my friends have called me a bogan for having such a thought. I mean, I’m planning on representing this country at the Olympic Games.

I would love more than anything to have a day where we can celebrate Australia and realise how lucky we are to be living in such a wicked country. I’d love to don the green and gold (like I do the red and white checkers) and wave around an Aussie flag, watching the fireworks and singing along to I am Australian and Horses like an utter dork.

But I can’t.

I physically and mentally cannot bring myself to get caught up in the festivities of January 26th. I’m proud to be Australian, but I’m not proud that we celebrate being Australian on a day that has so heavily affected the lives of Indigenous Australians.

Mate, I reckon we should change the date. I don’t know when, but to another day that doesn’t have such negative connotations in the Indigenous community.

It’s just a date, some say. It was over 200 years ago, others say. The Indigenous people need to get over it, another group says. If it wasn’t for the British, there’d still be kangaroos hopping down Flinders Street, more say.

A) It’s not just a date.

B) And? You’re not allowed to remember the past? Oh wait, maybe that’s only when it suits you.

C) Tell that to the Jewish community and the Holocaust. Tell that to the countless of other groups who remember and will never forget the things their ancestors had to the go through.

D) It’s true that the British brought progression to Australia. It’s also true that immigration  has enabled Australia to progress to what it has become today. That, however, is not a valid excuse for not changing the date of Australia day. That still doesn’t overshadow the number of Indigenous Australians slaughtered on that day, let alone the oppressive laws that have followed. Sure, Indigenous Australians aren’t perfect- but is anybody? Everyone has issues and it’s unfair to just pinpoint a specific group and use their flaws against them.

When this argument pops up every single year in January, some people miss the point. They think the Change the Date movement is saying we shouldn’t celebrate Australia Day.




The word change means to make different or to use another instead of. It doesn’t mean to not celebrate Australia at all. It means to, quite literally, use another date to celebrate Australia Day instead of January 26th. I don’t know how I could put that any simpler.

Then there’s the argument of tradition and how for decades Australia Day has been celebrated on the 26th of January. Well actually, the 26th of January has only been a public holiday since 1994. So much for decades.

One of the most common arguments regarding Change the Date is that it won’t change anything. It’s not going to solve all the issues that Indigenous Australians face. It’s not going to change the past. It’s not a big deal.

No, it won’t solve all the issues. It’s not going to change the past. Nothing can change the past. But changing the date is a step in the right direction. It’ll indicate that this country is as respectful to cultures as it’s supposed to be. It’s an ounce of relief for so many Indigenous Australians.

And besides, if it’s not such a big deal then what’s the big deal in changing it? If it’s no biggie, then why are you so adamant to keep the date? It’s just a “date” afterall. What’s it to you, the average person, if it’s on the 26th of January or May 8th? It won’t affect you at the end of the day, but it’s a small reward for Indigenous Australians.

No, this isn’t white person’s guilt. I personally, nor my ancestors, have anything to do with the First Fleet. I have nothing to do with imperialism and the like. As someone whose family has experienced the horrors of war, I wouldn’t appreciate people getting rowdy on days where so many people’s lives had changed forever.

Look mate, all I’m saying is that we should just change the date of Australia Day. Australia Day is supposed to be about coming together as a nation and unite as one, but that doesn’t happen and it’s understandable why. Yeah sure, there are always going to be unhappy people- but changing the date is a step in the right direction, even if it seems like a minor detail.

In the past 14 years, I’ve been lucky enough to experience the wonders of both individual and team sports. I’ve reaped the benefits of both and I would recommend for everyone to have a shot at both. But first, we have to look at the differences between the two- because there are plenty of them and they’re obvious. That being said, don’t be alarmed if you’ve only ever participated in individual sports and vice versa. You can apply your skills from one into the other, whilst also opening yourself up to learning new things.

Individual sports:
Individual sports offer the opportunity to learn about independence and being self-reliant. They also teach you a certain type of focus that can easily be applied to other areas of life like work and academics. Generally when you’re studying you’re usually doing so on your own therefore you need a specific type of focus in order to achieve your goals for that session or that exam or test. Additionally, individual sports help you focus on yourself and only yourself without feeling the pressure of the results of the people on your own team. Your performances affect you and you alone. There’s less pressure to be up to standards with everyone else or praying you don’t make a mistake that could cost the team a game. Sure, sometimes your individual results add up points for the team, however you’re still competing on your own.  You often train together as a team, but you compete as individuals and in that sense, the lines are blurred between team and individual sports. In individual sports, you play for yourself at the end of the day. You don’t have to worry about your teammates around you. You can make decisions on your own and the results primarily only affect you.

Types of individual sports:  Karate and other forms of martial arts, tennis, swimming, athletics, cycling, surfing, snowboarding

Team sports:
In team sports, you learn how to communicate and how to work as a team. Communication is something I didn’t really need to do much of in karate. It was just me on the mat as I competed, so I didn’t exactly need to call out to my teammate asking for them to pass me the ball or that I had a particular player. Naturally, it has become something I need to work on in rugby as I’m not used to yelling around in a game. Another difference is that it’s a much more sociable environment. Usually with karate, you did a lot of things on your own. Unless you were close with other competitors or your coaches, you generally just went to training, trained and then went home. In team sports, you often spend time hanging out with your teammates, catching up on the latest gossip, having a good laugh and then having a bite to eat after training for some team bonding.  Eventually, you’re not just a team, you’re a family.  You have people that have your back and you help each other out.  You also have the opportunity to learn from other people, and not just in the sense of the game.  When you’re playing a team sport, you’re doing something that’s much bigger than yourself. Every decision you make doesn’t just affect you, it affects the whole team. Sometimes it’ll be a good result, other times it’ll be costly. But that’s just the beauty of sport, you win some, you lose some and you learn. It’s one big learning experience that can help shape the person you can become.

Types of team sports: Rugby, basketball, AFL, football, cricket, baseball, netball, hockey

I survived my first rugby union match last week. Five months after deciding that I wanted to go to the Olympics and three months after starting pre-season training, it was finally game day. Now some people might expect me to say I slayed, that I scored a try, that I threw girls double my size on the ground and that out-stepped the opposition. No. No, I didn’t. I did none of that. It was more of a comedic debut and it came as no surprise. What else would I expect? I had never played a rugby union game in my life so of course I would look like a baby giraffe trying to walk. It’ll be a hilarious story in a couple of years when I look back. My first touch was the ball quite literally bouncing off my shoulder. My dad laughed. I shook my head and kept going. What else was I going to do? Let’s just say that overall, give me a couple of games and just watch the decision making improve. Within three months of playing, I have to say I’ve learnt a lot from rugby already and cannot wait to see what I learn in the future.

For now, this is what I have learnt:

-You’re not going to be a superstar in your first game…or even in the first few games or longer
→ when you’re starting a new sport, you’re basically learning how to walk all over again. In a sense, it’s easier to start a new sport younger as a kid than when you’re in your late teens or as an adult. In my case at least, I’ve always been on top or close to the top in whatever endeavour I take part it- whether academic or karate related. Coming to rugby, I’m far from the top at the moment. I mean, I’ve never played rugby union, I’ve always been a huge league fan and I’ve only dabbled in a bit of touch in year 8 at high school. It takes time to become equipped with the skills and it’s important to remember that you’re going to make mistakes Also, training is one thing, game day is another. It’s going to take a couple of games to get into the motion of things and to learn the ropes of the sport and the tricks of the trade. With experience, comes knowledge.

-Team sports are different to individual sports
I’m probably going to end up writing a post about this, but I’ve already picked up on the big differences between team sports and individual sports. When it comes to individual sports, you just focus on yourself and your mistakes and your own. For team sports, your mistakes are the team’s mistakes and what you do wrong impacts everyone and not just you.

-With confidence, comes a good outcome
One thing that comes with a lot of contact sports is that when you go in hard and confident, you won’t get hurt. If you hesitate and think too much, that’s when things start going haywire and when you’re more likely to get hurt. When you’re confident and you persist, you’re more likely to get the outcome you’re after. That can be applied to daily life too- tackle things head on and don’t hesitate. When you hesitate, you could miss out or struggle. The important thing is to persist and keep on going. 

-It feels good to be sore and I didn’t realise I missed it so much
Alright this might be an odd one for some, but weirdly a shared sentiment for others. I genuinely miss the feeling of being sore. Firstly, as someone with health anxiety it actually gives me an explanation for the bodily sensations I feel. Secondly, it reminds me that I’ve actually exercised and gotten a good training session/game in. It’s a fab feeling to have and a reminder that I’m doing something I love.

-You’re a part of something bigger than yourself
Going along with the differences between team and individual sports, realising that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself is probably another one of them. You’re there with your team, it’s like a sisterhood. Whinging about a bit of a sore ankle? Seeing your teammate with bruises covering her shins still going hard at it and the other one whose ankle is swollen will soon shut your mouth. Moreover, rugby is a rising sport- particularly for women. You realise how important what you’re doing is and you see that through the support you get from your teammates, your coaches and friends and family who support the club and the sport in general.

-People have got your back regardless
You’re there with your teammates. You’re basically a family. You support each other, you help each other out. Again, it’s like a sisterhood. Both on the field and off the field, your team’s got your back. I don’t know, maybe I picked the right club and was lucky with the group of girls I now call my teammates. But I know for a fact that once you’re on the same team, you’ve got each other’s bags.

I played my second game the other day and I have to admit it was a pretty big improvement from my first game. With experience, comes the skill. I mean, I did duck and swerve away from a girl twice my size so I guess that’s a teeny tiny personal victory for now.  Sure, I still made mistakes but after all it was just my second game. The fact I’m sore now and have a couple of bruises and a sore neck just points out that I did a lot more yesterday than I did last week. It’s only up from here.