17. septembril Bankstowni spordiväljakule jõudsid eestlaskonda esindama nii uued eestlased kui siin sündinud. Eesti meeskonna viis kokku üks mees – Juho Looveer.
How did you get involved in organising the Estonian team for the Baltic Games?
Juho Looveer: I have been involved in Volleyball in Sydney for over 40 years, and am well known by Latvians and Lithuanians who play Volleyball.
In 2010, a Latvian friend told me that Baltic games were on and said that Estonians had no teams; he asked if I was interested in organising some teams. I said Yes.
I did ask Sydney Eesti Selts if there was still a Sydney Eesti Spordi Klubi (SESK) in existence – that’s where I started playing in 1968; they said no, and no-one from Selts Committee had time to organise anything for sports, so I could go ahead.
How did you manage to organise the team?
Juho Looveer: I didn’t know of many players, especially young Estonians, so I informed Meie Kodu, who published a Notice. I also informed Aino Matwisyk, who organises Sõrve, and Aivo Takis organised for a note on the website for Estonian backpackers.
People emailed me, and in 2010 we had about 9 backpackers plus an Eesti girl who was studying for her Masters in Melbourne. The same players played both volleyball and basketball.
In 2011, we tried the same ways. We had one mother (Ingrid Provan) contact me, after her parents (Heino and Viive Meipalu) read the article in Meie Kodu. Ingrid’s 18-year-old son Alex Provan currently plays basketball for Sutherland and was in NSW State Junior team this year; Ingrid’s father came to watch the games and even brought along a photo of the Sydney Eesti team that had played in 1957!
One player from last year, Martin Vadam, contacted me to ask if the games were happening again this year, and he organised several other Eesti tourists. One player, Joosep Martinson, met him at Eesti Maja on the Thursday night before we played; Joosep had only arrived in that last week, and he turned out to be a great player for us!
How long is the tradition of Baltic Games?
Juho Looveer: Previously, Baltic Games were played annually through the 1970’s, maybe longer – each country selected a team from their community across Australia, and all players travelled to Sydney or another capital city for one weekend of competition each year. These teams and events were supported by each country’s national sports societies.
Not sure when these stopped.
I think the current Baltic games were resurrected in 2006, with basketball between Latvians and Lithuanians.
There was a proposal to again commence the National Baltic games in 2011, but as Estonians we could not find any contacts in other states willing to support the concept, and we Estonians in Sydney could not fully commit to the national games either.
However, I would like to see this eventuate, if we can somehow organise for it, and find some way to support the costs for players chosen.
How did you celebrate the winning of basketball competition?
Juho Looveer: Trophies were awarded at a short ceremony at the end of the day. The Latvians and Lithuanians agreed that because of our huge effort in organising teams when we don’t have a local Eesti sports club was fantastic. They are going to organise a trophy for the men's second division, and put the Estonian team name on it for 2011.
Many of the players had to get back to town after the games finished, so this year we did not celebrate much.
After the awards, people stayed to socialise, eat some proper Baltic food (vorstid ja sauerkraut), and, of course, drink beer.
What do you think about young Estonians from Eesti?
I find it interesting that young Estonians want to come to Australia, as we are on the opposite side of the world. Talking to these young people, they find that Australia has a great climate all year round; food is much cheaper in Australia than in Europe; you can make a decent living in Australia, without having to kill yourself with work. Most of the young Estonians coming here are keen to learn and see the local culture, willing to work and assimilate, while maintaining links to their proud heritage; much the same as for us "older Estralians".
They like mixing with other Estonians (and former Estonians) - I think some of the young Esto-tourists actually play in some basketball competitions together.
Does Sydney Estonians deserve their own sport club?
Juho Looveer: It would be good to resurrect a Sydney Estonian Sports Club. But where? When do we meet? (consider travel, work hours and when people are free); gymnasia are not so easy to find, and you probably need to make a long-term booking (and pay for it); we would need to purchase some equipment (volleyballs, basketballs, etc) – who would pay for this up front? Perhaps we need a small fund to start this off, (or a donation from Eesti Selts) and gradually build on a social concept of a few hours of fun Volleyball and basketball, for a regular session, maybe followed by more social activity (Bar-B-Q, food and drinks)
Children and grand-children of former Estralians, if they are any good, already play in various teams, and it may be hard to find opportunity to include them. But we should try!!!
How about Eesti Päevad ?
Juho Looveer: I always enjoyed the Eesti Päevad when I was young, as it was a blend of the cultural and the sporting – it catered for varied interests, and brought many more people together. Volleyball and basketball were relatively serious competitions, and the day of athletics was more for participation and some fun (e.g. as we got older we started a Fat Men’s Race). Current Eesti Päevade programs hold very little of interest, I think.
But if the Esto sports clubs from Sydney, Wollongong, Thirlmere, Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide have become dormant, maybe the Eesti Selts in each city could try to promote some sports activity, and see sports re-appear at Eesti Päevad. The Baltic games have shown that there are enough Estourists who are keen to play sports. Any children and grand-children of former Estos are also keen to maintain links with their cultural heritage.
All it takes is some motivation and some leadership!
So come on Selts – let’s get going!
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