Friends, Australians, Countrymen, lend me your ears!
I come to bring news of the year that has been, and what a year it has been. As president of the Eltham roller skating club incorporated, I have been fortunate enough to oversee one of the clubs best years in recent memory.
From the Southern Cross, right through the year, our club has made its usual, indelible mark in the world of local, national and international skating. As usual, Eltham skaters made up more than their fair share of Victorian, Nationals, Oceanias and World Championships teams and consequently, not surprisingly, took more than their fair share of the medals. I could stand here and rattle off the results and the statistics of all that we have achieved as a club over the past year, and indeed, many are well deserved of a mention. But everyone here knows about Mick’s bronze in the worlds relay. Everyone here also knows about Shane Patten and Tessa Byrne’s first time selection to the Junior worlds team. Our achievements in virtually each and every competition that we are associated with, as individuals and as a club leaves very little to be desired, but how do we – no, more importantly how should we measure achievement? Now I’ve been president of Eltham roller skating club for 370 days and, as leader of this extraordinary body of people, I’ve done a pretty god-awful job. I’ve sat in committee meetings, running through the agenda, doing very little in the way of actual leadership. After reflecting on the abysmal state of national and world politics, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that being the leader of a given group of people does not have to necessarily involve any great amount of leadership. This is untrue, leaders should be leaders! Our nation and our state may be falling behind in a leaderless complacency and apathy, but I will not allow this to happen to our skating club. Not on my watch. Now, as I come to the end of my term, I feel that I should do something that is long overdue – take a lead.
Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “am I a good brick?”. How important is a wall? Let me tell you – walls have, for many years, been defining structures in human civilization. A wall kept the Mongolians out of china, a wall kept the east Germans from their western brethren and a wall is all that remains of the old temple of Jerusalem… and a wall is only as strong as its bricks. On their own, bricks don’t do much, they hold doors open keep bits of paper from flying away, trivial matters, but when they form part of a wall, then they are mighty. Every single one of us is part of this skating club, every single one of us is a brick in the great Eltham wall. That might make you feel small, insignificant even, well let me tell you now – you are not! Never let anyone tell you otherwise. You are all capable of greatness , you are also only human. Our nature makes us unwilling to train, unwilling to push the envelope of mere human limitations – it, however, does not make us incapable of doing so. The greatest men in history were not distinguished from the has-beens by their intelligence or their talent, often they were mocked and laughed at by those who were, for all intents and purposes, far more talented and intelligent. The feature which distinguished them above all others was their persistence, their will to go on where all others had given up, their ability to overcome human nature’s tendency to be easily satisfied. Don’t be easily satisfied. Set yourself a goal and stick to it – don’t be afraid to aim high. Don’t be afraid to push yourself to the limit. Don’t be the one who sleeps in while others train. Don’t be the first one to give up in a points sprint. Do be the one who does the program without skipping sets. Do be the one who calls everyone up to come to training. Do be the first to training and the last to leave. Do be a good brick, because as a team, we can be far more than the mere sum of our parts. Be all that you can be, I can ask no more of you… and if you find meaning in this absurd pastime we call skating , then maybe you might also find meaning in that other absurd pastime – life.
In closing I would like to thank all those who have made my job a pleasure. I would like to thank all those on the committee who actually do do work and don’t forget to attend meetings. I would also like to apologise for (1) not revising and rewriting the Eltham club constitution on time and (2) not having built a banked track yet, as I suggested in my first committee meeting as president. I would like to thank all the coaches and administrators, without which the Eltham skating club wouldn’t be possible and last, but not least, I would also like to thank all the skaters, without which Eltham skating club would be pointless, and to whoever is so fortunate to succeed me in the presidency, and to all those out there who think themselves as future leaders of this great institution, I would just like to leave you with this quote from a personal hero of mine – “imagination is more important than knowledge” – may your imaginations shine a light on your paths, wherever they may lead you, throughout your skating years, and in the many years afterwards. Thank you.