It was going to take something truly significant to pull me out of my social media hiatus and what could be bigger than bidding an agonising farewell to the iconic The World Game website.
From my perspective, it’s hugely important that our loyal readers and viewers understand just how heavy the hearts of our colleagues both past and present are, with yesterday’s announcement.
It’s been overwhelming to see that the impending discontinuation of the website has meant as much to the football community, as it has to us - your sadness, anguish and frustration has reverberated throughout the halls of SBS beyond measure.
In my almost eight years with the organisation, I have experienced astounding highs but also extreme challenges that have come in the form of watching those whom I have loved immensely leave this world and the building.
The sentiments around this latest departure are no different.
When I consider the role that the website has played in Australian football for two decades, it’s difficult to ignore those who contributed to its success, both behind the scenes and through the written word.
Since its inception in 2001, The World Game grew to become a beloved icon of Australian football and the destination of choice for lovers of the beautiful game, winning countless awards in the process.
It played host to infinite exclusives, match day results, iconic football moments and expertly curated opinion pieces that provoked thought, debate and controversy.
It was the editorial platform du jour in which the likes of Les Murray, Craig Foster, Andrew Orsatti, Simon Hill, Vitor Sobral, David Basheer, Nick Stoll and many others could transmit their unique view on football in an unfiltered way.
And while our many writers were deeply passionate about the game, that was equally matched in your comments.
Not only was The World Game special for the many different voices that wrote for it, or spoke on it, but also for the audience’s comments.
From social media to the website itself - or in the fondly remembered TWG forum - debate is seeped within football’s identity and the conjecture never stopped when it came to TWG.
Whether you hailed from the “old soccer” diaspora or were born into the “new soccer” generation, the website was everyone’s ritualistic source of information because it was an online destination unlike any other at the time.
To think about life without it is heartbreaking and unfathomable but, in many ways, SBS have become a victim of their own success after championing the game at a time when no one else would and this is a by-product of that.
As the game's popularity grew over the years, so too did the demand for dollars and we're now operating in a highly competitive broadcast rights market that has drastically altered the scope of our capabilities.
But this is not the end of the road for SBS, by any stretch of the imagination.
We are still committed to exclusively broadcasting the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the highly-skilled team will continue to show the love and respect that we have always shown the game we love.
The legacy will live on.
So much of why this is such a difficult transition to make is because of what the website and our attachments to what it represent - the spiritual days of where it all began, when Les and Johnny first embarked on their mission to introduce Australians to football.
Their evangelical journey may be complete but what I’ve realised throughout this process is that everyone’s love for football predates The World Game and will continue well after it.
That’s where the real beauty and power lies.
As the professional game and broadcast climate face uncertain times, it’s important to recognise that it’s the players, coaches, fans, administrators, and authentically strong voices who bring this game to life.
That includes you, reader.
It’s been my true privilege and honour to contribute to those conversations via the TWG platform for all these years and I am forever grateful to everyone who I’ve shared this ride with.
Finally, thank you to everyone who has reached out to express their disappointment and even anger - it’s a testament to the hard work, love and dedication that everyone who worked on the site poured into it.
We hear you and we feel you.
Our hearts are heavy because they were once so full and the last 20 years of extraordinary achievements have provided us with so many wonderful memories that we’ll cherish for a lifetime.
But, with every end, represents the opportunity for a new beginning and I am looking forward to seeing what that brings.
All my love always,